School is not just about giving children boxed lessons in a selected set of subjects. It is a place where children acquire important life skills, and perhaps the only place where such skills can be introduced in a planned and caring manner, where mistakes can be made and discussed. This project is a departure from most carried earlier in Teacher Plus, in that it relates to no specific subject but cuts across several in a manner that relates not to examinations, but to life. It could become part of a series of SUPW activities, or a series of discussions in assembly leading to individually-driven activities, or even integrated into an economics, social studies or mathematics class. We all agree money is important, more so today than ever before in history, and we need to understand it. So why not begin in school?
The last decade has seen a vast change in the way we live, work, think about and use money. This period has seen a significant section of the population making millions out of an idea, and at the same time a record number of lay-offs, shut downs and bankruptcies. The job market has become flexible, as there has been a steep rise in the number of professionally qualified youth along with a demand for more and more workers with certain specific skills. Young people with a reasonable education have access to jobs that pay more than their parents could ever dream of, and as a consequence at a very young age have the means to material comforts unthought of just one generation ago.
In such a context, it is imperative that children understand money and gain some level of skill in personal financial management. We have been acquiring financial skills by a trial and error method. But in today’s flexible labour market, with widespread and easy access to loans and credit, and cash-less shopping – all against a backdrop of aggressive advertising – we need to go beyond trial and error to a deliberate education in managing money.