Why teach financial literacy in school?

On the 14th of October, the three Belgian EUFin partners organised a study day for teachers and pedagogical councillors in Bruges. During this EUFin multiplier event 35 teachers were informed about the new Flemish curriculum. Kristof De Witte introduced them to the importance of financial literacy, and how financial literacy fits in the European key competences. He also made the case on why financial literacy should be introduced in school. 

He discussed three main reasons for this:

First, by introducing financial literacy in the school curriculum, we can reach all youngsters. This is important as voluntary initiatives are prone to selection bias such that only highly motivated students are participating.

Second, many parents lack a sound foundation of financial literacy, such that they cannot introduce their children to the topic. This results into a vicious circle and a strong correlation between financial literacy and socio-economic status.

Third, youngsters make important financial decisions, such that wrong choices result in costly errors. By introducing financial literacy in the curriculum, schools can teach the basics of financial literacy and show students where to find ‘just in time’ information (e.g. on mortgages, on debt management, etc.).

Els Lagrou (Wikifin – associated EUfin partner) and Johan Mestdagh (Belgian secondary education school) discussed in detail the content of the curriculum. They provided background information and didactical suggestions for the courses. The slides of their presentation can be found on the EUFin website (ww.eufin.org).

In the afternoon, the Belgian members of the EUfin consortium discussed with the teachers various didactic procedures to introduce financial literacy to youngsters. The materials include competitive financial literacy challenges, computer aided adaptive learning paths or small crosswords on financial literacy. The course materials are offered for free to the teachers through the website www.financiele-geletterdheid.org.

The evaluation of the participating teachers suggests that similar events are necessary and extremely well appreciated. Similar events allow us to spread the word about the EUfin project, allow teachers to network and result in a quality impulse for financial literacy education.

Kristof De Witte, Kenneth De Beckker, Oliver Holz and Johan Mestdagh