Teach financial literacy in schools

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013

 ARE we grooming innovators and wealth creators?

That is the pertinent question to ask now as it is that time of the year again when holidays are approaching and the future of thousands of school-going people is on the mind of everyone who has an interest in their progress.  

Examinations followed by graduations are happening all over the country.

Roughly 17,000 Grade 12, 40,000 Grade 10 students and more than 100,000 Grade 8 students will have passed through the different stages of the formal education system at the end of the 2012 academic year.

Parents and students will be looking forward to proceeding to the next stage of their life’s education journey. 

Sadly though, given the workings of the formal education system, the bulk of these young people will be left out to fend for themselves.

They will have been pushed out of the comfort and security of a classroom and away from a caring teacher.

Why should it will be the same old story again of parents bemoaning their children’s lack of luck and sense of failure and being not good enough?  

Only a few thousand will proceed to the next level of education as dictated by the Papua New Guinea education system’s type of natural selection where the most academically fit survive and proceed to another stage of schooling.

The motivational speeches at graduation ceremonies will largely be forgotten by the hearers who will now be pre-occupied with what the future holds for them. 

It is time now to give some hope even to those who fail to proceed to the next grade or university level education. 

Hope should not be merely in motivational speeches and romanticising hard work or working the land. 

It should be more than that.

There should be something in them that will drive them to get out there and grab their life’s circumstances and turn them to their advantage.  

There should be an entrepreneurial spirit and a yearning in their young minds to improve their lot. Many of these young people who have grown up in towns and settlements away from their traditional villages have no land to return to make a living if the education system pushes them out.  

They will need something apart from land.

They will need to generate a living with their minds and hands.  

This is where life skills like those taught by people like Sam Tam through the personal viability training come into play.

There was talk some time ago, of  incorporating personal viability into the formal education system, which would help train Papua Guineans from a young age to learn entrepreneurship, innovation, literacy and a savings culture for later investment and simply getting out of the rut of dependability or borrowing.

There is nothing more re­warding than being financially independent and that is precisely what sets a big businessman apart from an employee who must work to pay for his basic needs and worse, to pay debts obtained to meet some of those needs.

Personal viability training has benefited many grassroots people who would otherwise remain in their past of indebtedness and struggling to save. 

The training has been embraced by many institutions, including not in the least, the PNG Vision 2050 Development Centre.

Housewives, small business people, church leaders and public servants have all benefited from or are recommending others to acquire personal viability training. 

The government’s drive in promoting small and medium enterprises will be quite successfully if those existing and prospective entrepreneurs have had personal viability training.

And the thousands of graduates who leave at the end of every year would have a door of opportunity wide open for them if they had been trained to think, create and generate incomes, save and spend prudently to better themselves and those around them.

Our leaders need to think outside the box to resolve the many issues facing today’s generation.

One way is to acknowledge the time is right for personal viability and financial literacy to be taught at some level of the formal education system.