OECD PISA Results 2015: Outcomes and new insights support CYFI’s vision

Author: Wessel van Kampen, Managing Director CYFI​ 

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released the results on financial literacy from 2015. CYFI attended the results launch event in Paris.

In addition to testing students' skills in mathematics, science and reading, the 2012 and 2015 editions of PISA also explored students' experience with, and knowledge about, money, providing an overall picture of 15-year-olds' ability to apply financial knowledge and skills to real-life situations. In 2015, around 48 000 students participated in the financial literacy test, representing about 12 million 15-year-olds in 15 participating OECD and non-OECD countries. 

Supporting CYFI's vision

CYFI has been advocating for an integrated approach of financial education and financial inclusion for the past five years, but until now little empirical evidence seamed to support such claims. The 2015 PISA results, alongside with other research and experiments recently led by the CYFI Secretariat (such as the implementation of SchoolBank projects around the world and the research led in seven East European countries on the attitude of youth towards the financial system) supports CYFI's claim and call for more attention to programs which integrate the two components.

The inclusion of a financial literacy assessment in PISA is the result of the unique collaboration between the Education Division and the International Network for Financial Education (INFE) of the OECD. It is based on the profound understanding of the fact that young people in both OECD and non-OECD countries are already involved in financial systems, are taking part in increasingly complex financial transactions, and are going to enter a financial work environment in their adulthood that is far more complex than that of their parents or teachers. Children are also already deeply engaged with money from a young age – more than 60 percent of 15-year-olds in participating OECD countries earn money from some type of work activity, 56 percent already have a bank account, and 19 percent have a prepaid debit card. At the same time, the results reveal that less than one in three students have the necessary skills to manage a bank account!

When compared to the results from 2012, only Russia and Italy have made any progress in increasing the financial literacy of students. This is of course a distressing result, considering the ever increasing engagement of youth with money, and the amount of work that has been done in the field over the past years. However, positive outcomes reveal that across all countries and economies, very few gender differences were detected in the levels of financial literacy among the 15-year olds surveyed. This finding is in contrast with the results of many adult financial literacy surveys, where women in most countries consistently score lower on financial literacy indicators than men. While the nature of this difference in financial literacy between adult males and females is not yet fully understood, it will be interesting to see whether this gender gap will continue when this next generation reaches adulthood or if we are on a path to closing the gender gap both in terms of financial inclusion and financial literacy.

Furthering youth financial literacy

The 2015 PISA results also confirmed that practical applications of financial knowledge and behaviours have a strong impact on financial literacy levels. Evidence shows that there is a positive relationship between performance in financial literacy and holding a bank account or receiving gifts of money. Moreover, students who are more financially literate are more motivated to use financial products, and perhaps more confident in doing so.

There is a growing perception in the field that students develop better financial understanding, skills and habits not only through talking to parents and observing their behaviour, or simply by receiving financial education lessons in class, but especially via personal experiences and learning by doing. This is also an essential element of the SchoolBanks implemented by CYFI and its network partners.

Another interesting result of PISA is linked to the socio-economic background of the student. Socio-economically advantaged students score 89 points higher than disadvantaged students, on average across the OECD, which is an equivalent to more than one PISA proficiency level. Even after looking at students with similar math and reading scores, disadvantaged students from poorer families are about twice as likely as advantaged students to be low performers in financial literacy. These findings support once again CYFI's focus to integrate financial education in the formal school curriculum across the board, in order to tackle those socio-economic differences early on.

The results of the 2015 PISA assessments could have implications on a series of initiatives to be led in the following years:

-The importance of impact evaluations of financial education initiatives in and outside of school
-The need of providing young people with safe opportunities to learn by experience and by using basic financial products;
-The need to target parents with financial education initiatives at the same time as young people;
-The necessity of addressing the needs of low-performing and economically disadvantaged students;
-The importance of providing equal opportunities for learning to boys and girls;
-And finally, the imperative of integrating financial education into the school curriculum and providing effective and scalable teacher training.

