Tag Archives: business

Financial Literacy crucial for Children

I will never forget the time when still in primary school my elder brother told dad that he wanted to wash the cars of the neighbors as a way of earning some money. To say that Dad’s response was negative is an understatement. These were the early 80s and in most families, the notion was that exposure to money would spoil a child. All a child had to do was to read hard, pass and start earning money after university. Huh!!!

Then came the time we finished school and had to fend for ourselves. I am sure even you reading this has done some really nasty mistakes with your finances when you begun earning. Mistakes that make you suspect that you were probably facing a moment of temporary insanity. Things that should be simple like budgeting and saving sound like Greek to many adults out there. The problem boils down to Financial illiteracy/literacy.

Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. (Wikipedia)

The habits of children around money are set by 7 years of age according to Researchers David Whitebread and Sue Bingham of the University of Cambridge. What does this mean? Parents have to get an early start teaching the children concepts like thriftiness (carefulness, restraint, caution) and delayed gratification.

To avoid a repeat of what we went through trying to become financially literate, we need to put alot of effort in the young children we are raising. Below, I share with you some of the foundational skills they need, you could add onto these;

Responsibility. A child should be able to take on certain duties in the home like mopping their bedroom, washing clothes, cleaning the table, washing plates, clearing the compound among others. This has a linkage with the level of responsibility they are likely to show with their finances.

Spending Decisions. Allowing children to make simple decisions in this regard while scaling them up as they grow will reduce on your need to decide for them when grown up. Financial decisions are some of the most impactful decisions in our lives.

How to Spend. One of the first lessons I teach my children below 6 years is the identification of money. They should be able to identify currency as well as differentiate the denominations. This is followed by them understanding the meaning of Expensive and Cheap.

What is Money and How do we get it. We take things for granted that people must know what money is, however it is crucial that the children get to know what it is and it’s characteristics, top of which is that it is a finite resource. It will not always be there at your disposal. This goes hand in hand with helping them learn how we get money. There are various activities in the home that you could engage them in and pay for their labor in return. It could be washing the carpets of the car, looking after the chicken, compound sweeping or even engaging in a home business.

Delayed Gratification. This is the ability to postpone an immediate gain in favor of greater and later reward. Often times, parents make the mistake of dashing to meet the demands of their children just to make them happy. However, it is important for the children also to appreciate that good things come to those who wait.
When our son was in Primary Three, eight years old, he wanted we the parents to buy him a bicycle. Indeed it was a good thing to get it for him. While we could afford it, we sat him down and told him to consider buying it himself. After thinking through, he came up with the idea of saving his school break time money and that is when we gave him a target to raise at least 50% of the cost of the bicycle and we would top up the remainder. The young man got so determined that he saved and within three months was able to acquire his bicycle. Ever since, he never bothers to ask us for money when he wants to buy something.

Responsibility for Money. A child should be able to know how much money they have spent, earned, are planning to use for future needs among other things. This takes us back to the element of responsibility we talked about earlier. They basically learn how to be accountable.

Saving. This is one element that lacks in many African settings and is taking root in the developed world through the credit driven lifestyle being promoted. Saving money is a precursor to investment. The earlier a child gets to learn how to save implies that the earlier one can introduce them to the concept of multiplying their money (investment). There are times when my son lends me money and even asks for interest. He is so strict that he even keeps records.

Banking. The older they get, introduce them to banking. Help them get a bank account that they can manage and use to save and spend the money they own. This should be an upgrade from the use of the savings box at home.

Wants and Needs. Get them to understand the difference between Wants and Needs. A need is something that is very vital for your very existence or well being like a house, clothing, transport, school fees etc while a want is something that is unnecessary but desired like having Pay TV subscription, Purchasing sweets or ice cream among others. The clear list of needs and wants is determined by numerous factors among which social status and economic positioning come into play.

These are just some of the skills crucial for imparting in the young ones to help ready them for a whole life ahead dictated by finances and making financial decisions. What, do you add onto this list?

James Wire
Business and Technology Consultant
Blog: https://wirejames.com
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@wirejames/

Welcome to Education 4.0

All great changes are preceded by Chaos – Deepak Chopra.

When Covid-19 set foot into this world, little did we know the kind of impact it would have on our countries, governments, lives and families. More than a year later, so much has changed in the way we lead our lives. Much of what was being resisted initially has now been embraced.

For years, employees tried to convince their employers about the need to be allowed to work from home but very few could tolerate that. The belief in clocking in and out of an office building was so high but now, with Covid amidst us, many are comfortably working from home.

