Financial education and money-managing skills should be an essential skill for students at secondary schools and higher levels, said Deputy Director of Save the Children Vietnam, Doan Anh Tuan.

Speaking at a workshop on financial education for youth on June 20, Tuan said that Vietnam's education programme concentrated too much on providing academic knowledge rather than equipping students with soft skills, including those related to money.

In 2009, the organisation started a project called Smart Start in Ho Chi Minh City which taught high school students - and teachers - how to manage, spend and save money efficiently.

Since the school year 2013-14, about 75,000 tenth graders in 182 high schools in HCM City accessed financial education classes which were added to the official education programme.

Project official Nguyen Hoang Khanh Tien said students started spending money from the age of 13.

A survey of 300 high-school students last year in Hai Phong city showed that 86 percent were given pocket money.

More than 63 percent said they were given less than 500, 000 VND per month, 19 percent received from 500,000 VND to 1 million VND and three percent got more than 3 million VND (the average monthly income of Vietnamese is 3.3 million VND).

Nearly 68 percent of students said they spent on school equipment, travelling and food, 5 percent said they spent on clothes, cosmetics and entertainment, 21 percent said they saved most of it and six percent said they spent without planning and asked parents for more if cash was running out.

Nearly 80 percent of the students said that they had never made an expenditure plan and 77 percent said they faced difficulties getting money for emergencies, Tien said.

Vu Chu Quynh Van, a tenth grader in northern Hai Phong city's Thai Phien High school, said that one of biggest benefits of financial education classes was learning how to make an expenditure plan. She said this helped her develop a more reasonable pattern for saving and spending money.

Pham Thuy Hanh, a tenth grader from the city's Le Quy Don, said that after attending financial classes, she understood more about personal needs and desires, and realised that spending must be first based on real needs, not to satisfy desire.

The Smart Start project is funded by Citi Bank's Citi Foundation. It is also being carried out in Hanoi and Can Tho city for both primary and university students.-VNA