A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on financial literacy found that one in six U.S. teens is unable to make simple, everyday choices about spending. The OECD, which cites financial literacy as an essential life skill, reports that American students were "in the middle of the pack" of students from around the world when it comes to understanding basic financial concepts.
The OECD assessed the students' financial skills, such as understanding a bank statement, and found 17.8 percent of U.S. students did not have a baseline understanding of basic financial proficiency. The study compared the knowledge base of students in 18 countries and economies, with Shanghai-China ranking highest.
As we saw with the financial crisis of 2008, this lack of understanding can have dire consequences when these young people become adults. Educating our youth about business, finances and free enterprises is more important than ever.
Committed to promoting financial literacy, Junior Achievement (JA) is active in elementary, middle and high schools in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, bringing role models into classrooms to share their personal experiences about what it means to manage a budget, pay bills on time and invest in ways that benefit the individual and the community. Every year, we reach more than 12,000 local students with the opportunity to apply these important concepts in hands-on, experiential learning activities.
It is important for young women and men to grasp basic financial literacy skills such as balancing a checkbook, and there is no better way than by example and practice.
Someone needs to take the time to sit them down and explain how and why it's done, so that they can practice and learn for themselves.
As a non-profit organization that strives to empower all young people to own their economic success, JA will continue to work with our local community to provide the resources to inspire and prepare our young people to succeed.
If we want to improve financial literacy in this country, there are ways to do it now. It just takes some dedication and commitment.
Anne Frazier is President and CEO, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida