Raising the Profile of Economic Citizenship in Education and Development Discourse

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

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Economic Citizenship: A step towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) has recently published a network brief with the aim to point out how Economic Citizenship for children and youth is crucial in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sub-targets by 2030.

The main pillars of Economic Citizenship are Financial Inclusion, Financial Education and Social and Livelihoods Education. Financial inclusion is access to safe, appropriate, and affordable financial services. Financial education includes instruction and/or materials designed to increase financial knowledge and skills. Social education is the provision of knowledge and skills that improve an individual’s understanding and awareness of their rights and the rights of others. Livelihoods education builds one’s ability to secure a sustainable livelihood through skills assessment and a balance between developing entrepreneurial and employability skills.

Achieving the SDGs

CYFI believes that seven of the SDGs are particularly relevant to Economic Citizenship for children and youth: SDG1 (End Poverty), SDG2 (Good Health) SDG 4 (Quality Education) SDG 5 (Gender Equality) SDG 8 (Good Jobs and Economic Growth) SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) SDG 16 (Peace and Justice). The network brief shows how every pillar is contributing to the improvement of these goals and many of their sub-targets.

The network brief is characterized by a particular focus on children and youth: they represent the future economic actors that will influence the future of the world economies with their financial decisions. CYFI supports the idea that all children and youth must have the possibility to realize their full potential as economic citizens, which is fundamental not only to the well-being of young people of but also for the prosperity of families, communities and countries.

Public attention on the SDGs is gaining momentum and CYFI wants to be an active player this global discourse, especially as it relates to the economic opportunities and sustainable livelihoods of children and youth. Young people must be involved in the strategies to achieve the SDGs in order to influence society, raise awareness, promote active engagement and encourage new research.

It is critical that governments and policy makers take into account the importance of Economic Citizenship for this important age group in order to satisfy the 2030 Development Agenda and ensure that no one is left behind.

Author Letizia Binda is a master student of International Business and Economics at the University of Pavia and is completing a summer internship in the Thought Leadership and Consulting Department and CYFI in Amsterdam.

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A First Look At The Post-2015 Agenda

In December 2014, the Secretary General of the U.N., Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, published a report titled Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet: Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post 2015 Agenda. The report puts forward 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets which aim at ending a1sx2_300_UN-meeting-CYFI-Youth-and-high-level-stakeholders-7.jpgpoverty, achieving shared prosperity, protecting the planet and leaving no one behind. It stresses the importance of using the millennium development goals (MDGs) as a “springboard” into the future—a future “free from poverty and built on human rights, equality and sustainability” (p. 5).

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) believes this report, and the presentation of the 17 SDGs, represents a major achievement in reaffirming many of the essential issues facing our world. The SDGs most relevant to the work of CYFI include 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16 which, in very broad terms, cover issues of poverty, well-being, education, gender equality, economic growth and sustainable development. However, CYFI must stress that a greater emphasis on the issues facing young people, especially in regards to financial inclusion, economic citizenship education and sustainable livelihoods should be included in the associated targets.

National Strategies for Economic Citizenship for Young People

CYFI applauds the strong focus on inclusiveness and “leaving no one behind” (p. 34), and welcomes the many references to improving the global situation for children and youth in the Secretary General’s report. CYFI supports the position that “Young people will be the torch bearers of the next sustainable development agenda through 2030” (p. 3). Young people represent some of the most vulnerable members of society, and are therefore most deserving of our protection. However, they also represent our future and should thus receive the majority of attention when it comes to policy making at both the global and local level. CYFI believes that a stronger emphasis should have been made in the report on increasing the level of economic citizenship for children and youth, especially through the policies and initiatives of national and regional bodies.

Economic citizenship is achieved when an individual has the opportunity to access appropriate financial services, acquire relevant skills, secure a sustainable livelihood and participate in social, economic and political life. It plays an important role in the eradication of poverty and in facilitating inclusive, sustainable economic growth. CYFI’s National Implementation Manual provides guidance to government authorities seeking to design strategies to further advance financial inclusion and education for children and youth. As children and youth represent nearly a third of the world’s population, it is essential that national economic citizenship strategies are incorporated into the targets associated with the post-2015 agenda.

