For decades, Ukrainian students have learned about economics from outdated Soviet textbooks that celebrated the worst of centralized planning. Ukraine is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and new textbooks are out of reach for most schools. Bendukidze Free Market Center (BFMC), a Kyiv-based Atlas Network partner, wanted to ensure that students had access to information that made the case for capitalism and economic liberty. The result was Economics, a textbook specifically designed for middle schoolers to learn the impact that free markets have on prosperity.
Economics, which strives to reduce low levels of financial and economic literacy among younger generations, gained immense popularity after its successful trial run last September. The textbook, which was born out of the "ENVY: Economics at School" project, has now been implemented in 15 different schools across 9 regions, reaching a total of 500 students and 150 adults who purchased copies for personal use.
Melnyk, who won the 2019 Think Tank Shark Tank-Europe competition for her pitch to create the "ENVY: Economics at School" project, says that Bendukidze’s next steps include convincing the Ministry of Education that economics must become a mandatory subject in middle school. To that end, the organization is establishing a community of headmasters and teachers who support the idea.
The future for Economics is bright as BFMC continues to improve the online and physical materials, and hopes to release an online teacher's manual in the future based on participating teacher's feedback.
“We are aiming to transform the way economics is taught at school to help rear the students into freedom-loving, self-sufficient, and critical thinking individuals,” says Melnyk. “This project would not have been possible without the support provided by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Ukraine, Belarus, and Atlas Network, through which we established partner-ship with LFMI.”