2014 – noviembre: Adele Atkinson

Entrevista previa

La experta

Adele Atkinson de la Unidad de Educación Financiera de la OCDE nos explica en esta charla la importancia de enseñar en las aulas los principios de la educación financiera y su relación con la educación en valores.

Tras la publicación de los datos del informe PISA financiero el pasado mes de julio, se observaron que existen significativas diferencias entre los países que sí trabajan la educación financiera en las aulas y los que no. Pero, ¿cómo incorporarla en las aulas? Atkinson nos cuenta cómo desarrollarla en la escuela y cómo esto repercutiría en la sociedad. En esta charla se abordan temas como responsabilidad, formación de los docentes o la alfabetización en este ámbito.


Adele ha dado respuesta a las preguntas que los docentes le han hecho llegar. A continuación podéis leer sus respuestas (A.A.).

(  leer las respuestas traducidas al español)

I think there would be two major problems in trying to include financial education in the classroom: on the one hand, the lack of teachers’ belief in the real link between financial education and the students’ needs and, on the other hand, the lack of teachers’ training to implement it. What is the experience in other countries in this regard in achieving results better than the ones obtained in our centres?

A.A: Some teachers may not be aware of the importance of financial education, but in most countries, students in compulsory education already face decisions involving money, and as PISA shows many 15 year olds have their own money and are using basic financial services. In addition students will face new financial decisions in the near future, when they will have to consider the financial implications of higher education or employment options, and navigate the complex and evolving financial landscape. It is therefore important that teachers are well informed about the relevance of this subject and the benefits it can bring to students.

Policy makers in many countries see the introduction of financial education in schools as a way to offer young people an opportunity to acquire at least some basic financial competencies. To make these efforts successful, it is important that teachers are adequately trained and that teaching contents and materials are appropriate and relevant not only to students’ age but especially to their lives and needs. Our publications on financial education for youth and national strategies for financial education provide further information on how this is achieved in different countries (see our website www.financial-education.org).

How should financial education be incorporated into the educational system? In mathematics? In social sciences?As a cross-cutting theme?As a new subject?

A.A: Different countries have chosen different approaches to introduce financial education into the compulsory school curriculum. The most frequent choices have been to incorporate it into one or two subjects or to use it as cross-cutting theme. The option of introducing financial education as a standalone subject is typically not chosen due to already very busy curricula.

For instance, finance education became compulsory within England’s National Curriculum as of September 2014 as part of the subjects of mathematics and citizenship (the latter in grades corresponding to ages 11-16). Moreover, financial literacy is included in the New Zealand curriculum as a theme that schools can use for cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes. It provides a context for linking learning areas, such as social sciences, mathematics and statistics, English, business studies, health and technology, and it provides a relevant context for strengthening literacy and numeracy skills.
The OECD publication “Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools” and the annexed INFE Guidelines for Financial Education in Schools provide international examples and policy guidance on effective approaches for the introduction of financial education in the school curriculum1.

What is the most suitable age for students to start learning concepts such as the responsible use of money, management of budgets, etc.?

A.A: People should start to learn about financial matters, including managing their money and planning for their financial future, as early as possible in their lives, as recommended by the OECD Council in 20052. To ensure the effectiveness of financial education, however, it is fundamental that curricula and teaching materials are adapted and relevant to students’ age and experiences (as well as to the context where they live).

For this reason, several countries have accompanied the introduction of financial education in school with the definition of learning objectives or competency frameworks, detailing age appropriate contents. For instance,Portugal has developed Core Competencies for Financial Education describing financial education topics and goals across education levels and teaching stages3. More examples of learning framework in financial education are available in: OECD (2014), Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools, OECD Publishing4.

Do you think the effects of the crisis could have been eased to some extent if financial education systems had been implemented before the crisis? (if families had had a cushion, if they had had information about financial products?)

A.A: As noted in the OECD publication “Financial literacy and Consumer Protection: Overlooked Aspects of the Crisis”, financial literacy is a key element for the proper functioning of the economy,but financial education is only one part of an effective policy response to empowering consumers in the financial market place and ensuring financial stability5. The OECD, as well as other global fora like the G20, stresses the importance of financial education as a complement to financial consumer protection and financial market regulation for financial markets efficiency and consumers’financial well-being.

