DEFINITION of 'Saber Currency'

A proposed Brazilian currency that would be handed out by the Ministry of Education to 7-year-olds to be redeemed only for university tuition. Saber currency is a complementary currency that was proposed by Bernard Lietaer to help Brazilian schools offer more educational opportunities, regardless of a lack of available funds. A type of educational voucher, the Saber is intended to facilitate more learning opportunities for a larger number of students, without adding any new financial pressures to the economy. The planned Saber currency has three capacities:
1. The Ministry of Education allocates Sabers to the youngest students (for example, 7-year-olds) in schools in economically disadvantaged areas. The young students must choose an older student (10 years old, for instance) as a mentor, and pays the mentor with the Sabers. The 10-year-old then does the same, finding an older student to mentor him or her. Down the line, 17 year olds will have collected the Sabers to be used towards university tuition. Redeemed Sabers are reallocated to young students.

2. Children or adults who help elderly or handicapped individuals can also earn Sabers.

3. Certain laborers could elect to be paid in the standard pay for the job, or at a reduced pay plus additional Sabers, an incentive for parents of children planning on attending university.

BREAKING DOWN 'Saber Currency'

The word "saber" is the Portuguese (and Spanish) verb "to know." After Brazil privatized the mobile telephone industry, the country enacted a 1% tax allocated for educational purposes. When the Education Fund had grown to about 3 billion reals (US$1 billion), alternative solutions for its use were discussed, including the implementation of the Saber currency. A goal would be to provide a "multiplier of learning" to increase the number of students who can afford a college education in Brazil.

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