Learn. Save. Earn. Why Do We Celebrate Global Money Week & Aflatoun Day?
Children around the world need to start early to become good money managers
By Roeland Monasch, Aflatoun International, March 2019
Roeland Monasch is CEO of Aflatoun International. Aflatoun was founded in 1991 through founder Jeroo Billimoria and by a group of creative children in India. These children were having a class on how to handle money and this initiative needed a name to represent their ideas. The children took up the challenge and decided on ‘Aflatoun’, the name of their favorite movie, and this is how Aflatoun was founded.
Global Money Week, a Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) initiative, is an annual financial awareness campaign built to inspire children and young people to learn about money matters, livelihoods and entrepreneurship. Global Money Week is a spin-off from Aflatoun Day, organized by Aflatoun International as an annual celebration and learning event for all its national partners organized every year in March.
Celebrating Global Money Week and Aflatoun Day is more important than ever before. The latest international data show that the majority of children do not understand the basics about money. For example, the large majority of youth is not able to perform very simple calculations related to interest rates. Financial literacy challenges confront children and young people in developing economies and advanced economies alike.
Most education systems around the world do not consider financial literacy a priority. In many cultures it is expected that children learn about money from their parents or other family members. But most parents have never been educated about money and in many instances have financial problems themselves.
Research has shown that the earlier children learn about money, savings and investment, the better they manage their personal finances throughout their lives. Financial education at an early age helps children develop the skills needed to make better financial decisions down the road regarding student loans, housing, first car, travel and other expenses. These skills help children and youth to appreciate the difference between earning, saving and spending, and make them better money managers, able to budget and practice healthy money habits.
There are also practical reasons why financial education must start early. Nearly half of all children in developing countries do not complete their basic education, and as a result will not get a degree, lowering their potential for a profitable future. Most children will have dropped out of school by age 15. In order to reach these children at scale, we need to catch them while they are still in the classroom. Hence, the focus must be on primary and lower secondary education.
Integrating financial education into the national curriculum should therefore be a priority for every country. Unfortunately, many ministries of education see financial education as a ‘nice to have’ but not as a key priority. In fact, it is an essential 21st century skill which children need to learn as soon as they can read and write - and before they drop out of school.
Another more practical bottleneck to national integration of financial education is fear of overloading the school curriculum and over-burdening the teachers by creating additional subjects. To address this concern, at Aflatoun we consider integration into existing subjects an excellent option. It not only enriches the curriculum, but also helps reduce fragmentation and connects programmatic content across disciplinary boundaries. It also promotes teamwork among teachers from different disciplines, especially in secondary school education. Ultimately, including financial literacy makes education more relevant to the students’ lives.
Each country will have to review its own context to design a curriculum that includes financial literacy in the most suitable way. Essential elements of any approach are very much in line with this years’ Global Money Week theme – Learn, Save. Earn.
Learn to manage money wisely - Educating children and young people about their social and economic rights and responsibilities is key to creating a generation of capable adults who can make wise decisions for their future.
Save for their futures - It is important for children and youth to build clever savings habits from an early age in order to cultivate key money-managing skills for later in life.
Earn for themselves and their families - Developing livelihoods skills or receiving entrepreneurial training supports children and young people in getting a job or building their own business and developing their career.
At Aflatoun we believe that today’s children and youth should become empowered economic citizens, capable of understanding the importance of saving, and equipped with the skills to find employment and to create their own livelihoods. We want young people to learn to manage their money wisely. By empowering children and youth, we can help them transfer their knowledge to their families and to entire communities.
Global Money Week and Aflatoun day are important opportunities where the whole world can celebrate and engage in these important topics in and outside the classroom.
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