The Saber (Portuguese for ‘to know’, pronounced suh-BEER) is a proposed complementary currency system developed by Bernard Lietaer and Prof. Gilson Schwartz of the University of Sao Paulo. It targets the educational sector (originally that of Brazil) and aims to increase the number of students who can afford to, and eventually do attend university.

In this proposed system, the government’s education department would issue vouchers to students of a young age, say 7, which are valid for hours of tutoring by older students, say 10 1. Each year, these vouchers would be passed multiple times from younger students to older students, eventually ending up in the hands of graduating seniors, who can redeem the vouchers for credit towards tuition fees at universities who accept them, with the Saber and Real (Brazilian national currency) being valued equally. The universities would then be able to redeem the Saber for national currency with the government at a rate of 50% of the face value. To prevent hoarding a demurrage fee would be applied so that the voucher would lose 20% of its value every year.

In addition to enabling and encouraging attendance of university, especially for poorer students, the system would have a number of secondary benefits. The social fabric of schools using them would benefit from the intra-generational interactions of the older mentors and younger mentees. Students would retain more of what they are taught, as it is already widely understood that teaching something ensures the highest levels of knowledge retention. Self-esteem of mentor students would rise, and in-school bullying would drop, as has been demonstrated in US & UK based case examples when Time Dollars have been deployed in school systems there.



  1. Lietaer 2006 “A Proposal for a Brazilian Education Complementary Currency”. International Journal of Community Currency Research 2006, Volume 10. Retrieved October 10, 2013. (ISSN 1325-9547
0 0

Comment on this Article