The latest revelations from the Pisa 2012 education study, carried out by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows major differences in the abilities of 15-year-olds to grasp money matters in 18 countries around the world.
Students were asked to perform a range of tasks from basic problems, such as interpreting the information on a bill, to more complex ones like being able to understand taxation law, the daily El País reports.
Chinese students from Shanghai – the only part of the country where schools participated – came out top in the financial literacy test with an average of 603 points per student, followed by Belgium, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand, which were all well above the Pisa average of 500 points.
Spain, on 484, was below average, although it was slightly ahead of Italy, which scored 466.
Spain’s score was similar to those obtained in other previously published sections of the Pisa 2012 survey, in which Spanish students averaged 488 in reading, 496 in science and 494 in mathematics. The report does mention that the financial literacy results were “especially low” among students who had obtained a good score in mathematics.
Speaking about the results on Wednesday, Spain’s secretary of state for education, Montserrat Gomendio, pointed out that “after the economic crisis we have had and which we are starting to emerge from, it is important that citizens have an understanding of how the national and global economies work so that they understand the repercussions”.
Gomendio also said that teenagers today face new and greater financial challenges as they deal with “credit cards and prepaid mobile phones”.
According to the report, 59 percent of Spanish 15-year-olds have a bank account and 41 percent earn money doing odd jobs during holiday periods.
The education reform being introduced by Spain’s Popular Party government mentions the need to include financial matters in the school curriculum.
“Young people on the brink of adulthood are poised to make complex financial that will have an impact on the rest of their lives. Results from the PISA 2012 financial literacy assessment show that many students, including those living in countries that are high-performers in the main PISA assessment, need to improve their financial literacy,” the report’s authors say.