Financial Inclusion for Young People

While the report does mention the need to “stimulate and support a1sx2_300_Product-Development-Guide-2014.jpgentrepreneurship” and to “provide universal access to financial services” (p. 24), it does so, unfortunately, without specific mention of children and youth. CYFI believes strongly in financial inclusion for young people, enabling them to save and develop greater financial capability. In 2014, CYFI and the MasterCard Corporation developed a tool for financial service providers entitled Banking a New Generation: Developing Responsible Retail Banking Products for Children and Youth, a Product Development Guide. Greater access to formal financial services can help pave the way towards employment, entrepreneurship and investment opportunities, allowing young people to build assets and invest in their own futures. Children and youth often face barriers to financial inclusion that are of a different nature compared to other groups, and therefore need special attention. The UNCDF YouthStart initiative, and its promotion of sustainable financial and nonfinancial services for children and youth, is an example of a positive effort being made in this direction. In order for inclusive and sustainable economic growth (as is expressed in SDG 8) to be realized, it is vital that specific targets be included in the agenda which make formal financial services more accessible to young people.

Economic Citizenship Education

The report states that, “It is essential that young people receive relevant skills and high-quality education and life-long learning, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling, including life skills and vocational education and training, as well as science, sports and culture. Teachers must be given the means to deliver learning and knowledge in response to a safe global workplace, driven by technology” (p. 17, 18). CYFI strongly agrees with these sentiments and urges decision makers to set targets which will include Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) in its education goals (e.g. SDG 4). The ECE Learning Framework was developed by the CYFI Education Working Group, which was co-chaired by UNICEF and the OECD, and integrates elements of financial, social and livelihoods education. When ECE is combined with financial inclusion, it can lead to greater financial capability and empowerment, thus giving children and youth the opportunity to become active economic citizens. Possible synthesis of the CYFI ECE framework and UNESCO Global Citizenship Education programs could create a stronger, more extensive and influential program. CYFI suggests that the ECE framework, and its accompanying assessment tool, be incorporated into the agenda and its associated targets as part of the answer for life-long education, vocational training and life skills.

Sustainable Livelihoods

SDG 8 declares that it is necessary to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” (p. 14). Regrettably, this statement does not specifically refer to children and youth, but it does establish the necessity for a stable livelihood for all. CYFI strongly believes that promoting sustainable livelihoods and stable incomes for children and youth is an essential element in eradicating poverty. This is because children and youth have the highest levels of risk and opportunity in relation to poverty: they can either rise out of it through education or entrepreneurship, or relapse into it when faced with monetary or knowledge barriers. Such barriers must be removed so that children and youth are able to fulfill their true potential and poverty can be eliminated—a goal common to CYFI and SDG 1. CYFI efforts to promote sustainable livelihoods are represented in the Ye! Network: a web portal that provides young entrepreneurs with a diverse set of resources to help their businesses thrive.

Youth Participation & Engagement

a1sx2_300_Youth-Engagement-Country-Handbook.jpgThe report specifically states that there is a need to “accommodate voices of women, [and] youth”, and to “remove obstacles to full participation by […] adolescents and youth” (p. 17). Throughout the report, and in several of the SDGs (such as SDG 8, 11, and 16), inclusiveness is mentioned as a central element of the agenda. When children and youth are given the chance to participate in their community, in areas such as finance and politics, it can lead to personal growth and transformation on a wider scale. Participation allows children and youth to increase control over their lives and learn how to make their own monetary decisions, creating an environment that better supports and improves their wellbeing. CYFI has created the Youth Engagement Country Handbook to give governmental, academic, civil society and other national stakeholders a better understanding of the financial inclusion and education initiatives available to better engage young people in their countries. Engaging youth in this manner will encourage the larger goals mentioned in SDG 1, 4, 5, 8, and 16. Associated targets within the new agenda should stress the importance of including youth participation and engagement.


While the Secretary General’s report is full of promise, and the SDGs with their associated targets represent real potential for global improvement, some issues related to children and youth remain unaddressed. Despite the report’s numerous references to the inclusion and well-being of young people, there has been a failure to sufficiently translate these sentiments into concrete goals and targets. CYFI, therefore, urges decision makers to make youth a priority, and to adopt a more aggressive approach to the youth related issues outlined above.

This article was authored by Oleksandra Pravednyk and Sean Filidis – CYFI Interns

Oleksandra is a Ukrainian student currently earning a bachelor degree at Amsterdam University College. She is currently interning at CYFI in the global education and engagement department, where she is in charge of CYFI relationships with multi and bilateral organizations.

Sean is an American business student and freelance ICT specialist living and studying in Amsterdam. He is currently interning at CYFI in both the Communications and the Global Engagement and Evaluation departments. He considers himself socially engaged and globally-minded, and hopes to continue making long-term, meaningful contributions in the non-profit sector.

