For long, we have religiously shouldered a big load of misconceptions about money and its perceived management. Among the prime fallacies that have unfortunately turned into popular beliefs is that money management is only for the experts. And that you need to know about money only when you start earning, borrowing or investing it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before we talk of managing money, we need to tell our students to respect it for what it’s worth. Money is one of those few aspects that affect and impact our lives at every juncture. And yet, we never think of educating our children about money - its origins, value, use and abuse. The Money page of a newspaper is still something that is usually to be turned over without a glance for majority of kids (and perhaps also parents).
No wonder, a whole lot of our population, notably the younger folks, turn victims of overspending that sooner or later makes way for a debt-ridden existence. Rather than exploring ways of saving and investing money, most of us chase the seemingly alluring options of buying more and more, invariably in excess of what is needed or what can be afforded. Before we blame it on the ‘reckless’ current crop, we must pause and wake up to the fact that how little we are doing about educating ourselves and our children on Money skills.
Isn’t it ironic that we deal with money all our lives and yet fail to consider money as a subject to be understood and grasped? On one end, we are well versed with using cash, cheque, credit cards or debit cards and yet we lack perspective on critical issues like ‘What is money?’, ‘How was it born?’, and ‘How did it evolve over time?’
With no formal education on money, we form lopsided notions about money - for some, it means security, others see facility in it, and for many it’s synonymous with authority. There are a few who regard it as an epitome of hope and aspiration. No single view is wholly right in isolation as money can assume all of these forms but can’t be limited by them.
It’s high time we put money in perspective, more so for the benefit of our younger generation. I firmly believe that financial literacy, if taught during formative student years, will become the foundation of a brighter and better financial future when our young Turks begin their professional innings - whether as budding entrepreneurs, visionary managers or the thought leaders of tomorrow.
Under the FLAME initiative, IIFL runs an innovative course titled ‘Financial Literacy for Students’ (FIN-LITES) in schools across the length and breadth of India. FIN-LITES is our humble step forward that will undoubtedly graduate into a movement as more and more schools join hands to embrace financial literacy for the benefit of its students.
The Workbook made available to students as course material to help prepare for the FIN-LITES examination is the result of painstaking research and articulation on how money should be introduced to school children. Accordingly, key concepts like inflation, interest, budgeting, accounting and investment have been explained in a lucid manner. The whole emphasis is on unfolding knowledge in a non-linear and vivid manner sans all the jargon. Rather than present them with an information dump, we have employed engaging techniques like story-telling and do-it-yourself exercises to elucidate the theory.
For instance, to explain compound interest, students are introduced to the magic of compounding through an amusing tale of an old man who’s faced with the onerous task of distributing gold coins among his two sons. The intricacies of insurance are explained through a real-life example. Apart from the usage of money, relevant information is provided on lesser-known facts like the history of money, mint marks, coin anatomy and security features of bank money. To help students self-evaluate their understanding, exercises and quizzes on concepts like GDP, savings, and taxation have been provided. The workbook has been consciously divided into three sections to match student wavelength - two elaborate sections titled ‘Knowing your money’ and ‘Managing your money today’ and one introductory section titled ‘Investing your money tomorrow’
All effort is taken to ensure that FIN-LITES doesn’t turn out to be a burden for the students over and above their regular syllabus. Even the FIN-LITES examination is conducted solely to inject a sense of purpose, not as a conventional evaluation tool that classifies students based on grades.
FIN-LITES makes every student special in the ardent hope that FIN-LITES becomes special to every student. With FIN-LITES, students don’t need to memorize terms in the fashion of textbook curriculum; rather they’re free to explore the workbook led by their interest such that the moment they encounter some of these terms in real life, they’ll better appreciate the meanings in the light of the actual experience.
Although in its formative year, the response from teachers and students to FIN-LITES has been nothing short of phenomenal. The enthusiasm of the target population is as heartening and inspiring in the same breath. It keeps our FLAME alight and ablaze with positive thought and productive action.
Looking forward to many more FIN-LITES experiences in the year 2012...
Let FIN-LITES show the LIGHT! Let FIN-LITES spread delight!