For the past 5 years, I have been advocating for greater provision of financial education in our schools. It’s a passion of mine, and for good reason; Ireland is weak when it comes to financial literacy and scores poorly compared to many other countries, including the UK, US and many of our EU neighbours.
And in those past 5 years, I have continued to meet with approval from teachers and parents. It seems that financial education is a highly emotive issue and adults understand the importance of providing financial education from an early age.
So far, my focus has been on secondary schools with a specific focus on Transition Year (TY) students. Last year, my financial education campaign was signed up to by 23% of all secondary schools across Ireland. Some schools requested in-class attendance. Others used my online learning programme, from where they would earn a Certificate in Financial Literacy. Others requested a simpler PowerPoint presentation. Overall, the effort was a big success. But it needed a big hand of support.
Today, I am happy to announce that MoneyWhizz and Bank of Ireland have teamed up to finally tackle the big financial literacy deficit in Ireland.
The first phase of the programme is called Ollie – the Money Magazine for Kids. I developed the content specifically for kids aged 7 – 11. In the first edition, Ollie focuses on needs and wants and the importance of spending control. But what makes Ollie different is it promotes both collaborative discussions between adults and kids and critical thinking among kids. In other words, as I developed the core strategy and the product, I didn’t just want to push out a lot of rigid financial facts, instead, I focus on real learning with suitable content and supports that enables parents to discuss the content and material in a meaningful way.
Ollie is the first such project in Ireland where the development of the content is pitched specifically for kids of this age and where supports for adults are provided in tandem.
One other point is that this is part of an overall strategy that is aligned to international best practice and based on both OECD and UNICEF financial skills requirements.
Finally, in developing Ollie, I also developed the core financial skills framework that will serve as the guiding principles for all kids and adult segments as we help Ireland improve financial literacy levels and a brighter future, financially speaking!
So, watch out for Ollie taking flight and available supports for your family, your schools and your communities across Ireland.