It was only a matter of time...and leave it to the British to get the ball rolling. According to a source in Whitehall in London, the government is looking at introducing financial planning education right into the lower school curriculum by September 2007. It is, I am told, part of an even wider strategy to prepare 15 and 16-year olds for adult life.
The details are sketchy right now, but apparently the initial thrust will be on having lessons in debt, savings, and pensions, all part of the government's intention to alter the present 'spend now, save later' philosophy that has embedded itself into British culture. Word has it that the new curriculum would be introduced into England and Wales initially. Scotland is not as yet part of the design although this move itself will probably put heat on Scotland to educate its secondary school graduates with some knowledge of financial affairs.
It should be noted that personal debt in the UK is some $2 trillion and in Scotland particularly, personal bankruptcy has climbed to 53.6 percent by the second quarter of this year (a record level) compared with a 38.6 percent rise in England and Wales.
It is believed that these new lessons would be part of the mathematics, personal and social education, or citizenship curriculum--even through some cross-curriculum project that incorporates several or all of these subjects. However, nothing has been set in stone, as yet.
According to Peter Askins, senior policy advisor at the Department for Work and Pensions, "The government's aspiration is to better develop a financial knowledge base among British people in terms of financial planning and this could include it becoming part of the school curriculum. The DWP is looking at a wide range of measures to encourage people to plan across the board, not just in terms of pension saving but saving in general."
All this comes on the heels of research detailing that almost three quarters of the children in Scottish schools have learned literally nothing about handling money. In fact, one investment manager in Edinburgh says that only 46 percent of children received any form of financial education at school.
As it stands now, the UK has a $54 billion savings gap, clearly indicating that educating youngsters would help them become less vulnerable to the easy availability of credit.
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