The news that the Department of Education will be implementing a Financial Education program for all learners from K to 12 was welcomed with delight and hope by many of my friends — not just those of us who are parents and educators but also the entrepreneurs and finance professionals and advocates. It’s never too early for our kids to learn how to handle money and it can only be a good thing for our country if all our citizens learned the value of saving and distinguishing between needs and wants.
One of the main drivers for this push towards financial literacy was the sobering result of a survey undertaken by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In the survey, they asked three questions — see if you can answer them correctly yourself!
Question 1: Suppose you have P1000. Assuming that the rate of increase in prices is 10% this year and there is no change in your income, which of the following statements is true about the things you can buy with P1000?
Question 2: You put P100 in a savings account with guaranteed annual interest rate of 2%. How much would be in your account at the end of one year?
Question 3: After 5 years, your account will have…
The correct answers are c, a, and a, respectively. Did you get it all right?
The Bangko Sentral found that the biggest group of adults (41%) could only answer one question correctly. Only 8% were able to answer all three questions correctly and an eye-popping 24% — nearly one-fourth! — got everything wrong.
It’s safe to assume that the adults included in the BSP survey either were not taught the basics of finance when they were younger, or it came up but they didn’t feel it was important or relevant enough to really take to heart and burn into their memories.
That’s why it’s good news that financial education is going to be integrated into the K-12 curriculum, so that it’s something that even young kids are going to be aware of.
Including it in the curriculum isn’t going to be enough, of course. I’m pretty sure most of us, even those who went to government-run schools, were taught about interest when we were in elementary, or high school at the very latest. But apparently, it wasn’t taught in such a way that the learners grasped that this was REALITY — something of practical importance that could either help them achieve financial stability, slowly but surely, or land them in mountains upon mountains of debt — and therefore something that they ought to have remembered decades later as adults.
Speaking of debt, I’m glad that the core messages in the Financial Education program are grounded in reality and not out of touch of most Filipinos’ situations right now. If you were to ask me about debt, for example, I would say NEVER! As much as possible, never put yourself in a situation where you owe someone something! But then that’s something I can say from a position of relative privilege, a position I owe in part to the hard work and wise decisions of my parents and their parents before them. If I had to start from zero — if I had to start from less than zero! — I would not be as allergic to debt. I would not be so lucky.
So as much as I hate to agree with, for example, the core message “Debt is sometimes unavoidable,” I have to say it’s a message that thoughtfully meets many learners where they are.
The core messages below, which I copied from DepEd’s Financial Education Policy, are divided into eight categories: general, earn, save, spend, budget, donate, invest, protect. They’re not, like, a model of copywriting — with some inconsistent structure, some outright typos, and word choice that’s just kind of off sometimes — but I’ve tried to stay faithful to their original form. Hopefully, this list can serve as a springboard for more polished educational materials in the future.
Word choice quibbles aside, I love most of the messages here and I hope that they will really get ingrained into the minds and lives of our learners.
All right, let’s get to it!