Entrepreneurship is the epitome of the American dream. The internet has made it possible for anyone to go into business for themselves. As more and more people aspire to own their own business using the convenience of the internet to reach potential clients, there is one aspect of entrepreneurship that has failed to garner the attention it deserves.
Though you may hear of the occasional entrepreneur going from a start up in his bedroom to a million dollar company, more likely that success will be in some country like China, Belgium, Poland or Australia. The United States has ranked below average when it comes to the percentage of students who have reached a baseline level of financial literacy. In comparison to students assessed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on average 15.3%, it was found that 18% of American students couldn’t perform basic financial literacy tasks. In its simplest form, baseline financial literacy is the ability to recognize the difference between needs and wants, to make simple decisions regarding every day spending and the ability to recognize the purpose of everyday financial documents. Worse yet, only 9.4% of American students were top performers in comparison to 9.7% of OECD students.
Put in simple terms: America is falling behind and it’s bad for entrepreneurship. Across the nation, education professionals have long been aware of the deficiencies in American education system. System -wide problems continue to plague American schools, from lack of funds to overcrowding to a one-size –fits-all education that just doesn’t work. Schools continue to turn out students who are not only not college ready but unequipped to compete in the highly competitive business world of today. There is work to be done and it goes beyond buying textbooks and making more room in our schools.
According to the OECD assessments, Shanghai China is the top performer in financial literacy. It’s long been known that China has successfully integrated financial literacy into its curriculum. The aforementioned countries like Belgium, Poland and Australia have also begun to introduce financial education in the classroom in addition to focusing on the requisite math that has been taught in the past.
The solution to the ever growing financial literacy problem in America is easy to fix, but it hasn’t been. Experts on the subject believe the solution lies in teaching students about financial literacy by integrating it into the math program already part of the curriculum. Ideally financial literacy will be incorporated side by side with math in the student’s learning experience with the goal of building a strong foundation in order that students will be armed with the knowledge need in today’s business climate.
This country was built on the dreams of generations that have gone before us. But today’s dreamers will need much more than basic math knowledge in order to compete in global business. If America expects to keep up with the rest of the world, continuing to build a strong economy, entrepreneurship is the answer and a solid education in financial literacy is the answer.