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Economic education: Lithuania shares its success factors

Economic Education
A Ukrainian version of the economic book

Economic and financial literacy are crucial skills to succeed in modern society.

In high schools across the world, most students graduate without any exposure to the concepts of market economics.Students tend to blame the government, businessmen and the media for economic downturns and stagnation; however, very few believe that they could make a change. Therefore, the promotion of personal responsibility and understanding that each economic phenomenon is a result of our economic activity is paramount.

Pupils should be improving their financial knowledge as early as possible to become active and informed citizens capable of making better decisions as savers, investors, borrowers, voters, and participants in the global economy.

In many European countries, economic education does not always seem to meet the standards to prepare for a life in a modern economy. In Germany, for example, economics is not taught in all federal states. When the liberal-conservative state government in North Rhine-Westphalia recently dared to take this step and introduced economics as a school subject, this was seen as an unusual step by the media.

In Lithuania, more and more people realize the significance of economic education thanks to the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI).  In 2015, this Vilnius-based think tank embarked on its most ambitious educational project aimed at increasing the quality of economic education in Lithuanian upper secondary schools by enhancing teacher’s knowledge and understanding of economics, improving their skills to apply innovative and interactive teaching methods and techniques as well as providing a brand new textbook on economics and an interactive learning and teaching aid for both teachers and students of economics.

In a country that only a relatively short time ago was under communist control, the textbook Economics in 31 Hours by LFMI is giving the next generation of Lithuanian youth a fighting chance to learn the economics of freedom and teaches them how property rights, free exchange, profit, and competition shape decision-making in everyday life. An important attribute of the textbook is its strong interdisciplinary approach.

In LFMI’s view, it is of major importance that young people understand economics as well as causes of certain economic decisions and their influence on the society, and a modern textbook which meets today’s realities is a perfect tool to provide the necessary skills. Therefore, the textbook is designed to provide foundations for developing the understanding of the principles and functioning of the economy among youth (15 to 17-year-old pupils) that will help them relate economic principles to their everyday lives, reason accurately about economic matters and become effective market participants as individuals and/or corporate players. All topics are discussed from social, civic, and ethical perspectives, helping to grasp the crucial interrelationships at play and their impact on the advancement of societal well-being and personal fulfillment.

What are the indispensable steps to success?

The content of the textbook Economics in 31 Hours  was developed in cooperation with various pedagogic specialists, teachers, students and economics experts and it reflects all essential information of the national curriculum. By organizing professional development courses for teachers, delivering exemplary lessons in schools, carefully and regularly collecting feedback from teachers and students and reaching out to media, publishers, and regional education centers, LFMI created the textbook that has transformed the way of teaching and learning economics in Lithuania. More than 80 percent of high school youth study from the textbook every year in Lithuania.

Economics in 31 Hours has won the London Book Fair “The Educational Learning Resources Award”, and LFMI’s Teacher’s Manual has won the 2016 LOGIN People‘s Choice Award for the best online educational tool from the largest tech and innovation festival in the Baltic States.

Can the Lithuanian method of learning and teaching economics be applied in other countries?

This overwhelming success has inspired and encouraged both LFMI and their partner think tanks to replicate the textbook to improve the quality of economics education across the region. The textbook was adopted, translated and published in Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia and recently in Uganda.

The content is applicable in any contexts, except that some chapters contain some country-specific information, as for example, the tax rates or the public expenditure breakdown and proportions or the legal forms of economic entities. It needs some adaptation for other countries but this adaptation is minor.

The Lithuanian Free Market Institute is excited to assist other countries in adopting this textbook and teacher's manual. The think tank offers all possible assistance in producing quality textbooks to improve the financial literacy of youth around the world.

LFMI will build their partners‘ knowledge and skills necessary for an effective communication and implementation of educational projects, provide them with a package of educational material, and assist in adapting the content to national educational standards and general curriculum requirements.

The Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) is an independent non-profit think-tank founded in 1990. The think-tank promotes the ideas of individual freedom and responsibility, free market and limited government through policy analysis, advocacy and educational activities. Their areas of expertise are property rights, taxes and public finances, business regulation, competition policy, energy policy, labor markets, social security, and healthcare. LFMI is a member of the 4liberty.eu network.