Hungarian media reported that OTP Bank’s András Fáy Foundation has been rewarded with the prestigious COMENIUS EduMedia Award in Germany. On the occasion of the remarkable achievement, we have had a talk with Zoltán Péter Nagy, head of communications and marketing at OTP Bank.
What should one know about the COMENIUS EduMedia Award?
As far as I know, the COMENIUS EduMedia Award enjoys about 20-year-long history and it is primarily designed for projects that deliver outstanding innovation on the field of education. Winning a prestigious prize is always a good sign, some sort of confirmation for the rewarded creators but the most important thing is that the target audience should be satisfied. It is not the first time we showed up on the “European map”. I think András Fáy Foundation made its international breakthrough at this year’s Education Exhibition in London thanks to its “OK project”.
Why OTP Bank’s András Fáy Foundation was named the winner of this year’s COMENIUS EduMedia award?
The main factor behind the German recognition was the „Sulibank Élményportál” website. However, it serves the same purpose as all the other projects of our foundation: bringing young generations closer to economy, banking and finances and providing them with usable knowledge, so they can learn how to plan consciously, how to calculate risks and benefits and how to avoid unnecessary troubles in this very serious aspect of our life.
What is the so-called „Sulibank Élményportál” and why is it special even on the international scene?
Our website is an experience portal designed for primary school children aged between 7 and 14. By consuming content on the website pupils can learn a lot about finances in a playful way and in a language they perfectly understand. During their “gamification” activity on the website they collect points, which can be exchanged for different kind of experiences in real life. The method itself is basically about planning, strategic thinking and managing our own affairs. These attitudes and activities are very close to adult-age finances as well. Although some elements of the website might be familiar, the depth and quality of the concept is truly unique even in international comparison, I’d venture to say so. It is a Hungarian success story indeed.
What feedback have you received so far from schools, students and parents?
We have received the award for the concept itself. The experience portal is working, but it is still in the phase of development and stepwise refinement. Therefore, we really appreciate those remarks and critics we can utilize in order to make further advance with the project. About 4000 children have participated actively so far, but the number of pupils reached has exceeded 11000. In the wake of this, I can say we have received very positive feedback in general. Both teachers and parents think it is important for the children to participate in training like this. We have the impression that previously teachers had been rather self-restrained and uncertain in the field of financial education but now they are becoming more open to collaborate.
Do you have similar projects for high school students as well?
The András Fáy Foundation already has an Education Centre in the Benczúr street in Budapest. It was established in 2012 as a highlighted government project with substantial EU funding. This is a real school where Hungarian students – both from primary and high schools – can attend financial trainings. Those classes or groups of student that enrolled for our training usually spend an entire school day (4-6 hours) in our institute in a very inspiring environment. The training is not about frontal education but interactive learning. Children rather learn about the basics such as how to handle pocket money, while high school students gain knowledge about very serious things such as stock markets or running a business. Tens of thousands Hungarian students visit our school every year. The above-mentioned “Sulibank Élményportál” is an additional project targeting exclusively the primary school pupils.
Could you speak a few words about the András Fáy Foundation? When was it established and for what purpose? What financial resources do you have?
Our foundation was established as far back as 1992. Even that time the main purpose of the foundation was to deliver valuable knowledge to young generations with special focus on financial and economic education. We have had various kinds of projects over the past decades, including library and school developments. We created a knowledge portal for students and organized trainings for teachers. We don’t consider ourselves, however, as an education institute, we focus in particular on educational research and innovative methodology. We are present not only in Hungary but also in some neighboring countries, we pay special attention to the Hungarian-speaking community in Slovakia and Romania. It is not a coincidence that OTP BANK has subsidiaries in those countries. As for the resources, naturally most of our funding comes from OTP but we are also quite successful in securing funding directly from the European Union.
Who was András Fáy and why did you name the Foundation after him?
According to legendary 19th-century writer Kálmán Mikszáth, the titles “the wise man of the nation” and “the greatest Hungarian” were already occupied by statesmen Ferenc Deák and István Széchenyi respectively, therefore András Fáy (1786-1864) was just called the “utility man of the nation”. He was a gifted person indeed, an outstanding polyhistor of his own age. The most important is that he was the founder of the first Hungarian saving bank in Pest. Although OTP was established only in 1949, we still consider András Fáy as a great forefather of the Hungarian banking sector.
What plans do you have in mind for the future?
In my view, the András Fáy Foundation is about to become a significant player in financial education not only in Hungary but also on the international scene. The world is changing rapidly, especially in this sector and we need to learn how to adapt to the new trends. Education is key to the future. Hopefully, our projects will increase not only OTP Bank’s but also the country’s reputation in the long run.
photo: Márk Somay