Central banks’ decisions have far-reaching consequences for the population. From an economic policy perspective, it is therefore an advantage if as many people as possible understand these decisions and the considerations behind them, and also have a grasp of fundamental economic principles. In Switzerland, where citizens regularly vote on economically complex issues at all levels of government, it is particularly important that the general public has a good basic understanding of economic matters.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) aims to contribute to the teaching of these topics. That is why the iconomix programme was launched in 2007, on the SNB’s 100th anniversary. Iconomix is part of the SNB’s long-term commitment to economic education with a sustainable impact. This commitment began in 1984 with the creation of the Study Center Gerzensee.
Iconomix is primarily intended to support teachers at upper secondary schools in conveying the knowledge and skills required for an understanding of economic processes. The programme also enhances teachers’ expertise through various educational and training events. Last but not least, iconomix aims to provide input for modern and attractive forms of teaching economics.
There are various categories of upper secondary schools in Switzerland. Around 95% of all young people in Switzerland go through this level of education – that is around 330,000 students. The number of economics and humanities teachers in upper secondary schools comes to around 4,000.
Why financial literacy is important to central banks
Central banks’ decisions have far-reaching consequences for the population. It is crucial that the public understands both the decisions and the considerations behind them. That is why central banks are interested in people having a basic understanding of economic matters, and why many of them make a contribution to the teaching of the fundamental principles involved. Central banks that share this attitude invest in education. They approach schools and teachers and cooperate closely with private enterprise and civil society – much as iconomix does in Switzerland.