Last week Martin Lewis launched an e-petition to make financial education compulsory on the school curriculum. I’m pleased Which? is supporting him – my own financial knowledge, even now, leaves a lot to be desired.
When I was at school we had a bank. It was run by students, with the help of one of the larger banks, and you could open real accounts and deposit real money. There weren’t any safes or tills – the whole thing was run out of the food technology classroom.
It was a great idea at the time, but problems with our financial understanding won’t be fixed by tiny initiatives like this.
By the time I left college I understood just enough to get a good student bank account. I knew it offered an interest-free overdraft (probably good) and that I could get a credit card if I wanted (probably bad). But my understanding of debt in general was woefully poor.
Carrying the burden
At university I was extremely lucky – I never had problems getting summer work or part-time jobs, so I didn’t end up with too much debt. But I have friends who racked up thousands of pounds on cards that some are still struggling to pay off.
And now, as a real grown-up, I have mortgage debt as well as credit cards and I’ve been mis-sold a completely inappropriate loan (thankfully now paid off). The problem is that often the only detailed information you get on these products comes straight from the salesperson’s mouth – how are we, as individuals, going to get the grounding we need to ensure that we can call them out when they sell us rubbish deals?
Make it compulsory
That’s why I’m delighted that Which? is supporting Martin Lewis’ e-petition to get financial education made a compulsory part of the school curriculum. With proper education about finance, we could make sure that the next generation of adults not only avoids pointless debt but understands how to hold companies to account for shoddy deals, mis-selling and crippling interest rates.
Here’s what Martin said:
‘It’s a national disgrace that for 20 years we’ve educated our youth into debt when they go to university but never about debt. It’s no surprise we’re a massively indebted nation, with much of the population financially illiterate, and victims of almost constant mis-selling.
‘The easy and cheap solution of this is to ensure every child gets some basic personal and consumer finance education. Some schools already do it, most don’t. Head teachers can’t prioritise it because it isn’t a compulsory part of the curriculum. This needs to change – we’re not talking huge hours adding to teachers’ workload, just ensuring it happens.
‘This is one of the few areas banks, companies and consumer groups agree – as do 97% of the population – the problem is, the government won’t do anything about it. By using the new e-petitions system we hope to force them by getting 100,000 signatures. I’m frankly overjoyed to have the weight and authority of Which? backing this too – it means a huge amount.’
So, what do you think? Would you like to see all children and young people getting educated about finance at school? Sign the e-petition if you want to show your support, and let us know what you think below.