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Lowering Youth Unemployment in Asia-Pacific through Youth Economic Citizenship Education

Asia-Pacific, as a region, accounts for more than half of the world’s unemployed youth – about 220 million young people. In response to the urgency of this issue, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Bank of Thailand (BOT), and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC) organized the OECD/Thailand Seminar on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy in Asia in Bangkok, Thailand last December 16-17, 2014.


Bringing together more than 150 international experts from 30 countries in Asia-Pacific, the seminar tackled topics related to advancing financial inclusion and financial literacy within the Asia-Pacific, with a primary focus on national strategies addressing:

  • the emerging topic of financial education’s role in supporting micro-, small-, and medium-entrepreneurs (MSME’s),
  • the complementary nature of financial education and consumer protection,
  • measuring the impact of financial education.

How Economic Citizenship Education can Boost Youth Entrepreneurship and MSMEs

Rene Cuartero, Child & Youth Finance International’s Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific,a1sx2_300_2014-15-01_OECD-RC.jpg stressed the key role which Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) – a curriculum which combines financial, social and livelihoods education - can play as a driver for youth entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific.

As young people dictate the future of the region, investing in young people’s ECE is vital to ultimately empower young people to have the capacity to make good financial decisions, find the work they want, or establish their own enterprise. By receiving ECE young people’s interest, initiative and confidence in starting their own entrepreneurial initiatives can be vastly increased – contributing to the emerging importance of MSMEs to stimulate job creation and drive overall economic growth.

The author of this article is Rene Cuartero, Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific at CYFI

Rene leads CYFI's efforts in Asia and the Pacific, a region he holds close to his heart. He finished his BSc Economics and BSc Financial Management studies in the Philippines, and his MSc International Management in the Netherlands. During his diplomacy courses he realized that his true passion lies and has always been in creating meaningful impact for future generations – a passion that led him to CYFI. Rene considers himself as a “Global Filipino” and is always enthusiastic to learn and grow his expertise in business, international affairs, and pop music.

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3 Ways Governments Can Help Kids and Youth Find Financial Security

Financial security is achieved when a person practices wise money management, has secure savings in a savings account, and has a stable income. When a person is financially secure they have a higher chance of exercising their economic and individual rights, of being a socially engaged member of society and making sustainable decisions, in essence, they are an economic citizen. Governments have the ability to play a powerful role in the process of creating a financially secure generation.

What is the Government’s Role in Individual Financial Security?

The role that governments and national authorities play in whether or not a child has a chance of developing into a financially secure economic citizen is crucial. This is according to the results of this year’s edition of Children, Youth and Finance – an annual publication produced by Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) documenting the global progress of financial inclusion, financial education and entrepreneurship for young people around the world.

By assessing the outreach numbers of CYFI’s partner and collaborators, CYFI has documented that civil society organizations are effectively working towards increasing the economic citizenship of children and youth with around 27 million children and youth being reached by international NGOs. Goverments, on the other hand, have reached just over 4 million children and youth through programs and initiatives. While financial institutions have reached just over 3 million young people. Collectively, the CYFI Network reaches 36 million children and youth with at least a financial product or financial education program (16 million receive a combination of education and inclusion). With the involvement of more governments the Network can expand it's reach significantly.

CYFI believes that in order to reach a substantial number – in relation to the world’s population - of children and youth with financial services and Economic Citizenship Education, a coordinated effort is needed at the country level, with government institutions taking the lead role in this effort. While civil society has led outreach efforts up to this point, it has become clear that reaching scale globally can only be done if national governments are leading with NGOs and financial institutions taking a complimentary or advisory role.

How can Governments Help Kids and Youth Have Financial Security? We've found 3 ways!


Based on the findings in this document, CYFI has compiled the following 3 recommendations for governments in order to help guarantee young people’s financial security:

  1. Give children and youth a significant position in national financial inclusion strategies, financial regulations and consumer protection policies.
  2. Intensify coordination and collaboration with stakeholders from civil society and financial institutions at the national, regional and global level.
  3. Intensify youth participation and hear youth input during the drafting and consultation phases of national initiatives.

Children, Youth and Finance: Action for Sustainable Outreach gives several examples of successful national programs are included to help set the benchmark for governments in setting national level policy and regulation. Best practices from a variety of partners and collaborators in the CYFI Network are also provided. To download the full publication, and for previous editions, please visit CYFI Publications page at www.childfinance.org.

About Children, Youth and Finance

Children, Youth and Finance is an annual compilation of data gathered by Child & Youth Finance International from financial service providers, government authorities, civil society organizations, multilateral institutions and academics. The goal of Children, Youth and Finance is to provide an overview of the global progress of financial inclusion, financial education and entrepreneurship for young people.

