The OTP Fáy András Foundation launched a cross-border educational program two years ago that aims to improve the region’s economic knowledge. By now, more than 6,000 students have participated, it says.
“Overall, our colleagues have held courses in almost 35 Hungarian and Slovakian cities, in more than 70 schools, for approximately 300 groups, as a result of which more than 6,000 Hungarian and Slovakian children have had the opportunity to learn about financial studies via interactive and engaging methods,” explains strategy director Larion Fejes, who is the foundation’s international project coordinator.
OK Centers, which employ innovative teaching methods, were already set up by the foundation in several Hungarian cities prior to the launch of the cross-border program. With the establishment of a center in the Slovakian city of Trnava (known to Hungarians as Nagyszombat) in 2018, Slovakian children could also begin to benefit from its courses.
“We have set up three separate halls of training in the Slovakian Center, where the kids are being taught by five specially qualified trainers. The opening of such an establishment proves to be a huge step forward on the regional level as well, since – just as in Hungary – children from different points of Slovakia could use the buses provided by our program to travel to Nagyszombat and participate in the training,” says the foundation’s operator, Angelika Mikóczi.
The program was set up to improve the region’s limited level of financial literacy. According to research conducted by OTP Bank, Hungarians in general lag behind in terms of their financial knowledge. Their study shows that just 54% of Hungarians received any kind of economic education at home, while the number of those who studied it at school is 27%.
The statistics for those born in or after 1980, however, appear to be more promising. Within this group, the number of Hungarians who gained some financial knowledge at home is up at 66%, while for those learning at school it is 36%, which, the foundation says, offers hope for the future. However, experts point out that sustainable positive trends can only be observed if it is not only the youth who receive economic training, but their parents and teachers as well.
As a result, the foundation has chosen to extend its program to more senior groups, as Henrik Balázs Gróf, the foundation’s educational and professional director, points out.
“We have also gained a significant amount of experience in the area of adult learning and teaching, as primarily we only wished to focus on the youth,” says Gróf. “We believe that, in the long term, we can only achieve real success if the children’s parents and teachers also start to teach financial studies at home or at school in an extraordinary way.”
The foundation now says it wants to broaden its efforts with the help of EU charities from the region, especially in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.