The need to strengthen financial education in Ghana as a whole—and specifically in Ghanaian schools—has never been greater. With a burgeoning economy that in recent years is said to have attained middle-income status, Ghana has undergone rapid economic transformation over the past decade, with a concomitant expansion and sophistication of the financial industry underpinning this growth. To make better use of this improved array of financial services and to discriminate opportunity from danger, Ghanaians need to be more savvy in both financial theory and practice, and the natural starting place for this education is the school environment. The target of financial education should not be limited to enhancing knowledge and skills but should include changing behavior permanently, converting students into masters of their own financial destinies.
Currently the senior high school syllabus in Ghana is quite scant on financial education. It merely advises students on how to physically handle and to recognize the various currency denominations. It fails to provide knowledge that students will need to make important financial decisions in and out of the school environment. This missing information includes: educating students about the ways of investing their money, no matter how little the amount; helping students understand basic financial concepts such as interest rates and the application in real-life investments such as savings accounts and bonds; introducing students to the various investment vehicles, such as mutual funds, treasury bills, and equities.
Far-reaching benefits can be expected from educating high school students in financial education. Because senior high school students represent a crucial demography in the education hierarchy—adjoining the junior high school and university educational levels—they can act as agents for further mass education in the following way. They can acts as “knowledge ambassadors” to the junior high school students by mentoring them in extra-curricular activities that are based on financial education. Through quizzes, debates and writing competitions, this knowledge sharing can be effected. On the upper side of the educational pyramid, high school students educated in finance are likely to be more primed to excel in finance and other quantitative courses at the university, possibly evolving into fruitful careers in finance, banking or investment management and advisory.
The multiplier effect of educating senior high students in financial know-how cannot be overlooked. As a sizable percentage of adults in Ghana can be considered financially illiterate, senior high school students—after being equipped with financial knowledge—can transfer the knowledge to their parents and other older members of their community. Some students can even then advise their parents on how to manage their investments towards their retirement, or even towards the children’s own future university and post-graduate education. Clearly, the ripple effects of financial education of high school students are as numerous as they are relevant towards a broader national financial education strategy, and no efforts should be spared to improve the content of financial education in the current high school syllabus.