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Students need financial skills

June 21, 2014

HA NOI — Financial education and money-managing skills should be an essential skill for students at secondary schools and higher levels, said deputy director of Save the Children Viet Nam, Doan Anh Tuan.

Speaking at a workshop on financial education for youth yesterday, Tuan said that Viet Nam’s education programme concentrated too much on providing academic knowledge rather than equipping students with soft skills, including those related to money.

In 2009, the organisation started a project called Smart Start in HCM City which taught high school students – and teachers – how to manage, spend and save money efficiently.

Since the school year 2013-14, about 75,000 tenth graders in 182 high schools in HCM City accessed financial education classes which were added to the official education programme.

Project official Nguyen Hoang Khanh Tien said students started spending money from the age of 13.

A survey of 300 high-school students last year in Hai Phong City showed that 86 per cent were given pocket money.

More than 63 per cent said they were given less than VND500, 000 per month, 19 per cent received from VND500,000 to VND1 million and three per cent got more than VND3 million (the average monthly income of Vietnamese is VND3.3 million). Nearly 68 per cent of students said they spent on school equipment, travelling and food, 5 per cent said they spent on clothes, cosmetics and entertainment, 21 per cent said they saved most of it and six per cent said they spent without planning and asked parents for more if cash was running out.

Nearly 80 per cent of the students said that they had never made an expenditure plan and 77 per cent said they faced difficulties getting money for emergencies, Tien said.

She said she was concerned that teenagers had killed relatives to steal money to play games or to hear that a ninth grader in HCM City killed herself after losing VND600,000 from her class fund.

Vu Chu Quynh Van, a tenth grader in northern Hai Phong City’s Thai Phien High school, said that one of biggest benefits of financial education classes was learning how to make an expenditure plan. She said this helped her develop a more reasonable pattern for saving and spending money.

Pham Thuy Hanh, a tenth grader from the city’s Le Quy Don, said that after attending financial classes, she understood more about personal needs and desires, and realised that spending must be first based on real needs, not to satisfy desire.

The Smart Start project is funded by Citi Bank’s Citi Foundation. It is also being carried out in Ha Noi and Can Tho City for both primary and university students.