Why Liberal Democrats must lead the debate on financial education

As many will be aware, the recent e-petition to make financial education a compulsary part of the school curriculum reached the magic 100,000 mark that makes it eligible for debate in the Commons. I believe that the campaign, headed by Martin Lewis, is integral to what the Government should be doing to ensure that they not only set an example themselves on sensible financing, but ensure that future generations have access to a responsible and balanced education on the importance of financial awareness. It is no overstatement when Martin Lewis states that it is a “national disgrace” that we have become such a “financially illiterate” nation. Such a path without financial awareness is too risky when we are expecting young students to be saddled with debt caused by student loans which were introduced 20 years ago.

I know I am not alone in the party when I raise this issue. At this years Liberal Youth Autumn conference me and other party members showed great concern in the fact that todays youth is about to embark on a lifetime of financial illiteracy, especially in a climate of great economic uncertainty. It is a great disservice to those who may not be prepared for what lies ahead. It is also the responsibility of the Government to prepare those in education, who have up to now seen Governments act recklessly with public finances. Whether you are of the view that this a problem laying at the door of the last Labour government, or a problem that has been creeping up for generations, it is undeniable that the Government needs to act fast and right the wrongs of an economic legacy setting the worst possible example to the next generation. Regardless of economic theory it is plain wrong to allow the youth of today to think that spending what you do not have and endlessly borrowing is a sound way of dealing with personal finances. The idea of financial education leads onto many more areas where are modern day curriculum is failing to prepare our youths for the world as an adult with responsibilities. There is a great lack of political education, even with the presence of Citizenship in our curriculum. I believe there is no doubt we should pave the way for a new curriculum that educates young people on what politics is and how it relates to them, because at this time it is not surprising to see such high apathy amongst young voters (even in the tuition fees era). I believe there will be a time for this in the future to discuss Political education in the curriculum, but for now we must face this first hurdle.

As a party that has too long only been able to lecture others on the mishaps of previous Governments, it is now the time where we act. It may not be easy to priotise financial education in the current curriculum, but if the Government sends a clear message then there is nothing stopping considerable changes that will not just educate our young but also, potentially, safeguard their futures as they can finally become equipped with the necessary knowledge on how to be the financially aware individuals we should all strive to be.

If, like me, you agree that this is an issue that must be addressed urgently then I sincerely hope you lobby your MP on the issue and make your support for the debate and its intentions clear. Do this not for the party, but for the future of our youths

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