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Financial education: Too cool for school?

19 May 2016 Jonathan Faurie
Caroline da Silva, DEO of FAIS at the Financial Services Board

Caroline da Silva, DEO of FAIS at the Financial Services Board

Lyndwell Clarke, Head of Consumer Education at the FSB

Lyndwell Clarke, Head of Consumer Education at the FSB

Don Haripersad, Director: Further Education and Training at the GDE

Don Haripersad, Director: Further Education and Training at the GDE

A major issue in South Africa is the level of education when it comes to the financial services industry. Caroline da Silva – DEO of FAIS at the Financial Services Board – points out that 86% of the adult population in South Africa has access to a bank account and savings products. However, she rightly questions whether this necessarily adds value to their lives.

The missing element is education. This issue has been one that the country has been wrestling with for some time now. The National Development Plan has a lot to say when it comes to poverty eradication, but the country cannot achieve this with low levels of financial education.

A moot point no longer

The need for increased financial education was recognised when the country held its first democratic elections in 1994. However, very little has been done at grassroots levels to facilitate this.

Twenty two years on, we are starting to see the fruits of our labour with a collaboration between the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), the FSB and the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI). Together, these parties have formed a foundation which recently launched the Gauteng Schools Financial Literacy Speech Competition.

The objectives of the competition are to promote financial literacy in schools, create awareness of consumer rights and to encourage entrepreneurship.

The competition is aimed at Grade 11 learners in schools who have been identified by the GDE as future centres of financial excellence. Learners either volunteer to participate in the competition or are selected by teachers to participate. The learners will be asked to prepare a five minute speech on one of the following topics:

-               I want to make my own money my way;
-               Stockvels vs Stock Exchange investing. And;
-               Just put it on my card.

Lyndwell Clarke, Head of Consumer Education at the FSB, said that each topic looks at a different aspect of the industry and will mean something personal to each learner who prepares a suitable speech. Each participating school will have access to a teacher who will help them research their topic and prepare their speech.

Growing future spokespeople

The competition will be conducted over three rounds. The first round will be within their schools (which will take place during May) where a panel of teachers will decide who has prepared the best speech. In July and August, these learners will then participate on a district level where they will present their same speeches to a larger audience of other schools within the district. These speeches will be judged by an independent panel of judges who will decide who has the best speeches in the district. Finally, these leaners will participate on a provincial level where they will present their same speech from the first round against other learners from around the country. These speeches will also be judged by an independent panel of judges and the results will be audited by the FSB.

There are a number of prizes up for grabs. The top three students will win investment based prizes valued at R20 000 (first place), R10 000 (second place) and R5 000 (third place).  Not only will these students win investment products, but they will also receive advice from the FPI on the best way to manage their investments.

There will also be vouchers available for teachers for the efforts that they put into nurturing the students and guiding them through the process. There is also a voucher for the winning school where they can purchase much needed items.

A word from the top

A major driver of this competition is the GDE who has recognised the need for financial education to be introduced at a school level. This has been done at a senior phase whereby Grades 10 to 12 include financial literacy in certain subjects.

“When we looked at the schooling system, we found that there were a number of issues embedded in it. While the understanding when it comes to managing finances is there, there is a problem when it comes to the language component. Learners know that there is a need to save money, but they cannot engage with financial planners because the language that the industry uses confuses them,” said Don Haripersad, Director: Further Education and Training at the GDE, who attended the launch of the competition.

He added that this competition is important because it encourages competency, and with competency comes confidence. With confidence comes excellence and the ability to engage with financial planners on a high level.

Editor’s Thoughts:
One can only hope that the future of this programme is bright and that in future the GDE will offer it to every school in the province. Haripersad admits that the uptake of the competition will initially be slow, and the future success of this programme will depend on the level of commitment from government on a national level and not just a provincial level. What do you think the future of this competition is? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts


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