Ethical financial literacy
There are too few approaches to financial education that link it to responsible consumption. The recent UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education and the Curriculum recognised that young people need to be more “responsible consumers” of financial services, and want schools, colleges and universities to respond to this need. Politicians and educators are rapidly realising that future generations will need the skills, role models and examples that enable them to consume goods and services, including financial services, in a way that is both personally profitable and globally responsible.
There are obvious routes to encourage the take up of financial education like Mathematics and English. However other aspects of the non-statutory, informal and non-formal curriculum should be encouraged to make more financial links – such as Personal Social and Health Education with a focus on enterprise, citizenship, health and sustainable development. Financial education could be more integrated with other curriculum areas, such as religious studies and geography. It could also be supported in terms of the non-formal and informal curriculum, such as in tuckshops and school/college buildings management with students.
Ethical finance education can be introduced through responsible consumption – what we consume in our families, schools and this country, and what others consume in other parts of the world, where food and other goods come from and go to. This approach builds on the direct and real life experience of young children, without necessarily focusing on money in the first instance. Educating about responsible consumption can then lead to responsible consumption of financial products and services.
As Penny Shepherd of UKSIF recently wrote in Beyond Casino Capitalism published in Education and Sustainability, No.10 "Money" (RCE Barcelona 2011) “ Even though it is well accepted that tomorrow’s workforce will need to make their own provision for retirement, today’s students are being taught a “casino capitalism” view of financial markets that focuses on trading and does not communicate the importance of responsible shareholder power to protect and enhance the value of long-term savings.
To restore a culture of equity savings, there is an urgent need for educational material that redresses the balance between ownership and trading in an engaging and informative way. There is an important gap in the material available for personal finance education today ..”