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Education still top priority of OFWs—survey

21 May 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

Most Filipinos still go abroad to provide for their children’s education.

This fact is shown by a recently released survey on the impact of Card OFW Foundation’s Financial Literacy Program on overseas Filipino workers. The 91 respondents were randomly selected from among graduates of the program, which has been conducted in Hong Kong since 2011.

OFWs still have their priorities in mind.
The study showed that 51% of the respondents, regardless of the time since they completed the program, allocated their budgets mainly for their children’s education. This was far higher than the 34% allocation for their family’s daily needs.

Savings, which is one of the targeted goals of the program, only took up 21% of their budgets, slightly less than the 22% eaten up by medical expenses.

Surprisingly, allocating money for housing, which used to be identified as one of the biggest reasons why Filipinos go abroad to work, has fallen way below in the list of priorities, now accounting for only 19% of the respondents’ budget. But this could also be because the cost of houses is now beyond the reach of an ordinary OFW.

Card OFW Foundation noted, however, that while education ate up the biggest share of a migrant worker’s budget, it was also cited by respondents as the main reason why they borrow money.

“Although the survey is limited in finding out the reason behind this, on a more positive note, it is evident that education of the children is one of the most important priorities of OFWs,” said the report.

An interesting finding was the big number of respondents (77%) who said they had taken out an insurance in some form, apparently in response also to growing concerns about medical and health issues.

“Some of them, depending on their budget and number of dependents, afford to pay for more than one type of insurance but in all combination of insurances they avail, there is always a medical or health insurance. This shows they value health insurance, whether it is for their personal use or for their dependents,” said the report.

As for the program’s popularity among the OFWs, a whopping 97% of the respondents said that they liked the topics discussed, particularly budgeting (79%), goal settings (77%), needs and wants (70%) savings and unforeseen events (70%), investment (64%), and debt management (56%).

A big number (78%) of the respondents also said they liked the additional knowledge gained in managing their finances, for others the opportunity to save (66%) and the motivation to invest their money (54%).

Nearly all (92%) said they did not find anything to dislike in the program, but they wished for additional topics to be discussed, like investment and networking. A negligible number found fault in the lack of time to sufficiently cover all the topics, or the late start in the discussions.

Overall, the respondents gave a 4.4 rating on a scale of 5 to the program, indicating a high level of satisfaction from among those who took it.

But the program’s actual impact, based on the participants’ self-assessment, was not as dramatic.

The biggest change indicated by the respondents was the increase in their knowledge of budgeting, at 80%. This was followed by an increased awareness in listing down earnings and expenses (78%), the need to save (76%) and making sure that their expenses were in line with their income (62%).

“Most of the respondents revealed that after completing the Financial Literacy Program, most of them gained more than enough knowledge to help them improve their skills on budgeting and relatively giving importance to the value of savings as well,” said the report.

It also pointed out that the OFWs were not the only ones who received financial education through the program, but also their relatives who play an important role in managing the money that they send home.

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