Financial Literacy

Cents and Sensibility

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Spain has recognized the need for financial education in schools, and all elementary schools are now required to teach basic knowledge about money management and saving. A high-school program promoted by the exchange supervisory authority and the central bank takes financial education several steps further.

  • Facts


    • Around 500 schools – about 5 percent of all Spanish schools – now include financial education in their lesson plans.
    • The program is a collaboration between the Spanish Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Spanish central bank.
    • Transparency International wants the program to be used to teach students about corruption.
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Madrid school courtesy photo 78137902 main
Students at the Ramón y Cajal private school in Madrid work on iPads and are required to take financial literacy classes as part of their curriculum. Source: Colegio Ramón y Cajal

Susana Lozano, a teacher at Madrid private school Ramón y Cajal, explains to her class that an identity card is needed to open a bank account. “The bank automatically forwards all account information to the tax authority,” says Ms. Lozano. A 13-year-old boy raises his hand and asks: “Does that mean people who don’t pay taxes don’t have to show their ID?” The boy has apparently heard about the corruption scandals and tax tricks involving Spanish politicians and business owners. The news that captivates a country is often reflected in the questions children ask.

He is fortunate to have a teacher like Ms. Lozano, to whom he can direct his questions like that. She teaches a one-hour class once a week to ninth and tenth graders, teaching them the most important issues surrounding money. The lessons are part of an initiative by the Spanish market regulator, the country’s Securities Market Commission (CNMV), and the Spanish central bank. “Our goal is to improve the financial knowledge of all Spaniards,” says Gloria Caballero of CNMV. To reach as many people as possible, she works with banks and insurance companies, as well as the Spanish education ministry.

Thanks to this collaboration, financial literacy lessons have been offered at some Spanish schools since 2011. The initiative provides free instructional materials and suggested lesson plans with financial topics. Participation is voluntary for schools, though 500 have already included the topic in their lesson plan. But that is still only 5 percent of all Spanish schools.

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