Please, some financial education
Amid the debate on the changes that need to be made in education to reverse the low standards of Catalan students, 11Onze’s Director of Content and Media, Toni Mata, poses a new question: why aren’t the citizens of the future being educated financially?
So much has been said about the poor results of Catalan students in the PISA report that it seems the only solution will be to keep talking. Parole, parole, parole, as Xavier Massó of “Profesores de Secundaria” paraphrased a few days ago on Rac1. The truth is that suddenly, the country seems to be worried that young people don’t understand what they read. Is it a surprise? Is anyone interested in the new citizens learning something that will make them capable of living a fruitful life, as free and happy as possible? If this were the case, surely the educational curriculum would be quite different and financial education would surely play a central role.
In Catalonia, young people leave secondary school and high school without knowing how to read a payslip. Without understanding how taxes are calculated or what they do. Without having the remotest idea of how unemployment benefits or sick leave are calculated. Not understanding how money is created, what inflation is or how interest on a loan is calculated. How can our children be free citizens if they are unable to understand how to manage a commodity as essential to their lives as money? Some will say that in the humanistic and social baccalaureate, there is a subject of economics. And that is true. Well, not to worry then, I’m sure these students will teach it to the students of the other modalities.
And the adults?
They do not fare very well. According to OECD studies, only 34% of European adults have a minimum knowledge of financial literacy. It is most probably this widespread lack of knowledge that makes it possible for us to give so little importance to financial education. Secondary schools can indeed ask to participate in the financial education programme in schools. But here we are: which schools will ask about it if it is optional? How many workshops will be offered? And, above all, who will teach them? Behind the financial education programme in schools offered by the Generalitat, there are all the big Spanish and Spanish banks (formerly Catalan and Spanish). Are we really going to entrust the financial education of our sons and daughters to workshops given by bankers? And to what extent will the bankers be interested in our sons and daughters questioning whether the current model is acceptable?
It is disheartening to see the citizens of the future being denied basic tools for adult life: what do they know about financial education?
It is frankly disheartening to see how the Department of Education fails to provide our children with the minimum tools to understand the world and to flourish by themselves. But all of this makes great systemic sense because it guarantees generations of dependent and therefore very complacent citizens. If you don’t know how the world works, it is impossible to change it.
But everybody relax! The Department of Education announced the creation of a commission of experts where, for sure, there will be representatives of prestigious foundations which in turn are full of more experts and which are very well-endowed with grants. So when they meet in this commission they will be very happy and no one will raise their hand to ask if they have to hire experts, commissions and foundations to do the work of the Department of Education, what exactly is the Department of Education for? So we could go back to financial education, and we would realise that knowing how public money is managed is also a dangerous subject because someone might ask these kinds of questions that are not in anybody’s interest.
Let’s try to find a solution
At 11Onze, we have been committed to financial education since the beginning. There are courses available in Learn, we started to roll out the 11Onze School project, we launched the series El Diner, and we continue to educate and inform about economics and finance every day through 11Onze Magazine. We try to make the economy understandable so that citizens can make informed decisions.
But the absolute truth is that we citizens are on our own. And that the years go by and the feeling of loneliness increases. And that there is only one way forward: to come together and make an effort. Hence, 11Onze’s desire to create a financially educated community. Only education will set us free. And quite clearly, this is the problem.
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