WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke called on business and finance students and faculty on Thursday to make improving the public's financial literacy a priority in their careers.

"Among the lessons of the recent financial crisis is the need for virtually everyone — both young and old — to acquire a basic knowledge of finance and economics," said Bernanke, in a speech before the University of Dayton's 13th annual RISE forum.

He said such knowledge is essential for anyone who has to manage a household budget, buy a car or home, or prepare financially for retirement.

Financial literacy — along with its dual mandate of price stability and maximum employment — is a key part of the U.S. central bank's mission, Bernanke said.

The Fed has been "deeply involved" in helping to support the work of teachers, schools and national organizations as they have worked to educate students and the public-at-large, he said. The central bank offers a variety of resources for teachers and students on its Web site to help promote financial and economic education, such as educational games, classroom lesson plans, and multimedia tools.

Additionally, Federal Reserve banks across the country offer professional development opportunities for teachers to improve their ability to present lessons on personal finance topics, as well as organize personal finance essay, video and academic competitions for students.

"Many of you are, or will be, practitioners in the financial services industry — perhaps serving retail clients — and in that capacity I hope you will make the promotion of financial and economic education a part of your mission as well," said Bernanke.

Such skills, he said, will help the individuals to "provide a better life for themselves and their families," while also giving them the skills to be "engaged citizens and informed voters."

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