Visa partners with Bangko Sentral to expand financial literacy program for Filipinos

Stuart Tomlinson, Visa country manager for the Philippines and Guam (third from left), Pia Roman-Tayag, head of Inclusive Financial Advocacy at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (fourth from left), and Nanding Josef of Tanghalang Pilipino (fifth from left) with the other partners at the launch of the second round of Visa’s financial literacy program.

Pia Roman-Tayag, head of Inclusive Financial Advocacy at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), cited a World Bank study stating that only 2 percent of Filipinos (from the 3,000 surveyed) were able to answer financial literacy questions correctly. This is just one of the many indicators of the need to boost financial literacy education in the country that Visa wants to address.

Financial literacy (finlit) is making an informed decision on allocation of resources or simply put budgeting and money management.

Using the power of narrative, Visa applied a multi-pronged approach to expanding the reach of its finlit program that started a few years ago.

“We try to communicate with the audience in a language and a method that they appreciate,” Stuart Tomlinson, Visa country manager for the Philippines and Guam. “In the past, we partnered with Marvel comics and we get the financial literacy message through in a format that the children would enjoy and they like. That was how we got that message.”

“We need more innovative tools such as plays and more multisectoral partnerships such as this important partnership to promote financial education in the Philippines,” Roman-Tayag said. “We also need to sustain ongoing efforts to improve the financial literacy levels of all Filipinos.”

Last year, it initiated a collaboration with Tanghalang Pilipino for the play “Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog” that aims to educate the youth on financial management and distinguishing the needs versus the want in terms of purchases. By conducting school tours in Manila, the initiative was able to reach 6,000 Filipinos so far, according to Tomlinson.

Infuse concepts into lessons

“This is one way which we can make it interesting for teachers and even more interesting for students so that the messages will be retained,” said Roman-Tayag.

This year, Visa taps the assistance of Teach for the Philippines (TFP) to introduce a training program that will involve teachers who in turn will pass their finlit learning to schoolchildren.

“We believe that it’s another important component of this year’s program,” Tomlinson said. “Through this, we will be able to educate several hundred teachers across the country with the content from the production and to infuse concepts into their lessons. We hope that more Filipinos will be able to make good financial decisions that will transform their lives.”

TFP trainers will coach teachers on how to integrate concepts of financial literacy into their lesson plans. “Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog” will now be produced in a digital format to become as instructional materials for teachers.

“The important thing about going in the digital era is we’re able to bring the benefits of this program to remote schools that are otherwise we don’t get access to,” said Tomlinson.

“We’re happy that Teach for the Philippines creates training modules, multimedia materials, and teacher training programs to capacitate our educators in sharing these messages,” Roman-Tayag said. “The Bangko Sentral has a partnership with the Department of Education and our work with them is to institutionalize financial literacy in the K-12 curriculum.”

Effective economic agents

She added that BSP is focusing more on building strategic partnerships so they can create the multiplier effect needed in spreading something as important as financial education.

“Our vision is clear, financial education can lead to a well-informed financially literate public who can make better financial decisions, able to save and manage their finances, accumulate assets, take advantage of economic opportunities and become more effective economic agents,” she said.

The advocacy is an important strategy for Visa, according to Tomlinson, to fulfill its commitment to bring 500 million people into the financial system by 2020.

“We started that journey about five years ago,” he said. “We’re well on the way to achieve this. The real way to make it happen is to start on the ground level and this is one of those ground-level activities that we’re working on. Financial literacy is about education awareness and ensuring people understand money matters.”