Consumer class letdown

May 12, 1995

Labour bid to topple the Tories as consumer champions received a fillip with the publication of a report condemning schools for failure to educate pupils in consumer awareness.

This is despite the European Commission's call for integration of consumer education into the curriculum eight years ago, according to a joint report from the Consumer's Association and Edge Hill College.

Their three-year development project shows that the education system is failing the consumers of the future with the situation, at least in the United Kingdom, worse than before.

The report says that the problems associated with implementing consumer education range from continuing curriculum confusion, increasing demands on the timetable, a lack of subject knowledge and few resources.

The study, which was funded by the European Commission, shows that the National Curriculum has led to little improvement despite the fact that consumer education can be easily integrated into the ten foundation subjects and achieved through cross-curricular teaching.

"Sadly, the majority of pupils still leave school with little recognition of the skills, knowledge and attitudes that an effective consumer needs," says the report.

"Tomorrow's consumers will not be empowered to make informed consumer decisions and achieve the improvements they want in the goods and services."

It makes a series of recommendations designed to give a higher profile and priority to consumer education.

These include more and better materials, and also for consumer education becoming part of the initial and inservice training of teachers.

The report says there should be continued and greater involvement of the big consumer organisations as well as of the European Union and Parliament, and the establishment of policies on the subject by education authorities.

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