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Financial education of children is gaining on importance in the EU


30 Mar 2023


Languages & Culture

In the ever-changing world of finance there is a growing need to raise financial awareness of citizens, especially young people. This can only be achieved if, from an early age, they gradually acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviour necessary to make sound financial decisions and, ultimately achieve financial well-being and financial resilience. For this to happen, we need EU leadership and cooperation between various partners such as education sector, EU institutions, public administrations of Member States, financial sector, NGOs and academia.

This has been the main conclusion of the “High-Level Debate on Financial Education of Children” organised on March 22 during Global Money Week 2023. This important event has been initiated by the Czepczyński Family Foundation from Poland and hosted by Marek Belka, Member of the European Parliament. 

In his opening remarks, Prof. Belka, Member of the European Parliament, underlined the importance of the Global Money Week and how significant it is to teach children about finances and economics from an early age on. He stressed that investing in financial education of children is not just the right thing to do - it is also a smart investment in our future. Marek Belka pointed to the fact, that even though officially the EU does not have the power to impose a financial education curriculum in Member States, the topic of financial literacy is gaining on its importance. The Commission, the OECD but also EU countries have been developing strategies in this field.

Beata Stelmach, representing the Czepczyński Family Foundation, underlined the need to start financial education from an early age. Therefore, the Foundation has come up with a financial education program called “ABC of Economics” targeted at children aged 5-10. This program is currently implemented at schools in Poland and abroad. The Foundation is also working together with national and EU institutions to support financial literacy. At this occasion Beata Stelmach thanked Commissioner McGuinness for her leadership on this subject.

Financial education is high on the Commission’s agenda

Financial education is high on the agenda of the European Commission. This has been confirmed by Patricia Reilly, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, who underlined, “financial literacy is more important than ever” in the era of digitalisation and crypto assets. Unfortunately, as findings show, the level of financial literacy among young people is not satisfactory. Therefore, the European Commission is taking action: a financial competence framework for adults was published last year and this is followed by a similar initiative addressed at youth and children. 

Tatyana Panova, Head of Capital Market Unit at the European Commission DG FISMA, is leading on this important initiative. According to her, children are lacking basic knowledge and the competence framework shall clearly identify basic financial skills for children and youth, a so called “abc” of what young people should know. 

The Commission is also supporting Member States in their efforts to develop national strategies for financial education as Nathalie Berger, Director for Support to Member State Reforms from the European Commission DG REFORM explained. The ultimate aim is to reach all students with financial education, be it from capital cities as well as rural regions. The Commission has also confirmed the importance of financial education within its Capital Markets Union plan. 

Best practice from Poland and Portugal

The debate has been the opportunity to share examples of best practice from Portugal and Poland.

Portugal developed its national financial education strategy already in 2011 and since that time, it continues its efforts in empowering the young generation to deal with the growing complexity of the financial system. As the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Portuguese National Strategy for Financial Education at the Central Bank of Portugal, Maria Lucia Leitao was pleased to add, that together with the strong support of the Ministry of Education, they have been implementing a comprehensive step-by-step approach to promote financial literacy in schools, which includes: a National Competition to award prizes to the best financial education projects in schools; a Teachers’ Training Program; and, the publication of Financial Education Workbooks according to the core Competencies Framework adopted in 2013. As a result, financial education is now a compulsory subject in the school curriculum.

Paulina Stochnialek, Board Member of the Wielkopolska Region from Poland, confirmed, that the level of financial literacy among young people is still too low. This is why the Wielkopolska Region is taking steps to introduce financial education to local schools in order to raise financially aware citizens. She also underlined there is great need for materials and trainings for teachers in the area of financial education. In this respect solutions are being offered by organizations such as Czepczyński Family Foundation. Margareta Przybyla, International Cooperation and Partnerships Coordinator at CFF, presented the financial education program for children “ABC of Economics”. The program consists of a book “ABC of Economics, first steps in the world of finance”, trainings and materials for teachers such as lesson scenarios and work cards for children. It is ready to be applied in classrooms therefore the feedback from teachers is very positive. Children are also very happy as they love simple stories, that they can identify with. 

Cooperation between various actors is key

According to Manuel Bordoy, representing the Office of the Secretary General of the European Schools, initiatives such as the financial competence framework are indispensable for education institutions and teachers to provide students with key competences. According to him, financial education should not only comprise knowledge and skills, but it should also be accompanied by a solid set of values that Europe stands for. Therefore, this aspect shall be taken into account when developing the competence framework. He also underlined, that there is a need for education materials and initiatives when it comes to financial education.

Schools play a key role when it comes to providing financial education. However other actors, such as financial institutions, also have a responsibility. Wim Mijs, CEO of the European Banking Federation underlined, that banks are part of society and it is their duty to raise financial awareness and support schools in their education mission. Financial literacy is an essential life skill and therefore the representative of European banks was particularly pleased that so many knowledgeable colleagues and partners joined the debate. 

Since over 20 years, the OECD is promoting financial education policies and supporting national and international cooperation among various actors. Carmine Di Noia, Director for Financial and Enterprise Affairs at OECD highlighted that financial education for children and young people has never been more relevant. In 2020, OECD countries adopted the OECD Recommendation on Financial Literacy, which highlights the importance of financial education for children and youth. Despite impressive efforts by countries, still 1 in 6 children worldwide are lacking basic financial knowledge. As such, the OECD is engaged on a daily basis in supporting countries all around the world in developing national financial education strategies and raising financial literacy awareness through initiatives such as the Global Money Week. Bianca Isaincu, OECD Policy Analyst, quoted some results of the 2018 PISA financial literacy assessment of students. While mentioning some well performing countries such as Estonia, Poland or Finland, she noted important heterogeneities existing among and within countries, with disparities among socio-economic advantaged and disadvantaged students of particular concern.

The debate was a great success and confirmed the importance of financial education of children. All present partners confirmed, that they will continue their efforts in improving financial literacy.


Contact details: Margareta Przybyła, International Cooperation and Partnerships Coordinator at CFF,