To help co-ops reach the youth, the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) on December 3 formally launched the Aflatoun Manual. The document standardizes and eases the implementation of Aflatoun, NATCCO’s flagship program for the youth. Under the Aflatoun Program, primary co-operatives partner with public schools, training teachers to train kids on financial literacy. Kids are urged to open a savings account in a laboratory cooperative. It took two years for this manual to be written and published. “It was originally for Philippine co-ops, but it was suggested three years ago to bring in the ICA-AP [International Cooperative Alliance – Asia and the Pacific] so other co-ops in Asia may benefit,” says Lasalette Gumban, currently head of the NATCCO Diaspora Unit for overseas Filipinos.
Leading the launching was Mr. Roeland Monasch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aflatoun International in Amsterdam. He said: “Every young person should develop the habit of savings and financial responsibility and develop entrepreneurial skills and attitudes that enhance their confidence and leadership abilities. And that is what Aflatoun and NATCCO and cooperatives in the Philippines have done so successfully over the past years.”
Addressing the NATCCO’s Aflatoun team: “It is very impressive to see how you have created a movement of cooperatives that ensure that kids learn the habit of saving in a fun way, which they can use when they successfully transition from childhood to adulthood, from school to work life. Really impressive . . . fantastic!” He also recognized that co-operatives are the ‘key in the effective and efficient roll out of life skills and financial education for children’. Further, he said co-ops have shown that the children of the poor – if they are given the education – can save.
Balasubramanian Iyer, Executive Director of the International Cooperative Alliance in Asia-Pacific in India congratulated all stakeholders, NATCCO, Aflatoun, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Department of Education. “I have met many of the Aflatouners (kids under Aflatoun) during my visit to the Philippines and seen them on stage delivering speeches, talking about savings, performing on stage and promoting cooperatives. It was evident – their personalities and character, confidence and security. The Aflatoun program addresses young people at a young age and pushes financial literacy,” he said.
Iyer emphasized: “The Aflatoun Program helps to achieve the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals #1 (No Poverty), #4 (Quality Education), #8 (Economic Growth), and #10 (Reduced Inequalities). The manual is one we can contextualize. Many countries have come to learn what Aflatoun is all about and can be adopted by other countries. The text can also be translated.” This is a very comprehensive program that helps not only the young and ensures their financial future, very important in the world we are in. Iyer quoted ICA President Ariel Guarco, who at the recent Global Youth Forum said: “Young people are not the future of the movement. They are the present. Our civilization is at stake.”
It was supposed to be launched in GA of 2019, but the writing process was put on hold. Then it was moved to 2020 but due to the COVID crisis, it was cancelled. That gave time for the book to be refurbished. Ms. Gumban said: “While we are physically restricted, we have become borderless! Hence, now we are launching this globally!” In the introduction, the Manual gives a history of the Aflatoun Program in the Philippines – beginning when then NATCCO Chief Executive Officer Cresente Paez visited Amsterdam in 2005.
The Manual contains an overview of the Aflatoun Program, the implementation process and how partners can make each step succeed, the experiences of Aflatoun partner co-ops like Lamac MPC in Cebu, Tagum Cooperative in Davao, and Sacred Heart Savings Cooperative in Ilocos Sur. Prospecting co-ops are also given the importance of and how to organize Laboratory Cooperatives.
Eventually, NATCCO hopes Aflatoun will be integrated in school curricula. Annexes contain the Job description of the Aflatoun Coordinator in the primary co-op, the Aflatoun Program Assessment Tool, and the monthly report template.