For Immediate Release
December 6, 2010

New York, NY – The Bayelsa State Government in Nigeria has officially launched its Child Development Account: Savings, Training And Rewarding Savers (CDA STARS) Project, designed by Columbia University School of Social Work and the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation with technical support from the World Bank.  Led by Associate Professor Fred Ssewamala, CDA STARS is the first child savings policy pilot in a developing country. The program will open bank accounts for 1,000 junior secondary students from public schools spanning eight local government areas.

The goal of the pilot program is to provide public school children with a means and incentive to stay in school, save for and invest in their futures, and begin to change their attitudes and behaviors toward themselves. The Bayelsa State Government will encourage and incentivize savings among students and their parents by offering financial education, seeding the savings accounts as well as matching deposits every quarter. Jamie Zimmerman, Director of the Global Assets Project and Co-architect of the CDA STARS policy pilot’s design added, “the savings are intended to provide Bayelsan youth with new social and economic opportunities, like continued education or vocational practice upon graduation from secondary school.”

“Evaluations from the CDA Projects in other nations have revealed a reduction in anti-social behavior amongst participating children,” said Dr. Ssewamala, Principal Investigator and Co-architect of the pilot. “The objective of the Bayelsa CDA STARS is to prevent these young students from gravitating towards militancy by amassing assets and providing them with foundational assets once they graduate.”

The 1,000 students to participate in this pilot project have been randomly selected by the team at Columbia University and the accounts are about to be open for these students. The project was formally introduced on November 30, 2010 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State with His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State and the Chief Launcher presiding. To learn more about CDA STARS, visit: www.bayelsacdastars.com.ng.

For media requests, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu or Kate Brown at 202-596-3365 or brown@newamerica.net.

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