SEDCO approached us to work with them to develop a program that would help improve the financial literacy of university students in Saudi Arabia. We did our research on this subject, and it was clear that one of the best ways to achieve this was through student clubs. By making financial literacy part of extracurricular activities, it would make it a more fun and engaging topic for the students and would also ensure that all students could participate in theClub, regardless of the major which they belonged to. We therefore set out to develop the framework, ecosystem and operational policies for the ‘Riyali Club’ as the Riyali initiative for universities.
Riyali Club provides a platform for university students to have new experiences as they take part in various extracurricular activities which teach different financial concepts. These activities also provide them with important life skills related to financial literacy. The program uses a digital platform to facilitate the student experience, providing templates for different group activities. These activities are categorized under 14 themes related to finance fundamentals; examples include Investment Financing and Entrepreneurship.Students can organize activities using the templates provided or they can create their own activities as long as they lie under the umbrella of the 14themes. The design of Riyali Club, in general, and of the activity templates, in particular, is the result of extensive desk and field research.
Each Riyali Club has a university supervisor and six club members who organize the activities. The Riyali clubs at different universities compete with one another, with the clubs with the best performance being recognized at a gathering event at the end of each semester. Each of the activities organized at the Clubs are evaluated by participants and this evaluation is used as part of calculating the winning clubs. Additionally, club members provide feedback on the program as a whole.
The pilot phase of Riyal Club was carried out during the Spring 2019 semester at 6 clubs at 5 different universities in Saudi Arabia. The feedback received on the Riyali Club experience during its pilot phase was extremely positive, with students expressing how the club activities made financial literacy topics more approachable for all students. The Club members served as the partners of SEDCO, responsible for spreading financial awareness among their peers. The initiative slogan, ‘Learn it your way!’, really was lived by the students, as they carried out various activities in their own unique ways. In fact, this independence was an important factor that led to the success of the program; by being given such independence, the students were more motivated and excited to learn, while doing this learning through creative activities.
Examples of these activities were a ‘time capsule’ themed event which displayed antique items alongside their present-day versions, thereby explaining the process of inflation; a currency competition and a financial ‘clinic’. Indeed, the program made use of a distinct learning methodology that showed students how learning can take place in so many fun, engaging and entertaining ways. The Riyali Club helped to break barriers related to financial literacy and it gave students pursuing different majors a chance to come together and learn about financial topics that would help ensure their future financial security, regardless of the career which they decide to pursue.