Catching them Young

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Joining the rest of the world to observe the 2019 Global Money Week, United Way Greater Nigeria, a member of the United Way Worldwide took its financial literacy programme to St George Primary School, Ikoyi, Lagos, where it taught the teenagers in the school about money and the principles of success, Peter Uzoho reports

Children live what they learn and, as asserted by John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of America, “a child miseducated is a child lost”. This means that whatever they learn during their childhood can make or mar their future. No wonder parents, guardians, loved ones and other members of the society, who have the interest of children and their wellbeing at heart, devote a lot of effort and time in ensuring that they are well-guided ahead of time.

At homes, schools, Churches and Mosques, they are taught good moral values which will help them as they grow into adulthood. A lot of philanthropic organisations have even taken this task further by creating avenues where children will not only learn good morals but also learn how to generate income, manage their resources, and sustain themselves even in their teens.

To this end, in commemoration of the 2019 Global Money Week, United Way Greater Nigeria, a member of an international philanthropic non-governmental organisation, United Way Worldwide, carried its financial literacy message to teenagers at the St George Boys/Girls Primary School, Ikoyi, Lagos, where they taught the pupils the value of money and principles of success.

United Way Greater Nigeria

United Way Greater Nigeria is a local partner of the United Way Worldwide, the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit organisation, with presence in 1, 800 communities and in 40 countries of the world. Sometime in January, the Nigerian chapter of the global body was relaunched after it stopped operation in the country for some years.

In line with the objectives, goals and standards of the global body, United Way Greater Nigeria brings people and organisations together to tackle challenges in Nigerian communities with a focus on improving education, financial stability and health. Its projects are funded by donors who serve as major partners in common good.

It also improves lives by mobilising the caring power of Nigerian communities to advance the common good and facilitates outcome-focused cross-sector coordination, bringing together businesses, individuals, and non-profit organisations to deliver measurable changes for low and lower-middle income Nigerians. The organisation also partners with companies to help them realise their employee-engagement efforts and achieve their social responsibility goals.

Financial Literacy Outreach

On a recent Tuesdays, United Way Greater Nigeria took its financial literacy outreach to St George Boys/Girls Primary School on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The movement was organised in conjunction with its partners including Dyslexia Nigeria, Page Financial Services Limited, and Verod Foundation. It was in commemoration of the Global Money Week/Financial literacy Day, a day set aside for businesses and organisations to reach out to children and young people to inspiring them to learn about money matters, livelihoods and entrepreneurship.

Decked in branded T-shirts, young men and women who worked as volunteers were deployed to the classrooms –four to six, to engage in meaningful interaction and conversation with the children to make them financially conscious. They used a literacy kit developed from the story of The Magic Magpie, a financial fairy Tale, written by renowned UK-based author and educator, Daniel Britton, which sharedimportant messages about money, enterprise and the business of life in a fun and engaging atmosphere.

The captivating Magic Magpie tells the story of two siblings, Jacob and Hannah, who have different approaches to money and life. While Jacob is practical and sensible, Hannah is greedy and looking to get rich quick through cutting corners. In the process, Hannah’s greed lands her brother, Jacob in a great trouble and, she is left faced with the challenge of trying to work hard to rescue him.

The teaching and learning experience was so involving and exciting. At intervals, the children punctuated the sessions, asking intelligent questions in a bid to understand better. It was essentially about knowledge sharing and impartation as well as feedback generation.

Objectives Met

The Executive Director of United Way Greater Nigeria, Mrs Olayide Olumide-Odediran who led the trip to the school, expressed her satisfaction, saying the objectives of the visit had been met.

“The excitement has been fantastic. The feedback was great; the children are very intelligent; they were very engaging. They learnt some good lessons; they asked strong questions, and they were able to tell us what they’ve learnt from the story. So the objectives that we came here today have absolutely been met,” she said.

Shedding more light on the Global Money Week and the need to educate children about financial issues, Olumide-Odediran said: “This is Global Money Week, it’s a week when we all take time to educate both children and adult about financials, money, how to invest, how to save, how to earn and spend.

