Spain finished first in the final of the international competition, European Money Quiz 2020, an initiative organized by national banking associations in Europe and coordinated by the European Banking Federation (EBF). Mateo González Villar, a student at Mirabal School in Madrid, managed to emerge victorious in a highly competitive contest in which 29 finalists participated from 22 European countries.
The European Money Quiz took place amid school closures lockdown measures and the widespread use of remote learning methods due to the global coronavirus pandemic. In this context of readjustments, Mateo decided to prepare for the final with a simple, yet effective formula. “I practiced with some of the test questions they had sent us because they were similar to the ones that would be on the final, with the theory we learned this year in Economics and a bit of common sense in order to more or less have a good handle on the answers.” A computer and cell phone became his faithful allies. “I always turn to the Internet. There is so much information and even though it isn’t all be reliable, that’s where your ability comes in to distinguish what is reliable from what isn’t. At the end of the day, with a bit of effort and the desire to research well, you can find whatever you want.”
The school’s role
Apart from individual work, the role of Mirabal School, where financial education is very much present, was decisive in his victory. “The 10th grade curriculum covers this topic quite a bit and we complemented it with tutorial videos, computer apps for financial management and from the central banks,” says Mateo’s teacher, Sara Pérez Gómez. “The school really works on financial education, holding talks and conferences with experts. However, I think on a general level, it’s a topic that should be covered more, especially in a fun way from an educational standpoint.”
The method the class followed was very much tied to new technologies. “Based on experience, the best way to teach financial education is to combine technical concepts with computer software that makes it possible to put into practice everything they have studied,” the teacher explains. “First because they see the practical, real use of what they have seen, and second because if they interiorize the use of software that helps with financial management, they will have an easier time using it in their everyday lives.”
The school complemented its teaching with volunteers coming to its classrooms from “Your finances, your future”, the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) and the Junior Achievement Foundation’s financial education program for 13 to 15 year old students. The content is taught over a three week period by 19 bank employees, including BBVA.
The ability of schools like Mirabal to adjust has been essential to the continuity of the international competition that Mateo won. “Thanks to the resilience and flexibility of the European educational community it was possible to maintain the European Money Quiz in 2020," explains Raymond Frenken, Director Communications and Corporate Responsibility at EBF, and the coordinator of the competition. “Some countries were very creative. The innovative teaching method that is behind the questionnaire combines live broadcasts on Youtube with the questionnaire platform ‘Kahoot!’. This makes communicating with the students fun and simple for the teachers, even when they are home, and they can easily integrate it into their online teaching programs."
The final of the European Money Quiz, which will be held on June 16th and broadcast on YouTube, consisted of a videoconference in which the 29 finalists measured their knowledge.
Education for the future
The final, which will be held on June 16th and broadcast on YouTube, consisted of a videoconference in which the 29 finalists measured their knowledge in a game of questions and online answers. “The harder questions were those related to mathematics. It’s true that the math was pretty simple, but it was stressful because you had to respond quickly,” recalls Mateo. “The easier questions were questions related to common sense or basic virtual security like “Which of these links is safe’” and look for https instead of http. Even though he was happy to have won, Mateo wishes he could have participated in the final in person. “I think it wouldn’t have been individual. I would have done it with other Spanish students. It would have been much more fun and I would have enjoyed it more as a team.”
However, as they saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining.” In the end, this effort was fundamental in the students who participated in the contest acquiring knowledge that will be vital in the future. This is the case for Mateo, who already clearly understands the keys to good financial health. “It is especially important to keep things under control. Try not to let problems and debt accumulate so they don’t get worse, and not get carried away with impulse buys. It doesn’t mean you can’t spend anything at all. Money is there to spend it and treat yourself once in a while, but like everything, in moderation.”