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Youth Spoke to Leaders and Policymakers during last day of CYFI Africa Meeting

Youth Spoke to Leaders and Policymakers during last day of CYFI Africa Meeting

The last day of the CYFI Regional Meeting for Africa started off with celebratory spirit as Global Money Week, and how to celebrate it was presented. Global Money Week is a global event of national initiatives coordinated by CYFI focused on engaging children in learning how money works, how to save, creating a livelihood, gaining employment, and becoming an entrepreneur. CYFI shared a toolkit for supporting national stakeholders that outlines the details of joining, designing and organizing initiatives for the upcoming Global Money Week celebrations in March 2014. The session was followed by workshops on the topics of Economic Citizenship Education, Sustainable Livelihoods and Youth Employment as well as Financial and Educational Services. 

A very inspiring and rewarding session of the day was the Child, Youth & Adult Policy Dialogue. The session focused on voicing the opinions of the youth participants from the region and gave the present leaders and policymakers first hand feedback on what the youth of the region really want and need with regards to child and youth finance.  The youth participants stepped up on stage in front of the African leaders and policymakers attending the meeting to present their own recommendations that they had during the course of the meeting in reference to three topics; the importance of encouraging savings habits, supporting youth entrepreneurship and the need for career guidance.

The first topic addressed was the importance and need for children and youth to have access to savings accounts and develop responsible money management skills. Their recommendations included the integration of economic citizenship education in the school curriculum, to help children and youth learn about how to manage money as well as the need for specially developed child and youth friendly savings products. For sparking and supporting the African youth entrepreneurial spirit, the second topic of the session, they suggested dedicating funds for financing youth enterprises, introducing and reviewing employment policies for youth on a national level, as well as developing youth-enterprise competitions at schools. Lastly, the need for career guidance was addressed. The youth participants asked for schools to develop career guidance’s programs for advising youth in shaping their career path as well as organization of career days, involving universities and labor associations. 

The meeting was concluded with a closing ceremony. The chair of the ceremony was Dr. E.D. Wala Chabala, CEO of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mr. Daniele Scauso spoke on behalf of CYFI, stressing the hope that CYFI will be able to call stakeholders from Africa to develop collaboration and actions towards Economic Citizenship Education and Financial Inclusion for the children and youth of Africa. On behalf of the Zambian Minister of Education, Mrs. Christine Mayondi, Deputy Permanent Secretary - Ministry of Education rounded off the two-day meeting by ensuring Zambia’s steps in building a population of capable economic citizens, which includes developing a national strategy that includes Economic Citizenship Education in school curriculums.


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Recognizing Youth Efforts with the CYFI Youth Awards

This week Child and Youth Finance International is launching the CYFI Youth Awards. The award is focused on recognizing and rewarding youth in the ages of 18 to 25 that are involved in projects focused on financial education, youth employment and entrepreneurship. The winner of the award will receive tickets to visit the Global Youth Summit 2014. 

Watch our video about the CYFI Youth Awards below



Visit the Finance & Me website to apply and to find more details about the contest.

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CYFI attending Historic Asian Banking Association Conference in Mongolia

CYFI attending Historic Asian Banking Association Conference in Mongolia

Yesterday was the first day of the Asian Banking Association (ABA) 30th General Meeting and Conference. The meeting takes place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in collaboration with the Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA), making history as the first time the ABA holds a conference in Mongolia. Asian Bankers Association (ABA) Chairman Lorenzo Tan hopes that holding the annual gathering in Ulaanbaatar this year will increase the knowledge of the members about Mongolia, its economy, trade and investment potentials, banking and financial sector, and manpower resources.

        “Following the success of our annual gathering in Manila in November last year, I would like to once again count on all our members to extend the same spirited enthusiasm and strong support to the upcoming meeting in Mongolia,” says ABA Chairman Mr. Tan. 

The 30th ABA conference is gathering high level banking executives from Asia’s top banks and research centers to share their insights on various issues facing the banking and financial industry, in connection to the theme “Asia: Growth engine of the global economy”. CYFI is represented by Mike Fawcett, Director of Partnership, who is speaking today during the CEO’s Forum. Mike will be introducing Asian Bankers to the Child Finance Movement, focusing on child friendly banking and economic citizenship education. 

Both the ABA and the MBA have expressed their hopes that discussions will not only be of commercial interest to the participants, but will also be useful to both associations in their efforts to help shape policies that affect the region’s development. By attending this conference Child and Youth Finance also hopes to be able to inspire the region to further focus on the issue of economic citizenship and child friendly banking.  

Follow on Twitter for updates about the conference:

ABA and MBA 


Mike Fawcett 

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