ECONOMYNEXT – Central Bank reports will be integrated to schools for discussion among students in a bid to improve finance literacy in Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said inaugurating a Capital Market Club programme in a school in Kandy.
The exercise is part of a strategic move to enhance technology and financial literacy among school students as part of Wickremesinghe’s plans to make Sri Lanka a developed country by 2048, the President’s Media Division said on Thursday August 31.
The Capital Market Club programme was launched in Kandy’s Nugawela Central College Monday morning. A hundred schools have been selected for the initiative, with a seed fund of 10 millino rupees allocated for the task.
According to the PMD, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) plans to introduce a comprehensive training programme for teachers and student leaders, aimed at “bolstering awareness of the stock market and enhancing financial literacy among students across the nation”.
The programme is said to be a collaborative one involving the central bank, the presidential secretariat, the ministry of education, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Colombo Stock Exchange.
“Our focus must now shift towards advancing without regressing into the abyss that threatens our nation’s progress. It’s imperative to decide whether we should persist with mid-20th century policies or chart a new course with fresh perspectives. Adhering to outdated methods would jeopardize our country’s very existence, considering the significant gap between our current state and our desired destination,” Wickemesinghe said, speaking at the event.
“Equally crucial is ensuring that the upcoming generation, entrusted with the country’s future, does not inherit such a predicament. Thus, embarking on a technological journey becomes imperative,” he said.
Introducing modern technology to Sri Lanka is important, said Wickremesinghe, adding that substantial efforts are already underway, both within the ministry of education and various research institutes. Determining the implementation of new technological methods becomes a pivotal task, he said, from blockchain technology to artificial intelligence and genome science.
“Crucially, these advancements should reach rural communities. Our initiative to modernise agriculture aims to bring these technologies closer to home. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that technology alone is insufficient. These endeavours require financial support within a society that operates on monetary transactions. The current governmental landscape lacks the means to entirely govern monetary utilisation and this holds true on both the domestic and international fronts,” he said.
He said that in today’s competitive economic climate, financial systems operate without heeding national boundaries. Whether favourable or not, Sri Lanka must adapt within these constraints. The global economy draws its sustenance from various sources, including banks and stock markets. Money serves as the driving force, he said.
“Ultimately, it’s essential to acknowledge the pivotal role of money. Similar to the private sector, the government also engages with the money market and issues Treasury Bonds. Today, our objective is to acquaint you with this methodology, marking the initial step in this educational journey,” he said.
President Wickremesinghe said he wishes to start discussions on the Central Bank report within schools starting from 2024.
“I am actively engaging with the Ministry of Finance in this endeavour. To facilitate this, we are equipping both teachers and student leaders with training, while also garnering support from bank officials.
“This initiative underscores the need for familiarity with contemporary methods. Our focus extends beyond the mere dissemination of knowledge; it encompasses financial literacy and securities education that should reach even the most remote villages. Talented individuals reside within these communities and it is incumbent upon us to provide them with the essential training,” he said.
Sri Lanka must also recognise that today’s world operates as a single market. To align with this reality, he said, the government is in the process of signing multiple free trade agreements.
“Deliberations are ongoing with nations such as Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Anticipated expansions into new markets encompass East Asia, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Additionally, conversations are underway with the European Union to explore potential facilities. In a fortnight, a delegation from the United States will be visiting our nation for discussions. Hence, a comprehensive awareness of the global market and these agreements becomes paramount.
“The emerging economy we are shaping is both environmentally conscious and digitally driven. Within the framework of this green and digital economy, securities hold their place. This paradigm shift introduces novel approaches. Complementing this transition, our focus extends to an offshore economy. Discussions involving specialised bar associations in London are shaping the corresponding legal landscape. A critical decision lies before us: whether to embrace these pioneering economic systems or remain in stagnation,” he said.
Noting that a significant majority of Sri Lanka’s population will fall within the 25-35 age bracket in a decade or so, Wickremesinghe said the imperative to chart one’s future looms large.
“We’ve selected 100 schools for participation, with intentions to expand this number subsequently. I urge the stock market and the Securities Exchange Commission to actively collaborate and extend their involvement. I request their engagement in overseeing one or two of these associations, providing their valuable support.
“A seed fund of 10 million rupees has been allocated for the programme’s initiation. Accordingly, each school will receive Rs. 100,000. I beseech that we confine this financial aspect to this amount. After a year has elapsed, we will evaluate the successful implementation of this programme by each school,” he said.
The winning school, along with its subject teacher and 10 students, will be rewarded with a trip to Singapore to study the workings of its stock market for a brief period, Wickremesinghe said, noting the need to limit the monetary allocation to 100,000 rupees per school.
“This rule applies uniformly, irrespective of whether the school is located in an underprivileged or affluent area. Additionally, we aspire to extend opportunities to the second and third-place contenders. This endeavour aligns with our mission to bring the new economy to the grassroots level.
“With this challenge, I entrust you as part of the grand vision to transform our country into a developed nation by 2048,” he said. (Colombo/Aug31/2023)