“For young children, the principles are a bit simpler. They are about sharing, caring, earning, working hard for their money; studying so that they can get to a point where they can earn money. And this is an opportunity where we have companies with us and we want to share that knowledge with them.

“Money is a big part of our lives. Teaching young children from a young age what to do with money ensures that they don’t get into problem when they are older. That they know how to save so that they can save for the rainy day; and that they know how to get the skill they need to earn, and get an income to be able to live good lives.

“When you get to the point where you are financially stable, health is not a problem for you, work is also not a problem for you; and education is no longer a problem for you and all the other generations after you. So this is a really critical thing that we are getting young children to understand for now. And for us, this covers both education and financial literacy as two parts of what we focus on.”

She explained that “the beauty about what we’ve done today is that we taught the principles by using a wonderful story that we’ve done in partnership with Financial Fairy Tales, and this ensures that children can take those simple principles because it’s a story that they enjoy and they can hold on to them for a much longer time. That means that over time, they can make better money decisions that also improve the way they contribute to our economy.”

She added: “Our partner, the Financial Fairy Tales, shared with us this wonderful story, The Magic Magpie. The story is written to specifically teach young children about money principles and, that’s why all our volunteers today, have read the same story to all of the children. Our volunteers have also been trained to know how to teach the children the lessons from that story.”

A Volunteer’s Experience

One of the volunteers, Ms Uju Ngene of United Way Greater Nigeria, who taught primary six pupils (girls), shared her experience engaging with the children, stressed the importance of catching the children young in such sensitive life issue.

“It’s very important to start from the bases, to start from the foundation, which is why our going to schools is a wonderful platform. And, when we’re talking about financial literacy, it’s important to get kids to understand what exactly financial literacy is – how to spent money, how to save money, earning and sharing and saving, all the different concepts associated with money,” she said.

She said the children were very much excited, adding: “even this was also impacting on the volunteers. They came excited, expectant and ready to engage. “And the story is a fun and very relatable story as well. It’s a normal story but then you get to learn the concepts about money, you get to learn about being content with what you have, and working hard, and studying hard. So we taught them different areas, from life, finances, and being a hardworking individual.”

Excited Pupils

Meanwhile, some of the children who were full of excitement shared what they’ve learnt with this reporter, thanking their august teachers and the United Way Greater Nigeria for coming to teach them.

An 11 year old primary five pupil, Miss Gift Bulus, said: “I learnt that we should work together to achieve great things. I also learnt that before we take something, we should take permission. That we should work hard to make money and not to take people’s things without permission. I thank them for coming to teach us.”

For Master Nosa Emmanuel, 11, and in primary six, he said: “I’ve learnt not to be borrowing, but to work hard and earn your money. I’ve learnt that we should not follow short cuts to make it in life; rather we should follow the right way. I learnt that you don’t have to steal. And I’ve learnt that if you see people in need that you need to help them. I also learnt that you should not just stay in one place doing nothing and expect people to help you; that you should try and help yourself first.”

Also, Master Moses Bright, who is equally 11 years and in primary six, shared the knowledge he acquired at the session: “I learnt that there is no shortcut in what you are doing, that anything you want to do you should follow the right way. I’ve also learnt that you should try and work very hard instead of just sitting down and waiting for help.

“And I learnt that teamwork is the best way to achieve good result; that no man is an Island. I learnt that we should not be greedy. That we should check whatever we want to do very well before we start doing it. They also taught us how to save money for future. That any amount we make, we should remove some amountfrom it and save it, so that when we are in need, we go and take it and use it to solve our problem.”

On her part, Miss Marvelous Zacharia, 9 and in primary four, said: “I learnt that if you have something you should share it with others, and that you should not take what does not belong to you. I learnt that weshould always be thankful to we have and where we are at the moment. I learnt that we should work hard to make money. They also taught us how to save money and manage what we have. I thank them for teaching us financial literacy.”