The importance of financial education in social and political landscape
Within the social and political landscape, it is indeed difficult to find any issue that garnered wide-ranging consensus. He has not even been possible, for example, on a problem as significant as that of global warming. This makes it so appealing for financial education that does seem to be unanimous creditor to more endorsements, about the need to increase among citizens of all countries. Not in vain, for years, quite in sight before the current global financial crisis has unfolded, first stealthily and then within an international crusade, a current generalized as such, under the impetus of bodies and international institutions like the OECD, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund or the European Commission, which are adding national public and private entities, in addition to individual specialists.
Why the trend that is perceived to be unstoppable at all latitudes? First, the existence of a diagnosis based on a large body of empirical evidence, which shows the insufficient level of awareness of population about the basic economic and financial issues. Thus, various studies indicate that in some countries, a high percentage of people know the real meaning of the concept of inflation, while many are unable to assess differences in cost, performance and conditions of financial operations offered in the market.
Moreover, if we ignore the evidence of Niall Ferguson, professor at Harvard University and author of the bestseller “Money and Power in the Modern World”, who has stated that many students he has taught in the best Universities in the world, including MBA programs, did not know the difference between nominal interest rate and real interest rate, we should conclude that the problem would be far more serious than it appears. Furthermore, it is particularly disturbing fact that often overestimate their understanding of financial services to the extent that the European Commission has indicated that the first step is to sensitize those who ‘do not know they do not know’ financial affairs .
While the problem is international, in Spain the field was especially paid to the aggravation, under the traditional marginalization of studies of Economics at the primary and secondary education. Today, the educational system, inexplicably and in open contradiction with institutional statements that recognize its relevance in today’s society, remains refractory to the economic and financial matters.
Financial education benefits individuals in all stages of life: children, making them understand the value of money and savings; youth, preparing them for the exercise of responsible citizenship, to adults, helping them plan decisions economic crucial as buying a home or preparing for retirement. It also helps to enable families to adjust their saving and investment decisions to their risk profile and needs, thereby promoting confidence and stability of the financial system. It also enhances the development of new products and quality services, competition and financial innovation.
A number of recent factors tend to increase the importance of financial education, such as the growing range and sophistication of financial markets and products, which increases the vulnerability of users or the greater responsibility of employees in the preparation stage retirement as a result of changes in social welfare schemes.
The European Parliament has highlighted three key aspects to be covered financial education: basic knowledge in finance, training to use these concepts for themselves and exercise proper financial accountability. In short, financial education should enable individuals to improve their understanding of financial products and concepts, and acquire the skills needed to improve its financier culture, i.e. to be aware of the risks and opportunities and to make informed decisions cause when choosing their financial services.
The challenge ahead is enormous and justifies the amount of effort that has begun to be deployed from various public and private initiatives. One of these is that, in a pioneering way, has been promoted from Malaga, through a tripartite project between Unicaja, International University of Andalusia and the University of Malaga, which has resulted in the development of an Internet portal (www.edufinet.com) and a series of complementary actions.
Precisely at a meeting recently discussed the alleged hostility of financial and economic knowledge as an explanatory causes difficulties for assimilation by the public. However, in my view, there is no inherent hostility, but it stems from a lack of familiarity with such concepts naturally and gradually from the early stages of the educational cycle. For years, Professor José Luis Sampedro, in the prologue to the Castilian edition of the Handbook of Economics Samuelson, he wrote that “the bachelor or middle school students and pre-university classrooms out of knowing, e.g., what is chalcopyrite, but without receiving the slightest information about what is a bank …”
Paraphrasing, remotely and with the utmost respect, a famous German dramatist, one could say that all knowledge is good and useful in themselves, many may become necessary for work, but some are for the lives of the citizens: those are the indispensable.
Filed under: finance
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