Chinese children could soon be discussing financial charts and the stock market when their parents ask them what they learned at school.
That’s because the country’s education and securities officials have agreed to introduce investment education in schools across the country, according to state news agency Xinhua.
China Securities Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Gao Li on Friday said the watchdog would work with the education ministry to include the topic on the national curriculum in the future, without saying when it would begin. The aim was to improve investor awareness from an early age.
“The Ministry of Education will work to incorporate securities and futures knowledge in the curriculum to increase financial literacy [among young Chinese] in an innovative way,” Gao said, without elaborating.
Finance and investment knowledge is to be included in related subjects taught at primary and middle schools, though it would not be compulsory. Some schools may also run optional investment and financial management courses, according to the report.
Universities would also be encouraged to work with financial institutions to offer investment education for all students.
In addition, the securities regulator said it would work on introducing its own education programme, including classes and learning resources, for investors.
Responding to the plan on Chinese social media, some parents worried about keeping up with their children’s homework.
“I’d better take a finance refresher course,” one person said on microblogging site Weibo. “Otherwise I won’t be able to help with my son’s studies.”
Another said: “So now [our children] can start contributing to our A-share portfolios?”
Although investor education is already offered in some Chinese primary and middle schools, it has not been part of the national curriculum before.
Gao said more than 500 schools in China had included investment knowledge in their programmes in recent years, benefiting millions of students.
The first of those were in Shanghai, where more than 100 primary and middle schools introduced such classes back in 2011, according to state-run China Securities Magazine.
Meanwhile, primary pupils at a school in Chengdu, Sichuan province have since 2016 had the option of taking an investment course that includes visits to financial and securities institutions and talks by experts, Chengdu Economic Daily reported.
Pan Xuzhao, a teacher at Guangzhou No 16 Middle School who was involved in putting together a financial management course textbook, told China Youth Daily it was a useful skill to have since many people invested in stocks in the city. Some 36 primary and middle schools in the Guangdong capital introduced the pilot course in 2015.
Critics have said including investor education in primary and middle school classes encourages students to speculate on the stock market. But Guangzhou’s education bureau has defended the course offered in some of its schools, saying the aim is to provide students with financial knowledge.
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