Transforming Singapore into a Smart Nation was a key focus of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech this year.
And it looks like the little ones are going to a play an important role in the ‘cashless’ Smart Nation push as well.
Last week, POSB launched a savings and payments programme in about 19 primary schools in Singapore, using which, pupils can now use smartwatches to make cashless payments in their school, and at selected retailers such as Cheers and Popular.
Also, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced recently that, by 2020, all bus and train rides in Singapore will be paid for using travel cards, with cash top-ups no longer available at passenger service centres of MRT stations.
With all these advances, our children are surely becoming SMARTer? No, says YES 933 DJ Lim Peifen.
Lim Peifen says going ‘cashless’ is a bad idea
YES 933 DJ Lim Peifen, mummy to toddler Luke, feels that going cashless will do more harm than good for Singapore children. She says, “As a parent, I’m concerned about the cashless system that is reportedly going to be implemented in primary schools.”
She recently wrote a long post on Facebook explaining why. Here then are her reasons why children should handle cash and not cards:
- Planning your expenses: Lim Peifen feels that only if kids see and feel money, can they learn the importance of saving, and planning their expenses.
She writes on Facebook, “Back in primary school, I remember learning about the value of money and how to spend wisely, by planning my expenditure at the start of every school week when my parents handed me the week’s allowance.”
“It was important for me to see the notes and coins, to count them every day, because the physical presence of cash reminded me of how much or how little I actually had.”
- Learning the importance of saving: Remember the simple joys of filling up your piggy bank, and using all those hard earned coins to buy that special gift? They meant the world to us when we were kids. Is all that going to be a thing of the past?
Lim reminisces, “I also experienced first-hand the benefits of being thrifty when I tried my best to save up, one coin a day, for an idol’s latest cassette tape album or a best friend’s present. The sound of a dropping coin hitting the top of the heap that’s rising every day.”
“The satisfaction in that weighted knowledge that my goal is within reach.”
- Teaching responsibility: When the little one enters primary school, mummy usually gives a small purse with money and coins, for buying food from the canteen, stationery from the school book store, or in case she has to make that emergency phone call.
For the child, it’s a big moment. Mummy has just given her the responsibility of keeping that money and purse safe, and to use them wisely.
Lim describes it so well, “I kept a little purse in my bag for my daily allowance, making sure I kept it carefully and never lost it. I understood responsibility: if I lost it, I would have no money left for the day.”
“If I lost it, my parents would be upset. I bore my little responsibility to the best of my ability, and when I failed, I tasted the consequence.”
- Teaching social skills: It might seem simple and easy now, but remember the first time you bought something on your own from the school bookstore or canteen? Were you nervous? Did you pay attention to the cost, and worry about the change? Were you shy to make small talk with the shop aunty or uncle at first?
More importantly, did all these interactions make you more confident as a child?
Lim reminds us, “I picked up social skills by communicating with the aunties and uncles who manned the different stalls in the school canteen.”
“Most of the time our conversation would involve Aunty or Uncle telling me the price of my purchase, and while I struggled with my coins and notes, as long as I remembered to be polite and smile, Uncle or Aunty would wait patiently and praise me for finally getting it right, or kindly correct me if I paid the wrong amount.”
This post by Lim Peifen has surely got us thinking. In the race to catch up with the world, are we forgetting some valuable lessons?
Are we also forgetting how much Math we learnt by counting those notes and coins, and calculating the change? Didn’t that actually make us smarter?
We might want to catch up with the more ‘advanced’ countries, but in the process, will our kids lack the skills needed to survive in the more ‘backward’ nations? That a child who has grown up on cards might not know how to handle ‘real’ money, actually sounds worrying!
As Lim Peifen concludes, “Maybe someone can explain to me the reason behind all the haste. The haste to make our kids adults before they have time to be kids.”
“The rush to make them so technologically advanced before they even grasp values that will actually help them use technology sensibly and ethically in future. The educational value in replacing face-to-face physical transactions with human-to-machine cashless payments.”
What do you feel parents? Will going cashless benefit or harm Singapore children? Do let us know in the comments below!