By James Adekunle- Head of Business Studies & Economics Department at Park House English School Doha, Qatar.
In 2022, only one-third of adults in the UK were financially iterate[i]. According to the OECD’s PISA financial literacy assessment in 2020, less than 25% of 15-year-olds globally demonstrate a basic level of financial literacy – indicating a need for increased financial education in many countries around the world. Furthermore, in a recent Financial Times (FT) article by Bethan Staton (2023), it was stated that two-fifths of teachers do not know financial literacy is compulsory in secondary education for British taught curricula schools[ii].
What I Do:
As Head of Business Studies and Economics, and an advocate for financial literacy in schools, my mission is to equip students with essential knowledge and skills related to personal finance. This includes teaching concepts such as budgeting, saving, investing, and making informed financial decisions. Through interactive lessons, workshops, and practical exercises, I empower students to navigate the complex financial landscape they will encounter in their lives.
Why I Do It?
Financial literacy is an indispensable life skill that enables individuals to make sound financial choices, avoid debt traps, and build a secure future. By instilling financial literacy in students at an early age, we can empower them to become financially responsible adults capable of achieving financial stability and pursuing their dreams. Without proper financial literacy education, students are likely to face numerous challenges in their personal and professional lives. They might struggle with managing their finances, falling victim to predatory financial practices, or end up being ill-prepared for economic uncertainties. A lack of financial literacy can perpetuate socio-economic disparities, hindering students’ opportunities for growth and financial independence.
Why Are We Here Now?
The increasingly complex and interconnected global economy necessitates a shift in educational priorities. As society becomes more economically driven, the demand for financial literacy education is rising. The convergence of technology, globalisation, and evolving financial systems calls for schools to adapt and equip students with the necessary skills to thrive in this changing landscape.
Our curricula approach to financial literacy
At the start of the program it became clear that implementing a curriculum designed to bring about a school-wide change would not be an easy feat. A key component of the initial plan was to implement financial literacy education through 50-minute PSHE lessons at KS3, 4, and 5. However, what transpired through dialogue was that PSHE schemes of work and resources had already been completed for the academic year 2020-21. Additionally, the introduction of PSHE into the school curricula was to be staggered with Year 7 being the first cohort. This meant that KS4 and 5 would not do PSHE in the year 2020-21. We concluded that in the initial stage offering a condensed version of the financial literacy education curriculum at KS3, 4, and 5 through tutor time on a Tuesday morning would be the most conducive option. Ultimately, this was a very effective strategy as students remained engaged and cognizant for the 10-15 minutes micro presentations
Implementing Financial Literacy Across the Curriculum:
Recognising the importance of a holistic approach, we have integrated financial literacy into various subjects beyond traditional finance or economics classes. For instance, mathematics lessons incorporate financial problem-solving, while English classes explore personal finance through reading and writing assignments. This cross-curricular integration ensures that students develop a comprehensive understanding of financial concepts in real-life contexts.
At Park House English School (Doha, Qatar) we have made substantial progress in implementing financial literacy education. By integrating financial education across various subjects and grade levels, we aim to that ensure students receive a comprehensive understanding of financial concepts. These include: practical exercises, simulations, and guest lectures from finance professionals. The results have been remarkable, with our students routinely demonstrating improved financial decision-making skills and greater confidence in managing their finances.
Challenges and Consequences of Inaction:
The Current Status Quo:
While some leading international schools have recognised the importance of financial literacy and integrated it into their curricula, the adoption of financial literacy programmes remains inconsistent globally. Many schools still prioritise traditional academic subjects over practical life skills, leaving students ill-prepared to navigate the financial challenges they will face as adults.
Implementing financial literacy in schools comes with its own set of unique challenges. Limited resources, lack of qualified instructors, and competing priorities often pose obstacles.
Additionally, adapting the curricula to incorporate financial literacy seamlessly can be a complex task. Overcoming these challenges required collaboration among educators, policymakers, and the involvement of external financial experts. Failing to prioritise financial literacy in schools can have severe consequences for students and society as a whole. Without the necessary skills and knowledge, individuals may fall victim to predatory lending, credit card debt, or financial fraud. This can lead to a lifetime of financial struggles, hinder personal growth, and perpetuate cycles of poverty. Moreover, a lack of financial literacy in the broader population can negatively impact national economies and exacerbate economic inequality.
Consequences of Doing Nothing:
By neglecting financial literacy education, schools risk sending students into the world without the tools to make informed financial decisions. This can result in high levels of debt, poor financial management, limited access to opportunities, and vulnerability to economic crises. Ultimately, the consequences of doing nothing perpetuate a cycle of financial illiteracy and hinder students’ potential for success.
Recommendations for School Principals:
To advance financial literacy in their schools, principals should consider the following recommendations:
- Collaborate with financial institutions and experts to provide resources, workshops, and guest speakers. Involving parents, and offering parent workshops to support the curriculum can help to contextualise students’ learning and understanding.
- Use technology where possible, and integrate financial literacy into the curriculum across various subjects and grade levels.
- Foster a school culture that values financial responsibility, encourages open discussions about money, and promotes practical financial skills through extracurricular activities.
The skills and knowledge gained through financial literacy education in schools have a profound impact on students’ lives beyond the classroom. They enable students to make informed decisions about higher education, career choices, entrepreneurship, and long-term financial planning. Financially literate individuals are better equipped to manage debt, invest wisely, plan for retirement, and build wealth, leading to improved financial well-being and greater opportunities in later life.
Financial literacy is a vital component of a well-rounded education, empowering students to navigate the complex financial landscape of the modern world. By prioritising financial literacy in our international schools, we equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary for financial success and independence. Through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to lifelong learning, we can shape a generation of financially literate individuals who will thrive in the global economy.
Thanks for reading!
James Adekunle is Head of Business Studies and Economics at Park House English School, Doha – Qatar.
To connect with him on LinkedIn click HERE