Managing your finances is a crucial part of growing up, and the earlier students are let into the world of finance, the better for them as young adults, especially during the pandemic times.
A host of schools in Kolkata are trying to make lessons in finance a part of their syllabi and extracurricular activities – in the form of student clubs, workshops and other such interactive events – to inculcate financial literacy among students.
Edugraph explores the various avenues through which schoolchildren are being imparted a robust head start in financial matters.
Financial literacy through school curriculum
In the absence of Financial Literacy as a formal subject, different schools are using commerce-based subjects to bring about financial literacy among students.
“At Calcutta International School, we offer a range of finance-based subjects to make senior school students familiar with financial terminologies and the business world. Students are also encouraged to do a lot of reading. They can connect what they read to the real world,” said Swati Chamaria, head of the department of Business and Economics at Calcutta International School.
Suparna Roy, head of the department of Business at Mahadevi Birla World Academy, shared, “In Classes XI and XII, we have a vocational subject called Financial Market Management, which was introduced in association with the National Stock Exchange. The subject teaches students about investment and mutual funds.”
The awareness of these at an early age allows students to start saving early, leading to a comfortable future, she said. “In my commerce classes, I have taught how credit cards work. Students have been taught what a CVV is and why it should not be shared,” Roy added.
Clubs, programmes and workshops
Outside the classroom, educators are organising student clubs, assignments, programmes and other events to impart crucial life skills in finance. Both Calcutta International School and Mahadevi Birla World Academy have their own commerce clubs.
“We have a highly active business club called the DECA club. Students from Classes VI to XII can participate in the club. The teacher facilitated club has many student-led workshops. One of the primary objectives of the club is to spread financial literacy and expose students to various financial aspects of daily life,” said Chamaria from Calcutta International School.
Similarly, Roy from Mahadevi Birla World Academy started a Commerce Club for students of Classes IX to XII. “The club hosts a lot of activities and presentations. We covered topics like banking, insurance, online transactions and so on. They were taught how to set S.M.A.R.T Goals to prepare for financial expenses,” she said.
Keeping the best interests of students in mind, Modern High School for Girls principal Damayanti Mukherjee has encouraged teachers to come up with a financial literacy programme. Students of Classes IX and XI have already attended two online sessions of the programme.
“We have planned these financial literacy sessions with the vision to empower our girls to be academically, emotionally and financially literate,” said Mukherjee.
Janhabi Banerjee, a teacher of Accounts, Business Studies and Commerce at Modern High School, said, “We are looking to enlighten students about basic financial transactions. The two sessions were held to make students aware of various financial aspects. In the coming years, the programme will be expanded to include students of Classes VII and VIII as well.”
Learning about finance through other activities
Fetes and competitions contribute towards imparting financial knowledge to students. Roy from Mahadevi Birla World Academy shared how she let students learn and teach different financial aspects while participating in a competition. Her students had to present short 30-second videos on different financial topics.
Similarly, at Calcutta International School, students participate in events like bake sales where they get to learn how to handle money.
NGOs also play their part, with non-profit Ek Tara working to empower girls and women from marginalized communities. Imbibing the spirit of financial freedom is a major goal of the organisation.
“At Ek Tara, we do not have any fixed subject or course for financial literacy. We try to encourage it through various projects and assignments,” said Shuvasree Biswas, Ek Tara’s executive programme manager – communications.
She elaborated on two intriguing assignments that students aged 10 to 12 undertook during the pandemic. One of them focused on calculating the use of everyday items as well as wastage. This assignment not only made students more aware of their family’s expenses, but also made parents aware of how to manage household expenses better.
The second assignment had parents engaging with students to plan an imaginary restaurant – they had to come up with the costs and figure out how to make profits.
Games, quizzes and other finance teachers
Learning how to manage money can be as simple as playing Monopoly or the Game of Life. These board games began as fun family activities that taught young players how to go about spending their money, even if in fantastic ways.
Today’s new-age video games have a firm focus on money management. Easy-to-play games like Diner Dash and Con ’Em If You Can are downloadable on smartphones. Games like The Payoff and the Stock Market Games can be played online by older learners. The United States Mint has created the H.I.P. Pocket Change Kids site, where there are several small arcade-style games focused on financial learning.
Taking small online quizzes also aid in financial understanding and planning. CentSai, a US-based financial assistance website, has several quizzes that older learners can take. The website offers a variety of quizzes that test basic financial understanding. In fact, Roy from Mahadevi Birla World Academy said she often used the resources from the website to teach kids about finance.
Another interesting quiz by Jump$tart – a Washington-based organisation supporting financial education – is the Reality Check quiz. While directed more at a US-based audience, the quiz offers an understanding of the employment market for students across the world.
Online courses and other resources
Edtech platforms are coming up with several online course modules to offer children independent financial learning opportunities.
There are free as well as paid courses on learning platforms such as EdX and Udemy for all ages.
Udemy’s Personal Finance 101 offers a comprehensive course on personal financing, with free online content on various financial topics ranging from building credit to retirement planning.
Khan Academy has a course on Saving and Budgeting, which teaches basic strategies that learners can use when budgeting their expenses.
Older learners can opt for Purdue University’s Personal Finance Planning course on EdX. This introductory level course teaches learners how to optimally make their financial decisions.
Scholastic has an interactive Teaching Financial Literacy Skills lesson plan that can be implemented by parents/teachers with young learners.
Aside from online courses, reading material in the form of books is available for self-motivated learners. The Only Financial Book That You Will Ever Need by Amar Pandit, The Everything Kids' Money Book: Earn it, save it, and watch it grow by Brette Sember, Let’s Learn About Money by Bemoneyaware and The Legacy Of Financial Literacy: Guiding My Child To Financial Success by Jyotinath Ganguly are a few books that readers of different ages can enjoy.