Do your students know the price of a loaf?

| August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Many more affluent students could learn a staggering amount by trying out the diets of the 1.2 billion global citizens living in global poverty. So says Karen Charlton, associate professor at the School of Medicine at Wollongong University in Australia. In May this year, she joined over 10 000 other Australians who took up a challenge to live on AUS$2 (ZAR20) a day.

The initiative was further prompted by an influential new study that revealed how little children know about the cost of living.The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has added a new category to its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and released the results in July this year.

Approximately 29 000 15-year-olds in 13 countries were assessed on their ability to understand the value of money. Overall, only one in seven students could make “simple budgetary decisions”. Shangai-Chinese students ranked the highest, while less than 10% of American children were declared as “generally proficient in financial literacy” by the researchers.

Charlton’s ‘experiment in eating’ taught her that she could only afford carbohydrates like porridge, rice or spaghetti. By scrounging, she found ‘spoiled’ vegetables like potatoes, cabbage and pumpkin. Sugar, eggs and beverages were beyond her price range.

This basic diet is not in line with most countries’ dietary guidelines, put in place to help people avoid chronic disease. Charlton found, for example, that her calcium intake (essential for expectant mothers, infants and the elderly), was far below the recommended 1 000 mg per day.

Category: Spring 2014

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