Private elementary schools to include financial education in their curriculum

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Some private elementary schools in Taiwan have stepped up financial education for schoolchildren as the Ministry of Education will soon include financial management into the curriculum in junior high schools. The Washington Bilingual Elementary School in central Taichung has just held a contest on deployment of assets under a constantly changing international economic and financial environment. Sixteen teams took part in the competition in which participants were asked to work out the best possible investment portfolio concerning bets on share prices, the bond market, foreign currency exchange rates, material prices and real estate assets under the factors like the forecasts about hurricanes, the downgrading of Greece’s credit rating, the possible rise in auction of foreclosed housing units in the U.S., and impact from the escalated tensions between North Korea and South Korea. Cheng Cheng-ho, a professor teaching statistics who designed the game called “Financial Strategist,” said most parents have expressed the hope that their children are able to learn about financial management concepts as early as possible. Parents in more affluent families are showing keener interest in equipped their children with financial management knowledge and ability. Some parents engaged in business operations said their children have now built certain knowledge about economic and financial terms with wider global views. They said they are glad that their children have taken the initiative to read magazines of economic and financial affairs. The parents were glad there are more new financial management games on the market, as their children had only played the popular but more traditional board game “Monopoly.” Many other private schools said they have frequently arranged field trips to local financial institutions and invited banking executives to give lectures on financial management.

Many parents in Taiwan are willing to make heavy investments in their children’s education to enable them to stay at the head of the financial game. Private schools normally charge tuitions of at least NT$100,000 per semester, including boarding costs for children.

But some parents oppose the plan of including financial management into formal courses because children could face an extra burden when preparing for tests. Some others think it’s good that schools offer financial management courses. But they suggested that the subjects of study by elementary school pupils should be confined mainly to knowledge about savings, deposits, spending and credit cards; holding courses about stock markets, mutual funds or real estate assets for college education. Cheng said learning from playing through simulated financial management games can help children enhance their knowledge about planning, time management and building up the spirit of teamwork at young age.