Made a stop at the Accra Mall in the late hours of yesterday, for one of my date night moments – Window shopping.
All around the mall, I could see groups of basic school children clad in their school uniforms; a scenery that looked like some funfair was being held in the mall.
Led by curiosity, I asked a few of them and was told that they had vacated. Trooping into the mall, I think, was a way to celebrate the end of their school term.
This brings me to the main reason for writing this post. I went through a few shops in the mall – and in each of these, you’d see these school kids in their numbers, some with baskets filled with goodies. The observation I made, then, was that for each of these baskets I saw, it was either a pack of confectioneries, or cooked food – talk of drinks, candies, biscuits, and all the sweet stuff you can think of.
Quickly, my mind went back to my own basic school days a decade and over ago, when we’d save all through the term, so we could but fancy toys from Melcom a day to “Our Day”. Imagine being given 500, now 5 pesewas a day, and managing to save 200 a day, only to squander them on non-essentials for a day.
It appeared these schoolchildren may have saved for the moment. To them, it was jolly time, one to “rest from their labour”. A few observations – all the school children I saw were from government schools, as their uniforms clearly displayed. Some of them were in close-to-tattered uniforms, some giving off pungent smells (with all apology), and several others in shoes that could count as worn-out.
We are inundated day in and out with calls to raise funds for kids’ school fees and other needs across social media. Hardly will you find such calls coming for a kid in a private school. It is always these who are clearly disadvantaged.
Now, if such ones are able to save some money over a school term, shouldn’t we be concerned about what that money is used for? Of course, it is their money, and they have every right to spend it as they wish. However, I think it must be our collective concern to ensure that they receive the right training on how to handle money.
If we deem their welfare a collective concern, to the extent of pooling resources together when they are in need, then we might as well begin to look for ways to teach them how to handle money better.
How are financial literacy and entrepreneurship integrated into the Basic School curriculum? In the wake of youth unemployment and hardships within families, how best can we teach these little ones to value money, and to put it to great use?
All the yellow ShopRite-branded bags they stormed out of the mall with, would have their contents emptied in days. We may find these same ones in our markets, helping parents to sell their wares, or just loitering about in the community.
Meanwhile, within the same mall, are shops like Banana that have items for handcraft. The same 10 cedis that bought a little of Ceres fruit juice, as I saw in many baskets, could get each of these kids a sewing kit, with which they can do something meaningful. This is in no way suggesting that these little ones have no right to ‘fun and enjoyment’, due to their disadvantage. Then again, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected. When you become a ‘property’ of society, every member of society gets to have a say in your life.
We can do better at our entrepreneurship development. It shouldn’t be that we burden soon-to-be university graduates with all these lessons in Entrepreneurship when we could have trained them right from childhood, in bits like drug doses in remedying a health condition. Financial literacy should be central to it all. We must not only teach kids to save but instruct them on what to use the saved money for. That is when we offer great solutions to the needs of society.
PS: It’s about time we raised structures that offer such programs as skill learning and development, during school vacations. Could be a philanthropic move or a state provision. To whom it may concern; we are only concerned citizens.
The writer, Gifty Nti Konadu, is an Occupational Therapist, a Social Justice and Gender advocate and a Human Security Enthusiast. She can be contacted via email: [email protected]