More than 3,000 students open bank accounts during GMW

During the Global Money Week (GMW), more than 3,000 students of class XI and above opened bank accounts across the country as per the directives of the education minister.

Financial inclusion and literacy division under the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) organized the GMW, which was celebrated from March 12 to 18.

The theme of the GMW “money matters matter” aimed to capture the importance of children and youth to receive knowledge and develop skills to make smart financial decisions throughout life.

During the GMW, more than 30,000 students participated from 35 schools and institutions from 15 dzongkhags. Eleven financial institutions including macro finance institutions initiated relevant thematic talks at various educational and vocational institutes across the country.

Other activities carried out during the event included the decision to launch of financial literacy curriculum in the schools.

The head of financial inclusion and literacy division, RMA, Nangse Dema, said that currently the authority is in the process of finalizing the curriculum with the education ministry.

Youth ethic banking was also launched during the event. As a pilot project, it is initiated at Jigme Losel primary school in Thimphu, Arikha primary school in Chukha, Wangsel institute at Paro and Youth Volunteers Actions.

Nangse Dema said youth ethic banking aims to educate and encourage students to be financially literate.

She said that when students perform well in their academic activities among others; they will be given demi-bank notes which carry bank point as their reward.

The each bank point carries Nu 2 as monetary value. As a pilot project initially, the central bank will deposit the amount in students’ accounts.

Additionally, the stake holders are also tying up with the insurance companies.

“Talks are in progress,” she said.

For the pilot project the RMA has selected the three schools because the idea of youth ethic banking came from one of the students from Jigme Losel primary school last year. Since the central bank felt the idea was good, it acted as the main initiator.

Arikha School was chosen because it was very enthusiastic about the initiative while Wangsel came in because financial literacy should ideally reach differently-abled students in the country.

The pilot project will operate until November this year. It will be launched formally next year and if it is successful, will be replicated in other schools across the country.

“The project targets primary school so that children at an early age can learn about bank notes and financial literacy,” she said, adding that they hope the next adult generation will be a financially literate one.

During the event, student business seedling programs were also initiated at Desi High School in collaboration with the labor ministry and IT park.

Students came up with random business ideas from which the top 21 business ideas were selected. Further, during the summer vacation, the central bank will conduct a boot camp and select the best three business ideas and reward them.

Nangse Dema said with low financial capabilities, youth lack the confidence and readiness to be part of the formal financial system. “We are making them ready for self-employment,” she said.

Bhutan has been participating in the GMW since 2012. It is an initiative of Child and Youth Finance International based in Amsterdam.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu