Financial education should start at school



CEO's Notes

At a symposium in Amsterdam last week, leading bankers called for more financial education in schools. The event, on 'Ethics and Integrity in Finance 2017', received wide coverage by the Dutch press. The message was simple and direct: teach people from a young age to cope with the complex financial decisions that come later in life.

Children are growing up in an increasingly complex world where, as young independent adults, they will need to know how to budget and make financial decisions, big or small. They will need to save for a ‘rainy day’, provide for old age, avoid taking on excessive debt and resist the temptation of finance made too accessible. Poor financial decisions can have a long-lasting impact on them, their families and the community at large. In 2012, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged that if the population had been more savvy, the mortgage crisis would not have aggravated.

The various national and international programmes to improve financial literacy include one by the OECD which it stepped up in 2008 in the wake of the financial crisis. Closer to home, the European Financial Education Partnership (EFEP) project has been setting up networks for financial education in selected EU countries, with the Institute of Financial Services (Malta) being the local ‘dissemination partner’.

Financial literacy is a core life skill and a growing number of countries are recognising this. Financial education should start as early as possible and be a core part of the school curriculum. It is good, but at the same time ironic, if while our University is producing graduates in finance and economics, large segments of society still lack basic financial awareness.

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