Financial Literacy Decoded: Students at National Health Training Centre “Learn-the-Lingo”

An air of academic prestige was palpable on campus at the National Health Training Centre—revealing an institutional history devout to an increasingly growing field: medical sciences. On the morning of 28 August 2017, UNIC team members walked up to the Training Centre’s administrative building excited about what was about to take place in the company of approximately 80 learners.  The team first met with Ms. Kalimba; she wore a kind smile and created the steadfast impression that she harbored utmost regard for her student’s well-being.

Ms. Kalimba corralled the UNIC team into a traditional-style classroom where the latest UNIC outreach presentation would be unveiled. This week’s presentation was centred on Financial Literacy for youth in Windhoek. The Programme, titled with the auspicious name “Learning-the-Lingo” (LTL) delves into terms and concepts commonly used by financial and banking institutions. These are financial terms and concepts that often erect a terminology barrier and can serve to discourage students from taking advantage of financial services and resources. By decoding common financial lingo [or jargon] the presentation aimed to instil a confidence among youth that will help motivate them to take advantage of financial services such as banking, mobile banking, credit, and loans. The Programme also assists in providing students with a basic understanding of money management strategies and tools to prepare them for the transition into professional lives where they will be confronted with money management opportunities.

At first, students looked puzzled; as to why the United Nations was in their studious habitat revelling in the importance of money management and financial resources. However, the presentation made a fixed effort to round any corners of confusion by elaborating on financial literacy’s unique place within the UN, particularly its relevance to the UN Charter and most importantly, to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The presentation’s overarching themes included reasons to save earnings, brief summaries of banking products and services traditionally offered by the big banks in Namibia, the common terms attached to those services, while also endorsing effective financial resources that can kindle the entrepreneurial spirit—a spirit that often lines the ambitions of the industrious youth of today. The Programme also incorporated a highly relatable segment that addressed the “paycheque-to-paycheque lifestyle”—something many youth struggle with as popular culture commonly encourages a lifestyle of hyper materialism and living beyond one’s means. These superficial lifestyles were debunked using the rationale that money spent in excess to convey one’s personal success carries the potential to dissolve that same success.

The presentation corresponded with five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Goal 1—No Poverty, Goal 4—Quality Education, Goal 5—Gender Equality, Goal 8—Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9—Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. Learning-the-Lingo effectively permeated these five (SDG’s) by procuring youth attention towards financial autonomy; motivating young people to take control of their monetary resources. Presenters encouraged young people to make responsible decisions with their savings by using the money management acronym “BISP” which stands for: Budget, Invest, Save, Protect—an acronym which was soon heard being rehearsed by 80 learners in the corridors outside of the classroom. Presentation material also touted the importance of always keeping the enduring sentiment of a “future self” in mind before spending earnings. LTL persuaded young people to devise well-informed plans that will allow them to accumulate, maintain, and grow earnings. Learners were informed of financial resources such as credit services and appropriately structured loans that can relieve daily economic pressures and constraints which so often hamper the potentials and social capital of individuals and stymie entrepreneurial pursuits.

These financial resources and tools offered by financial institutions permit young people to invest in themselves in a multi-faceted fashion: enabling young people to acquire basic human necessities (clothing, shelter, or even an increased caloric intake), education, technology and can also encourage young people to jump start new businesses through having a means to pay for equipment, hiring and training employees, and purchasing overhead materials.

The fact that financial services and products have a common tendency to cater to males was not overlooked in the presentation. UNIC was firmly committed to promoting the importance of including women in financial sector activities, not only to bolster national economic growth but to invoke a concept of greater social equality and deepen economic freedoms that can serve to dispel the clasp of limiting traditional roles that women often adhere to in societies.

The presentation scored as well-received. Students could be seen shaking their heads in agreement with presentational content; and when it came to the question and answer period, curious and overtly prudent minds inquired over key terms like employer 401k plans and over-drafting features.

It is the aim of the UN to ensure everyone in the world has knowledge of and access to banking and financial services. Through its promotion, UN Namibia edges itself nearer to this objective, whilst harnessing the spirit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that lend such projects defined targets and purposeful orientation.