UK Heading Toward Mandatory Personal Finance Classes

The U.K. in early February made it all but official: personal finance instruction will be mandatory throughout the school system beginning in 2014, according to Time magazine.

“It’s encouraging to see an effort that promotes financial literacy nationwide, particularly one that incorporates lessons of finance and economics into subjects already taught in the classroom,” Nan Morrison, CEO of the Council for Economic Education, said of the U.K. development. “This will help students to understand these lesson’s relevance and also build their knowledge over time.”

The CEE and other advocacy groups are fighting for similar steps in the U.S. While the National Strategy for Financial and both private sector and public sector presidential commissions are looking into what works best, individual states determine their own school curricula.

“In the U.S., we need to realize that we’re a very large country that sets educational requirements at the state or local level; so we’re not likely to get nationwide financial education with the flip of a switch,” Laura Levine, executive director of the JumpStart Coalition for Financial Literacy, told the magazine. “But until our consumers are sufficiently financially capable, we’re going to have to keep working to provide that education in schools and anywhere else it makes sense.”

In the UK, personal finance will be incorporated into math classes and a “citizenship” course will be designed to equip all students “with the financial skills to enable them to manage their money on a day-to-day basis as well as to plan for future financial needs,” according to a briefing document. Lessons will be included in budgeting, money management, taxes, credit, and financial products and services.