Say “Yes” to financial education: An economic perspective on Education For All

Author: Diana Udriste and Angela Izvercian, Communications Interns at Child and Youth Finance International

Do you think you are obtaining the information you need to understand money matters in the future? Do you feel equipped to make financial decisions later in life? Do you ever feel confused by financial products and economic terms?

In many cases, adults of today did not receive economic education during schooling and many have difficulty with knowledge of financial terms and money management – for example, a recent survey found that, consumer debt has increased in Korea, while between 3% and 10% of the population in the OECD are without a bank account. And the problem does not just relate to older generations – “National surveys show that young adults have amongst the lowest levels of financial literacy”. The current economic situation highlights the negative effect a lack of financial education can have; debt and unemployment can ultimately lead to social and financial exclusion. Including economic citizenship education as part of the post-2015 push for inclusive and equitable quality education for all is increasingly important for economic and social well-being.

The need for inclusive and equitable quality education for children and youth

A lack of education can have negative effects on individuals, their families and communities, and nations as a whole – it is estimated that an absence of quality education is “preventing millions of people from escaping the cycle of extreme poverty around the world”. Without the necessary knowledge and skills, 759 million people worldwide currently do not have the literacy skills or ability to improve their situation and break the cycle of poverty.

Receiving quality education impacts the ability of youth to get jobs which will provide a reliable income, or helps them to set up enterprises and create their own livelihood. McKinsey notes that “globally, 75 million young people are unemployed, but businesses can't find enough skilled workers to fill job vacancies”, which illustrates the clear link between education and employment. Alongside ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education as a universal right for all, children and youth must be given financial, social and livelihoods education and the opportunity to develop employment skills – something which is increasingly recognized by the international community and national governments worldwide.

For this reason, CYFI puts the financial education and financial inclusion of children and youth at the core of its mission. In order to prevent a lack of financial knowledge and experience amongst adults, CYFI believes that such a trend can be changed through financial educational programs targeted specifically at children and young people. By implementing financial education programs and curricula at an early age, children and young people will be given the financial knowledge and skills they need as they develop in the financial world. However, CYFI does not see financial education as a single component. Rather, Economic Citizenship Education, the combination of financial, social and livelihoods education from an early age is what will mostly strongly prepare young people as economic citizens.

As the official adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals is just weeks away, CYFI is pleased to see that Goal 4 of the SDGs focuses specifically on education opportunities:

While Goal 4 does not focus specifically on financial, social or livelihoods education, CYFI is hopeful that the related indicators will incorporate economic citizenship education aspects in order to pave the way for today’s youngest generation to understand their position within the financial landscape. CYFI has proposed the following suggested indicators to complement the targets associated with Goal 4:

  • Goal 4 – Target 4: Number of children and youth receiving compulsory Economic Citizenship Education (which includes a combination of financial, social and livelihoods education) for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
  • Goal 4 – Target 4: Number of jobs created for young people through skills training programs.
  • Goal 4 – Target 4: Number of enterprises supported through education, training and resources for young entrepreneurs
  • Goal 4 – Target 5: % of girls and % of boys receiving Economic Citizenship Education (which includes a combination of financial, social and livelihoods education)
  • Goal 4 – Target 7: Number of children and youth receiving compulsory Economic Citizenship Education (which includes a combination of financial, social and livelihoods education) in both primary and secondary schools.
  • Goal 4 – Target 7: Number of children and youth receiving Economic Citizenship Education (which includes a combination of financial, social and livelihoods education) through non-formal education channels.

The benefits of economic citizenship education for youth

CYFI are advocating for these indicators presented above to be included as part of the targets for Goal 4. There is proof that equipping youth with economic citizenship education works, as evidenced by countries which have already included financial education in their national curricula. In the UK, financial education has been taught in secondary schools since September 2014, in order to help students become financially independent and tackle money issues they come across in later life. New Zealand and Czech Republic also present better financial awareness amongst youth than many other countries, and are examples of where the ministry of education has a responsibility for financial literacy and where a concrete national strategy is in place.

CYFI encourages all countries to adopt economic citizenship education components as part of their curricula. While great progress has been made in terms of national governments implementing financial education curricula, more is needed on a global scale to truly make a systemic change and improve the lives and futures of young people worldwide. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to make a global impact, and to strengthen today’s youth as leaders of tomorrow. Children and youth must be allowed access to quality education which incorporates financial, social and livelihoods education – creating the independent and empowered economic citizens of tomorrow.

How is CYFI promoting Economic Citizenship Opportunities for youth?

Our annual Youth Awards competition is happening right now! This year, the Awards Ceremony will take place in London at the House of Lords, on 10th of December, 2015. Applications are open until 15th of September and CYFI encourages all young people between the ages of 8 – 25 to apply!

Also, Global Money Week (GMW), Ye! Community, CYFI Youth, and SchoolBank are four of our main initiatives to promote financial education and inclusion for children and youth globally!

This post is part of our series of summer blog articles related to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and are authored by youth interns at Child and Youth Finance International. Join the discussion on social media by following @ChildFinance and using the hashtag #cyfiyouth.

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Tuesday, 19 November 2019