Nearly two billion people don’t have access to basic financial services today. In recent years, digital solutions have aimed to improve financial capability, health, and social well-being; increasing individuals’ ability to generate income and manage finances. Building on this idea, the Luxembourg Tech School organized its first international online hackathon assembling bright young minds from around the world with the aim of fighting poverty with smart technologies. Today we interview Sergio Coronado, founder and chairperson of the Luxembourg Tech School – LTS.
Photo: LTS’ hackathon hackathon is underlining the need to integrate financial education into the curricula / Credits © LTS
How are you adapting the programme for your students at this time?
The Luxembourg Tech School started with the concept of the flipped classroom, which lies at its very core. This means that students learn at home and come to class to practice and work on their projects. We are always in the process of adapting and creating new learning content.
We have managed, from Day 1 of the lockdown in March last year, to continue to offer our programmes to everyone without interruption, we do this by keeping all lessons live online and creating new specific courses in Game Dev and Creative Coding for more than hundred teenagers in Luxembourg with the launch of our LTS Online programme.
One of the reasons the LTS succeeded is the individual attention and support that each student receives from our coaches. It certainly is a challenge to continue this online in the same way, but thanks to weekly lessons (alternating online or at school, if possible), an expanded content offering with new courses for kids with specific needs, additional videos, live streams, Q&As, constant contact, and the practice of answering questions via online chat, we have successfully managed to encourage and motivate participants in their digital learning and creation process.
Your hackathons are becoming increasingly successful. How do you explain this enthusiasm on the part of your students and your partners?
From the first day at LTS, students have to quickly learn about new technology and directly apply it to their own projects and work on it for several weeks. Hackathons are small, intensive projects and naturally the students are excited to work together. They also love the competition that is involved in hackathons, which further pushes them to do their best, and we notice this hackathon after hackathon by the results they manage to produce in just two days or less.
LTS events and hackathons are an integral part of the learning experience and are excellent opportunities for the students to demonstrate their potential and their product creation capabilities in front of business leaders, industry experts, and society at large. It is an incredible inspiration and motivation for young minds, and we can successfully show the industry that innovation and quality are possible from an early age.
“No one is teaching the young generation what it really means to take a loan with 2% interest rate, for instance.”
You have just organised a hackathon on the theme “Fight Against Poverty.” What were the solutions that were proposed? How can technology facilitate financial inclusion?
The young hackathon participants came up with some incredibly valuable solutions, including decentralised peer-to-peer lending platforms, micro-investment applications, games, and chatbots to support financial literacy in rural and poor areas where education is not adequate. Among these were applications that encourage individuals to save effectively and keep track of their finances, or ones that simplify financial terms in contracts and application forms for the user.
The LHoFT is a historical partner of LTS. And now Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière has begun supporting the LTS and its activities as well. What are the main challenges facing new generations regarding financial education?
We are very happy with this partnership and LHoFT has been a key player in making those Hackathons on financial thematics successful and fun for students. The support of Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière allowed us to further develop our content and promote financial education within our LTS programmes and events.
Financial education is still critically lacking in our society and with the support from Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière, CSSF, the LHoFT and others, LTS is promoting financial education for young adults in Luxembourg and for the first time with our previous hackathon, internationally, too. No one is teaching the young generation what it really means to take a loan with 2% interest rate, for instance.
Many years ago, schools started to teach students about nutritional values to help them consume a balanced diet and stay healthy. Similarly, we need to teach young generations basic financial knowledge to help them stay financially sound and healthy. Technology is moving and progressing rapidly, and it is up to us to keep learning and teaching future younger generations.
“Technology is not the [only] solution. To solve today’s biggest challenges, we need creativity and leadership. And that’s what the LTS hackathons are all about; asking young bright minds to solve a specific problem, brainstorm in teams, interact with industry experts, and finally, develop a prototype of the solution by using their technical skills. And all of this in just three days,” added Alex Panican, Head of Partnerships and Ecosystem at the LHoFT.
“To improve individual, social, and financial well-being, and to ensure economic inclusion, it is essential to understand financial concepts.”
“The hackathon on financial inclusion went even further by involving young people from Luxembourg, Africa, Armenia, and Egypt. It showed that international collaboration brings in even more creative and realistic solutions. It was great to see the diversity in backgrounds, experiences, and ideas. And the participants had a lot of fun, which is also part of the experience we want to provide them. Furthermore, the participation of key international institutions like the Central Bank of Egypt, ADA, Infine, and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion is proof that such initiatives are necessary and that digital education plays a key role in the future of our respective nations,” told Panican. “My main take away from this hackathon is that while we are all part of the problem, we are also all part of the solution. My main take away from this hackathon is that we are all part of the problem, but we are also all part of the solution. And you are even more part of the solution if you have access to the internet, no matter your age or where you sit on the planet.”
“To improve individual, social, and financial well-being, and to ensure economic inclusion, it is essential to understand financial concepts and the risks associated with them in order to be able to make effective decisions in various financial contexts. One of the roles of schools is to enable young people to become informed citizens, and if financial education is not part of the school curriculum, some will be left behind. Schools must help children to become active participants in society by giving them the necessary tools to develop their critical thinking capabilities, which in turn will allow them to flourish individually and collectively,” commented Yves Maas, Chairman, Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière.
“Digital tools provide ease of access to financial literacy resources, and this is particularly true for young people. Existing and future digital financial educational tools should therefore be integrated into all programmes aimed at younger generations. The Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière regularly initiates various programmes on this topic and constantly adapts and improves them to facilitate the acquisition of financial competencies. Both private and public initiatives can achieve this goal. This hackathon is an initiative that is part of this vision, underlining the need to integrate financial education into the curricula.”