This board game teaches kids how to be smart with money

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

“Hangarin” is the first of several projects under Kids Who Save or Khusa, a social venture that aims to teach children to be financially literate. Photo from KHUSA/FACEBOOK

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — One would think that on a fine Saturday morning, a school would be empty, with children eagerly seizing the opportunity to go off and play. But today, Nueve de Febrero Elementary School is abuzz with the chatter of children patiently waiting for a program to start. Once introductions have been done, the children are divided into groups and are matched to an ate or a kuya. The groups are assigned areas, then the games begin.

There are plenty of smiles and laughs all around as kids drew cards, rolled dice, and moved their pieces on a board game. Every now and then, a boy would break out into song, or a girl would groan at a card she just drew — the cards they drew either told them that they would earn more game money or lose it. Sighs and cheers of relief were heard when they drew an unlucky card, yet they wouldn’t be losing anything: their game money was tucked away, kept in the “piggy bank.”

6.jpg Kids Who Save or Khusa started out as an idea for a business competition about providing a unique solution to a social problem. The group conducts Hangarin workshops in public schools like Nueve de Febrero Elementary School in Mandaluyong. Photo from KHUSA/FACEBOOK

The game that the children were playing is called “Hangarin.” It is the first of several projects under Kids Who Save or Khusa, a social venture that aims to teach children to be financially literate. It started out as an idea for a business competition that Ana de Guia and Cham Luna, graduate students from the Asian Institute of Management, wanted to join.

“The competition was about providing a unique solution to a social problem, which is cyclical,” says de Guia. They were then inspired by “Junior Ipon,” a book by Kevin de Guia, Ana’s younger brother, that tackles financial literacy for children and was based on Kevin’s college thesis. Financial literacy for children then became the focus of de Guia and Luna’s project. They went on to win the internal competition, then further developed “Hangarin” for their capstone project. However, it had to take a backseat once they graduated since they both had day jobs. Fortunately, Kevin was able to take on the project full time.

Financial literacy is not something that kids are expected to have a knowledge of. It is seen as an adult skill, something that kids need not worry about until they reach a certain age. But de Guia says kids are “the best sponges to teach,” since they are young and can form habits that will stay with them as they grow. But how would they teach a serious concept to children with short attention spans? The answer: games.

5.jpg The board game's characters are based on the Senior High School strands that students can choose from, which gives the children an idea of the different career options that they can take later. Photo from KHUSA/FACEBOOK

“Hangarin” had gone through many stages of testing and revisions before its current form. As the kids contemplated on whether they would buy the item that their game pieces were on, they had to consider whether it was part of their character’s hangarin, their goal.

“It’s important to have an end goal in mind when playing a game,” says de Guia, which is why they decided to include characters that the kids take on as they play. The current characters are based on the Senior High School strands that students can choose from, which gives the children an idea of the different career options that they can take later. Wants versus needs is a concept that the children apply as they play, as they have the option to buy things in the game whether their character needs it or not.

One of the kids in our group cheers: her money had finally doubled! She had decided to put part of her “earnings” in the “investment center,” where she was unable to touch the money for several turns. However, it doubled when it was finally returned to her. This was a simple but very interesting feature of the game: investing, albeit in a very simplified way, is introduced to the kids.

8.jpg The game teaches the concept of investing by having an "investment center" where players can choose to put part of their "earnings." Photo by LACEY ANNE RAMOS

The concept of investing is foreign even to many adults, which is why de Guia, Luna, and Kevin decided that it was an important concept to introduce. It shows the kids a new way to earn money, beyond the usual baon from nanay, like sending things to the recycling plant, or even winning contests.

At the moment, Kids Who Save is funded by the Brighter World Builder Challenge of Sun Life Financial - Philippines Foundation. The founders are hoping to turn Khusa into a full-fledged social venture, and they are looking at ways that they can monetize it so that it can become self-sustaining.

“Hangarin” is only the first of several activities that they hope to use to teach financial literacy to kids. After “Hangarin,” the team will be launching “Ipon Hero,” a more dynamic simulation that will let kids experience making different financial decisions. But Khusa is off to a very good start. After just one game, the kids of Nueve de Febrero Elementary School now had a much better idea of not only saving, but other financial concepts that even adults haven’t quite grasped yet.