Students and Money: Stress and Hunger

Less money means fewer meals
Our Burkinabè partner APFEP carried out a major survey on the financial health of students in March-April 2022, with more than 200 students from various cities and universities in the country. 70% of students say they had to skip one or more meals in the past week due to lack of money. A similar survey we conducted with around 20 Senegalese students in early March 2020 (at the very start of the pandemic – hence the low feedback) had similar results (73% of students had skipped one or more meals for financial reasons). A survey we conducted last month among other Senegalese students confirms these results (two-thirds say they have money problems). Unsurprisingly, food and housing are the biggest expense items (in both surveys – Burkinabè and Senegalese), followed by transport, telephone and internet, and books/stationery. Health is also a non-negligible expense for Burkinabè students. When money runs out, students say they ask their families, they fast or eat differently, or look for work, often manual work, which has a direct impact on their studies. This situation is likely to worsen rapidly with rising food inflation.

Contant stress
95% of Burkinabè students surveyed admit to thinking about their financial situation all the time (82%) or often (13%), a proportion similar to what we found among Senegalese students before Covid-19 (82%). Nearly two-thirds say that their financial problems impact their relationship with their family (68% for Senegalese students): “I am a burden for them”; “everyone is running away from me”; “my parents are tired of supporting me financially”. It is no surprise that 89% say that these financial problems have an impact on their studies (91% for Senegalese students). Almost half of the Burkinabè students surveyed have debts (only a third for the Senegalese), generally with friends, which impacts their social life but also their financial situation once their studies are finished.

Education cannot solve everything

The vast majority want to learn how to better manage their money; some already do it (monthly budget, write down expenses); but this cannot solve systemic problems such as the high cost of housing and food, the cost of the internet or the low and irregular income of their parents. Students want to learn without it taking up too much of their time – another resource that students also often run out of.

If you want to conduct a survey in your country, contact us for the list of questions.

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