Why schools must unlock financial empowerment for children

It is a critical life skill but many outdated curriculums do not teach children how to deal with finances

Children at school have their social circle around them, which makes learning more memorable and effective. Getty Images
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Children spend around 10 hours a day attending lessons and travelling to and from class, plus another couple of hours snowed under with homework – that’s a minimum of 12 school-related hours per day.

Take eight hours off for sleep, which should be a minimum requirement, and most youngsters are left with a measly four hours a day to shower, eat, relax … and fit in other extra-curricular activities.

School is monopolising our children’s time, so it seems only logical and fair that they use that time to deal with a key aspect of preparing youngsters for adult life – financial empowerment.

Most parents everywhere would be extremely grateful if educators took it upon themselves to empower children with financial skills.

Yet, aside from the funds and resources, many schools say they don’t have time to financially educate their pupils.

How short-sighted and oblivious to the inherent dangers does one have to be to take this stance?

I don't even want to get into the myriad redundant classes most pupils have to take during their educational journey.

The real tragedy of an outdated curriculum seems to be the critical things students do not have the time to learn.

Keep in mind that children are at school during the crucial stage when brain development is at its maximum – when they learn quicker and more effectively than at any other time in their lives.

There’s an Arab proverb that says: “What’s taught in youth is carved in stone.”

We should realise and leverage this to teach children skills, and nurture values that will hold them in good stead in the future.

Schools also have the added benefit of having children's’ social circle learning, which makes it more memorable and thus more effective.

As David Rock states in his book Your Brain at Work: “There are additional benefits to harnessing the power of social interactions.

“There is a memory network that gets activated when information is social that turns out to be more robust that a memory without a social element.”

Schools have everything lined up perfectly for them: teenagers spend so much time there, their brains are primed to learn at this time in their lives, and having their social circle around helps to activate learning pathways in their brains.

While I know that it’s common to refer to the twenties as the defining decade of a person’s life, it’s the preceding decade that deserves that distinction. Because it’s then that they learn what they need to, that they fuel up for the ride.

Since most of that decade is spent in education, it falls upon schools to get our children ready for the world.

They can’t be ready if they have no concept of how money works; especially as this skill will affect every other aspect of their lives, from whether and where they choose to go to college, to what career they choose to pursue and how long they choose to work.

It will also undoubtedly affect their health – both physical and mental, their relationships and their overall well-being. It’s hard to think of another skill that has this much impact.

We think of youngsters as having loads of time, and they believe it themselves, too. They procrastinate about learning how to deal with money smartly and how to invest for the long term, but we’ve all seen how time seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

It’s said that with great power comes great responsibility. Schools don’t only have great power, they are also privy to a great amount of our children’s time, and that surely comes with an even greater responsibility.

Marilyn Pinto is the founder of KFI Global

Updated: May 03, 2024, 4:00 AM