A FINANCIAL Reality Fair was held for six secondary schools on island yesterday at the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS) and included St Mary’s College, Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School, Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School, Corinth Secondary School and Babonneau Secondary School.
The fair, in itself, was an interactive financial literacy tool which provided more than 280 students with the opportunity to experience the financial challenges they will eventually face once they begin life on their own. The fair comprised of a practical budgeting exercise and personal financial management. Students underwent a two-hour simulation in which they gained hands-on experience in selecting a career, earning a salary, making decisions in terms of various expenses, while dealing with the temptations for additional spending.
One of the objectives of the exercise was to teach students how to balance their wants and needs. Twenty booths were positioned at the fair in which financial counsellors sat with students to assess their decisions and to advise them on better options and possible changes.
The fair was hosted by Saint Lucia’s Civil Service Cooperative Credit Union Ltd (Jannou Credit Union) with the support of local businesses, 50 volunteers and a number of other credit unions in the Castries basin. This included the St. Lucia Workers’ Credit Union, Elks Credit Union and the Saint Lucia Cooperative League. This was the second time that the fair was being held.
According to a statement by Jannou Credit Union, “We have a responsibility to provide financial education to our community, especially the youth, to encourage good lifestyle choices. This fair will complement classroom studies to better prepare our young people for financial success when they get out into the real world as adults.”
Junia Emmanuel-Belizaire, President of Jannou Credit Union, was present at the fair. She intimated, “The fair is an opportunity for students to have a reality check as it relates to how it will be when they go out in the real world in terms of employment.” She added, “We felt this initiative was important after noting some of the challenges that some of our members go through as adults. And we believe that if we target the younger generation, at the end of the day, when they become as old as we, they would have made better choices in relation to their future.”
While it is the wish of parents to make life easier for their children, Junia noted, “In making it easier we are denying them the obligation of having a true experience of how it is to prepare themselves for real life challenges. This fair is an opportunity to provide the students with financial literacy at an early stage.” Another major objective of the fair was to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. Students who attended the Financial Reality Fair said they gained valuable knowledge during the exercise and that they were grateful for the experience.