A significant part of CYFI's advocacy agenda has been to put economic citizenship for children and youth at the forefront of policy discourse and programming aimed at increasing financial capability and economic opportunities for young people.
Recently, CYFI published an article in the development education journal Policy & Practice entitled "The Role of Economic Citizenship Education in Advancing Global Citizenship". The article focuses on how to provide children and youth with the appropriate skills and capabilities required to create a more equal and sustainable world for future generations. It presents the concept of Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) and the importance of combining financial, social and livelihoods education for the empowerment of children and youth throughout the world. The article argues that the combination of financial inclusion and education is vital for successfully empowering children and youth. Throughout the article, this concept is linked to global citizenship, education for sustainable development, development education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to show its importance to contemporary discourse on education and youth development.
These themes build on CYFI's other publication specifically linking economic citizenship to the SDGs, particularly those focusing on poverty reduction, education, gender empowerment, economic growth and peaceful, sustainable societies.
There are currently 1.8 billion young people in the world, representing 25 per cent of the global population, with 87 per cent of this youth population residing in developing countries. These figures are projected to increase in the coming years with both challenges and opportunities for youth development. The challenges include the fact that, while children make up around a third of the global population, almost 47 per cent of those struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day are 18 years old or younger. There are also 58 million children around the world that are not enrolled in school, which threatens their ability to sustain themselves in the future.
Within their economic and social environment, education plays a vital role in providing these young people with the financial, social and livelihood competences and opportunities needed to thrive and prosper. It is imperative that education delivers meaningful and useful skills to children and youth, and that it remains an integral part of their personal and professional development. If children acquire the skills and experiences of managing financial resources from an early age onward, it will enhance their awareness of financial risks, lower their economic vulnerability and allow them to make more responsible financial decisions. In addition, the inclusion of social and citizenship education ensures that young people develop financial capabilities that are rooted in socially responsible attitudes and behaviours.
The political and economic decisions of world leaders today and tomorrow not only dictate the future of world economies but also the future sustainability of societies and the environment. It is therefore extremely important that these decisions are made in a holistic and responsible manner, balancing financial, social and environmental considerations. ECE is critical to the development of global citizenship by creating an environment where children and youth are able to fully realise their social and economic potential and contribute to community development, without discrimination of any kind. These are the essential economic citizenship competencies that will provide the foundation for the next generation of political, business and social leaders.
Photo credit: Giacomo Pirozzi for Aflatoun International