Pocket money problems in Pompeii

Children in Pompeii on the money crisis dur 6,48

Reporter Ben Thompson in Pompeii. Mount Vesuvius is in the background Ben visited a school in Pompeii next to the volcano Mount Vesuvius. You can see the volcano in the background. When we took this picture, a cloud floated by which made it look like the volcano was erupting

Italy is famous for pizza, pasta and fashionable clothes!

On the surface, Italy seems like a pretty cool place to live.

In fact, Italy is one of the richest countries in Europe, but like a plate of spaghetti, it's recently got itself into a real tangle over money. But how has this happened and does money really matter?

Schools World Service Reporter Ben Thompson went to visit a school in Pompeii to find out how kids there are affected by Italy's money worries.

Volcano Vesuvius

School children waiting to go into school in Pompeii School starts at 8am. The children carry all of their school books with them on their back

The city of Pompeii is built at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that erupted nearly 2000 years ago and buried the town.

But it's not the volcano which is currently threatening this school. It's the money crisis!

Ben joined a class of 10 year olds in a maths lesson. They were learning about how Italy's money problems began.

Lira or Euro?

The Lira was Italy's old type of money. But in 2001, Italy and most other European countries swapped to a single currency - called the Euro.

It was supposed to make trade easier, but for Italy it has made things harder. The government has spent too many Euros and it's run up huge debts. To pay that money back, Italy's now having to cut back on spending for things like jobs, hospitals and education.

That means for schools across Italy, there's less money for books, teachers and even toilet paper!

Pocket Money Cuts

A class of ten years olds in a school in Pompeii Most of the children Ben met are 10 years old. That means they're the same age as the Euro

Lots of children know people who have lost their jobs because of the crisis.

One girl called Sara told Ben, "my father has lost his job. I can't buy anymore toys and clothes. I have to give up on those things since my father lost his job."

Some of the children are receiving less pocket money. One of the girls said, "I feel the crisis because my pocket money was 25 Euros before the crisis, but now I only get 15 Euros."

This part of Italy has the highest rate of unemployment among young people in the country. If the situation continues, half of these young people won't be able to find a job when they leave school.

But that doesn't stop these children hoping things will improve. They all had plans for what they'd like to do when they leave school.

One boy told Ben, "I want to be a footballer when I'm older, because everybody tells me I'm a good footballer."

Another ten year old said, "I love art. When I grow up I'd like to be an artist."

Spending and Saving

Primary School children in a maths lesson These girls are trying to find the cheapest price for things like pasta, bread and tomato sauce

This school hopes that by teaching children about spending and saving when they're young, it might help Italy avoid more money problems and unemployment in the future.

The children Ben met were set a shopping task. They each had a shopping list with things like tomato sauce, bread and pasta on it. They had to look through different magazines and try to get the best value for money for the things on their shopping list.

One boy told Ben, "I think it's very important we learn about these things at school, so when we're older we know how to save money."

Piggy Bank

Simone outside his house Simone lives with his mum, dad and little sister Sabrine. They can see Mount Vesuvius from their house

School finishes at lunchtime and Simone goes home with his dad and his sister Sabrine. Simone's parents think it's important to teach Simone and Sabrine the value of money at home too.

Simone told Ben, "my dad gives me 5 Euros each week if I help out with jobs at home. I keep the money in my piggy bank which is in the shape of a house."

To earn his pocket money Simone helps with the vacuuming. His dad works in the plumbing trade, so sometimes Simone helps out in his dad's shop too.

A plate of spaghetti Italians love to eat pasta, but Simone's mum says she's seen a big increase in the price of foods like pasta, bread and milk

Simone said, "I like to save my money because when I grow up I'd like to travel, buy a house and a car. Italy's money crisis doesn't really hit me, because I'm saving my money. I try to save my money through this crisis."

In recent months, Simone's mum says she's seen a big rise in the family's weekly shopping bill. The prices of bread, milk and pasta have all increased. It means families like Simone's have less money to spend on other things like clothes, hobbies and going out.

Musicians on a Mission

In the nearby town of Villarik, instead of making a fuss about Italy's money problems, one group of young people make music! They're in a band called Bidonvillarik and their instruments are created from recycled rubbish - anything from old dustbin lids and hairdryers to the inside of a washing machine.

Musicians from the percussion band, Bidonvillarik We filmed the band Bidonvillarik in a local park. When the children started playing their instruments all of the neighbours came out to see what was going on

Although the music helps them forget their problems, the children here are still feeling the crunch in their everyday lives.

One of the musicians told Ben, "I used to do sport and music. I would go swimming and to the gym, but since this crisis I have less money, so I had to give up sport and now I just do music.

Another boy said, "my friend's father lost his job and I'm trying to help him get a job as a school bus driver."

Like lots of European countries affected by the money crisis, it seems life in Italy is going to be tough for the next few years.

But by taking part in the band, it brings these children together and helps them to focus on something positive - their music.

In the meantime, the children Ben met like Simone and the kids in the band are learning to use their own money wisely in the hope that it will give Italy a brighter future.

Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production.

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