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Teaching financial wisdom in schools is making progress, but requires a systematic approach

13. January 2021 - 15:02

A long term vision, centrally coordinated and systematic teaching, unified and easily accessible teaching materials, as well as the further training of teachers are important for teaching consistent and relevant financial wisdom, becomes apparent from the shaping of financial literacy in the general education and vocational schools of Estonia about the study.

The study ordered by the Ministry of Finance and conducted by Civitta Eesti AS analysed how and with which methods, financial wisdom is taught in the general education and vocational schools of Estonia, as well as recommendations were given, for the systematic teaching of financial knowledge.

"We every day make financial decisions and the importance of knowledge of financial wisdom is constantly growing, as we have increasingly more choices for behaving in the financial world. The sooner youths become in contact with the subjects of money and financial wisdom, the more aware and money wise adults they will become”, said Bret Metsküla, the coordinator of financial wisdom, at the Ministry of Finance. “We by knowing how currently the studying of financial wisdom is taking place, in Estonian schools and what are the challenges, know how to guide it and teach it in such a way that in daily life the given knowledge would be available in the back pockets of the future citizens and that they will make money wise choices.”

There is an overview in the study of the knowledge of financial wisdom of Estonian students and the activities having been conducted until now, for improving knowledge and practical skills. An analysis is made thereafter, if the curricula of general education and vocational schools support to a sufficient extent, the treatment of financial wisdom in learning processes. A summary is further made, of teaching materials and methods, as well as the knowledge, preparation and motivation of teachers, in teaching financial wisdom. There are in the end, recommendations for the further development of teaching financial wisdom.

Key findings and observations:

  • The teaching of financial wisdom should already begin in kindergarten or primary school. The acquisition of knowledge of financial wisdom in children and youth, is most effective when the school and home make thought through cooperation.
  • The theoretical knowledge of financial literacy, in recent years has improved among Estonian students. The knowledge of financial wisdom does not significantly depend on the mother tongue, place of residence or gender of the student.
  • It is desired to be seen in the case of general education, a stronger integration of the subjects of financial wisdom, in a thought through manner, in subject syllabi, in a manner that does not burden teachers and students.
  • The compilation of a personal budget, making salary related calculations, the creation of a student company, company visits, as well as presentations by external lecturers, are preferred the most, as effective teaching methods.
  • Financial wisdom subjects are treated sufficiently, in connection with areas of specialisation, according to the evaluations of representatives of vocational schools and the development of financial literacy should not be a separate aim, in vocational schools.
  • There is not to a large extent available traditional courseware that purely treats the subject of financial wisdom. It is required to gather the existing materials into a unified source, from where all teachers could use them.
  • The current level education of teachers, does not treat the subjects of financial wisdom. It would be important to centrally and from a single information source, to offer further training to future, as well as current teachers.
  • The teaching of financial wisdom strongly depends on the motivation and attitudes of the teacher, as the workload of teachers is large and the aims of teaching have not been agreed upon unambiguously. It is thus required in schools, for the teaching of knowledge of resultful and systematic financial wisdom, a cross sectoral vision, as well as a long term action plan, for educational institutions.

"The results of the study will be used as an input for the development of the directions of financial education trends in the coming years and in the compilation of a new Estonian financial literacy programme", added Metsküla.

A total of 187 persons, from 15 general education schools and 6 vocational schools, were interviewed from July until October of 2020, in the framework of the study. Three target groups were included in the data collection: parties connected to the teaching of children and youths, parties connected with teaching teachers and experts in the field. The target group connected to the teaching of children and youths, was in turn divided into four sub-target groups: school management, teachers, parents and students.

The results of the study, ordered by the Ministry of Finance "Analysis of the possibilities of developing financial literacy in Estonian general education and vocational schools”, have been published on the website of the ministry. Half of the cost of the study is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, in the framework of the activity “Knowledge based policy development”, within the state research and development activity support programme (RITA). The activities of the programme are mediated by the Estonian Research Council.

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