Getting kids started on budgeting, saving and coding

Kidstarter programme participants (from left) Dahri Daud, 11, Muhamad Matin Manaf, 10, and Noah Ong Tian Hong, eight, showing Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira the game they designed during their coding workshop, at Henderson Community Club yesterday
Kidstarter programme participants (from left) Dahri Daud, 11, Muhamad Matin Manaf, 10, and Noah Ong Tian Hong, eight, showing Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira the game they designed during their coding workshop, at Henderson Community Club yesterday. The programme by POSB teaches financial and digital literacy skills to children.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

During recess, Nur Tiara Isabella, 10, would often visit the school bookstore and be tempted to spend her $2 daily allowance on new trinkets such as magnetic Plasticine toys.

But after attending a series of workshops under POSB's new Kidstarter programme, which teaches financial and digital literacy skills to children, the pupil from Gan Eng Seng Primary School has learnt how to budget wisely and spend only on necessities.

"There is a difference between what you need and what you want," the Primary 4 pupil said.

Yesterday, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira presented her with a Kidstarter graduation certificate at a ceremony at Henderson Community Club. About 140 other children aged between eight and 11, who had attended the Kidstarter programme, also received certificates.

The weekly programme, which started in mid-July and wrapped up last week, involved six 21/2-hour workshops at six community centres in Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC.

The children were taught the importance of saving money and spending prudently, including understanding how money is earned and why there is a need to save. About half of the children were from families on social assistance.

They also picked up basic coding skills through the workshops, led by HP Enterprise, and created animations and games that will be showcased at the POSB PAssion Run for Kids on Sunday.

Ms Susan Cheong, head of POSB, said that they will be reviewing feedback from the programme's pilot run and hope to extend it to more children in other communities. However, a start date has not yet been determined.

To drive home the concepts they have learnt, the children will be encouraged to record how much they spend and save over the next three months. POSB will match their savings, dollar for dollar, up to an amount of $100 for every child who has completed the course.

Over the years, POSB has supported other matched-savings programmes which have benefited about 8,000 children. These include the North West POSB Saving Stars for low-income families. Savings were matched up to $600 per child during the 18-month programme.

Underprivileged students have also benefited from digital literacy programmes conducted by other corporations. This year, Google started a three-year coding course for 3,000 children from low-income backgrounds. Ms Pereira said initiatives that promote digital and financial literacy are important for fostering inclusivity.

"It is important that we leave no one behind (as Singapore progresses towards becoming a Smart Nation), especially children from low-income families."

Lucio Rumdej, 10, said that he would now do chores at home to earn an allowance. "Money doesn't fall from the sky, you have to work hard to earn it," said the Primary 4 pupil from Gan Eng Seng Primary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Getting kids started on budgeting, saving and coding'. Print Edition | Subscribe