Summer Camp for Financial Literacy Gaining Popularity
By Lee Hyo-sik
With more people keener on learning about how to make money with investments, students from collegians to elementary school kids are also increasingly attracted to various classes on financial and business knowledge.
Rather than spend hours at cram schools to catch up with or get ahead regular school curriculum during the summer vacation, more students these days attend a wide range of summer camps.
The most popular one has been an English camp in which students interact with native speakers and pick up the language through firsthand experience. But more and more young students take part in financial education camps where they can learn basic economic principles and money management.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) and securities companies are leading the pack, offering various economics education programs to elementary school students during the summer vacation.
The most popular one among parents is a series of financial education programs organized by BOK headquarters in Seoul as well as its nationwide branch offices from July through August.
The central bank invites qualified instructors specializing in a range of economics and financial issues to give students easy-to-understand and visually oriented lectures.
It also arranges field trips to the Korea Exchange (KRX) and other places to which children can relate what they learned in classes. Most of all, students can participate in the BOK educational program free of charge.
The bank branch in Ulsan organized a series of one-day education programs last week, allowing opportunities for a total of 80 middle school students to learn an array of economic and financial subjects.
The program focused on the central bank’s role in the economy, sound savings and consumption habits, the past and future of the Korean economy, and the history and necessity of currency. Also, it invited a speaker to give participants a lesson on ways to maintain good relations with peers and to plan for the future.
A BOK official in Ulsan said the bank organized a class to help students gain an easier understanding regarding various economic phenomena and equip themselves with a sound financial mindset. ``Through such an educational opportunity, we expect students to become a financially responsible social members later on when they become an adult.’’
Also, securities companies are running summer camps designed to teach young students a wide range of subjects to help them better grasp economic issues and nurture a sound consumption habit.
Woori Securities will organize its third annual financial summer camp from Aug. 13 to 18. It plans to select about 200 elementary school students among children of its wealthy clients. The program will be offered free of charge.
Students residing in and around Seoul can participate in a three-day program in the company training facility in Hwasung, Gyeonggi Province, from Aug. 13 to 15, while those in other areas are scheduled to attend the program at a resort in Boeun, North Chungchong Province, from Aug. 16 to 18.
A Woori Securities spokesman said this year’s summer camp will put greater emphasis on teaching students about currency and its role in the modern economy. ``We also plan to educate students about financial management and economic principles through games and role-plays.’’
Also, in cooperation with Shinsegae and Lotte Department stores, Daishin Securities has been offering economics classes to store customers’ children in Seoul, Daejon and Daegu since last week. The weeklong program continues until Aug. 12 and those who want to attend the class apply at brokerage firm’s branches across the country and pay a 10,000 won fee.
If parents miss opportunities to send their kids to summer camps, there are other options to educate children about financial and economic issues. They could take kids to money museums or sit down with their children in front of computers and learn in cyberspace.
The Bank of Korea operates a museum that displays old coins and foreign currencies, as well as various models and visual materials to teach children basic economics. Up to 900 people, mostly students, visit the museum each day and it plans to offer learning classes to visiting students this week.
Students can learn the stock market, free market mechanisms and asset management at the Securities Museum in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, which opened in May 2004.
Also, they can obtain an online economics education program that includes lectures, quizzes and games at a Web site operated by the central bank (www.bokeducation.or.kr). The Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Financial Supervisory Service each maintain Web sites _ (kids.mofe.go.kr) and (edu.fss.or.kr) _ offering educational materials about basic economics for children.
For students who want to receive quality financial and economics education all year around, Junior Achievement (JA) Korea, a local unit of U.S.-based nonprofit organization JA Worldwide, is the right place to go.
The organization, in partnership with businesses and educators, is offering programs to educate elementary and high school students about entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.
The number of elementary school students receiving an array of financial and economics education programs from JA Korea totaled 38,118 in the first half of the year, accounting for 5.5 percent of 689,169 enrolled at all elementary schools in Seoul.
The organization gets financial support from businesses, including Samsung Electronics, IBM and other large Korean and multinational companies. Some businesses also encourage employees to become volunteer teachers and provide students with lessons.
JA Korea said employees from 70 companies contributed to developing the JA’s curriculum for the first six months of the year, while sharing their experiences with students.
President of JA Korea Kim Tae-joon said local and foreign companies operating in the country have been providing financial support to his organization for funding a range of educational and training programs for students on financial literacy and economic issues. ``Since its foundation in 2002, JA Korea has offered free economic and financial educational programs to nearly 100,000 students. The goal of our education programs is to teach students how to catch fish, not just give them fish.’’