“PREP? WTF is PREP?” you might ask.

In many New Zealand schools for a number of years there has been a programme used that teaches children many sensible personal and financial management practices through ‘play business’. The programme is called ‘PRimary Enterprise Programme’.

Very briefly it works something like this- groups of children in each class-room form themselves into a ‘company’ whose job it is to create, build and market a product that they think will sell well when they go on sale at the culminating Market Day at the end of the programme. The Company has a number of roles the members of the group play- CEO, secretary, financial officer, and any other ‘officers’ the group decide might be appropriate, and it becomes the responsibility of each of these people to supervise and report on their own aspect of ‘The Business’. All of the members of the group participate in the ‘product brainstorm’, selection, design and production of the item.

All companies receive ‘seeding funding’ and they use these funds to finance their production process. All students receive wages for their efforts for the ‘company’ and it is from these wages that the students are able to participate in the final marketing stage of the programme. The items that the companies design and create may be anything at all (within reason) but the end product must be funded solely from company funds, that is, children are not able to use privately sourced materials, thereby creating a more attractive item for no cost to the company. There is a ‘warehouse’ established that carries everything that companies require (the stock is arrived at early in the process when companies identify needs). The Warehouse, of course ‘sells’ to companies.

As part of the programme a bank is created that is run by students and all financial business is conducted through that bank. For the purposes of this programme the school establishes a ‘currency’ and in our case, this year it was the ‘nugget’ as the basic unit- (this is hardly surprising as gold-mining is still a significant business and pass-time on ‘The Coast’.)

There is a charge for secretarial services that a special group is established to provide but due to the somewhat specialised nature of some of these requirements, school administrative staff manage the bulk of these, although there are students involved in that ‘company’.

After a concerted 2 weeks the programme ends with a ‘market day’ when all companies put their products up for sale. Parents are invited to the Market Day. During this day there are some ‘companies’ who provide services such as catering.

To see students of all ages from new entrants (5) through to seniors (13) become involved- to varying degrees, of course, in all of the processes this programme employs is a wonderful thing to behold. Coming up with bright ideas then being forced to modify their expectations, co-operating with their co-company members in decision-making, working hard to create their product to the best standard they can, promoting and selling their company’s product and managing their own and their company’s finances, all experiences that can help them better cope with many of the little trials and tribulations they will face in their later lives.

The programme has been running in the school for a number of years now and it’s been interesting to see how students who have participated for a few years have developed rather more sophisticated approaches to the various elements of the ‘company’ business and their own participation in the creating and marketing process. One can only imagine how far this school experience will influence these students in later life, but I am sure for many this will at least sow the seeds of better personal planning and managing when they gain the heady years of independence!! Pretty cool.


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