Conducted by NIDS, WEST BENGAL, INDIA

Training Conducted By:

  1. Ritwik Ray, CEO, NIDS, INDIA
  2. Arpita Sengupta, Programme Officer, NIDS, INDIA
  3. Halima Begum, Programme Officer, MOWCA, Govt. of Bangladesh

Context

NIDS, India, West Bengal working with a mission to empower the people, with right knowledge and financial independency in the country and abroad since 2007. One of the major strategies of NIDS is to conduct financial literacy training and awareness programmes to spread the knowledge on financial skills and management to the poor and economically disadvantaged sections of society. Every member of the society should be linked to any of the formal banking systems of the respective country where she/he would access the four basic financial products i.e. saving, borrowing, remittance and insurance. Hence it is crucial to understand the concept of financial inclusion, financial literacy and learn the tools to carry the messages to the field.

Relevance of the Training Concept

The Bangladesh National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010 stated that any child fewer than 14 is strictly prohibited from engaging in employment, and children under 18 are not permitted to engage in any hazardous work.

Unfortunately, 7.4 million children are involved as child labour according to a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic (BBS) report from 2003, primarily to support their family. Moreover, according to a study commissioned by Save the Children, 25% of family expenditure in these families is covered by the child labourer’s income. However, these children, who often live at their workplace or on the street, were unable to open bank accounts in which to secure their savings because under Bangladeshi law, children cannot open a bank account without a guardian’s approval. Consequently, children are more likely to spend their income on non-essential items to reduce the chance of their money being stolen or lost, or deposit it in a way that increases the risk of exploitation, such as with their employer.

The Child Rights Governance (CRG) team at Save the Children in Bangladesh has led the Banking for Working Children Advocacy Group (BWCAG) coalition which has long advocated establishing a mainstream banking service for working and street children. As a result of our sustained advocacy efforts with Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Bank circulated a bank order on 9 March 2014, which enabled for the first time scheduled banks to provide working and street children with access to a bank account with support from non-government organizations. The circular empowers street and working children to access banking services with a small deposit of only BDT 10TK, in any branch of the scheduled participating bank, anywhere in the country.

The move is significant as it drops an earlier requirement for the co-signature of a parent or guardian – impossibility if the child is an orphan or has been forced to leave home. The central bank is coordinating 10 banks that are piloting the scheme in partnership with approved, legally-registered NGOs working on financial exclusion of children. New accounts require a co-signature from an NGO, whose staff retains control of it until the child turns 18 years. For the poorest children, NGO involvement is aimed at ensuring the children’s money works for all their principal needs: survival, emergencies and planning for the future.

But few questions arises here, Having NGOs as co-signatories does raise new issues though: how do you prevent a vulnerable child from any corrupt behaviour by their NGO? What happens if the NGO who co-signed their account closes down? Here comes the significance of Financial Literacy, which may enable children to develop their behaviour towards money and its usage also to prioritize their financial decision and visions for future.

Save the Children stresses that the NGOs act as mentors for the children rather than deciding how the money is spent and that participating NGOs will be monitored. It acknowledges that some street children may be put off by the requirement to link up with an NGO. BB meanwhile has its own system to monitor the working children’s accounts.

The circular initiated by the Bangladesh Bank also empowered and agreed Private Banks to bring children into the formal banking sector. This initiative may benefit uniquely from the support of the central bank, but it is built on a principle that underpins other financial inclusion schemes for street and working children: microfinance must incorporate financial education to offer a sustainable way out of poverty.

Save the Children, Bangladesh and Child Development Khazana, India both reject any claim that banking services for children indirectly encourage child labour. There are more than 7 million child workers in Bangladesh, the majority of which are financially excluded. The very existence of the accounts is a recognition and acknowledgment by Bangladesh Bank and, by extension, the financial system, of the importance of these children’s everyday struggles, lives and their work.

From this context of the Street children issue in Bangladesh, we decided to share our thought and expertise about “Financial Literacy for Street and Working Children”. We also believe that the families of those children should be covered under the fold of the Financial Literacy. The organizations who mostly work with the livelihood development issues and the Skill development Institutions may also think about the Financial Literacy to implement in the field with whom they work.

Objectives of the Training Programme

  • To make aware the participants about the emergence of financial literacy for the Street & Working Children and their families
  • To improve demand side of the end users (Children) of the Bank products & services and to take financial decision on informed choices as priority basis
  • They will be able to think of the life cycle needs/risks and make financial planning to secure their future with the help of financial services (saving, credit, remittance and insurance)
  • To bring positive changes of the children in attitude towards dealing with the money and financial behaviour

Feedback of the participants in brief

It was noted that most of the participants were not wholly familiar with the concept of Financial Literacy and its importance for the economical development of the society. We are stating the feedbacks received from participants in brief below.

  • Financial literacy is needed for street & working children and their family for a safe and secure life – Fatema Meherunessa Tani, Islamic Relief, Bangladesh
  • Financial Literacy is needed for the distressed children and their family to develop their financial status and to lead a dignified life – Aslam Hossain Khan, Shishu Polli Plus
  • Financial Literacy is needed for the distressed children and their family. Financial Literacy such an important issue for Bangladesh. It is important to develop training tools and materials for train up children and Social Activists to spread the messages of financial literacy – Md. Zahid Hossain, Shishu Polli Plus
  • Financial Literacy is essential for poorest community of the Bangladesh. Due to proper financial planning they unable to come out of the poverty and they send their children to earn livelihood which compels them to be street children. Proper financial planning is useful for stop this evil of the society – Md. Hossain Rajib, Human Aid Bangladesh
  • Financial Literacy can play important role to make street & working a saver. They will understand the use & importance of money which may help them to come out of the distressed situation – Nur – E – Ealahi Ratan, Aporajeyo Bangladesh
  • Every child and their family must have the knowledge about financial management. The lack of financial management may be an important issue behind street children scenario of Bangladesh. Financial Literacy is essential for their development so more training is needed for NGOs and their workers. This subject may also be included in school curriculum – Md. Mominuddin, Apon Foundation
  • Financial Literacy for Street & Working children is an important issue. Financial literacy help these children to lead a successful life – Salehan, Apon Foundation
  • Financial Literacy is important for street & working children – Md. Shahinur Rahaman, Gram Bangla Unnayan Committee
  • Financial Literacy is not only important for street children, it’s for all. A guideline for spreading financial literacy is needed for its implementation – Md. Manjur Morshed, Spreha Bangladesh
  • Financial Literacy is essential for everybody’s life – Raisa Sultana, Shishu Polli Plus
  • Awareness promotion on financial literacy is needed. The NGO’s should work out long term plan for the promotion of Financial Literacy – Nasrin Sultana, Action for Social Development
  • A massive awareness promotion on Financial literacy may bring some positive changes in the life of street children – Rita Parvin, Ain – O – Salish Kendra
  • Financial literacy is important for all. The initiative taken by Bangladesh Bank is important for disadvantaged children. NGO’s should organize more training and awareness campaign on this issues – Shikha Biswas, FFC
  • Financial Literacy is highly needed for Street children and their family. Different issues of financial literacy like, savings, expenditure, investment etc are important to learn for them & family. This training is necessary for these children – Maliha, BNWLA