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Financial literacy among undergraduates – research findings of concern

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Sri Lanka has shown a high literacy rate of about 92% compared to other south Asian countries, and is on par with other developed countries. However, there is a noted dearth of surveys and studies that assesses the financial literacy level in the Sri Lankan context. It is observed that people with low levels of financial literacy suffer from that lack of knowledge at every stage of their lives and studies also assert that people with a high degree of financial literacy are more likely to plan for retirement, and that people who plan for retirement have more than doubled the wealth of people who don’t. On the other hand, the quite alarming fact noted is that even some educated professionals had fallen prey to financial scams in Sri Lanka, questioning the financial literacy of such intellectuals.

Thus, a study was carried out involving the undergraduates in the Sri Lankan state universities (due to being one of the major sources of future leaders) to find the level of financial literacy and how different specializations impact financial literacy levels. In the research conducted by the authors, the undergraduates were tested on their fundamental financial knowledge on dimensions of general finance, saving & borrowings (i.e., banking products), insurance and investment, and nearly 653 students from the five main state universities in ten main disciplines (business and non-business disciplines) were selected, where the data was collected over a period of 1 1/2 years. Undergraduates of the business discipline included undergraduates from accountancy and business management and non-business discipline included undergraduates from the fields of engineering, physical sciences, humanities and social sciences and information technology.

The findings indicate that the overall financial literacy level was on average 69.58% out of 100% of undergraduates in the business discipline. In terms of the sub-dimensions of financial literacy, these undergraduates scored the highest of 74.51% in the savings and borrowing sub-category, while they scored the lowest of 59.08% in the investment sub-dimension. When compared with the general literacy rate of 92% of this country, the findings of this study indicate that their overall average is quite low as well as knowledge in the investment sub-dimension is even lower.

The alarming finding is related to the undergraduates coming from the non-business majors, where the average financial literacy level was only 42.83% out of 100%, which is even lower than 50%. This we see as a major concern. Their knowledge in the investment related sub-dimension was just 28.16% out of 100%.

When considering these findings of the research conducted by the authors, it is clear that the undergraduates coming from the business management discipline had a better knowledge than students from non-business management disciplines. Although the students coming from the non-business disciplines may be conversant in their own areas of study, they were lacking an awareness in fundamental financial aspects that any citizen should possess to continue normal day-to-day life.

The authors observe that there is a systematic deficiency of personal finance education in our local education system. Introduction of subjects related to financial literacy for all students (regardless their discipline) in their formative stages as well as introducing course components related to accounting and finance in the curricula of non-business majors at universities (and other tertiary institutions) could be suggested to remedy this dire situation.

Authors– S.S. Edirisinghe (surathse1978@gmail.com) and S.S. Samarakkody,

Senior Lecturer,

Department of Accounting, Sri Lanka Institute of Advanced Technological Education, Sri Lanka,

Senior Prof. DBPH Dissa Bandara and Dr. AR Ajward,. Senior Lecturer

Department of Accounting, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka



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SLIIT Business School hosts first International Conference on Sustainable and Digital Business 2022

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SLIIT Business School conducted the first-ever International Conference on Sustainable and Digital Business 2022 (ICSDB) on 1st and 2nd December. The Conference presented ICSDB Excellence Awards to selected winners, recognizing distinct sustainable and digital business initiatives.

Keynote speakers at the event included Professor John Bessant, Emeritus Professor of Exeter University, Professor Jaideep Prabhu of the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge and Professor Muthu De Silva of Birkbeck, University of London. The main address on the second day of the conference was delivered by Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The ICSDB Excellence Awards 2022, recognized Sri Lankan enterprises who had initiated digital business initiatives, and were established as beneficial to various stakeholders under the ICSDB Index criteria of Ingenuity, Continuity, Scope, Deployment and Benefits. The ICSD Excellence Awards presented accolades under Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. An eminent group of judges including practicing managers from industries, representatives of industry bodies, and academics comprised the panel to select the winners.

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USAID launch Island Plastic Challenge to help consumer goods companies address plastic waste

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Island Climate Initiative

In support of the Ministry of Environment’s policy on plastic waste reduction, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) partner, Island Climate Initiative (ICI) under USAID’s global Clean Cities Blue Ocean Program, is calling on innovators around the world to design solutions to help Sri Lanka’s leading consumer goods companies reduce their plastic footprint.

Successful applicants whose solutions best address consumer goods companies’ top single-use plastic challenges will get the opportunity to pitch their technology to leading companies at a solution showcase that will be held in early 2023. Winners’ solutions may be implemented contributing to global efforts to reduce the more than eleven million tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year. The online challenge platform is now publicly open for applications at www.islandplasticchallenge.com. Innovators and start-ups, both local and overseas, are all invited to apply.

“USAID strongly believes that successful development initiatives are achieved through partnerships and collaboration. We look forward to working with Island Climate Initiative as they identify and facilitate the piloting of viable and scalable solutions to change the way we produce, consume, and manage plastic packaging waste to stem the tide of ocean plastic pollution.,” said USAID Sri Lanka and Maldives Economic Growth Advisor Mark Peters.

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Cinnamon Hotels inks MoU with Skills for inclusive growth

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Cinnamon Hotel Management Ltd. (CHML) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Government-funded Skills for Inclusive Growth Program (S4IG), managed by Palladium International Group, to achieve several strategic results through cooperation recently signed at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. S4IG is a program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in accordance with the terms of a subsidiary agreement signed on March 31, 2022, between DFAT and the Sri Lankan State Ministry of Skills Development, Vocational Training, Research, and Innovation.

The MoU sets out the terms on which S4IG will plan and implement specified activities to support the reality TV show Supreme Chef Season 03. It is an exciting collaboration between the Australian Government’s aid program and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training. The intervention’s goal is to promote the hospitality industry, specifically cooking, as a viable career option for Sri Lankans. Following the success of seasons 1 and 2, this season is being delivered on a national scale. Through food experiences and culinary art challenges, the season brings together government agencies and private training institutes to support industry and highlight tourism in the country and specifically to address chronic skills shortage in kitchen.

By signing the MoU, CHML acts as the hospitality partner in providing a location for filming related to the show and assisting with the wider goals of the show, mainly to promote the local destinations and regional food specialties as well as provide internship and employment opportunities to the public. CHML will provide six-month internship opportunities for on-the-job training for the top 20 contestants of Supreme Chef Season 3, with the possibility of long-term employment at the end of the internship, and also one year of guaranteed employment for the top three female contestants of Supreme Chef Season 3. The future of the hospitality industry and, indeed, the economy depends on the quality of its human capital, and this partnership aims to elevate the skills and knowledge of the youth. Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, as a hospitality trendsetter, intends to remain at the forefront of improving and upskilling the industry where possible, and this partnership with S4IG is one such shining example.

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