Not just saying ‘no’ to gambling

Students will also understand that they have obligations and responsibilities towards the community and that they have to be ethical

Earlier this week, a convicted prisoner published an open letter addressed to all youths about the grave consequences of a drug habit and about the pitfalls of gambling. It is most important to develop an effective gambling prevention programme that will reduce the risk that youths will develop gambling problems.

We recently launched the “Alternative Learning Programme in Money Management”, funded by the Responsible Gaming Foundation with this aim in mind. This programme offers students the skills to manage their money effectively and when these are accompanied by social, financial, economic and entrepreneurial values, skills and competences, students become more employable and can be in a better position to open their own business.

A representative of Responsible Gaming Foundation will give a number of sessions to students explaining why and how a person might fall into the gambling habit, the consequences it brings along with it and the various ways how such victims can ask for and get help to overcome this addiction. The Alternative Learning Programme in Money Management provides alternatives to gambling with the aim of enabling youths to become financially stable so that they do not start looking for easy money such as gambling.

Employability gives financial stability and provides spending money. It is vital that students become aware of the buying behaviour: why is a person ready to buy goods or services which he/she cannot afford? Is it because of peer pressure, marketing pressures, so that they feel like others or better than they?

So it is very important to make students aware about the consequences which loans and debts have on oneself, family, community and the country in general. Prioritising needs over wants and the value of money as well as keeping a budget is essential.

Students will be encouraged to keep a list of expenses and income during a month which will follow on consecutive months so that they will become aware of their spending pattern. It is important to show that spending should not exceed income. Also, students should be reminded that there may be unexpected events during their lifetime in the event of unemployment, illnesses or a major unplanned expense. It is therefore important to keep an emergency fund and savings that is highlighted at this stage.

During this programme, representatives from HSBC will visit the school to explain the different services offered by the bank with particular emphasis on savings. Online banking and payment, and online safety are also highlighted. Students will learn how to avoid risks and protect themselves while using online services. Both short and long-term investment will also be explained with particular reference to the problem of Malta as an aging population. The effects of a retirement pension are also to be emphasised especially since it is very important that students start saving at a young age.

These skills and values will be first explained by learning through play. Students will play board games where they will decide on the best timing when to buy, what to buy and how much to spend, they will decide when is the time to save money and not spend and the best time when to take risks and invest.

Besides getting familiar with consumer awareness and education with all their rights, students will also understand that they have obligations and responsibilities towards the community and that they have to be ethical and pay their share of contributions, both in indirect and direct taxes.

Financial literacy will be embedded within all subjects. A number of subjects, both academic and vocational, will work in synergy. In this way, students will get a clear picture of what really happens in real life situations. Skills from various subjects are required simultaneously and synergy is practised through a whole process. From teaching on what equipment is required for a particular business activity to an explanation of how to manage expenses and revenues; to the teaching of art and design to help in the design of artwork both for advertising as well as in creating a corporate image and to exposure to social media, students will be guided throughout the whole process.

It is also important that financial literacy is embedded with other cross-curricular themes such as creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact financial literacy is one key entrepreneurial skill which has been given great importance during these last years. An entrepreneur should have a sound background of financial literacy if he wants to know how his money is managed effectively. Financial literacy should be embedded within digital literacy in topics like online safety, online banking and online payment as well as with literacy in general as it requires reading skills.  Sustainable entrepreneurship shall be embedded with education for sustainable development as it enables learners to become sustainable citizens.

ALP students following this programme will also be involved in various activities including snooker and sports such as basketball, football, handball and volleyball together with beach sports. Representatives from local associations and three MCAST students, who will graduate this year, will provide peer-to-peer teaching and learning which is very effective. This is a 10-week programme, two-hour sessions per week, where each lesson builds upon each other.

Apart enjoying themselves playing sports, ALP students will be taught on the workings of organising tournaments and they will then be asked to present an organisational structure as well as a financial plan with all expected costs and revenues.

Some students will experience a hands-on work experience which will consist of eight sessions of two hours each at a restaurant. During this programme they will work closely with the owner of the restaurant, the head chef and the manager. They will start by learning the health and safety procedures. Students will be provided with a budget and together with the head chef they will go through this experience by actually being allowed to buy ingredients themselves; to deal with staff costs and other expenses so that they will have the feel of learning the value and costings of such a business.

In conjunction with this programme, ALP students will participate in an e-Twinning project with three other schools from Cyprus, Poland and Germany, where each school shares its good practice. ALP Paola chose to promote traditional Maltese food in order to promote our country.

Finally, an open day will be organised where all students will be practising an actual entrepreneurial event. Students will sell the products and/or services they offer after giving them a price to charge the customers with the aim of making a profit. However, they will also be aware of the importance of social responsibility where part of the profit will go to a philanthropic cause. Thus, good citizenship is also practised.

The “Alternative Learning Programme for Money Management” will highlight the importance of financial and economic literacy, employability and entrepreneurship (including social and sustainable entrepreneurship), financial literacy as a key entrepreneurship skill, the importance of embedding financial literacy in every subject both academically and vocationally and that of providing students with the wider picture of a real life situation so that subjects should work in synergy.