Governments, working together with consumer organisations, teachers’ and parents’ associations and other civil society groups, should do more to promote consumer education. The aim should be to help consumers develop critical thinking and raise awareness, according to new policy recommendations recently endorsed by the OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy (CCP). Click here to download the recommendations (pdf).
These recommendations cover three key issues:
- how to define the objectives and strategies of consumer education and evaluate outcomes
- how to select the most appropriate approaches, and
- how to improve co-operation and co-ordination among stakeholders.
They point out how such education can be provided through:
- coursework at educational institutions (formal education),
- extra-curricular activities at educational institutions (non-formal learning), and
- experience outside educational institutions (informal learning).
The importance of targeted education, which focuses on specific issues or groups, as well as that of lifelong learning are also highlighted.
The recommendations were based on extensive research carried out by the Committee during 2007-2009. The results of this research are reflected in the analytical report Promoting Consumer Education: Trends, Policies and Good Practices, which examines effective policies and programmes to promote consumer education.
The key recommendations are:
- Consumer education strategies should be clearly defined with their objectives, so that they can maintain coherence and exploit synergies fully. Ex post evaluation of the effectiveness of consumer education programmes is critical and should be pursued by developing methodologies for the evaluation.
- Consumer education should be incorporated into school curricula.
- Teachers are often not sufficiently well-versed about consumer issues. Therefore, effective teaching techniques on consumer issues need to be further enhanced.
- Consumer education should be viewed as a part of life-long process. The advantage of life-long learning is that consumers can build knowledge in a cumulative fashion over time. Such an aspect is important as markets become increasingly complex with growing amounts of information and an expanding choice of products.
- Various informal and non-formal settings for learning should be explored, addressing the needs of different groups, their socio-economic environments, and demographic factors. In particular, special needs of consumers who may be particularly vulnerable (such as children, the elderly, immigrants, and the disabled) need to be taken into account.
- Multi-stakeholder co-operation and co-ordination should be improved significantly, both domestically and internationally. In particular, co-operation between education ministries and consumer affairs ministries is essential in order to promote consumer education as a part of formal education.
Additional recommendations are provided in two key areas: education to promote sustainable consumption, and digital competence.
Progress made in implementing the recommendations are to be reviewed by the Committee in three years.
For more information, please contact yuko.ueno @oecd.org of the OECD’s Consumer Policy division.
Visit www.oecd.org/sti/consumer-policy for more on the OECD’s work on consumer policy.
Related sites: “Teaching Consumer Competences – A Strategy for Consumer Education: Proposals of objectives and content of consumer education" (Nordic-Estonian Consumer Education Group, 2009)