Numerous employees always thought that their jobs were their lives and restricted themselves to measly earnings without realising the full potential they had. The threat to their livelihoods brought about by Covid-19 changed everything. Today, some are wondering whether they will ever really go back to seek employment.

In this article though I want to focus on Education. As I write this, one of my children has been out of school for 22 months and will clock a year by the time the Government allows them back at school. Am I sad? Not really.

The absence of brick and mortar classroom instruction as well as the health scare has led parents and schools to seek alternatives for the education of their children. Online learning has taken root and has been embraced even by the most conservative of schools.

A classroom that used to hold 30 pupils now contains only two teachers

Parents who thought phones are there for gossiping on WhatsApp and Facebook have had to surrender their gadgets to allow their children study. It has dawned upon us that students do not need to be confined at school endlessly under the guise of learning. The excuse schools used to always justify very high school fees charges has been severely watered down. Alot of learning can go on without the over investment in infrastructure that could be outsourced. Why should every school have laboratories in place

Instruction has gone electronic, classrooms have gone electronic, exams have gone electronic. Apart from practicals in the science field, I do not see what cannot be done electronically with ease currently. By the way, as Virtual Reality takes off and becomes a common resource, even the practicals in sciences will no longer be an issue.

Education is going digital and it is a fact we can’t run away from. Even day schools in my view need to stop demanding that children study the entire week from school. They should allow for a flexible learning approach that gives the students only one or two contact days at school during the week.

Parents are definitely likely to spend less on day schooling children if you consider the hustle of dropping and picking them up daily coupled by giving them endless supplies of snacks. Yours truly has been down this road for 15 years. However, it calls for us the parents to cease outsourcing our children’s study 100% to the schools. We have to start getting involved. I have enjoyed the unorthodox chance I had to instruct my children not only on classroom matters but other social and practical life skills too that I have always wanted to embed in them. As I write this article, they have constructed two mobile chick protection shelters that have enabled our newly hatched chicks feed in a semi free range arrangement. They designed them from scratch utilising their mathematical and design knowledge and only asked me for materials to purchase materials which they used to install the frame. Which school would have given them the space to exude such skills in today’s Uganda apart from Mengo Secondary School?

The frame of the chick shelter designed and constructed by children

I have not left out boarding schools. They have some importance too that we parents like but with the ever advancing technology, they have less justification for the high charges they currently impose upon us parents also. Those reams of paper they request us to supply religiously should be explained going forward. Classrooms no longer need that much chalk, markers and flip charts since electronic instruction alternatives like smart boards, smart TVs are readily available. School libraries can now go electronic. Why make each student buy textbooks destined to deliver the same content? Online registration should ease such and the charge per student is usually measly. When I see the brilliant content by Ugandan teachers freely available on YouTube, it implies that the number of teachers in schools need to be dropped because through online instruction, a class that had 4 instruction teachers for Physics could do with one only. Every school doesn’t need to have its own science laboratories. This could become an outsourced service with an investor setting up the laboratory infrastructure and schools hiring it out on a need basis.

Then comes the concern for the lay man out there, commonly known as “Omuntu wa wansi,” whose child goes to a school wholly supported by the Government under the Universal Education scheme. Ain’t I being mean by not considering their plight regarding these seemingly futuristic changes I am talking about? Many families can hardly afford to pay school fees and here I am telling them to invest in electronic infrastructure? How insensitive of me.

For once I have chosen to be selectively insensitive and tell anyone that cares to listen that change is never bothered by the economic situation one is in. When it’s time is due, it’s due. It is only politicians that tend to love massaging the past. When the government chose to transition from the use of scratch cards to load airtime in preference for an electronic approach, many populist politicians spelt doom for the lay man claiming they would be left out. Today, every Ugandan with a phone is comfortably loading airtime electronically irrespective of location and economic ability.

The Government now has to make up its mind whether going forward it wants an educated populace or not. The pretense of valuing education that we keep seeing being perpetuated can no longer hold. With all the money stolen regularly from the coffers and that spent on classified expenditures in Defense, on the overrated Covid-19 pandemic to mention but a few, we cannot claim not to be able to turn around our education delivery approach.

Every Ugandan should be able to benefit from the emerging approach to education. Learners in Nakapiripirit, Butaleja, Luuka, Nakasongola, Ruhiira and all over should be able to use electronic gadgets to study. It is not as expensive as it is made to seem. What is lacking in my view is commitment.

Welcome to Education 4.0 where even UNEB will need to go paperless and deliver examinations online.

James Wire
Business and Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames
YouTube: With Wire