On Wednesday, 16 March, a public debate on the topic of "Student loans – yes or no" was organised at the CNB in cooperation with the Croatian Debate Society to mark the Global and European Money Week. Together with the debate teams, the audience comprising almost 170 students from a number of grammar schools from Zagreb – Second, Seventh, Classical, Fifth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Tenth, as well as Trade School, made their very vigorous contribution to the discussion. Bojan Marjanović, President of the Croatian Debate Society, was the moderator of the debate. The members of the affirmative team included Marija Jarnjak and Sonja Božić from Second Grammar School and Matko Dujmović from Classical Grammar School, while their opponents in the negative team were Luka Baković from Tenth, Maja Roglić from Fifth and Martin Rosenzweig from Fifteenth Grammar School.
The affirmative team opened the debate by presenting its arguments: the possibility to cover the costs of education and/or student life, interest rates from 5% to 6%, the possibility for the loan repayment to begin from the time of permanent employment, additional increase in the loan up to 20% during studies, the flexibility and accessibility of loans, allowing access to higher education to students from smaller communities or having lower purchasing power, assuming responsibility for finance. The negative team based its arguments on the facts that students lose freedom because of this type of credit burden, that state universities are good and mostly tuition free and that as a result they do not see the reasons for attending private colleges, that there are scholarships and other forms of assistance to students and that young people do not have a sufficient level of financial education to assume credit liabilities. A large number of students from the audience contributed their comments in a very engaging manner, alternating the representation of affirmative and negative positions, however, the negative team won in this debate. The most important conclusion of the discussion – i.e. the point of minimal consensus of all present – was that basic financial education should be introduced into the Croatian educational system.
The debate on student loans was the central event within the Global and European Money Week at the CNB, as well as the activities on enhancing the financial literacy of young people, which the central bank is undertaking throughout the year.
With the aim of an active involvement of high school students in financial education, Ana Pisačić and Josip Pintarić of Consumer Protection Monitoring Office gave a lecture before the start of the debate. The lecturers emphasised the importance of making an informed decision on the use of banking services with a sustainable approach to personal finance and presented the results of the survey on financial literacy, which was conducted by the CNB and HANFA during 2015. The results of the survey show that young people have the lowest level of financial literacy, which points to the necessity of their financial education. For this reason, students were informed in more detail about the basic elements of financial operations: transaction accounts, deposit, credit and electronic operations. They were also presented with the legal framework for the central bank's operation in the area of consumer protection, as well as with the regulation that binds credit institutions to inform consumers by means of defined forms before the actual contracting of a specific banking service.
The CNB marks the Global and European Money Week from 14 to 18 March by a series of educational lectures in the area of consumer protection for more than 600 students from high schools from the Republic of Croatia.