Canadian International School students train community in financial literacy
Helping the community understand financial issues is vital for their financial security. Hence an organisation formed by students of Canadian International School (CIS), Bangalore is precisely geared towards this cause and educating them in financial literacy. The International Club of Financial Literacy (ICFL) is teaching participants to make informed decisions regarding investments, savings as well as spending. Considering that these are all key factors in determining quality of life and financial security, it is extremely beneficial and important to understand how these aspects of life are interdependent as well as how they impact the life of people. Hence, the International Club of Financial Literacy is creating awareness on these issues – the participants include CIS non-teaching staff, locals from neighbourhood and other community members.
The students have learnt multiple aspects in the course of their focus on financial literacy in the school and setting up the Club to further the cause. The International Club of Financial Literacy members believe that insurance plans, making investments and saving money seem mundane, but, in reality, many people do not have the privilege to do these seemingly simple things which are crucial in securing a stable future. Not making these decisions limits their quality of life that may continue for future generations too. During this initiative, CIS students also learnt a lot about what goes into organizing events for teaching, creating a website, coordinating with various departments of the club in order to achieve a common goal, networking and other aspects.
“A large portion of India’s population lives in extreme poverty and income inequality remains very high. Given how much we and our peers are privileged, we felt that it was our duty to do our part in rectifying an unfair social circumstance. The resources, education and technology we have at our disposal actually has the potential to alter someone’s life. We then realized that forming the International Club of Financial Literacy allows us to band like-minded peers together to work towards a common goal, and with our collective knowledge and skills we can actually do our part in uplifting communities,” says Srivishnu, co-founder and Grade 12 student, Canadian International School, Bangalore.
Arun, co-founder and Grade 12 student said: “In one of our meetings, a woman shared how she found it very difficult to navigate documenting finances as well as nuances of banking. We spent hours hosting round table discussions to understand their needs and problems and educate them about financial issues that would help them make safe decisions. This allowed us to cater the sessions specifically to their needs and provide tangible and useful information, all in local languages to remove language barriers. Coupled with government scheme sign-up kiosks, we aimed to provide support in all areas of need.”
The students have already conducted 17 sessions so far and taught more than 500 people. It aims to teach more than 1000 people in the next 1 year. In these sessions, the International Club of Financial Literacy was not only able to teach financial literacy but also expose the attendees to government schemes such as the E-SHRAM card, Atal Pension Yojana, etc, and how to sign up for them. The students also gave the attendees resources such as curated pamphlets, which outline useful information in an accessible and understandable manner.
Commenting on the initiative, Ms. Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore, said: “In terms of financial literacy, a vast majority of the Indian population is vulnerable to strenuous financial circumstances simply due to a lack of education. I believe that enabling better awareness of financial security and long-term planning can uplift the Indian population as well as provide people with opportunities that would otherwise be alien to them. It’s especially important to grow inclusive clubs, as there are many societal factors that can unfairly determine the options one has while making financial decisions. It is necessary that everyone has the ability to ensure a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their family and considering that is not necessarily always the case in India, we believe such initiatives can play a huge role in giving future generations a better life.”
The students plan to enhance financial literacy internationally and expand the initiative beyond the school. They have already established a social media presence in order to advocate about the cause as well as recruit members from outside CIS to assist them. Several students from other schools have already joined the International Club of Financial Literacy in the pursuit to make society a more equitable place. Additionally, the International Club of Financial Literacy has advertised the sessions on their website to attract more attendees as well as volunteers. ICFL plans on continuing this initiative after graduating and members hope that the club will remain in CIS to take forward the cause.