Why Cha-Ching is a success in the Philippines
MANILA, Philippines - A growing number of Filipino kids are learning how to be money-smart through animated musical cartoon Cha-Ching.
Cha-Ching is Prudential Corp. Asia's (PCA) early financial literacy program, which was launched in seven Asian markets - Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in 2011.
Cha-Ching, which airs on Cartoon Network, tackles four core money concepts - earn, spend, save and donate - in a fun and entertaining way. Through a series of animated music videos about a band of kids with different money-spending habits, children can learn practical money-smart skills.
In the Philippines, PCA's local unit Pru Life UK has introduced the Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids program to several public and private grade schools. The Philippines was the first country to integrate Cha-Ching in the grade school curriculum, via a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education.
Sean Rach, PCA regional director for brand and corporate affairs, said Cha-Ching has been most successful in the Philippines.
"There's a combination of reasons why, there's a cultural component - the music, the cartoon, Cartoon Network is very popular here as well. Also the partnership beyond Pru Life UK, Cartoon Network and Dr. Alice Wilder - the government and schools were quite open. That's been very successful for us," Rach said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.
The Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids program includes 34 partner schools nationwide - 19 public schools and 15 private schools, where grade 2 and 3 students learn basic financial concepts. Teachers have been trained and guided by DepEd-approved lesson plans, while kids use Cha-Ching workbooks in both English and Filipino.
Dr. Alice Wilder, an internationally recognized children's education specialist and co-creator of Cha-Ching, recalled how she first talked to kids before starting the project to find out what they know about money.
"When I started to talk with kids, I wanted to find out what are the questions and what they think about money. One 10-year-old said to me, 'Does money really grow on trees?' There was another kid who said, 'When you go to the ATM, the money is printed there'... Once we started to understand what they were thinking, we could figure out how to actually teach them," she said.
Wilder, who was also head of research for Nickelodeon's hit show "Blue's Clues," noted that much of what kids see about money is invisible, so they had to figure out how to show these concepts in a concrete way.
"What kids often see related to money is spending. Saving is invisible. Using a credit card is invisible... So if what they're seeing is spend, how can we use the medium to make the content more concrete. So we created the four pillars - earn, spend, save and donate," she said.
The key factors for Cha-Ching's success, Wilder said, are the story, repetition of concepts, technology and music.
Wilder was impressed by the program's success in the country.
"I'm thrilled to see how Cha-Ching has developed over the past years into something that lives beyond the screen. Each character and story was carefully designed to both entertain and leave a lasting impact in kids' lives, and it is extremely rewarding to see children learning and using the core money concepts," she said.
So far, the Cha-Ching program is having a positive effect on the students in participating schools in the Philippines. A third party assessment by NGO Knowledge Community has shown grade 2 students in the participating schools have grasped lessons on financial literacy over a 10-month period.
"The students understood and practiced the concepts of proper spending, savings, effective budgeting, and being money-conscious with special emphasis on creating a distinction between ‘need’ and ‘want.’ With the positive outcome, we expanded to more schools,” said Pru Life UK senior vice president and chief marketing officer Belle Tiongco.
PCA estimates over 42,000 children and educators have benefitted from the Cha-Ching school programs in the 7 Asian markets.
Now on its third season, Cha-Ching expands on the money concepts which can be applied in real life situations. The new episodes will air on Cartoon Network during weekday afternoons and weekend mornings.
A new episode, "Big, Big Waste of Money,” shows kids the folly of wasting money on unnecessary purchases, while another episode "So Yesterday," encourages children to question passing fads and trends.
Pru Like UK and PCA emphasized their commitment to helping a new generation of kids in Asia and the Philippines grow up to be money savvy.
"Our commitment to financial literacy, to the Cha-Ching program, is coming from a deep desire to aid in building our nation. Imagine what a financially literate generation can do for our country: money-smart kids developing into money-smart adults, more adept at financial management. We dream of a day wherein saving, investing and financial protection are basic practices for every Filipino. And this is our way of making that dream come true,” said Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio de Rosas.