Detailed results, country overviews and more data can be found in PISA 2015 Results (Volume IV): Students' Financial Literacy.

We encourage our network partners from various sectors to look into these results, to learn from the experience of other countries as well in the design and implementation of financial education programs for children in their countries. CYFI can provide support and guidance in this effort. You can follow the conversation on Twitter: #OECDPISA, and INFE-OECD

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APEC Guidebook on Financial and Economic Literacy

The APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Guidebook on Financial and a1sx2_300_APEC_20141211-095201_1.png Economic Literacy in Basic Education, released earlier this month, is set to be a valuable resource for policy makers and practitioners concentrating on financial and economic education at the primary and early secondary school level. The Guidebook demonstrates how to design and implement learning activities related to financial and economic literacy for children and youth.

Child & Youth Finance International joined the World Bank, OECD, Aflatoun, and national authorities from Australia, Canada, China, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States in setting the outline and content of the Guidebook in September 2012. CYFI’s Global Evaluation and Engagement department contributed to the chapter on resource mobilization and edited the rationale and curriculum integration chapters.

The report comes the month after the APEC celebrated 25 years of being the primary forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

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High-School Student Publishes Book on Finance!

CYFI Youth Committee member Mahir Jethanandani from USA has recently had his book, The Immaculate Investor, published on Amazon!

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The Immaculate Investor

The Immaculate Investor delves into the world of finance, economics, and investing for the sole purpose of demystifying how the money around us functions, operates, and works. Bunking the myth of taxes, loans, and retirement being difficult processes and concepts to understand, The Immaculate Investor lays down the solid foundation of what every student, adult, and financially aware person should know. The Immaculate Investor was written in the eyes of a sixteen-year-old, whose desire was to accumulate the knowledge he learned over the course of nine years, from the opening of his first bank account, and what he sought to underline as the necessities and concepts needed to understand the world of finance and money.

Way to go Mahir!

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Shaping Egypt's Future through Financial Education

Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) has recently launched a series of radio talk shows on financial literacy awareness and education. The radio series is part EBI's financial inclusion initiative called "Shaping the Future." In addition, on October 28, in partnership with GIZ, EBI held a training workshop for the members of the "National Committee for Drafting Financial Literacy Strategy in Egypt". The workshop brought together international experts to discuss the current state of financial education in Egypt and to enhance the skills of the committee members in their development of a national financial education strategy which is in line with international best practices.
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Young Women Learn Money Management Skills

On October 12-13, the Baizat team ran a series of “My Money Skills” workshops with young women (aged 12-18) from Sajaya Girls Centers in Sharjah and Kalba. The workshop was initially developed by Visa and the Emirates Foundation. In each course, 25 young ladies participated in personal finance lectures and activities which covered topics such as budgeting, decision making and banking services. The final part of the course involved a field trip to a financial institution or a local supermarket, in order to teach the young women about the basics of decision making and the major areas of personal finance that young individuals will encounter both today and tomorrow, such as budgeting, banking services and the costs of living alone.

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Press Release: Youth to Lead the World to an Inclusive Future




Youth to Lead the World to an Inclusive Future

Ensuring youth financial and social inclusion in the Post-2015 Agenda

Amsterdam, the NetherlandsChild and Youth Finance International (CYFI) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) are co-hosting a High-level Stakeholder’s Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on May 23, 2014. Preceding the meeting is a CYFI International Youth Meeting and the 2014 CYFI Awards’ Dinner on May 21-22, and 23 May, 2014, respectively.

Letting the Youth Lead: Youth to Present Youth Meeting Outcomes to Policy Makers

On the 21-22 May children and youth who are actively involved in the Child and Youth Finance Movement, will be attending CYFI’s Youth Meeting. The children and youth will take part in fun and interactive activities workshops where they will further their knowledge on finance, Economic Citizenship and entrepreneurship. The young people will also discuss how their financial and social wellbeing can and should be included in the UN’s Post-2015 Agenda.

