Opinion: Schools must teach financial literacy to better prepare students for the working world

Abhay Venkitaraman
  • Secondary school syllabuses should introduce teens to basic finance skills
  • In an era when the Covid-19 pandemic has affected so many people’s income, this knowledge is more important than ever
Abhay Venkitaraman |

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Financial literacy is as important as the 3 Rs

Now in my final year of secondary school, I have learned a lot of things ranging from logarithms to literary analysis. While there is no doubt that this academic knowledge has enriched my learning experience, I am about to enter the real world with an alarming lack of understanding about a crucial aspect of modern-day life: managing my finances.

It is imperative that schools in Hong Kong organise “financial education” courses to prepare students for a globalised environment where financial management is more complex than ever.

A 2019 government survey highlights the adverse impact of a lack of financial literacy among Hongkongers. It shows that 20 per cent of respondents admitted to having failed to make debt repayments on time, while 40 per cent lacked emergency funds to respond to unexpected events.

The survey also revealed that 80 per cent of Hongkongers have financial goals in mind, but less than half have taken steps to achieve them. Overall, evidence suggests that mismanagement of finances has placed Hong Kong households in a precarious position, preventing many from realising their aspirations. While there are no doubt that other factors, such as the high cost of living and wage stagnation, may have contributed to this situation, financial literacy courses can still play a significant role in ensuring that families are financially stable.

The evidence backs up this notion. A large number of studies have shown that financial education has a positive impact on students. Considering the effectiveness of financial education courses, the case for their inclusion in the local curriculum becomes even stronger.

In an era when the pandemic has depleted the income of many families and today’s youth face a more challenging economic environment than past generations, financial literacy is more important than ever. Therefore, it is time for Hong Kong schools to teach financial literary to their students.

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