The successful implementation of the Fiji Financial Education (FinED Fiji) Project relies heavily on the teachers who teach these critical life lessons. To witness the passion that drives some of these advocates who are taking on such an initiative is impressive. It is even more inspirational to learn about how this passion translates into learning around personal money management and investment in the classroom.
Sabeto Central School can be found after a 10 minute drive down Sabeto Road, between Nadi and Lautoka. Established in 1918, the school was recently renamed, Sabeto Central School and has one stream of classes from Kindergarten to Class 8, with a roll of 240 students. Led by Head Teacher, Mr. Abhinash Raj, the teaching body of the school has taken a proactive approach to introducing Financial Education (FinEd) in the classroom across a number of class levels. After attending Ministry of Education-led training on FinEd for schools across the country, the school developed a school plan to introducing financial education in its classrooms in 2013. Led by Mr. Petero Kamenio, the Lautoka/Yasawa District FinED Fiji Monitoring Team visited the school yesterday as part of monitoring visits to schools in the Education District to determine FinEd implementation.
In addressing the Monitoring Team, Head Teacher, Mr. Raj explained the school’s approach to Financial Education. He said “Financial Education is transforming lives of students and their families. The Sabeto Central School family has learnt a lot through FinEd this year. Education around managing the money in one’s pocket presents a valuable opportunity for learning for our students and a means of equipping them to interact positively with the world around them in an everyday context.”
Mrs. Sanjana Ram is a Class 8 Teacher of the school and the school-appointed FinEd Coordinator for Sabeto Central School. She is also a proud parent of the school with twins in Class 4 and a son in Class 1. Mrs. Ram was the school’s representative to the FinEd teacher training held by the Ministry’s Curriculum Advisory Services in late 2012. After attending the Ministry-led FinEd training, Mrs. Ram returned to Sabeto Central excited about FinEd and its potential in the classroom. With guidance from Class 1 teacher, Mrs. Paulini Tudreu, formerly of Nadi Airport School; a FinEd Champion School, Mrs. Ram held teacher training for her colleagues within the school. This year, in recognizing that Financial Education is not a separate subject, Sabeto Central School introduced FinEd in the classroom in English, Mathematics and Social Studies/Science.
Mrs. Ram is excited about FinEd especially after observing her students’ and her own children’s enthusiasm for the learning around personal money management and investment. Mrs. Ram acknowledges that there is still scope for improvement in the approach taken to ensure that all FinEd learning outcomes are covered at each class level every year.
She noted however, that “As teachers we need to start somewhere. This programme is important to our students. Every day our students and our own children handle money and make money decisions. We must teach them how to manage their money on a daily basis and for the future, how to save, how to spend wisely and how to share – the three of ‘S’ of Financial Education. There is a lot more that we can do to cover the learning outcomes, but we must start somewhere.”
This year, Mrs. Ram introduced learning around personal money management in English and Social Science. She indicated that when teaching financial education she observed her children learning best with the hands-on activities that were provided. They especially enjoyed “Aaja’s Letter” a lesson structured around budgeting, cash-flow, saving and financial goals, spending wisely, foreign exchange rates and how to use these for a young boy who is planning to visit his cousin and grandmother who reside overseas. The lesson was delivered as part of Mrs. Ram’s Social Science class, where Mrs. Ram also took the opportunity to teach her students about the world around us and a neighbouring country.
She shared the practical experiences by her students and her observations of their use and management of money after learning. After learning about money and its management, students were noted to be more cautious with how they used their money and where they kept it. This cautiousness has been particularly observed at the school canteen. In addition, children are now noted to be keeping aside money for savings goals. Mrs. Ram noted that in addition several of her students diligently saved small amounts regularly over Term 3, to assist their families with the cost of the class end-of-year excursion to Sigatoka. She added that these students and their experiences with small amounts of money were as inspiration to the teachers.
Mrs. Rama credits the dedication of the Head Teacher and the teaching body for their FinEd achievements this year.
FinED Fiji Monitors are presently conducting interviews in schools in the 9 Education Districts around Fiji, in order to better understand the implementation experience in these schools after FinED Fiji was rolled out nationally in April this year. The national rollout came after national teacher training held by the Ministry of Education over the period 2012 to 2013. The nationwide implementation means that 197,000 students around the country are now learning about personal money management and investment from Class 1 to Form 6. FinED Fiji does not entail the teaching of a separate subject in the classroom or additional lessons, rather it will involve teaching and learning in existing subjects over a child’s twelve year learning journey in school.
FinED Fiji has generated strong interest from the Pacific and worldwide. This groundbreaking initiative is funded by the Australian Government and is jointly managed by the Ministry of Education and PFIP.
PFIP is a joint programme of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with additional funding support from the Australian Government and the European Union/Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Microfinance Framework Programme (EU/ACP).