Strategies to promote and influence political willingness
The development and implementation of financial education programmes in schools need the involvement of several stakeholders with diverse backgrounds. In this respect, it is important that the government and the relevant public authorities take a leading and coordinating role.
As established by the OECD/INFE High-level Principles on National Strategies for Financial Education (OECD/INFE, 2012), public authorities are best placed to provide effective leadership at the national level and ensure the sustainability and the credibility of the programme (see also Grifoni and Messy, 2012; Russia’s G20 Presidency - OECD, 2013). They also have the tools and the means to plan and implement effective communication strategies aimed at convincing policy and educational decision-makers of the importance of financial education. They can find ways to effectively incorporate financial education into school curricula and assess which tools are available to support effective practice. Finally, public authorities are well equipped to understand the context in which financial education programmes can contribute to the achievement of the requirements of school curricula, and are essential in ensuring the involvement of all the other relevant stakeholders.
However, most countries face difficulties in convincing policy makers and especially the educational system of the importance of introducing financial education in schools.
Following the INFE Guidelines presented in Annex A, the five selected cases sketched out hereinafter (Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom) provide different yet successful experience in influencing political willingness in order to incorporate financial education into school curricula.
The Australian approach to securing the inclusion of financial literacy in school curricula has been based on the use of formal educational approaches and on the establishment of cooperative partnerships. In 2008, the national financial regulator -the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) - took over the lead responsibility for advancing financial education in schools. This role was previously undertaken by a the Financial Literacy Foundation, which was established in 2005 by the Australian Government within the Department of Treasury to raise awareness of consumer issues and encourage all Australians to better manage their money.
Brazil offers a good example of financial education in schools addressed as the first priority of its national strategy. This allowed for a structured co-operation among stakeholders from both educational and financial authorities, and for the creation of dedicated institutional mechanisms within the national strategy structure. Furthermore, the Brazilian approach has been informed by the need to foster dialogue in the context of a federal state.
The New Zealand case demonstrates the importance of baseline surveys in providing quality data for policy makers, of the role played by a strong and defined leadership by one institution and of the value of strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education and nation-wide private financial institutions. The initial survey that portrayed low levels of financial literacy among the population provided an opportunity for a high-level public sector body to lead the partnership with the private sector, ensuring its control by the appointment of a Board of senior government officials that overlooked most aspects of the National Strategy.
South Africa is also a good example. In the absence of an implemented national strategy (at that time) but in the context of a general mandate on the promotion of informational and educational programmes related to the use of financial products, stakeholders were encouraged to elaborate and define the introduction of financial education in schools. Within an outcomes-based educational framework stressing the importance of life skills, the Financial Services Board of South Africa managed to introduce financial education in schools’ curricula thanks to the support of the Ministry of Education and of the Provincial authorities responsible for the local implementation of national programmes.
The United Kingdom, finally, provides a relevant example of a country where a financial authority has had the autonomy and strong willingness to suggest and back policy directions and that was able to effectively partner with both public institutions and Ministries as a result of support from the government. It also sets out the importance of defining different stages in the creation and implementation of a strategy for financial education in schools: create awareness of the need for financial education and secure the support of the educational system and of teachers in particular.