JUNIOR Achievement (JA) Brunei was officially launched yesterday, making its appearance in the Sultanate as a registered society and a member of JA Worldwide.
The ceremony was held at The Rizqun International Hotel with Dr Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abdul Rahman, the Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the Ministry of Education, as the guest of honour.
During the event, Vivian Lau, the President of JA Asia-Pacific, presented a certificate to JA Brunei Managing Director, Louis Tan, to mark the official launch of JA Brunei. Certificates of appreciation were also presented to their sponsors.
Specifically, contributions from the private sector came from two sources: HSBC Brunei sponsored $150,000 while Baiduri Bank contributed $100,000 over a period of two years.
Certificates of appreciation were also presented to headmasters and principals of 16 participating local educational institutions, including primary and secondary schools as well as sixth-form institutions.
In 2013, the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), in collaboration with JA Worldwide and support from the Ministry of Education, introduced JA programmes to several schools in the country. Since 2013, JA programmes have been conducted in 16 schools, assisting a total of 800 students.
Yesterday marked the launch of JA Brunei, which is a member of JA worldwide, one of the largest non-government organisations (NGOs) in the world dedicated to addressing important social and economic challenges faced by youths concerning financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness.
In a speech, Louis Tan said, “Junior Achievement is one of the largest global NGOs dedicated to addressing fundamental social and economic challenges of young people, by educating and empowering them to transform their future and own their economic success.”
He emphasised the importance of financial literacy, citing a recent study by the Authoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS).
“One in four Bruneian households needs to take out loans from financial institutions to finance the daily necessities. Among 1,521 households, 34 per cent did not plan for their household expenditure, while 32 per ce
nt did not know the interest rate imposed on their outstanding credit card.”
For Brunei to have sustainable financial sectors and a competitive economy, Bruneians need to manage their financial lives, he said. “Like reading and maths, teaching our kids to be financially savvy is a gift – one that will keep on giving throughout the course of our lives.”
He went on to note that entrepreneurship can be a vital contributor to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity. Successful path-breaking offerings by entrepreneurs, in the form of new goods and services, can produce a cascading effect in the national economy.
“Successful entrepreneurship ventures in Brunei may spur industries in logistics, financing and investment, from buildings to paper clips.”
He also said that youths around the world have benefited from JA entrepreneurship programmes such as “Economy for Success” and “Company Programme”.
“Our programmes teach them how to start businesses that create jobs and prepare them to succeed in a global economy. JA programmes will complement existing curriculums such as Business and Art Technology, and the Brunei Entrepreneurs Education Scheme, to impart entrepreneurial spirits and values among Bruneian youths.
“With the establishment of JA Brunei we will have dedicated resources to drive JA programme and enlist more schools, benefitting more Bruneian youths.”
JA Brunei has three programmes, one of which is “JA More than Money”, which is a six-week basic financial literacy programme that teaches youths the concept of earning, spending, saving and donating money which will enable them to start financial planning at a young age. It also identifies businesses that students can start, or jobs they can perform to earn money.
Another programme, “JA Economic for Success”, gives students the information needed to build strong personal finances. Students learn the importance of exploring career options based on their skills, interest and values. They also learn about spending money within a budget, saving and investing wisely, and using credit cautiously.
At the same time, the “JA Company Programme” focuses on entrepreneurship and work readiness and imparting knowledge on how to start and manage a business to prepare participants for success in a global economy.
Last year saw 16 schools completed the JA programmes, and 16 more schools are participating this year.
Yesterday’s event also featured a speech from Vivian Lau, who congratulated JA Brunei and Louis Tan on their “remarkable start”.
She highlighted the importance of financial education, entrepreneurship and work readiness: “We understand the need to do even more, and to be part of the solution for the employability of young people, so that they can either be starting their own businesses or joining organisations that they admire.”
This, she said, is where JA has a big part to play in Brunei. “From supporting youths to go aboard, solving eco-challenges, to even practise for schools, the focus here goes beyond employability, but the aspirational goal of education is to support our young people through education to fulfil their dreams.”