The launch of the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union Limited’s CARES Savings Club at the George Lamming Primary School last week was described as “most timely and worthwhile”.
Principal Philip Roach, in addressing the launch, noted that the old fashioned Barbadian was known for thriftiness and believed in saving. However, he lamented that today, many had moved away from these principles and the country was becoming “a nation of consumers”.
In lauding the COB enterprise, Roach stressed that there was no “better place to start than in the schools, especially George Lamming Primary, to launch this very commendable initiative because we must get back to saving”.
In urging his students not to spend all their money, but to save some, the principal told of having this value ingrained in him by his parents and becoming a member of a credit union. The boys and girls were encouraged to participate in the COB venture and Roach said: “All that I have achieved has come through my ability to save and it has given me weight and collateral. When I go to a lending institution and say I want to borrow, they look at my savings and say ‘yes this is a good prospect; he is going to pay it back.
“You’re young and if I had saved when I was your age, boys and girls, I doubt I would be standing here today. I would have retired a long time [ago] because I would have accumulated enough. So, you are in a fortunate position … that this [CARES Savings Club] is being brought to you at this very tender age.”
President of the COB Credit Union, Lynette Holder, explained that CARES was the acronym for Children Are Really Enthusiastic Savers. Supporting the principal’s views, she said: “It comes at a very critical time in our history, when we are about to embark on our 30th year of operating a credit union system here in Barbados.”
Adding that the youth savings programme had grown from 3,000 members with just over $2 million in savings in 2005, to 8,564 members with $8.5 million in savings in 2012, Holder explained why CARES was being promoted.
She said: “We felt in COB that we wanted to teach our young people the importance of saving… It is not just about saving for a ‘rainy day’; you are also saving for unexpected events; for your plans, purchases … you are also committing yourself to the discipline of putting aside and planning for future events – recognising that you have a little money and things do not just come by the snap of a finger.
“You want to be able to plan, to strategise. Even as young persons you want to understand budgeting and goal setting. So, these are the values we want to inculcate in our youth savers. We felt also a commitment to standards, to understanding the key values … to ensure our youth savers understand thrift, the importance of investing towards future goals and being committed … because these values help to determine the kind of adults we have in our society, and by extension the kind of nation that we are able to see grow and develop.”
The COB president disclosed that youth savings had allowed for the award of scholarships, and this year over 70 of them had been given out to members. “As you save within your CARES programme, you also get the opportunity to benefit from the many scholarships that the credit union gives out on an annual basis. As you go forward to secondary school, you are able to apply as a CARES member to receive a scholarship on an annual basis,” said Holder, adding that 22 primary schools were earmarked for the CARES model.