JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson has lauded schools' savings programmes initiated by financial institutions as,
  • Speaking with JIS News, the Minister said that as a high consumption society, it was important to instill the value of thriftiness in the young.
  • "People will come to you and ask for assistance with various things, but very few people know that if you put aside a penny today, it will become a pound tomorrow," she said, adding, that "we are very encouraged and we give our fullest support to these efforts".

Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson has lauded schools’ savings programmes initiated by financial institutions as, “a very positive initiative” and effective means of teaching children to save and plan for the future.

Speaking with JIS News, the Minister said that as a high consumption society, it was important to instill the value of thriftiness in the young. “People will come to you and ask for assistance with various things, but very few people know that if you put aside a penny today, it will become a pound tomorrow,” she said, adding, that “we are very encouraged and we give our fullest support to these efforts”.

Mrs. Henry Wilson noted that in the past, there had been a national savings association, a government sponsored attempt to inculcate thriftiness in the wider population, with the focus largely on schools. However, although this programme is now defunct, the Minister said savings should still be encouraged in the nation’s children. “We also would like parents to begin to understand that their children’s education, while being supported by the state, is really an investment that they need to make and children can start saving even a small amount from their lunch money and the parents could probably match it. In time, it could become their CXC and tertiary education fee,” she said.

Asked if there were any plans afoot to re-implement a national programme, the Education Minister said, “I am not sure you would have gotten the same response if it were seen as government sponsored. In fact people would have probably made demands. We are not in that business.

We believe that the development of the society is a partnership. Those who best know financing, financial management, they are the ones who engage in it and I am sure it also reap some reward for their business”.

One institution that has answered the call for partnership is the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), which implemented a Schools Savings Programme three years ago. The programme targets basic, primary and all-age schools and since its inception, has garnered a total of approximately 14,000 accounts amounting to almost $12 million. To date, some 184 schools are participating in the programme.

Coordinator of the JN School Savings Programme, Diana Cunningham told JIS News that the programme afforded the students the opportunity to save from a young age, a habit, which hopefully, they would continue as adults. She pointed out that in the future, these students would be in a good position to acquire loans from the institution, whether for mortgages, or further studies.

Ms. Cunningham mentioned that as an incentive to encourage students to save, the programme offered a wide array of individual prizes in six categories to savers. This is offered in conjunction with other private sector companies.

The top saver in the Infant School Category wins a gift certificate valued at $2,000, courtesy of Answers for Children; the top saver in the Prep/Primary School category wins a JN School savers watch, while the top saver in the secondary/high school category wins a gift certificate valued at $3,000 courtesy of Sangster’s Book Stores Limited plus membership in the Sangster’s Book Club. In the secondary/high school category, the top saver islandwide wins a computer and a $5,000 gift certificate courtesy of Computer Express Limited; the top saver islandwide in the primary/all age category wins a family weekend for four at Franklyn D. Resort, while the top saver in the basic/infant school category wins a training bicycle. The basic, primary and secondary/high schools with the largest balance win a JN Easi Save Account plaque and a JN Destiny Account Plaque.

“The teachers or co-ordinators in the top saving school islandwide in the basic, prep, primary and high school categories also get a chance to win a weekend for two at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort,” she said.

Ten-year old Renee Johnson, a student of the Lannaman’s Preparatory School in Kingston was last year’s top saver in the prep school category and received a bicycle for her prize. “Renee likes to save and she is proud and happy that she was chosen as the top saver,” her mother, Theresa Johnson said, adding that Renee loved her gift.

Renee opened her account with $4,000 and ended up with $26,000 in less than four months. “We are happy that our child is the top saver. We try to impart good savings habits to her. We don’t touch her money. She wants to be the top saver again and I keep encouraging her to go for it,” Mrs. Johnson said.

Ada Mitchell, Vice Principal of Rusea’s High School, in Hanover, one of the most successful schools in the programme, with over 600 accounts, agreed that the savings programme was inculcating positive and necessary values in the students, which would be to their advantage as adults. “They really look forward to bringing in their money,” she commented.

Administrator at the Richmond Park Preparatory School in Kingston, Jillian Green, pointed out that: “It is good to teach them from an early age to save”.

Administrator at Half Way Tree Primary, Amorie Williamson confirmed that at her school the children and parents alike were excited about the programme. “The children get the opportunity to be responsible, independent, keeping an update of their own accounts.already, children are planning what they want to do with their money. It helps them to learn to budget,” she added.