Published and draft legislation - Colombia

Financial education

Bill 49/2014, financial education as part of the basic and midschool curriculum

At present, various groups in Colombia are making a significant effort to promote and disseminate basic financial knowledge among the general public. The initiatives have mainly been led by the entities comprising the financial system in the country, professional and consumer associations, and the public institutions overseeing and supervising the financial sector, as well as the self-regulation bodies.

With this bill, the Congress of the Republic is trying to ensure that financial education in Colombia will not only be targeted at customers already within the financial system, but at the general public as a whole.  Thus, educational establishments will have the duty of teaching content on their academic curriculum that will allow their students to better understand issues, from the most elementary aspects of their personal finance to how the financial system works in the economy as a whole. This represents a development of precepts that are contained in the constitution, establishing that people have a right to education as a public good serving a social function. The bill also develops provisions contained in the General Law on Education and in the Financial Consumer Protection Regulations.

 

In its initial version, the bill established that the most appropriate way to include financial training in the basic and midschool curriculum was to create a “financial chair”, making it a separate subject. Although this was not a controversial issue in the first stage of debate in the Senate, when the second debate began, the idea of the chair as a methodological tool was abandoned. On the basis of the Ministry of Education’s observations on the bill, it was decided that a more pragmatic methodology could be used to mainstream financial education over all areas of knowledge, especially in economics. This more transversal approach then shaped the mechanisms for disseminating the essential elements of financial education.

Thus, article 2 of the bill replaces the provision that set up a chair of economic and financial education, with a more general provision, which establishes that economic and financial education is obligatory in all official and private establishments offering formal education in Colombia.

The key importance of this initiative in the Congress of the Republic is how it generates mechanisms to make the public more aware of the importance of responsible financial management.