Towards Evidence Informed Practice: Aflatoun's experience - Part II
Most people agree that helping young people to make better decisions promotes their long-term welfare. Still open for debate is how we can best support them.
Aflatoun’s programme of social and financial education represents one option for doing so.
Is it effective? We know from empirical research that financial capable individuals make better financial decisions. We know less about the relationship between financial education and these important choices. The processes that lead from one to the other are complex and nuanced. When we work with children and youth, we are assuming that this education will help them make good decisions in the future.
A small but growing body of experimental research is beginning to shed light on this question. It is exploring how financial education and financial decision making might inter relate.
Aflatoun is working to build this evidence base. In our Clustered Randomized Control Studies with Innovations for Poverty Action, we found that an Aflatoun program led to improvements in financial awareness and increased budgeting and savings behaviours amongst Ugandan primary school students as well as changes in attitudes towards risk, future investment, and savings preference in a similar group of Ghanaian school children. Further studies, in Tajikistan and Rwanda should shed further light on our own programme effectiveness. Other studies of school based financial capability programmes have found comparable results. While these studies do not provide definitive answers about the relationship between financial education and financial decision making, they are a solid foundation.
As mentioned in our last post, financial education is done in many different ways and this variation may lead to programmes that are more or less effective. Both practitioners and academics must engage in more research to determine how best to deliver this information. We should endeavour to make research available so that we can deliver only the most effective programmes.
Aflatoun is taking a first step by investing in a meta analysis of financial capability services for youth, which we intend to share publicly by the end of this year. We have also had all our research externally reviewed and compared and this is available here.
In so doing, we hope to contribute to an informed debate about how best to support young people in making the financial decisions that will impact their future.