Simplifying Financial Knowledge

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Funke Osae-Brown

It’s needless to say that money is very important to human lives. Right from infancy, money has been a central commodity, playing a major role in the birth process, nursing and nurturing a child into adulthood. At adulthood, the pursuit of money becomes even higher especially with meeting daily needs and desires.

It is against this background that the book, “Understanding The Nigerian Financial System for Secondary School Students’’ is written. The author, Anthony Osae-Brown highlights the need for people to have a good grasp of the financial system from an early age; hence its focus on secondary school students. In the book, the author, simplifies the concept of acquiring money, making financial expenditure in a way that enhances people’s welfare.

Divided into 20 chapters, the book begins on a typical note with the definition of key concepts. The early part of it defines the term “financial system” for a wholistic understanding of the subject matter. To have a sound knowledge of the financial system, the definition of money is key. Today, the layman understanding of money is more often than not limited to currency. To find answers to the true meaning of money, Osae-Brown traces the root of money; highlighting different items that have been used as money in early business transactions. He names salt, corn, rice among other commodities that have been used in trade-by-barter when there was no legal tender in the pre-colonial era. Later, cowries were used just as precious metals like gold, silver served as money. Much later, paper money and coins were introduced as legal tenders.

The author, like more economists, argues that for anything to be considered as money, it must be accepted by everyone. According to him, money must also be scarce because if everyone had money, nobody will desire it, hence it would no longer be called money.

Financial market is clarified in the book’s second chapter. Titled, ‘This Is the Financial Market’, Osae-Brown goes into detailed description of the financial market using local market as an example. He aptly makes the comparison thus: “The Financial market is like your local market. The major difference is that in your local market, you only buy items that you can see and touch, like tomatoes or yams. In the financial market, you buy things you cannot see and touch, like bonds and stocks.”

The author also defines what he calls “The Twin Daughters of the Financial Market”, that is, the Money Market and the Capital Market. Succinctly, he discusses what the two markets entail and how they function. He goes on in the successive chapter to explain all the players in the financial system. These include the savers and investors, borrowers and issuers, the financial institutions and regulators.

Osae-Brown seeks to simply his topic of discussion by asking simple questions which makes the reader looks inward to provide answers for a better understanding of the financial system. This student/teacher learning approach gives a classroom feel while the gradual progression from the definition of money to the eventual definition of the financial system gives a better understanding of the book’s direction.

The brevity of the chapters is a pointer to the fact that the author is not set out to make his subject matters some long boring reads. Understanding the otherwise difficult nature of the topic for secondary school students, he makes a deliberate effort to simplify the terms using simple language and explanatory sentences.

What makes ‘Understanding The Nigerian Financial System for Secondary School Students’ instructive is that at the end of each chapter, there is a segment titled, “Test Your Knowledge”, which consists of questions on the subjects discussed in the book. In addition, there is the Activity menu, which allows for students to engage in class discussion on issues raised in each chapter. The author also uses images to illustrate the subjects discussed in each chapter which makes the book visually appealing and attractive.

To this end, ‘Understanding The Nigerian Financial System for Secondary School Students’ is a good compendium for secondary school students to have. It seeks to simply financial terminologies that have hitherto makes issues relating to the financial system uninteresting to young people. It is a great way for students to start their journey into importance of money, investment and a general understanding of the financial market