When you speak of financial principles that should be taught in the classroom, what principles are you referring to?

A.A: As illustrated in the OECD publication “Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools”6, financial literacy frameworks typically cover knowledge and understanding, skills and competencies, as well as attitudes and values. Countries that have introduced financial education in schools have typically identified topics related to money and transactions, planning and managing finances, risk and reward and the financial landscape as being the most relevant topics for students. Some financial education frameworks also incorporate topics that more typically reflect the content of economics or business frameworks, and some are linked to entrepreneurship.
At the request of the G20, the OECD/INFE is developing an international framework of financial literacy core competencies for youth, which uses as a starting point the proficiency scales developed within the PISA financial literacy assessment7 as well as good practices from a wide range of countries. This work is due for completion in 2015.

Do you think the subject of financial education should be created or should it be a cross-cutting theme in all subjects?

A.A: The introduction of financial education as a separate school subject is typically not a viable option due to already crowded curricula. Countries have preferred to incorporate it into one or two subjects or to use it as cross cutting theme. See the OECD publication “Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools” (as well as the reply above) for some international examples.

Would one of the goals be giving university training to teachers of this subject?

A.A: The PISA financial literacy assessment revealed that very few of the teachers providing financial education to the pupils who took part in the assessment had been exposed to professional development in financial education.
It is often noted that teachers (both students and experienced teachers) could benefit from financial education to increase their own knowledge, skills and confidence, as well as training on how to teach financial education to others. Ideally, student teachers who are interested in teaching financial education should be provided with the knowledge, competencies and tools to do so effectively during their normal vocational education and training. Existing teachers should also have access to high quality training as part of their professional development activities and that such training is updated as necessary.

Where there is a national or provincial approach to delivering financial education in schools, resources can be used to train the relevant subject teachers – depending on how financial topics are integrated into the curriculum. Where this is not the case, or in schools without specialist teachers, broader access to teacher training will be necessary.

Do you think that there is a relationship between corruption in our country and financial education? This is to say, if we start teaching this subject at school and creating greater social awareness, would there be fewer of these crimes?

A.A: We are not aware of any evidence of a relationship between corruption in a country and the level of financial literacy, or exposure to financial education. However, it is not uncommon for countries to incorporate financial education into such subjects as citizenship (this is the case for instance in England, where financial education is taught in citizenship in Key stages 3 and 4, corresponding to ages 11-16) and to include in financial education8 elements of ethics (such as for instance in the financial literacy learning frameworks of Australia, Northern Ireland and Portugal).

Ms. Atkinson, is there a catalogue or compilation of educational activities or techniques for teaching this material to children or young people? Have you (OECD) ever thought of recommending or approving any specific programme for doing this?

A.A: Various authorities and organisations have developed financial education resources for school teachers and made them available through online platforms (for instance in Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and also Spain). Depending on the country, these platforms include resources developed by public authorities (typically from collaboration between educational and financial authorities) and other organisations, making sure they are in line with the objectives of the national financial education strategy and that they do not have any commercial content.

The OECD/INFE maintains a Gateway where countries around the world have the opportunity to share and compare information about their financial education initiatives (not only in schools)9. Teaching resources on financial education coming from European countries are also made available through the European Commission’s website called Consumer Classroom10http://www.consumerclassroom.eu/

How do you think the ICTs (internet, virtual banking, virtual currency such as the bitcoin, etc.) could change the contents of financial education in the future?

A.A: The financial landscape is evolving, including through the use of digital financial services. The spread of such services offers opportunities in terms of financial access whilst also posing challenges in terms of financial consumer protection and financial education. All such changes highlight the need for financial education content to be flexible and to up-to-date with respect to these new channels and; and indicating the need for teachers’ professional development activities to incorporate such changes.

Recognising the importance of these issues, the OECD/INFE recently started working on the subject with a view to identifying and addressing financial education needs of vulnerable groups posed by digital financial services. This work will continue in 2015.


[1] OECD (2014), Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools, OECD Publishing.http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264174825-en

[2] OECD (2005) Recommendation on Principles and Good Practices for Financial Education and Awareness.http://www.oecd.org/daf/fin/financial-education/35108560.pdf

[3] http://www.todoscontam.pt/SiteCollectionDocuments/CoreCompetenciesFinancialEducation.pdf

[4] http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264174825-en








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