What Actions Are Countries Taking To Improve Financial Education?

Jun 06, 2017
Policy, Research, Current Events

Thanks to NGPF intern Grace Deng for her tremendous notes on a recent panel at OECD/GFLEC GLOBAL POLICY RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM TO ADVANCE FINANCIAL LITERACY. This panel “Policy Research to Improve Financial Education Outcomes” captured how other countries (China, Australia, England and Russia) are implementing financial education (see video here starting at 2 hour 35 minute mark of video). Interesting to see the parallels in the challenges they identify in their home countries and the challenges that we face in the U.S.

Policy Research to Improve Financial Education Outcomes

 Xue Hu, Deputy Director of Banking Consumer Protection Department, China Banking Regulatory Commission

 Actions Taken

– Incorporated financial concepts into cartoon films in pilot program for elementary school children

-Embedded concepts in mathematics courses for high school children (i.e., calculating revenue/interest)

-Offered selective course for finance at major universities

-Since 2013, September is financial literacy campaign month with a focus each year (last year was anti-fraud in lending/student loans)

-Drafted policy roadmap/guide to promote nationwide financial literacy, and indicated that more resources should be preferentially devoted towards younger people and financial institutions have responsibility to provide resources and training to teachers

-Conduct a survey every two years, lead by central bank, on financial literacy: 20,000 respondents nationwide across age groups

Challenges (and Solutions)

  1. How to capture attention of youth: diversity in terms of promotional and educational material is important, as well as using accessible language and social media
  2. Need to address conflict of interest when financial institutions are teaching/training teachers to teach finance at schools

– At the same time, people from financial institutions know the industry better than outsiders

-Solution: Limit teaching to only basic concepts, no promotion of products, brands, and services  

  1. Need to come up with a good way to measure effectiveness of financial education (time horizon, parameters, etc.)


Michael Mercieca, CEO, Young Enterprise, United Kingdom

Actions Taken

-As a small non-profit, need to know how to make programs sustainable: funding by industry partners/donors

-First convince management level of schools to buy-in, then design customized curriculum + supply materials (independently developed, no conflict of interest with donors)

-Financial education is embedded into many subjects (used geography class as example: students visit farm => buy fruit => sell fruit juice => calculate profit/loss)

-Strong focus on teacher training

-Policy framework: lobby government to put financial education on curriculum

-Conducted polls: 58% of teachers would like more financial education training, 52% of math teachers do not teach financial education even though its mandatory

Challenges (and Solutions)

  1. Engage teachers: by offering credits for continued professional training, schools are pretty good at sending teachers for workshops
  2. Navigating shifting political landscape: three different secretaries of education in three years


Laura Higgins, Senior Executive Leader, Financial Capability, Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Actions Taken

-Financial education is embedded in curriculum since 2014 (after lobbying ACARA, the agency responsible for school curriculums)

-Financial literacy programs rolled out mainly in primary schools, working on expanding to secondary schools

-Dynamic program: interaction/feedback with teachers help program become more successful

Challenges (and Solutions)

  1. Engage teachers:

-easier when financial education is required by the curriculum => lobbying is important

-also offer continued professional development credits for teachers (similar to UK)

  1. Independent evaluation of effectiveness:

-measure the number of downloads for digital resources in different locations across Australia

-look at the locations for professional development/training for teachers across Australia

-more than 70% of schools in Australia have engaged in some part of the program

  1. Reaching out to public

-Use of social media, for example, large Facebook group


Anna Zelentsova, Project coordinator, National Financial Education and Financial Literacy Project, Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation

Actions Taken

-Developed core curriculums for high school students

-Introduced financial literacy tasks in federal math exams for 9th and 11th grade

-Introduced financial education programs for grades 2-11 (so starting with primary school)

-Also develop materials for parents to engage in activities (i.e. develop budgets), since many also have no prior experience in personal finance

– 5000 students, 200 teachers, 3000 parents: measure financial competency before and after pilot education program as a measure of effectiveness

-Surprising findings:  teachers also reported that they improved their own financial well-being, students reported boost in self-confidence, and parents also started family budgets

-Established 25 training centers across the county (as hubs for other smaller training centers) for teachers/tutors interested in financial education

-Introduced financial literacy to the federal curriculum

Challenges (and Solutions)

  1. Engage the youth

-Hire actors/models/other popular public figures to teach or speak about financial literacy in films and videos

Summary of Main Policy Challenges:

  1. Engage Parents, Teachers and Youth Attention
  2. Independently and Accurately Evaluate Effectiveness of Programs
  3. Official/Government Support: Lobby for Mandatory Financial Education in Curriculums

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.