L-R: Branding / Communication Analyst, Pal Pension, Esther Ahaiwe; Regional Manager Lagos, Pal Pensions, Mabel George; The Winner of 3rd prize of Pal Pensions Art and Essay competition, Quadri Uthman of Western College Yaba, and the Principal, Olamoyegun Olusegun, during the prize presentation by Pal Pensions in Lagos PHOTO: ETOP UKUTT

With the recognition of financial literacy as a necessary foundation upon which wealth creation is built, PAL Pensions has launched a massive financial literacy campaign among Nigerian students to groom great resources managers, Peace Obi reports

A society gets her leaders among her populace for whatever leadership position. Hence a strong and viable economy does not come from the moon, neither do the managers of successful enterprises from a different planet other than the earth. The difference has been said to be traceable to power of financial literacy.

Financial education has been recognised as an important contributor to improved financial inclusion, individuals well being as well as financial stability of a country. And just as great economic policies do not necessarily translate into successful economy without conscious implementation; financial experts have warned that demographic strength of youthful population may also not bring about the expected economic and social development, especially when its youths lack financial education.

Having identified financial literacy as a necessary pre-condition for wealth creation, by industry players in financial sector, stakeholders have continued to show commitment in educating and preparing Nigerian youths for the challenge of becoming better financial managers. And for the experts, wealth creation is not a game of chance but a conscious, careful and dedicated effort by individuals to manage resources at their disposal to bring about healthiness, success and expansion of businesses, the economy, among others.

And for PAL Pensions, good financial judgment, savings culture, among others are at the heart of wealth creation. And to inculcate this important culture among Nigerian youths, the pension fund administrator has taken the campaign into schools across the country, providing free financial education as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility projects. And in most cases instituting financial literacy clubs in these schools for more effective impact. With a three year active campaign, in October 2016, the company organised the maiden edition of its PAL Pensions Arts and Essay competition, with a theme, ‘What Does Financial Literacy Mean to You?’

Speaking at the prize giving event for the successful participant in Lagos, recently, the Regional Manager, Lagos, Mabel George, hinted that PAL Pensions had its financial literacy initiative launched in response to the need to provide Nigerian students the much needed financial education which she said was lacking in their school curriculum. According to George, the desire to arrest a situation where Nigerian youths do not get to know how to manage money, save, or even develop entrepreneurship skills and right financial judgement up until they start working spurred PAL Pensions’ choice of CSR in that direction. “What we have found is that most schools do not have financial literacy in their curriculum. And so you find people who go up until tertiary institutions and even graduates who do not know how to manage money. They don’t learn it until they start working. So, we thought that it is important we start to educate students at the grassroots,” she said.

Poised for a wider reach of its target audience, the regional manager disclosed that her organisation has taken the campaign to over 200 schools within a period of three years. And what seems like an impact assessment, she said, “We have covered 200 schools, introducing financial literacy clubs. In 2015, we introduced financial literacy clubs in some select schools. And so, in 2016 what we thought to do was to have a competition among the schools across the country. We had two categories – arts and crafts as well as essay writing. The students were required to show how they can use either arts or in essay form project and describe what financial literacy is to them.”

Speaking further, George stated that financial education teaches students independence and what to do with resources that are at their disposal. Adding that the establishment felt providing the students with such knowledge at the early stage of their life would expose and equip them with the skills to recognise and explore opportunities. “What we are doing is that from this stage, we want the students to learn how to save, have entrepreneurial skills and know what to do with money. What financial literacy does is to create independence. We want them to realise that beyond leaving school and the search for 8am to 5pm job, there are other skills they can harness at a younger age that could be very helpful at that point.

“Nigeria is a country of over 150 million people and every year millions of people graduate to join the overburdened employment market. For us, we want to have more people who have entrepreneurship skills, so that beyond looking for a white collar job as difficult as it is getting now, people can be independent and be more financial savvy. We want to have people who are more conscious as to how to manage funds better. We want to people who will be better managers and custodians of little income, that no matter how little the income, they are able to manage because they have built the skills.”

Addressing the students, George told the students that the PFA wants them to grow knowing that there is hope and opportunities in their beloved country. And that even if the country does not give them what they think they deserve, they can tap from the knowledge being made available to them through the financial literacy campaign of PAL to create it for themselves. “Acquire knowledge, knowledge is key; acquire financial knowledge, financial knowledge liberates. So, we want you to be better managers, better thinkers with great ideas as you grow older.”

Urging government to make education a top priority, George called for more investment, saying that government need to pledge more in terms of its budgetary allocation in addition to support from the private sector. According to her, with improved funding such problems as poor infrastructure, unmotivated teaching force, poor teaching and learning environment, among others can be taken care of. According to her at the end of the day, “we are building a nation of builders and people who will be more successful in future.”

In his remarks, the Principal of Western College, Yaba, Lagos, Mr. Olamoyegun Olusegun whom one of his students, Master Quadri Uthman finished in the third position in the competition, commended the pensions funds administrators for their unique corporate social responsibility of capturing and building minds of the younger generation for greater productivity, as well as grooming quality financial and resources managers. According to him, PAL Pensions has not only demonstrated its competence as good custodians of funds and investment but also great managers of human resources for the attainment of both individual, corporate and national development.

Urging the students to make the most of the knowledge acquired through the PAL Pensions’ CRS project, Olusegun told the students to take their studies seriously and work hard to be among the achievers. “Do something that will announce your name and make your school proud, he said.

Standing tall in the competition that recorded 120 (90 essays and 30 arts) entries from across the country were Master Titus David, Miss Nneoma Mbalewe and Master Quadri Uthman as the first, second and third position winners. Presenting the winners with their prizes, the first prize winner, a JSS 2 student of ASCL School 1, Kogi State, Master Titus David, smiled home with a tablet while winning a desktop computer for his school. Also, the first runner up, Mbalewe Nneoma of Babcock High School won a school bag with educational kits as well as winning a 3 in 1 printer for her school, while the second runner up, Master Quadri Uthman won a school bag and other educational items while his school got a white board.