| Siti Hajar |
FINANCIAL literacy is one of the main tools for overcoming the culture of debt, which is one of the more pressing issues faced by communities around the world today, including Brunei Darussalam, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail, the Deputy Minister of Education said yesterday.
He said a number of factors contribute to this burdensome way of life, which include spending beyond one’s means, the enticement of modern luxuries and the ease of obtaining loans from financial institutions.
In his speech at the Thematic Workshop on Islamic Financial Literacy 2015, he said measures can and should be put in place to ease the population’s financial burden.
Education, he said, will be among the main tools to overcome the issue with individual empowerment, awareness and ‘financial literacy’ being at the forefront to face this global challenge.
“Each individual regardless of their financial standing must be equipped with knowledge that enables them to better manage and organise their finances,” he added.
Under the initiative of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, resources have been mobilised with research, awareness campaigns and financial education programmes already put in place to better equip societies with the necessary understanding on how to live sustainably.
Locally, government and non-government organisations have implemented a number of ways to overcome this problem, including educational programmes spread across the different educational levels from primary to tertiary such as strengthening numeracy and literacy skills, financial savings and management, accounting and financial subjects and a number of entrepreneurship programmes under the country’s National Educational System for the 21st Century (SPN21), he said.
Another challenge, he said, is the cases of individuals, who have been duped to part with their hard-earned income through dubious financial and investment schemes.
“Concerns such as these will continue to surface within our community if we do not take issues of financial literacy seriously,” he said. “Conmen will constantly seek victims because they have abilities that the financial illiterate cannot contend with.”
Muslim men and women should also consider being literate in Islamic finances, he said. This includes Zakat, trade and investment that are Syariah-compliant and, but not limited to, the management of properties belonging to orphans, he added.
“The public should also be provided with knowledge and clear understanding of the concept of Islamic financing with accurate and detailed information to be spread among the people.”
He suggested that the Faculty of Business and Science Management under Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) should shoulder this responsibility, alongside other government departments, Islamic financial institutions and non-government organisations.
“It is important to provide the public with guidance in making the right decisions with regard to financial affairs such as savings, planning and investment that are Syariah-compliant.”