The penny drops for star saver Rany

Now his savings will help him achieve his dream goal

Just like any typical 10-year-old in Australia, Rany Thoeun from Cambodia would spend his meagre pocket money on lollies, snacks and toys, without much thought for the future. And just like many Aussie fourth graders, Rany is also a bright student who works hard to get good grades. But for Rany and his classmates growing up in one of the world’s poorest nations, that’s where the similarity ends.

Whereas a typical 10-year-old in Australia has reasonable expectations of finishing high school, going to college or Uni, and following a chosen career, for kids like Rany – who dreams of becoming a teacher – hopes can soon fade. The opportunity cost of sending children to school is very high for many Cambodian families, making it almost impossible for the children to continue their education. Based on Cambodian data from the International Labour Organization, among the number of working children of ages 5 to 17, only 45% have the chance to attend school. The number of girls out of school is even more alarming: up to 25% higher. Children will often leave school early to help support the family. There’s just no money left over for school fees and books.

For Rany, that changed last year when CUFA’s Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) program arrived at his school in Speandek, just south of Phnom Penh. Rany received financial lessons delivered via the joint CFL/CPA Australia App starring Ronnie the RIEL (the official Cambodian currency). He learned about smart saving and spending and the importance of setting financial goals, all in a fun and interactive way.

Rany started saving in March 2015 and opened a savings account with the local savings bank in his village. “I used to spend all of my allowance but now I always keep some to put in my piggy bank,” Rany said.

No one is more delighted than his grandmother, Mrs. Tob Thet. “I bought the piggy bank and told him to save money, yet he did not listen,” she said. “I am a savings group leader who can persuade other villagers to save, but with my grandson I couldn’t,” she smiled.

With encouragement from CUFA’s project officer, the penny literally dropped for Rany after he understood the importance of saving money to help his dreams come true. Mrs. Tob Thet told us that her grandson had changed a lot. Now he not only knows how to save his money, but also how to make money from helping neighbours, doing jobs like working in the rice fields, transporting water and selling some crops. He puts all the money he makes in his savings account, fully aware that he can make more money from the interest.

Rany has so far saved 438,000 Riel (US$109.50) – quite a feat in a land where often families exist on less than $1.25 a day.

“With these savings, my grandson will be able to continue his study at the university. It will help him to become a teacher as he dreams,” Mrs. Tob Thet said with a big smile.

Do you want to know more about we’re helping to build sustainable financial futures for children like Rany? Click here.


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