By Bukola Idowu, Lagos
In about a month from now, secondary and primary schools across Nigeria will resume for another session but with an additional subject that is targeted at ensuring that the young ones who are the future of the country.
This is due to a new curriculum that has been included in the Nigerian educational system through collaboration amongst financial stakeholders, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).
Though there are many educated and literate Nigerians, a high percentage of the population does not have the requisite skills to effectively manage their financial transactions and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the financial products and services to improve their well-being.
Besides, consumers of financial services have also been subjected to unethical practices from financial institutions which could be attributed to their low level of financial literacy arising from their lack of knowledge of their rights and obligations in their relationships with the financial institutions.
A study of financial literacy in Nigeria carried out by the research department of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) in December 2012, revealed the existence of considerable gaps in the literacy level of average Nigerian adults, literacy was lowest among single respondents as well as increased literacy with income.
The study also revealed that literacy appeared lowest among students and unemployed, identified literacy gap to be more prominent in the domains of money management and financial exposure and experience as well as possession of educational qualifications influenced financial literacy in all the domains
To address this, the CBN recently in partnership with the NERDC had commenced the training of teachers ahead of the inclusion of financial education in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the 2017/2018 session which begins this September.
This is to ensure that financial education is ingrained in students from a young age as part of financial inclusion target of the country. Speaking at a workshop for the development of the teachers’ guide in Lagos yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the NERDC, Professor Ismail Junaidu, said the curriculum is essential in entrenching financial education in Nigerians at a young age.
Junaidu who noted that the problem of buffet execution which the country has is due to dearth of financial education said “if you teach them now and they grow up with that culture, they will be able to manage the resources to utilize very well and to explore various avenues of taping the resources.”
On her part, CBN Director, Consumer Protection Department, Hajiya Umman Dutse, noted that lack of consumer sophistication and education was one factor that contributed to the 2008/2009 financial crisis in the country.
This she said had informed the decision by the apex bank, regulators in the financial sector as well as financial institutions to include financial education in the school curriculum. “We developed in conjunction with stakeholders, a curriculum which recognizes school children and youths as a major target group in financial education.
“We are committed to seeing that the financial education curriculum is launched at the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic session. On funding of the next stage of implementation which is training the teachers, she said the financial sector stakeholders are looking at either training at geo-political level or on a state level basis.
Dutse, who did not specify how much, has been pooled for the project said financial institutions as well as regulators who have contributed for the project are still committed to putting in more if required.
“The CBN, financial regulators and all stakeholders are committed to this project so even if there is a shortfall of funding from what we have collected, and there was commitment by all. So if there is need we will go back to the same people to ask for more because we will be justified because they will see the efforts that has been put into this project and what we have come out with.”
She noted that an increased financial literacy will make the job of the consumer protection department of the apex bank easier saying “if the public are sufficiently educated most of these things are going to reduce because you will know what your rights are, you will know what to expect from the deposit money banks. So at the end of the day it is going to bring down the complaints that we receive from the customers once they are financially educated.”
An essential pillar of any consumer protection programme, consumer education through ‘financial literacy,’ defined as “the possession of knowledge and skills by individuals to manage financial resources effectively to enhance their economic well-being.”
According to the apex bank, it is only when majority of Nigerians are financially literate that they can participate in the formal financial system, by becoming aware of and taking advantage of its opportunities, get financially included and thereby contributing to the financial and economic development of Nigeria.
In March this year the CBN had promoted the Financial Literacy Day as part of activities to commemorate the Global Money Week (GMW), exemplified the need to deepen financial literacy and inclusion in the country. The financial literacy day saw most banks adopting schools where they tutor pupils in the act of financial education and how to cultivate the habit of saving.
The GMW is an annual global celebration initiated by Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI). It is aimed at inspiring children and youth to learn about money, saving, gaining employment and becoming entrepreneurs.
In its commemoration the CBN had partnered with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), a member of the world’s largest network of organisations dedicated to empowering students on financial literacy, teaching them to Learn, Earn and Save.
The CBN and JAN engaged top executives from 23 commercial banks and financial institutions who visited five schools in their catchment areas, in 12 states of the federation to teach financial literacy reaching out to over 80,000 students. With the new curriculum, the message of financial literacy is expected to reach millions of students across the country.
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