Financial literacy among students
Filipino high school students ranked last among 80 countries in reading, and second to the last in math and science in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), given by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
Many factors contributed to our poor performance (see “Pisa: What it really takes,” December 12, 2019). Pisa also included an optional test on financial literacy, which we did not take.
Young people in many countries fared badly. About 94 percent learn about money matters from their parents and 73 percent buy online (possibly more now, given the pandemic).
That same year, a World Bank study revealed only 2 percent of Filipinos could answer questions on interest, inflation and investments. Teachers fared no better.
Financial literacy has become part of the K-12 curriculum. Saving money is discussed in Kinder, family budget pie charts in Grade 6 and unemployment in Grade 11. But more thoughtful resources are needed.Recently, I revisited Prudence Foundation’s Cha Ching Kid$ at Home, an online program for parents to help grade school children understand the cycle of earn-save-spend-donate.
I was already familiar with Cha Ching when in 2013, Pru Life UK asked me to talk about financial literacy to its clients, mostly parents. Last Sept. 12, I headed a video conference with their clients and gladly discovered that aside from parents, teachers and Department of Education officials (particularly in the Visayas, where Cha Ching is adopted by schools) tuned in as well.
Online materials have tripled and videos (airing on Cartoon Network worldwide) have been translated into Filipino. The activities have also been adopted to be of use beyond the target ages of 7 to 12.
Take my favorite activity—differentiating needs from wants, which is even more urgent now in this pandemic.
“Financial distress is a reality for many Filipino families,” said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno last July.
“The failure to save for specific goals such as an emergency fund, or the unnecessary expenses that lead to overindebtedness, can compromise the health, harmony and happiness of families,” he added.
In the video “Spend your money wisely, my friend,” Prudence and her friends are hungry, but decide to cook their own noodles at home rather than dine out and spend five times the amount. In another video “Practice delayed gratification,” Pepper is a shopaholic but comes to her senses when she discovers she does not have enough money for what she truly desires.
“Self-control is an essential skill to achieving goals in life,” says the parent guide. “To master the skill of self-control, one must reduce the impulse for immediate gratification and practice delayed gratification.”
Easier said than done. And so, parents are guided to discuss with their kids questions such as: Do I really need the item or is it just something I want? If I get this item now, will I miss out on something else later? Do I need or want it enough to spend my money on it? If the purchase is totally thought out and planned for, am I getting it at the best price?
Cha Ching provides children with colorful, downloadable worksheets: a personal budget planner to classify needs and wants, with corresponding costs; a grocery list with estimated and actual costs; a pocket money tracker to analyze target savings vis-à-vis allowance.
Families are challenged to spend less. Besides the worksheets, a family budget manager is also available for download in PDF and Excel.
Cha Ching resources can be used as a springboard for further learning. For instance, students can apply the 50-30-20 rule of thumb for budgeting, as popularized by US Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The rule means 50 percent of our money can go toward needs, 30 percent toward wants, and 20 percent toward savings.
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph. Contact the author at [email protected]
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