Businesses must support financial education in schools
By Vikas Vij — The World Economic Forum includes financial literacy as one of six core ‘foundational literacies’ essential for students to thrive in the 21st century economy. Supporting the next generation to manage money is not only vital in securing their future, but also the future of business and the wider economy. Improved financial confidence and knowledge among consumers and employees benefits everyone.
Despite widespread recognition of the importance of financial education, 70 percent of students in the UK leave formal education having never had a properly structured lesson on how to look after their money. Looking at this challenge, the National Schools Partnership (UK) has developed a guide to encourage corporate community to support financial education in schools for their own long-term good.
The guide shows that investing in financial education not only benefits young people, but is also an effective way to build trust in corporate brands because consumers perceive these brands in a more positive light. Furthermore, companies that contribute to the financial education of young people are helping to build an economically sound generation who can add value to their business – as customers and as employees.
The guide has identified eight key areas of opportunity where businesses can add the most value to support financial education for students:
Provide high-quality training to both primary and secondary school teachers
Work needs to be done to give teachers the knowledge, skills and confidence to teach financial education. Face-to-face and e-learning are excellent ways to target both existing teachers and those in training. Companies can focus on what they know best, or take on the bigger challenge to offer a wider training program covering all aspects of financial education.
Provide direct delivery to schools by outside experts
With 90 percent of teachers believing that “pupils learn about personal finance better from speakers with specialist knowledge,” there is real scope for businesses to share their expertise. Companies can sponsor and expand an existing program run by a financial charity, or create longer term impact through their own sustainable volunteer program.
Leverage credibility as a business to campaign for the importance of financial education
A business can use its status as a reputable financial institution to highlight the need for financial education and raise its profile. They can commission research into what works well to determine which are the most effective interventions, so that best practices can be shared and publicized.
Provide support for school senior leaders to embed financial education in their schools
While teachers recognize the importance of financial education, evidence suggests that this enthusiasm is not shared by school senior leaders, who have more say in what the school teaches its students. Leaders would benefit from support to ensure a whole-school approach to financial education is solidly embedded in the curriculum across all age phases and throughout the curriculum.
Establish a supported network of financial education ‘champions’
Businesses could sponsor a ‘champion’ program, providing training and support for champions to enable them to share best practices across a network.
Create initiatives to help schools engage and upskill parents
Eighty percent of 15-18 year olds view parents and family as their main source of financial understanding, yet there is little training and content produced to support parents in this area. Initiatives aimed at helping schools to build parents’ confidence in managing their own finances, and teaching these skills to their children, would prove valuable.
Engage and excite students about financial capability through a large-scale competition
Competitions can be great motivators for young people, especially if exciting prizes are offered. Students’ financial skills and knowledge can be developed and applied through a creative challenge, with strong PR opportunities, again raising the profile of financial education.
Target programs or resources at specific cohort groups
While financial education resources exist, research flags several groups who receive less financial education than average or find it more difficult to access existing resources. There are also opportunities to create resources that acknowledge religious differences about loans and borrowing.