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Awakening Of Malaysia Budget 2019: Getting The Youth To Be Interested In Financial Literacy

Most Malaysians are anxiously waiting for the Budget, which is scheduled for tabling in Parliament
on November 2. As previously announced, the newly installed Government is focused on fixing the
country’s fiscal finances, while improving the well-being of the rakyat. The average man on the
street is bracing for what could definitely be a “belt-tightening” exercise.

One of the best ways of facing the likely impending financial challenges is to have every member of
the family work together to help the family save money overall. The problem here lies primarily on
the fact that most children are not exposed to Financial Literacy and in many cases, neither are the
parents.

The overall population in Southeast Asia (and in Malaysia especially) are well aware of the benefits
of financial education and widely show an interest in increasing their financial literacy and money
management skills. However, there is a significant disparity between the realisation for the need of
it and the actually action taken to put that in place.

However, many of financial education programs in Malaysia tend to take on a short term approach
– either through short workshops, books and activities which may be fun but lack mindset and
attitude shaping, habit forming and a longer term assessment of the actual impact these programs
make.

Experts in the field of Financial Education have long advocated that starting kids from a very young
age on Financial Literacy has increased their awareness of the need to manage their finances well as
well as set the grounds for them to acquire the skills, knowledge and habits that they would require
when meeting with financial challenges in the near future.

In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2012) defined
financial education in a school context as “the teaching of financial knowledge, understanding, skills,
behaviours, attitudes, and values which will enable students to make savvy and effective financial
decisions in their daily life and when they become adults”

In Malaysia, the Maybank Foundation has been pushing the envelope together with MoneyTree Asia
Pacific, a leading provider of Financial Education for kids, to bring Financial Literacy to school going
children in Malaysia since 2012. Combining an animated series, “Cashville Kidz” , with workbooks
and assessments that measure the progress of these students, the program has reached more than
150,000 students across Malaysia over the last 6 years.
The program coaches kids on the different areas such as Spending Wisely, Saving Diligently and
Investing Intelligently.

This effort and programme have been supported by IDRISSI International School. IDRISSI School is
the first Islamic International school to collaboarate with MoneyTree for a customised Islamic-value
based financial literacy program. FLiP.

Unlike most Malaysian schools who serve FLiP as an elective or extra coursework, IDRISSI School
makes FLiP as part of its school curriculum where Idrissi School teachers are trained and certified by
MoneyTree as financial literacy educators.

The global importance of financial education for students has been established through the efforts
of international organisations such as the OECD (2005) that had recommended that “Financial
education should start at school. People should be educated about financial matters as early as
possible in their lives.”

The inclusion of a financial literacy assessment option in the Programme for International Students
Assessment (PISA) for the past three consecutive times in 2012, 2015 and 2018 is evidence of
recognition of its importance. In fact, the Central Banks in various ASEAN countries have started to
initiate the development of Financial Literacy programs to reach a wider audience.
As at last year, Bank Negara had stated that it would be developing a five-year national strategy with
the aim of elevating financial literacy among Malaysians. This would be an important step in
developing a more financially aware younger generation.

IDRISSI School’s partnership with MoneyTree is a great example of an innovative school and financial
literacy organizations taking up Bank Negara’s challenge to improve financial literacy among
Malaysians. However, if we want to get young Malaysians to be more interested in discussing issues
pertaining to the National Budget or actively seeking ways to manage their finances amidst the ever
changing economic climate, there needs to be more initiatives that is introduced into schools.

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