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In Russia, conditions are being created to increase the financial literacy of the population

17 January2019
In Russia, conditions are being created to increase the financial literacy of the population

Within the framework of the 10th Gaidar Forum, a round table was held on the efficiency of interaction between the parties participating in the implementation of the project of the Ministry of Finance of Russia “Contributing to Improvement of Financial Literacy of the Population and Development of Financial Education in the Russian Federation”. During the discussion, the participants discussed the strategy of the Government of the Russian Federation and the Bank of Russia in this area and the regions’ plans as part of this strategy.

The roundtable participants agreed that, in an ideal, theoretical model, a change in financial literacy leads to a change in the behavior of the population, which contributes to its well-being and, as a result, to the development of financial markets. All this affects the development of the national economy. At the same time, the financial market is dynamic, its concepts are changing; therefore, the primary task of the project of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, and the World Bank is the formation of basic knowledge in financial behavior matters at all levels and in all social strata. For this, many resources are involved.

In particular, Vasily Zuev, advisor to the head of the Department for Consumer Rights Protection and Ensuring Accessibility of Financial Services of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, noted that in 2018, performance indicators of measures to improve the financial literacy of the population and basic values were approved. A roadmap was also signed for the implementation of this governmental task, which implies the development of financing mechanisms for this process. In 2019, a draft regional program will be prepared, which will include the best practices in the methodological and practical aspects of the financial literacy improving in the regions.

Anna Zelentsova, the strategic coordinator of the project, the co-chair of the Financial Literacy and Consumer Protection Subgroup of the Group of Twenty (G20), a member of the Board of Trustees of the OECD International Network on Financial Education, reported that in 2019 there will be a presentation of an all-Russian study on the implementation of educational programs aimed at financial literacy improvement. The study compares regions in terms of the efficiency of financial literacy improvement. “The final performance indicators are not the number of lessons, but the measurement of what has changed in the financial behavior of citizens. Not all countries in the world dare to take on such a KPI.” The first two monitoring sections in nine pilot regions on the efficiency of the educational programs implementation show positive results. Measurement criteria include such indicators as the understanding of rights and their protection, understanding of risks and profitability, ability to make savings. The session moderator noted that “the level of financial literacy is not a panacea. We can not affect the financial affordability, the level of consumer protection".

Ekaterina Lavrenyova, adviser to the director of the project on educational issues, said that education is a key factor in implementation of a strategy to improve the financial literacy of the population. By the early 2019, at the federal level, advanced training programs and guidelines have been prepared and made publicly available, financial literacy modules and state standards have been developed for securing methodological units in each subject. More than 10 million teaching kits will be distributed to the regions. They have already been tested. An electronic textbook for students has been developed. On the "Vashifinansy.rf" portal, one can find educational modules. Online games and videos have been released; in 2018, 29,000 schools launched systemic courses / lessons on financial literacy. Universal competence in financial and economic literacy has been developed for universities. An important role is given to additional education, the holding of Olympiads and championships in financial literacy within its framework. We already receive active feedback from teachers, parents, and children in all participating regions. Financial literacy weeks are held throughout Russia, educational school camps are organized.

Anna Zelentsova added that pensioners, military men, and other categories of the population are involved in the process. For instance, about three million people participated in the All-Russian Financial Literacy Week. “There are more problems with adults: they make mistakes, people with low income think that they do not need financial literacy. For them, basic financial knowledge is presented not from the position of education imposed from top down, but from the position of awarding financial security tools and protecting their rights. The TVC channel, in particular, airs the “Money Doesn't Buy Happiness” TV show again. It was noted that we have to have statistics on complaints from people in order to understand which issues are most relevant for the population now.

According to Ekaterina Lavreneva, we still do not have the precise management mechanism for the entire system of advanced training, taking into account the vast experience already gained.

Nikolay Berzon, the head of the Federal Methodological Center for Financial Literacy for Schools, noted that it is impossible to solve the issue through one-off lectures and actions, we have to develop human resources instead. “It is necessary to embed elements of financial literacy in compulsory program, including mathematics, geography, and social studies – this is how we cover all students; and in addition, we should create a separate subject on financial literacy for a comprehensive consideration of the topic. On average, it takes 68 hours and is designed for two years. Although without properly trained personnel, we will not ensure in-depth knowledge but only awaken interest.” At the moment, according to the participant of the round table, about 13,000 teachers have been trained, the training program covers 50 regions hosting 25 training centers. By the end of 2020, the goal is to cover 80 regions where teachers will be trained to teach the financial literacy.

