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Reading, writing and counting are life skills that over 80 per cent of young and old Guyanese have in their arsenal of tools needed to function in society on a daily basis.
However, that figure drops significantly when it comes to financial literacy and the proper management of money.
As Guyana’s economy transforms from one based on agriculture and mining to a petro-state awash with money, Miss Guyana World 2022, Andrea King, has made it her duty to ensure the youth can benefit from the oil boom through her Beauty with a Purpose initiative called Project FLO (Financial Literacy Orientation).
Beauty with a Purpose is the official charity of Miss World and it is a key component of the competition. The charity has raised over £1billion since its creation in 1972 by Miss World Chairman Julia Morley.
Pass winners of the competition include Miss Guyana 2014, Rafieya Husain, whose project focused on raising awareness about domestic violence.
King told Loop Caribbean News that the idea to tackle this societal issue, which is a first at Miss World, came when delegates at the local leg of the pageant were given the theme of literacy for their Beauty With A Purpose projects.
“The easy way out would have been for me to just turn my Beauty with a Purpose project into a project that focused on the work I was already doing with my mother. She has a local literacy institute and I spent many years volunteering there and teaching children reading and phonics,” King said.
“Knowing that was a need in Guyana that would have been easy for me but financial literacy is something that is underserved in our community and is very much needed. I myself as a young professional, I know that there was a lack of financial literacy. Although my education was, sound and I came out of school knowing a lot of what I needed to know to enter into the world of work, a lot of the fundamentals schools we need to survive is not thought in schools. So I though why not do it?
“Financial literacy in Guyana is needed now…especially with the direction of our economy and the fact that so many people are getting into business.”
King’s work is already starting to yield positive results as her first batch of students were receptive to the information provided to them at the workshops and their parents are also interested in getting in on the action.
“I was surprised. Not only were they interested but their participation was top tier. A lot of them, especially the young women, came up to me and said that they were so happy with what was happening. Because in a lot of communities, women aren’t in charge of their finances,” she stated.
“For them to be able to learn that in school will be very empowering. And that is what I want for young women. I want them to be empowered from a young age to be in charge of their finances so they don’t end up in a position where they depend on someone else for their finances and financial freedom.”
The 25-year-old Georgetown beauty revealed to Loop Caribbean News that she is in talks with an official at the Ministry of Education to take her financial literacy syllabus throughout Guyana’s 10 Administrative Regions using the internet as well as radio and television.
King is hopeful that this partnership with the Education Ministry will be converted into a permanent subject in the classroom to equip future generations with the skills and tools needed to reap all of the benefits of the country’s oil wealth.
Making an initiative like Project FLO work is a herculean task and King praised her small team of volunteers for the work done to make it a success.
King is actively recruiting more people to volunteer and support Project FLO as it takes on a new life and reaches more people in the community.
An official website is in the works for interested parties can commit their time and resources to Project FLO. But for now, King said anyone wishing to get involved with the workshops can contact her via her Instagram account. (Loop News)