Financial education is often overlooked in Singapore. Just like cooking, driving, swimming and cleaning up your own home, financial education is a necessary life skill.
When we pick up financial skills in university, we often notice that financial education is laced with biased information. This includes “exclusive” stock picking courses, and intensive candlestick trading methods from day traders who claim to have made millions from it.
When children are exposed to financial education that is unbiased, and strictly devoid of an ulterior motive to be sold something, it would help them with their financial education.
Start With Teachers First
Imagine if you were a parent. As a busy parent, it is difficult to spend sufficient time imparting financial literacy to your children amidst your already busy career. Besides, not all parents are well-equipped with financial tools and values to teach their children. In other words, you may not know how to educate your children on financial matters.
Now put yourself in a teacher’s shoes. If you had little knowledge on finance and how to handle your own budget, you are unlikely to feel confident teaching children about financial literacy.
But for the sake of the future generation of Singapore, this is no excuse.
SGX Academy and Citi-NIE Financial Literacy Hub for Teachers (aka FinLit Hub) have jointly developed a comprehensive eight-module investment programme. It cover areas such as fundamental analysis, building investment portfolios and utilising publicly available online resources such as SGX StockFacts and SGX MyGateway.
A total of about 800 teachers have benefitted from the NIE-SGX partnership. There will be 8 modules in the entire personal development course for the teachers. Each module, conducted by SGX trainers, would last 3 hours each session. In total, the course would be 24 hours long.
Imagine how much you can learn in 24 hours’ worth of financial education.
Impact On Students
Students with busy parents do not get the chance to have a head start in their financial education. This is made worse if their parents have bad personal financial habits.
Dr Koh Noi Keng (Chair of Citi-NIE Financial Literacy Hub for Teachers, NIE) said that teachers equipped with proper financial knowledge could help students adopt skills such as discipline and delayed self-gratification. Discipline is important these days, especially when credit card companies are making it easy for us to buy things that we can’t afford.
Apple Pay and Visa payWave changes the way we spend. If the young were to grow up in a world where transactions can be made so easily, impulse buying is a high possibility. This is where discipline and delayed self-gratification becomes a crucial value to inculcate in primary schools in particular. Dr Koh also noted that children tend to form habits around 12 years old. Primary schools hence become an excellent place where good financial habits can first form.
Read Also: How To Raise Frugal Children
Value-based Financial Education
Teachers can incorporate financial education in the various subjects that they teach. Value-based education can inculcate values that lasts them a lifetime.
Here are 3 values that the programme emphasizes & hope teachers would be able to impart to students:
#1 Saving Habitually
Good financial habits start from the day you start handling money. Even at five years old, financial education can take place when a child receives ang pow.
#2 Manage Wisely
Money management isn’t something one will just know. Someone has to teach us. This is where teachers step in.
#3 Share Thoughtfully
Dr Koh stressed, “Money is only a tool.” Perhaps another good way to manage one’s finances is to support causes you care about beyond fulfilling material needs.
Do you ever have moments reminiscing with your old friends when you say, “I still remember when Mrs Lim said ___”?
Perhaps children of this generation may recall their teacher imparting simple values that dictate their financial principles.
Will The Programme Be Effective?
Understanding financial concepts and spreading good financial values to young children all over Singapore is difficult to accomplish. Ultimately, the course is a personal development programme for teachers. The effects on children will be arbitrary without anything formally being introduced to children.
It is an awesome move to have teachers become financially literate. But it would be even better if a significant number of teachers can find time between rushing to finish teaching the syllabus, marking papers, and setting exam papers, to guide students with the values needed to be financially savvy. Practical skills and values should not be forgotten. Now that’s what education should be all about.
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