Effective approaches for the introduction of financial education into school curricula

The previous section illustrates the importance of political support and willingness in order to succeed in the development and implementation of financial education programmes in schools. This section focuses on best ways to integrate financial education into school curricula taking into account the specific characteristics of national/regional/local educational systems.

Regular surveys conducted within the OECD/INFE and for the PISA financial literacy assessment from 2008 till 2013 show that a mounting number of countries (over 40 at present) have introduced financial education initiatives in schools (including in elementary and secondary/high schools). Among these, a more limited number of countries have financial education as a compulsory topic or as an integral part of the curriculum (see Table 3.A1.1).

Countries are integrating financial education in various ways. In a minority of countries (in some United States states for example), financial education is a stand-alone subject which is also often optional. In the majority, it is integrated into several subjects through a cross-curricular approach. Mathematics is the most popular subject to include financial education. Other subjects include economics, politics, history, social sciences, home economics, business studies, knowledge about society, enterprise, social and citizen competences, Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE), careers education, work-related learning, learning for life and work, citizenship, language/literature, science, civics, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), moral education, economic and management sciences, accounting and consumer studies.

Whether the integration is cross-curricular or into one subject, the provision of concrete pedagogic tools to teachers for a consistent incorporation in the existing school programme is crucial. In a cross-curricular approach, raising the visibility of financial literacy is very important and the curriculum or the learning framework needs to promote the use of authentic contexts for the delivery of financial literacy. It is also critical for schools to have a curriculum or framework that introduces financial literacy progressively through the different grades. The OECD/INFE survey identified a dozen of countries which have developed full-fledged learning frameworks on financial education adapted to education systems and curricula (see Chapter 3).

This section provides examples of flexible approaches to incorporate financial education into national curricula taken by four countries. Brazil offers the example of a cross-curricular approach developed by Federal and local authorities in the context of a pilot programme in high schools. In the case of New Zealand, financial education is included in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) through a cross-curricular approach recommended by the Ministry of Education. In Northern Ireland, financial education is statutory and an integrated-curriculum approach is recommended by the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment. Finally in South Africa, the Financial Services Board (FSBSA) reached an agreement allowing it to develop classroom resources to be used in a cross-curricular approach. Guidance on how to integrate financial education in schools is also presented in the INFE Guidelines provided in Annex A as well as Chapter 3 on the development of learning frameworks.

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