Thinley Lhazeen Pelmo, 10, a class five student of Arekha Middle Secondary School in Darla (Tala), Chukha, now has a bank account. She has deposited about Nu 1,000.

Like her, all students of AMSS, from classes PP to 10 have their own accounts with Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL). There are 586 students in the school.

Youth Ethics (YE) banking incentives programme has made this possible. It is a Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) initiative under its youth financial inclusion programme.

When children perform and participate in ethical and general activities in the school, they are awarded with Dummy Bank Notes (DBN), which is pegged to bank points. The points then get pegged with real money annually, which will be then deposited into the children’s “My YE-Banking Pass Book.”

The pegged value decided by RMA this year for a bank point is Nu two.

AMSS is one of the four learning centres where the RMA has piloted the project.

A class nine student, Pema Zangmo, 16, was declared the highest scorer with 194 points. Starting from the opening of her account, the teenager had topped nine times in the weekly tests.

“I also participated in most cultural activities and literary competition,” she said, adding that she also participated in sports.

Pema Zangmo also volunteered in school activities, as it would fetch her DBN and more points.

The class nine student dreams of becoming an independent daughter. She would use the saved money whenever necessary, she said.

Meanwhile, students would know their points only when the teachers declare. Their bank points would be monitored and recorded as per their DBN earnings.

A class X student, Rinchen Sonam, 16, said he has two accounts with the YE banking incentive account now.

“I think I have about 20 points at the moment but I am not sure,” he said.

AMSS principal Tshering Dorji said RMA chose their school for the project after the students took an edutainment tour, which was reported in the news.

“AMSS has also been recognised as an enthusiastic school,” the principal said, adding that the school was awarded a certificate for that.

On the change YE banking incentive have brought to the school, Tshering Dorji said students try to save whatever they got. Students also bring their pocket money from home and deposit into their accounts.

Every 13thday of the month, BDBL comes to the school and collect the savings. The points and the total earnings are disclosed at the end of the year and deposited.

The principal said younger children could save and use it in future after they complete class X.

“They can also fund their studies if they did not make it through,” he said.

RMA governor Dasho Penjore and CEOs from BNBL and BDBL were also present at AMSS yesterday to observe the incentive day.

Stressing on the importance of YE banking incentives and savings, Dasho Penjore reminded the students to be enterprising.

“You have to be enterprising first,” he said, adding that ethics was important next. “The incentives would come then.”

Meanwhile, YE banking is a school-based banking programme, initially co-funded by the Savings Bank Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC), Germany. In Bhutan, it was introduced during the 2018 Global Money Week in May.

Wangsel Institute of Deaf, Paro, Jigme Losel Primary School, Thimphu, and Young Volunteers in Action group of YDF are also identified for YE banking.

As of today, a total of 1,460 YE bank accounts have been opened with BDBL and BNBL as partner banks.

The 2018 total bank points earned by the students accumulated to 152,641 and subsequently the RMA shall award Nu 305, 282 as incentive pegged to the recipient schools as per the guideline.

YE banking would be replicated to 10 more schools next year.

Rajesh Rai  | Darla