The next generation of children in Fiji will be equipped with skills to better handle spending, saving and investing money throughout their lives. This will be made possible through the UNDP supported Fiji Financial Education Curriculum Development (FinEd) Project which seeks to introduce financial education into both the primary and secondary school curriculum from years 1 to 13.
“There are many families and communities who struggle financially and who do not have the knowledge, skills or confidence to make good choices and therefore cannot teach their children to make wise ones either. The management, use and handling of money is a life skill and where better to teach this, than in a dynamic learning environment – the classroom,” said the Minister for Education, Ambassador Filipe Bole when launching the project in Suva in January this year.
The project is implemented jointly by the Fiji Ministry of Education and the UNCDF/UNDP’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). It has received funding from AusAID, amounting to FJ$2.3 million. These funds will cater for the development of a curriculum framework, the preparation of resource and assessment materials, training of teachers and the initial roll-out of the curriculum in participating champion schools across the country. There will be a phased rollout of the project, starting next year.
The financial literacy curriculum would be integrated in the existing school curriculum and would not result in additional classes. For instance at primary school, in classes 1 and 2 within social studies, there is an existing topic called ‘going to the shop.’ In this topic, children learn amongst others, the concepts of purchasing and exchange. As part of financial education, within this topic, children will be introduced to money recognition; purchasing power and the understanding that $5 cannot buy an aero plane; the concept of ‘change’ – on giving money, there may be some change that will be returned to you; and the value of obtaining receipts from shops, vendors, buses. This would make the topic ‘going to the shop’ more meaningful and relevant.
The lessons that will be designed to teach financial education will give depth to the learning experience, and also invigorate thought, creativity and personal practice.
“Financial education is not a subject to be learnt in the day and forgotten at the end of the day. Learning materials have to be relevant. We are working with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme and Young Enterprise Trust of New Zealand to ensure that resources developed are relevant to Fiji, and are practical and exciting,” said Ambassador Bole.
The RC/RR Fiji, Mr. Knut Ostby said that financial literacy had a role to play in alleviating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sarah Goulding, Counsellor Australian Aid Program, said that it is important to make financial education available to all students in Fiji to build up their competency and resilience in dealing with future financial hardships and opportunities.
The Fiji Financial Education Curriculum Development project is funded by the Australian Aid Programme and managed by PFIP in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Young Enterprise Trust (New Zealand) as the technical service provider. PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), European Union, AusAID and operates from the UNDP Pacific Centre.