Sunday, October 25, 2020

Financial literacy should be incorporated in our schools curriculum

This week, Friday to be precise, domestic micro lending outfit, Letshego Financial Services launched the first ever national campaign on financial literacy where the company committed to travel throughout the country educating the public, precisely public servants on financial literacy. We take this opportunity to applaud Letshego for this bold move. We however challenge them to make it even bolder by considering holding the sessions for the mass public.

We hear that the intention is to first target public servants with room for possible enrollment of private sector employees. We had expected to see what Letshego intends to do being done by our commercial banks, but so far the little attempts they have made are nothing to write home about. We say to them, if you subscribe to the notion, “Well informed customer is the best customer”, then go ahead and spend on your customers by educating them in a similar manner as Letshego.

We do appreciate the fact that Letshego’s intended campaign comes at a time when a vast majority, even amongst the educated populace in Botswana, do not have a basic understanding of financial principles despite the fact that it has been clear, atleast after the 2008 recession that the need for financial knowledge has taken a global centre stage.

We all ought to agree, atleast to disagree that for real economic prosperity of Batswana, a simple recipe is required. Some consumption must be postponed ÔÇö it’s called savings. These savings must then be invested to expand the production capacity of the economy, which will lead to more production in future. But what is quiet clear at the moment is that most individual household’s budgets are not contributing to our country’s savings and investment ‘tank’.

Yet again, we all ought to agree that creation of a wealthy Botswana nation is what should matter most, but financial illiteracy seems to be amongst key underlying factors hindrance as far as we are concerned. Wasteful and irregular expenditure is rampant and has been well documented amongst our people. All these can be attributed to financial illiteracy atleast according to experts who attended the Letshego launch on Friday. The room was in agreement that wider financial education could help stem financial losses in most of households who rely mostly on monthly salaries.

But since we are fresh from elections, it is our utmost hope that one of our legislatures will soon push their CV by seeing the need to advocate for the introduction of financial literacy training in our schools ÔÇô a move that we strongly believe will bolster financial knowledge of our future generations.

There is no single doubt that the root cause of poverty and unemployment among indigenous Batswana is undoubtedly a result of the many misguided and unsustainable citizen economic empowerment programmes that our government has pursued over the years. These policies include those that failed to include financial literacy into our schools curriculums.

It is quite evident that for those citizens that are lucky to have jobs and earn a few Pulas at the end of the month end up with zero gains. (Hand to mouth scenario). This is partly due to lack of understanding of finance matters – Without basic understanding of finance, wrong and misinformed decisions prejudicial to businesses and homes are regularly made.

In wake of this sad reality, we therefore challenge the current government and all interested parties to consider fresh ‘citizen-building’. Citizen-building involves providing people with the required skills to gather, understand and analyse evidence about the contexts and institutions that affect their lives ÔÇô particularly their economical lives. Our people need knowledge, support, services and opportunities in order to thrive financially.

The #Bottom-line however is that if government organisations, major companies and even small businesses are to ensure that more staff, other than the finance director and accountant, have basic financial knowledge, this high household debt could be avoided going forward.

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