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The Good. The Bad. The Lack of Financial Literacy.
My experience on the lack of financial literacy and education in Czech schools.
“I thought learning about finances isn’t as important as for example, languages or mathematics.”
Many young adults would agree that in the Czech Republic, the educational system does not prepare students to handle the basic financial skills they will need in real life.
During my school years, I learned many useful things for my future, but one area that wasn’t taught sufficiently was financial education. This is exactly the area of skill that I need to use in the real world as an adult.
The results of not understanding finances in early school years are more than just academic. Financial illiteracy can lead people into taking unnecessary loans, debts, and not have any savings.
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The first question we should ask is ‘why isn’t personal finance taught in schools?’
First (and main reason) is the lack of teachers who are proficient in financial education. There are few teachers who have a good knowledge of financial education to teach it to children/young adults. Why?
Most teachers don’t receive any financial literacy training during their pre-service education. Novice teachers tend to rely on their pre-service teacher education, which seems to deeply affect their perception of their teaching commitment. It is important also to note that many teachers teach what is written in the syllabus with no changes.
So that students can receive more financial literacy education, financial literacy should be introduced in teacher training programs and in-service teachers should be offered some form of financial education.
When I look back at my high school days, I admit that there was financial education but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I thought learning about finances isn’t as important as for example, languages or mathematics. This is where I see the lack of a good teacher that would be able to engage young students in this topic. That’s my opinion on the first issue in Czech schools. Students are not interested in financial literacy and teachers don’t know how to make it interesting. This makes it harder to teach it.
Is there anything “good” about not teaching financial education in schools?
Critics of financial education in the classroom argue that teaching kids about money is the responsibility of the parent. But if the parent isn’t equipped to teach financial literacy, then schools play a critical role.
Some finance topics may not be necessary to teach to young students. For example, taxes. The general opinion of why schools don’t teach students about taxes is that there are too many variables when reporting income. I learned about how to fill out the tax return form later, at the moment when I needed it.
In my family, I received the basis of financial education. My parents taught me what they knew and what they had experienced. For example, my parents didn’t have experience with investing so they could not teach it to me. Leaving all financial education just to the family is not enough.
What is “bad” about the lack of financial education in schools?
Year after year, we live in a world full of financial choices. Without ever teaching students the basic personal finance skills, it’s hard for them to calculate what impacts their financial decisions may have.
The lack of financial education in school has affected me the most in my first working years. I wish I learned in school about the importance of creating a budget and start saving early. Not saving enough is one of the top stressors for young people. I didn’t save much in my first years as an adult. What I saved was for a specific purpose and then I spent it all.
I’m sure my life would be different if I started to save from the first moment I earned money. I think teaching students how to save money can be fun and challenging, but unfortunately, I’ve never had the chance to learn it at a young age.
Becoming financially literate is not easy, but students who learn and practice financial literacy will grow up to be adults that make better financial decisions and hence, life decisions.