With many Vietnamese parents putting insufficient emphasis on financial education for their children, three undergrads in Ho Chi Minh City have come up with a project to enhance money management skills among primary school students.
The students, from the Department of Primary Education, Ho Chi Minh City University of Education, have won a spot at the "Young Masterminds and Education 2017" competition with their innovative idea.
The contest is jointly held by the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union's Central Committee, the Ministry of Education, Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper, and JSC Thien Long Group.
The proposed program includes such activities as making good foods for parents, managing household expenditure, keeping a piggy bank, making handicraft, or buying and selling used books.
The masterminds behind the idea, Tran Nguyen Thanh Truc, Nguyen Thuy Oanh, and Nguyen Ngoc Tuong Vy, are in their early twenties.
Laying a foundation for young learners
"As a private tutor, I have seen how parents carelessly provide their kids with pocket money,” Truc said.
“They have the least interest in how this money is going to be spent.
"So I thought helping the kids to use money in proper manners and to value their parents' hard work could possibly be a nice idea.”
She added that adequate financial education lays a firm basis for the young students' future.
An active participant in the Youth Union's activities, Truc found "Young Masterminds and Education 2017" the very chance to put her team's idea into practice.
Even though the senior students were up to their ears in school work, the three pre-service primary school teachers managed to meet up occasionally to exchange resources and polish their plan.
They focused on how money relates to the family and the society as a whole, endeavoring to tailor activities for their specific target - elementary school children.
Another member of the team, Oanh, commented on their methodology: "We base the program on primary school textbook currently in use.
“We've attempted to figure out how financial education can best integrate with other subjects."
The proposed financial education program offers corresponding activities for grade one to five in the Vietnamese primary education system, stressing rational expenditure and a raised sense of sharing.
Third graders, children aged 8-9, for example, may be involved in an activity called "A surprise gift for your beloved". Meanwhile, fourth graders might partake in "Family meals,” when teachers will take them on a field trip to the supermarket, where they will spend a maximum of $4.40 to purchase the most nutritious foods based on previous lessons.
"We need to conduct experimental research and make further modifications," Truc said. "The idea might be 'crazy', but to us this is a milestone."
She further explained that as future teachers, they needed to maintain their sense of creativity and self-education.
In their opinion, financial education can benefit primary students in helping them manage the money they have spent and saved, which in turn arouses their interest and improves learning.
However, the application of such a program might be met with certain obstacles - it possibly can only be integrated into other subjects, or conducted as an extra-curriculum activity.
Apart from such time limit, the demographics of students vary wildly from one area to the next, and large classes of 40-50 students will call for utmost flexibility on the part of teachers.
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