Financial literacy campaign is much needed in a world facing a very uncertain financial future. Even first world such as the United States and many countries in Europe are now struggling financially. As countries in the world struggle, Filipino OFWs and the economy of the Philippines depending on the remittances of these “modern-day heroes” would certainly be affected negatively not unless there would be an aggressive financial literacy campaign. This article aims to report the recent trends in financial literacy campaign among Filipino OFWs in three different regions in the world. We hope that such noble efforts would be replicated in other parts of the globe.
Among OFWs throughout the world, Filipinos in South Korea were the first to experience the benefits of financial literacy campaign. The Philippine Embassy in Seoul initiated this campaign on March 30, 2008. The objectives of the campaign include “maximizing the potentials of remittances,” “poverty-alleviation” and “forming values of thrift” among OFWs.
In United Arab Emirates, PINOY WISE (Worldwide Initiative for Savings Investment and Entrepreneurship), a financial literacy campaign was launched last February 4 and 5, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. As a response to the financial predicaments of most OFWs, NGOs, cooperatives, micro-finance organizations initiated this campaign as a joint project with government and private sectors.
In Europe, Filipino leaders designed a financial literacy module aiming to give specific advice to OFWs and their families in managing resources. The initiators believe that this activity helps not only as an economic intervention but a social intervention as well. This financial literacy campaign is a result of an alarming realization that most Filipino OFWs after long stay overseas have never saved their resources for future retirement. This includes those who have stayed abroad even for 20 years. The report states:
“Renewed consciousness of the fact that the majority of migrants are not able to save for their long-term goals, neither migrants who have lived abroad for 20 years, nor single migrant women or migrants married to foreign nationals.”
Financial literacy campaigns like these serve as healthy sign in the increasing popularity of a worldwide movement to educate the people financially. The US government in its effort to raise the financial IQ of the American has already started sponsoring financial literacy programs aimed at community development with specific focus on the financial well-being of low and middle-income households. In the Philippines the primary focus of the campaign is the financial well-being of Filipino OFWs.
Habit of financial ignorance can only be addressed not by random efforts and programs but by intentional and systemic change with the support of the government, business and schools. The existing educational system with its primary emphasis on academic and professional competencies produced skilled and high salaried employees working abroad but buried deep in debts. Most Filipino OFWs are unable to discern the distinction between the enticing rates from loan rates offered by credit card companies. They are prone to take up several credit cards at a time to maintain a temporary middle class lifestyle both for themselves and their families. Situations like these are indications of low financial IQ and calling for a curricular change in our schools. Waiting for that change, our only hope for now is to promote an aggressive financial literacy campaign aiming not only for OFWs but for all Filipinos as well.
The Author: RChavez is a man of many interests. Since 1986 at the age of 19, he has been in pastoral ministry. Finishing his degree in theology in 1991 started his journey in theological education. A turn in his career happened in 2009 where financial literacy, personal development, entrepreneurship, and wellness industry caught his attention. His financial situation opened new interests in human capital management and freelance writing.
Related topics: What is Financial Literacy? Part I. Part II. Part III.