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Caution as CBN, NERDC plan inclusion of financial education in curricula

By Ujunwa Atueyi
08 December 2016   |   4:14 am
The quest to increase the level of financial inclusion in the country from 53.7 per cent, which it was in 2010 to 80 per cent by 2020, prompted the recent partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Educational Research....
Peter Okebukola

Peter Okebukola

The quest to increase the level of financial inclusion in the country from 53.7 per cent, which it was in 2010 to 80 per cent by 2020, prompted the recent partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), among other development partners.

The purpose of their collaboration was to strategically introduce Financial Education in the national school curricula across all strata of the education system. Earlier,a National Financial Inclusion Strategy was launched by the Federal Government in 2012, which among other objectives aims to improve financial literacy among the citizenry through creation of financial education initiatives.

Accordingly, a Financial Literacy Framework (FLF) was developed in 2013 to provide a draft for implementing financial literacy. In the course of executing the FLF, some gaps were identified by the implementers, which however called for a review of FLF.

Consequently, FLF was reviewed, modified and retitled the National Financial Literacy Framework (NFLF). The NFLF approach maintains a multi stakeholder approach to the implementation of Financial Literacy in the country.

According to the NFLF document, “the strategic focus of the framework is to implement financial education programmes in Nigeria to achieve financial literacy that will drive the financial inclusion policy of the government and ultimately promote economic growth and development.

Part of its delivery methodology requires embedding financial education in the national school curricula, which will also be complemented by other financial education programmes. This however explains the rationale behind the CBN and NERDC’s project of introducing the subject into the curricula for teachers and educators.

The overall aim as revealed by the partners was to increase financial literacy in the country and ensure citizens possess knowledge and skill that would help them manage financial resources effectively to enhance their economic well being.It involves developing financial education curriculum to be taught at various levels of the formal education system, primary, secondary and tertiary with a view to inculcating the desired financial habits amongst the citizenry from a very young age to adulthood.

The project when successfully implemented, according to the NFLF document, “would guarantee the future economic and social well-being of Nigerians by reducing poverty, improving income and facilitating development. It would also enable Nigeria to take advantage of global financial dynamics, enhance efficiency in managing personal finances, promote entrepreneurship, banking culture and ultimately ensure financial stability.

“The framework also requires a multi-stakeholder approach involving all stakeholders in the Nigerian economy particularly relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government as well as all sectors of the Nigerian financial system including, but not limited to the banking, deposit insurance, capital market, money market, insurance and pensions subsectors,” it stated.

Meanwhile, Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu had during the launch of the project in Lagos informed that effort to improve financial literacy in the country led to the scheme.The innovative curriculum, he further clarified comprises different themes such as money, savings, credit, insurance, deposit insurance, capital market, pension planning and budgeting, financial landscape and entrepreneurship.

Each theme, he said, contains different concepts, contents, activities, learning resources and evaluation guides all that sequenced and graduated for effective implementation and learning outcomes in the different lessons, classrooms and schools.

Director, Consumer Protection, CBN, Haijia Umar Dutse, who also spoke during the event, said the project when fully implemented will launch the country on a higher economic pedestal as “Nigeria is going to be one a reference point once this curriculum is developed and I think we are going to be better for it.”Although, some stakeholders who spoke with The Guardian on the project described the initiative as laudable, they also cautioned the partners particularly the NERDC to recall that curriculum development requires due process.

Professor of Political Economy and Management expert, Pat Utomi, said financial education for all is absolutely a necessity as it is a standard practice in developed climes.Utomi who is also the Founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership, elucidated that, “In the modern world, for individuals to begin to function well, they require economic education. We live in the world of economic democratization, where ordinary people invest in companies. And so they need to know about what their investment are doing; how politics and economic management is influencing them.

“If Nigerians had better economic education, this country will not be as mismanaged as it is economically. We are in a self-inflicted recession, inflicted by both the outgone and the current government. And the reason is that a lot of Nigerians lack financial education to challenge government decision-making.”

But former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, thinks the decision was rather too hasty. Nonetheless, he affirmed that economic education for the citizenry is a good development, but the process of curriculum development he counseled should not be ill-treated.He said: “I think it is an initiative that exemplifies our typical knee-jerk reaction to curriculum development. By now, NERDC should know better that developing a curriculum is not through a party approaching it and the Council on its own sitting in Abuja deciding for all stakeholders in Nigeria that we must need the proposed curriculum.

“The time-tested process of curriculum development is through needs assessment; extensive stakeholder consultation on the findings of the needs assessment; development and testing of a pilot curriculum; modification based on the outcome of the pilot run; further consultations with stakeholders and securing of approvals from relevant authorities before full-scale launch to the school system. I am not aware that NERDC has navigated through these steps. Short-circuiting it is recipe for a curriculum that will be dead on arrival.”

He continued, “Worth mentioning also is that NERDC has no mandate to develop curriculum for all levels of the education system. NUC, NBTE and NCCE have mandate for the higher education level. These agencies forever and a day follow the due process in curriculum development. Some lessons should be learned by NERDC.”

On how essential financial education is to overall human and national development, he said, “If the initiative is still within the realm of idea, I will gladly support it, with a caveat. I will support it because financial education is helpful for every citizen to gain deeper appreciation of how personal, family, nation and global financial systems run. The caveat is that it should not be another school subject in the sea of the already overcrowded curriculum that NERDC is chucking down the throats of students.

“Over the last two years, I have undertaken in-depth study of the leading educational systems in the world, paying special attention to Finland, South Korea and Singapore, which make up the top three. Never have I seen primary and secondary (basic education and senior secondary) curricula as crowded as that of Nigeria! We want our children to be Jack of trades and master of none. In my view, what we should do is to have our basic education students take a General Studies subject where you bundle all these emerging issues, rather than have them as isolated subjects, which are referred to as electives. Within General Studies which should be a compulsory subject, financial literacy should feature alongside others.”

To achieve the expected result of the scheme, he advised the partners of the project to; “Follow the due process of curriculum development and all other things will be added onto it. These other things will include identification of resources that will be needed, including teachers and teaching/learning materials, so that they can be provisioned for before take-off. I am imagining a timeline of one year at the minimum before the due process comes full cycle.”

Echoing Okebukola’s view, Head of Branding, Sterling Bank Plc, Peju Ibekwe, said the initiative is extremely essential, but the implementers must ensure that teachers who will handle the subject contents are well trained and equipped to get it right.

She said, “Financial education is extremely important. Finance is the oil on which the economy runs, it is vital for everyone to know how to handle finances very well. As a matter of fact, we have also discovered that, to that effect we have published two books for children, from the ages of four for them to be able to be financially literate because we have discovered that adults that cannot handle finances, it starts from when they are children.”