Financial Education For Youth in China? There’s An App For That
Be Better champions financial education in China. Aflatoun financial education, one of the SE’s programmes, targets young children, while the youth chapter Aflateen caters to those aged 16 to 25 years old. In 7 years, they have established centres in 36 cities and helped 326 schools and communities.
We had a chat with Guo Pei, one of the Aflateen teachers and project managers to find out about the work they do for youth.
Tell us more about the youth chapter, how does it work?
We use financial education as an entry point for self-discovery. Many young people today don’t know what they want. And the schools they’re going to do not equip them with enough relevant knowledge. Through experiential learning, they explore their goals, strengths and weaknesses. We encourage them to reflect on the best ways to achieve their targets. Our very goal is really personal happiness and fulfilment.
That’s fascinating, what’s your approach?
We have both online and offline components to reach as many youths as possible.
We started offline – going to various vocational schools, high schools and universities.
In class, we encourage thinking and participation through different methods such as brainstorming, mind maps, and even field trips. In contrast to conventional Chinese education that focuses on rote learning (i.e. memorising and repetitive practices), our approaches can be considered to be groundbreaking. The youths have a chance to voice their opinions – something they seldom do in school.
Besides conducting classes, we localise financial education curriculum and train local teachers. That’s how we ensure it is sustainable.
We have recently developed an online component. It’s a combination of a website, app and WeChat. By taking classes and sharing knowledge, the participants accumulate points with which they can redeem rewards.
What’s your most memorable teaching experience?
I remember teaching in a vocational school in Beijing once. In China, [there is a stereotype that] going to a vocational school means you “failed” academically. Many of these students gave up. They didn’t listen to teachers, ate and slept in class – your typical “bad” students.
When I taught them I did things differently. I told them to feel free to eat in class, as long as they don’t disturb others.
I put the teaching materials away, and invited them to ask me questions instead. They were surprised, and started asking questions.
I shared with them what they wanted to know. We got the class going. Their head teacher was observing, and impressed! He never imagined his students would participate actively. Gradually, some of the students opened up to me. They learnt more about themselves, and started seriously thinking of their future. One student in particular, approached me to say thank you. He realised that he wanted to do communication and media, and chose to switch specialization. I was happy for him.
You seem really passionate about your job. How has working for the Be Better Youth Chapter affected you?
Indeed! I love what I do.
I pay more attention to my spending. I now have a habit of writing down expenses in my notebook. My husband too. Some might think I am stingy – but for me, it is a way to be conscious and in control.
Visit the Be Better Youth Chapter website for more info or the download Be Better Aflateen 百特青年行 app in major app stores.
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