Rostislav Kokorev, head of the Financial Literacy Laboratory of the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University, said that now universities are not obliged to teach financial and economic culture as a competence. This creates certain problems for the implementation of a common project. “It is imperative that state standards of tier 3+++ include such standards.” On the other hand, the speaker drew attention to the fact that “the younger generation, born with a finger on a gadget, has some digital arrogance, and therefore is at risk. After all, they do not have financial literacy." At the same time, the system of education is somewhat more inertial than the development of financial markets based on digitalization. Answering such a challenge is possible only through the consolidated efforts of all stakeholders, and not simply through the efforts of the industry regulator.

A representative of the Central Bank of Russia remarked that, no matter how powerful the Central Bank and the system of education might be, it is necessary to engage people of goodwill – the volunteers. A training program has already been developed for them. In the first quarter of 2019, about 2,000 volunteers will be trained. "At the same time, we see the need to create an association for financial literacy improvement, which will organize the volunteer movement and will be able to finance public and private initiatives that are now flowing to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank." It was also noted that the project of financial literacy is now being launched for small businesses, so that the new businessmen understand that for each stage of business development there are specific tools of support.

Oleg Chupalov, head of the Department for Consumer Rights Protection and Ensuring Accessibility of Financial Services of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation in the Volga Federal District, stressed that so far the financial literacy lessons run by employees of the Central Bank, the Pension Fund, and other financial bodies are rather informational, not an educational project. Lessons are conducted in a webinar format, since 95% of schools in Russia have access to the Internet, and 60% of the schools covered are located outside the regional centers, which makes it difficult to provide them with personnel. At the moment, about 34% of schools throughout Russia have been covered; 100% school in Kursk and Ryazan Regions are covered with webinars, 98% in Nizhny Novgorod Region.

Elena Kuzmina, head of the regional center for financial literacy of the Tomsk Region, confirmed the efficiency of the educational modules introduction. She reported that in Tomsk the share of overdue loans is lower by 15%, share of target loans is higher than the average in the Siberian Federal District, deposit growth rate is higher than the growth rate of loans issued, the volume of deposits per capita and the level of electronic payments is higher than the average in the Siberian Federal District.

At the same time, Yuri Suslov, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Stavropol Territory, as well as Olga Schetinkina, Minister of Education and Youth Policy of the Ryazan Region, agreed that, as long as there is no clear budget financing for the regions, it is difficult to talk about the long-term and effective implementation of the program for financial literacy improvement. Although both regions have gained a great experience in such program implementing.

Anna Zelentsova summarized the discussion, noting that the issue under discussion requires a subsequent analysis of the regions’ peculiarities in order to develop clearer recommendations. The regions are not yet sufficiently communicating, which reduces the overall efficiency of the financial literacy program implementation. There is no legislative basis for regional financing of model programs, while the regions are ready to act as development hubs for such programs. The issue of the territories stimulation remains unresolved, since the teachers motivation is not always high. As a motivation, it was proposed to make the availability of these programs a criterion for assessing of regions general development when they are rated. The actors involved in the implementation of the project are left with the task of developing sustainability models in the personnel training, as well as consolidating federal and regional roadmaps into unified documents for the formation of a common project infrastructure.

All records of live broadcasts from the Gaidar Forum 2019

10th Gaidar Forum Organizers:

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA);
The Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute);
The Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Prosveshcheniye publishing house, Coca-Cola, Pharmstandard group, ACIG Group of Companies, the Russian Textbook Corporation, SANOFI, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Russian Railways, MSD, and Mastercard; EY, Cisco and Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners. This discussion’s partners are Philips, Cherkizovo and RVC.

The general information partners of the Gaidar Forum include the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Forbes global media company, RBC and TASS news agencies. The official information agency is Rossiya Segodnya. The general radio partner is Business FM. The strategic information partners are Kommersant Publishers, the RT TV channel, Interfax and Gazeta.RU. The main information partners are Profil weekly, FederalPress news agency, and Invest Foresight online magazine. The international information partners are Sputnik and Cision. Other media partners include PRIME news agency, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, RNS news agency, Radio Ekho Moskvy, News.Ru, Polit.ru, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, the PRO BUSINESS TV channel, Strategia magazine, AK&M, BRICS, Ekonomika i Zhizn weekly, National Banking Journal, Expert Tatarstan magazine, the Smart Country information platform, Financial One, Naans Media, and the Public Administration scientific political journal.

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