Youth representatives will present the outcomes of this meeting to policy makers at A Chance for Change: Children and Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda – a High-level Stakeholder Meeting on the 23 May, 2014, co-hosted by UNCDF and CYFI at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Ms. Amina Mohammed, the Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning; Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth; and Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, President’s Special Envoy, World Bank, are three of the high-level representatives who will be speaking, along with the youth, at the meeting.

A Chance for Change: Child and Youth Finance in the Post-2015 Agenda

The meeting, titled A Chance for Change: Child and Youth Finance in the Post-2015 Agenda, provides a platform for children and youth to present their ideas for the Post-2015 agenda – these ideas will then be taken forward during the country-level deliberations. It will be attended by high-level representatives from institutions such as Permanent Representatives to the UN, financial authorities, Ministries of Finance, Youth and Education, financial institutions (global and local); multilateral agencies; NGOs and, of course, youth. The main purpose of the meeting will be to ensure that youth financial andsocial inclusion becomes a topic within the development agenda and to ensure that every young person emerging into adulthood has a dignified livelihood either through employment orentrepreneurship.

CYFI and the UNCDF proudly announce the following speakers for the meeting:

  • Ms. Amina Mohammed, the Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning
  • Ms. Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children
  • H.E. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, the Ambassador of the Romanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations
  • Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth
  • Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, President’s Special Enjoy, World Bank
  • Ms. Kim Bolduc, UNCDF Executive Secretary ad interim
  • Hon. Major (Rtd) Jessica R. E. Alupo, Minister of Education and Sports, Ministry of Education and Sports of Uganda
  • Dr. Muhammad Baasiri, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Lebanon
  • Dr. Mona El Baradei, Executive Director, Egyptian Banking Institute – Central Bank of Egypt
  • Mrs. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL)
  • Mr. Luiz Edson Feltrim, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Brazil
  • Mr. Ardian Fullani, Governor, Central Bank of Albania
  • Dr. Michael Gondwe, Governor, Bank of Zambia
  • Mr. Gilmore Hoefdraad, Governor, Central Bank of Suriname

Awarding Innovation, Commitment and Entrepreneurship

On the evening of May 22, 2014, CYFI will host the 2014 CYFI Awards at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel. At this annual awards ceremony CYFI recognizes and honors individuals, organizations, and government agencies that demonstrate innovation and commitment to promoting financial inclusion and financial, social and livelihoods education for children and youth at the national, regional and international level.

Thompson Reuters’ Personal Finance Editor Lauren Young will be the anchor for the evening. Special addresses will be made from Ms Annemiek Hoogenboom, Founder and Director UK’s People Post Code Lottery; and, Silvia Singer Director of the Interactive Museum of Economy, Mexico.

The CYFI Award categories are: CYFI Pioneer Award, CYFI Country Award and CYFI “Global Money Week” Award. CYFI will award the achievements of young people in the following categories: Entrepreneurship, Financial Inclusion- the Youth Financial Landscape and DreamsBank Campaign.

Social Media

Event Hashtags:

#CYFI2014 | #UNforYouth | #ChanceforChange | #DreamsBank2014

Other related hashtags:

#MDG | #finlit |#entrepreneurship |#youth | #awards | #GMW2014 | #celebrate |#jointhefun

About Child and Youth Finance International

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) aims to develop a generation that will be able to prevent future financial crises by increasing the financial education, financial access, employability, and entrepreneurship skills of children and youth.

Launched in April 2012, the Child and Youth Finance Network has already expanded to 125 countries and reached more than 18 million children. Our international and regional events result in policy changes, and are the only events in the world where children contribute to setting the global agenda.

Website: www.childfinanceinternational.org

Facebook: facebook.com/ChildFinance

Twitter: twitter.com/ChildFinance

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This November, Canada is talking about money!

This November, Canada is talking about money!

Did you know that November is Financial Literacy Month (FLM) in Canada? 

FLM 2013 is the perfect time to raise public awareness and promote the importance of greater financial literacy in Canada.

No matter how old you are, talking about money can be difficult. But many Canadians are accepting the challenge and participating in one of the many events taking place across Canada this November. This wide range of activities will allow them to build the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence they need to make smart financial decisions when making a budget, managing or paying back debts, planning for retirement, and investing.

The theme of this third annual FLM is “Financial Literacy across Generations.” The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has once again partnered with different organizations to raise awareness about FLM and to encourage all ages to participate.


Calendar of events

On its website, FCAC is offering Canadians a calendar of events where, in just a few clicks, organizations can promote the seminars, workshops or any other activity they are planning during FLM 2013, and where Canadians can see what’s going on in their own city and province.

Lights, camera… action!

To highlight young Canadian talent and raise youth awareness of the importance of financial literacy, FCAC is organizing another video contest this year. Canadians aged 13 to 19 are invited to produce a short video explaining how talking with someone about money helped them achieve a financial goal. Participants have until November 30 to submit a 30-second to 2-minute long video and to be entered to win an iPod Touch, an iPad or a MacBook Pro.

To learn more about the contest rules and regulations, or to find more information about Canada’s Financial Literacy Month, visit itpaystoknow.gc.ca/flm

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Gaming with a Purpose?

Gaming with a Purpose?

This is the second blog post in a series of post Child and Youth Finance will be doing at The Huffington Post. This privilege comes with the Skoll Social Entrepreneur Fundraising Challenge we are taking part of to raise fund for CYFI  to better further the progress of the Movement.

Okay, so one thing is clear: Youth are hooked on technology. Computers, smartphones, tablets, social media, video games... the list goes on.

Mostly this connection is talked about with concern. 'Should our children be spending so much time...?' or 'How does technology affect our youngsters?'. And this concern is of course something that always should be taken into account for this subject. We also want to raise a question from another angle: 'Could youth's hook on technology be used for a purpose?'

One of the goals of the Child and Youth Finance Movement is to ensure financial, social, and livelihood education for 100 million children and young people in 100 countries by 2015. And why do we want to do this, you might ask? Well, although the trend of education has been very positive (Girls and boys in developing countries are enrolling in secondary school in greater numbers than ever before), less than 1% of the worlds 2.2 billion children have access to financial education.

We believe that by that empowering and equipping young people with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial and life decisions will have great benefits - both in their own lives, and also for that of their families and communities. Or as one of the Youth Participants from our Africa Regional Meeting put it:

If we do not learn about money and what choices to make, then how can we learn to manage our future?

One step in reaching this goal is to collaborate and align the efforts of education providers all over the world. However, we have discovered various barriers that hinder financial education from achieving its maximum impacts. Among these barriers, the most important ones include:

  1. Shortage of trained local teachers in remote areas
  2. Lack of incentives of children to participate in the learning programs
  3. Failure of financial education curriculums in meeting the needs of children from different cultures and different age groups

Common for all of these barriers is one question, and one of the fundamental challenges in education: How do we make sure we truly engage and motivate the kids to learn in a way that will stay with them for the rest of their lives? We think that one way of doing this is to meet the youngsters where they are already engaging and committing. Yes, exactly, we are talking about technology. By harnessing the already present integration of technology in the life of child and youth, and adding the purpose of learning to it, we believe that some of the barriers to financial, social, and livelihood education could be lowered.

Barrier 1: Difficulties for children and youth to access education in remote areas Technologies such as computers, mobile phones and Internet is spreading rapidly across the world. For instance global mobile penetration has witnessed an exponential growth in recent years, with an impressive penetration rate of 79% in the developing world by the end of 2011. A 2013 report from the United Nations explains that mobile broadband will expand greatly in the world during the coming years, particularly in developing countries. And the mobile phone penetration rates is 96%; 128% in developed countries; and 89% in developing countries. Globally, more and more education providers are applying digital tools in education programs. Mobile education is also emerging in many countries. And thus potentially provides a way of reaching children and youth in remote locations that do not have easy access to local teachers.

Barrier 2: Lack of incentive and motivation of the young people to participate Gaming is something that obviously can engage millions of youth and spread rapidly all across the world. Just take the example of Angry Birds - in 2012 the game hit 1 billion (!) downloads world wide. And this is where we raise the suggestion to combine this incredible power to engage youth, and combine it with a purpose - learning. Studies have shown that when games are used to educate it can potentially change the behavior of young people, as well as have positive impacts on intelligence, such as cognitive flexibility.

