Are your children financially literate?

Monday June 10 2019


By Desire Mbabaali

Joseph Kyazze is an A student when it comes to academics, but he also does not joke when it comes to work and finances.

The 17-year-old Senior Five student of Old Kampala Senior Secondary School started working five years ago at 12, with his uncle whom he also lives with at their home in Najjanankumbi along Entebbe Road.

To Kyazze, knowing how to work for money, and with money is the key to financial freedom. When asked which work he does, Kyazze jokingly answers, “Anything that does not anger God and is legal, I can do!” He attributes this attitude to his uncle (a civil engineer).

“With him, you do not get free things. You have to work, and even when you are tired, you do not leave a job unfinished. At the end of your work, he would pay your dues, but after some weeks he would ask you how much money you have saved,” the enthusiastic student

In the beginning, Kyazze would spend all his money whenever he got paid, but years of working with his uncle taught him otherwise.
“He would pay me, but keep the money and tell me he would always handle my money until I learnt how to handle it.” And after a week, he would be given Shs40,000.

Necessary skill
“I did not have the luxury of buying things I did not need. The rule at home was saving. By the time I was 15, I had a bank account where my uncle helped me save the money I earned from the jobs I did during holidays. I used part of my savings to buy a lawnmower which I rented to someone who would bring me Shs30,000 every week. This helped me have money to use at school as pocket money, but I also saved some,” Kyazze shares.


It was because he learned the hard way to earn, spend, save, and invest that today, at the age of 17, Kyazze has two mowing machines that bring him Shs60,000 every week.

According to My Accounting Dictionary, financial literacy is the education and understanding of knowing how money is made, spent, and saved, as well as the skills and ability to use financial resources to make decisions. These decisions include how to generate, invest, spend, and save money.

Francis Zziwa, a teacher, says when his children get money, he allows them to keep it themselves. “Most times they want me to keep it for them but I encourage them to keep it themselves. After some time, I ask them how much they still have. My daughter at 15 years, can save and keep money longer than my 12-year-old son,” he observes.

Safety and money
“I teach them that money is a treasure that needs to be kept well. I remember my son would usually come home when he had borrowed transport from the teacher or walked back home because his transport had been stolen from his bag at school,” Zziwa recalls.
This gave him a platform to teach his son about safety and finances.

He taught his children that they had to ensure their money was safely kept, otherwise, if they kept losing it, they would never progress financially.

“I then hinted on safe places he could keep his money, and that this was part of being financially responsible,” Zziwa recounts.

Budgeting and bargaining
At a household level, Zziwa engages his children in budgeting. “They both participate in the preparation of family meals. So on each of their turns, we give them money to plan what to buy. They have to make a list of the items they need. At first they did not know how to bargain with traders. They would simply give in any money the market people asked for. And you know the nature of our traders, they do not tell you the actual price at the first bargain. So, we had to teach them the culture of bargaining, apart from supermarkets where prices are fixed,” he shares.

On the other hand, Mariam Namwanje does not believe that children should have all they want at their disposal all the time. “When it is back to school time, they have to make a list of things to buy. Before they go out with their father, I go through the list and whatever I think they do not need, I throw out. Sometimes, I put them in a position where they have to prioritise. I tell them, if you get this, you cannot get that, so they have to choose,” she says.

Learn about money
Rodgers Tumusiime, an entrepreneurship teacher at Hope SSS Lutembe, shares that when students are exposed to financial literacy skills, it helps them know that money is good but they need to work to get it.

He further notes that it is important to teach students, “the different denominations of money so that they know how they look like and can differentiate genuine from fake notes. Learn and know about which note is bigger and more valuable than the other, take note of the different features, among other things,” he explains.

Tumusiime adds that even young children need to know how to count money and the cost of items that they use in their daily life.

Unfortunately, apart from financial literacy lessons inculcated in some subjects such as entrepreneurship, commerce, and economics, not a lot of schools have financial literacy programmes specifically designed to equip students with these skills.

However, some schools have partnerships with financial institutions and organisations to equip students with financial literacy skills.

Juliet Muzoora Atuhairwe, the head teacher Bweranyangi Girl’s Secondary School, confesses that as a school, apart from the general classes, the other authentic opportunities to teach students about finances are partnerships they have with organisations such as Educate.

The Educate National Club encourages communities to be entrepreneurial so as to; address the needs of communities, as a source of income and financial literacy.

“These have an ongoing club in our school where students learn to be resilient, start small businesses by pooling their resources and being entrepreneurs. In fact, they have projects running such as one where they make daddies and sell at school, and the other they make liquid soap which the school buys from them, and then they can use their income to boost their businesses,” Muzoora explains.

As a result, this has enabled students at the school to plan for their finances together, own the challenges of their projects, manage their time well, because they cannot compromise their studies but also get time to work on their businesses.

“As a school, we help monitor their income, savings, how they spend money and how they reinvest it in their businesses,” Muzoora says.

Skills for life
Like Educate, Teenagers Doing Great Things (TDGT), a teenage-led team that brings together high school students from different schools have financial literacy—Money Matters, as they call it — as one of their agendas in helping teenagers become the best they can be.

“Teenagers today face a storm of personal and social pressure that can compromise their financial well-being. Money matters help them become financially literate so they can make good financial choices as adults. We focus on activities that can help the teenagers develop their financial potential, be accountable and responsible with their money,” Sheba Asiimwe, the team leader, says.
She further emphasises that teenagers have money and need to be taught how they can make more money.

“They all do financial planning; which covers how they want and plan to earn money, how to earn it, and how they can make more money out of it. Planning for their pocket money, for example, and how it can help them make more money. We have a teenager who likes taking pictures but we have encouraged him to do photography and earn from it,” Asiimwe explains.
In light of this, parents can allow their children to engage in financially gainful ventures, so that they are able to get a feel of how finances work.
However, Harriet Namusoke, a parent, shares that there is a present fear in parents that if they expose their children to work while still in school, they may be distracted by money, and think they can abandon school to work.
“That is one of the reasons I would not want my children to start earning money,” she shares her fears.

How it’s done
Financial literacy had been recognised by the Bank of Uganda as a critical factor in improving the quality of life and enhancing financial inclusion in Uganda and due to its importance, the Bank of Uganda initiated the Strategy for Financial Literacy in Uganda which places priority activities through five major channels:
Financial education in schools. This is largely to incorporate Financial Literacy into secondary school curriculum as part of the overall reform of the curriculum as well as into primary school curriculum through the development of supplementary materials and teachers’ trainings.

Financial literacy for the youth. This aims at incorporating financial literacy at university exit courses and training of community financial literacy mentors who incorporate financial literacy into activities of already existing youth clubs and associations, among others.
The core message of all this is personal financial management, savings, loans, investments, insurance, planning for old age, making payments, and financial service providers.

Source: Bank of Uganda website.

Basic components
Budgeting basics. Without following a budget, it is difficult to hold yourself accountable on where your money is coming from and what it is going toward.

Impact of interest. Not only can it help you save even more, but it can make the difference between borrowing a small amount and paying back much more than you need to for years to come.

Saving. Majority of students do not prioritise this aspect as much as they should. Beginners can start working on this concept in the simplest sense, like saving money for an item they desire.

Credit-Debt Roller-coaster. It is much easier to lose credit than gain it and many students do not realise how easy it is to ruin their credit – and how difficult it can be to regain credit
Theft issues & safety. It is important to safeguard your finances as best as possible to avoid the threats that exist.