Czech 15-year-olds ranked sixth in the first international test of students’ financial literacy by the OECD, according to the results released by the international organization this week. Around 29,000 students from 18 countries took part in the survey which assessed their skills in dealing with financial issues. The Czech Republic ranked second best of the post-communist nations, after Estonia, outranking countries like the US, France, and Russia.
The survey, part of the OECD’s PISA project, took place two years ago in 13 OECD member states and five partner countries and economies including Russia, Colombia, and Shanghai. The students were given 40 questions ranging from real-life tasks such as deciphering an invoice and determining the best value-for-money deal at the grocery store to understanding financial products like loans and stocks.
Some 1,200 Czech secondary school students from 300 schools took part in the test. They finished sixth with 513 points, ranking above Poland, the US, Russia, France, Spain and others. Shanghai, with 603 points, finished first, followed by Belgium’s Flemish community, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand.
In total, around 9.7 percent of the students performed at the top level of proficiency which means they were able to solve non-routine financial tasks such as the implications of income-tax brackets. In the Czech Republic, less than 10 percent of the students reached the top level. The Czech share of lowest-ranked performers also reached some 10 percent, compared to the overall average of 15.3 percent. The Czech Republic was among the five countries included in the survey which performed better than expected based on their results in the OECD’s mathematics and reading assessment.
The final report, released by the Paris-based international organization on Wednesday, suggests that students in the Czech Republic have very good access to financial education. After several years of preparation, the Czech government launched its financial education strategy in 2010, targeting mainly students of primary and secondary schools. Other government bodies as well as the Czech National Bank and representatives of the financial sector and consumers’ associations are all involved in the programme, the report said.
In a reaction to the result, Education Minister Marcel Chládek told the news website ihned.cz the Czech Republic was one of the first countries to start a comprehensive financial education programme. “The results of Czech pupils in these tests show that the government has not underestimated these issues. And we’ll continue to focus on them in the future,” Mr Chládek said.