Barrier 3: Meeting the needs of children and youth in different ages from different cultures One of the great strengths of technology is its ability to be easily adaptable and updated from one source, and then spread to all of the connected sources. And without particularly high costs it can be altered and customized based on the needs of the user. So if a foundation for a financial learning game is created, this game can then be changed into various versions based on age and culture of the children and youth using the game.

So, if we want to look at the future and how we can reach the children and youth of today, as well as tomorrow, we need to start paying attention to what is actually engaging children and youth. Technology is moving away from being something exclusively for the children and youth of well-off industrialized countries, to being something that is expanding rapidly to all parts of the world. Combining all of these aspects we believe that mobile games with educational element could potentially become a great complement to traditional financial education. It can be a way to create a fun and interactive way to learn in addition to the financial education taught in schools.

Interested in how companies are designing innovative programs and technologies to raise awareness and skills among children and youth - particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds - on how to achieve financial security? There are still a chance to register for the CYFI & United Nations Global Compact Webinar, on November 7.


Over the coming weeks we have the privilege to blog on behalf of the Child and Youth Finance Movement, here at The Huffington Post. This amazing opportunity is a part of the Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur Challenge, where we are participating with our own fundraiser. During the weeks we will talk about the issues we are trying to tackle, including youth unemployment, technology solutions for financial inclusions, the need for Child & Youth Finance in developing countries and more. Please follow our Facebook and Twitter to stay updated about the progress of the Movement.

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List of Children's Books on Financial Literacy

List of Children's Books on Financial Literacy


Approaching the topic of financial literacy with children and youth might sometimes be a challenge as it can be difficult to translate the financial systems and terms into a language children and youth can relate to. But what if there already were ready made translations to use?

In fact, there are a lot of books written on the topic of financial literacy for children, which can help the relate to and understand the importance of financial literacy. CYFI partner Jump$tart has presented a list put together by the Common Wealth Libraries (Bureau of Library Development) with children's books focusing on the issue of financial literacy

With titles such as 'Big Buck Adventure' and 'What is Money' the books on the list range from story books for the very youngest to more informative books for children who can read by themselves, all aimed at giving children an understanding of financial literacy. The list also includes books for parents to help give them the tools to raise financially responsible children.

You can find the list as a PDF here (via the Jump$tart website). Save it or print it and take it to your nearest library. 

Jump$tarts is an CYFI partner organization located in Washington DC. Jump$tart is a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of pre-kindergarten through college-age youth by providing advocacy, research, standards and educational resources. Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook for updates.


Photo courtesy of StockFreeImages.com

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On Financial Knowledge and Financial Behaviour: Why we need the courage to walk the extra mile

Imagine you teach your child how to ride a bike. You will tell her or him what to do: Keep the balance, push the pedals, and steer into the right direction. If your kid has understood this information she will in theory know how to ride a bike, but it is very likely that she will try and fall a couple of times before finally making their first hundred meters safe and sound.


Learning how to deal with personal finances works in a similar way like learning how to ride a bike. The mere knowledge about how to handle money... 

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Financial Literacy Levels in Uganda Need Boost

This blog is concentrating on the importance of financial literacy in Uganda. Sharing facts about the current financial education among the population and pointing out the need for financial initiatives and outreach programs targeting young adults and children.

Financial literacy entails acquisition of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed decisions regarding money matters. A 2011 Bank of Uganda report defines financial literacy as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage one`s own finances well.

Going by this definition, knowledge of managing one’s finances is a necessity. The ability to do so determines whether an individual, a community or country for that matter, is economically empowered.

In developing countries, just like elsewhere in the world, financial literacy is essential for all irrespective of one’s status...

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A Saving Lesson for South African Children

For the first time in South African schools, a financial literacy program has been introduced to teach young people to be smart with their money. Click here to witness the moment by BBC News.

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