FSC aims to enhance financial literacy

By Nekiesha Reid Business reporter

Sunday, July 22, 2012    

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In a bid to find out just how much people know about money matters, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has implemented a national survey.

The National Financial Literacy Baseline Survey is being done in all 14 parishes of Jamaica simultaneously and is expected to precede the development of strategies to address any emerging gaps in financial knowledge.

As a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) international network on financial education, the financial services regulator is required to carry out the survey in the island.

"Financial literacy is rapidly being recognised as a core skill," the Commission said, adding that individuals with a good grasp of financial literacy are better off.

Twenty-eight students from various universities across the island have been trained by University of the West Indies at Mona lecturer Lawrence Nicholson to carry out the survey, which will be completed next month.

Information collected from the face-to-face interviews will be sent to the OECD for analysis.

The Commission said it hopes the survey will lay the path for the development of a national financial literacy programme that will help Jamaicans gain the knowledge needed to create budgets, manage debt, start savings plans and make sound financial decisions.

"The OECD is seeking to ensure financial literacy is adopted within countries," said FSC's communications manager Nadene Newsome.

"The plan is to use a stakeholder approach," Newsome said. "Individual partners within the Jamaican financial network would come on board to educate the public on financial matters".

Countries have had problems getting national budgets approved for this sort of initiative, she said, but hopes that the collaborative approach would solve the problem of financing.

Along with measuring financial literacy, the FSC said the survey was designed to provide a comparison of financial literacy across countries and describe the levels of financial competence present in the island so that needs may be identified.

"It is the FSC's intention that the findings from this survey will generate interest and engage financial education stakeholders in dialogue on financial education matters," the Commission said.

A similar survey has been conducted in the British Virgin Islands, Malaysia and South Africa so far, and is being completed in New Zealand.



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