After one and a half days of intense discussions in Moscow with a group of experts from four continents, I have come away excited and energized by the possibilities of making students more aware of the business of government and becoming more active and responsible citizens.
In most developed countries, anywhere from one-third to half of all national income is managed by the government - but how much does the average person really understand about the budget or the difficult choices and trade-offs being made by governments every day?
Should taxes be raised or lowered? Should they spend on schools? Better hospitals? Pensions? Is it better to run a deficit and let future taxpayers settle the bills or save today to pay down the debt?
Why is this barely discussed in schools?
To help address this basic question, the Russian Ministry of Finance, helped by the World Bank, is piloting an initiative designed to encourage responsible citizenship and greater engagement in the budget process. The idea is that high school seniors will debate and discuss these issues, using real life cases and information from government budgets.