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Experts criticize curriculum for geography and economic education, WU demands independent school subject


Studies on the economic literacy levels of young people in Austria regularly paint a bleak picture. According to the YEP Youth Report, half of the young people surveyed feel they are not well prepared for their financial future. There is a lot of interest in economic topics among children and teenagers, but these topics are often not adequately covered in school. In Austria, the curricula for non-vocational secondary schools do not include economic education as a separate subject, only as part of geography classes. The latest draft of the new curriculum for the subject geography and economic education, which is currently under review, fails to bring significant improvements.

For many years, WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) has been committed to promoting economic and financial literacy through various initiatives, such as the free WU4Juniors program, the Changemaker Program , the Moneywise Program, and the KARDEA financial education award. However, these initiatives cannot compensate for the lack of proper economic education in Austria. What is needed is a comprehensive reform, especially with regard to economic literacy teaching in schools. To achieve this, WU Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger has always called for the introduction of separate secondary school subject. This would help to ensure that sufficient classroom time is available and that the teachers are trained in economic didactics and have the necessary skills to teach the subject well.

Draft curriculum completely ignores key topics

“Understanding economic mechanisms is essential for people of all ages. In Austria, the teaching of economic literacy is – to put it mildly – very much in need of improvement. The latest draft of the future curriculum also contains far too little economic knowledge and even ignores some central concepts altogether. At WU, we think that this is very unfortunate because, once again, a great opportunity has been missed,” says WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger.

Résumé of experts: seriously deficient

The leading business educators from the Universities of Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, and WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) have issued a joint statement on the draft of the new curriculum, also expressing a very critical view: “The draft curriculum for geography and economic education should include economic and business literacy systematically, on a broad basis, and in a way that reflects the state of the art of the economic sciences and economic didactics. In its business- and economics-related parts, however, the draft curriculum is surprisingly insubstantial with regard to its subject matter. Important economic skills and contents are only touched upon in passing or left out altogether. In particular, students are expected to make difficult assessments without being taught the necessary economic knowledge. The individual roles of the different economic actors are addressed unevenly, and the perspective of entrepreneurial decisions is clearly underrepresented. The draft curriculum fails to include well-established competence structure models from business and economics didactics.”

The WU Department of Economics has also issued a statement, arguing that the present draft curriculum is highly unsuitable as a basis for teaching this subject because it fails to include key economic literacy content. According to the statement, the draft neglects half of the areas of study mentioned in its title, namely “economic education.”

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