Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Education Community AffairsCommunity DevelopmentBanking EconomyFinancial Services

Prospect Farm School in Kwadukuza, north of Durban, has become the latest recipient of a programme on money management skills to foster a culture of savings among youth.

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Prospect Farm School in Kwadukuza, north of Durban, has become the latest recipient of a programme on money management skills to foster a culture of savings among youth.

Ithala Development Finance Corporation which promotes development in KwaZulu-Natal partnered with the KZN Financial Literacy Association and the Banking Association of South Africa some years ago in the ‘Starsaver’ campaign.

‘Starsaver’ is a national savings campaign which draws attention to the important role that volunteer bankers and financial sector professionals can play in educating the nation’s youth to become lifelong savers.

Grades four to 12 learners are targeted with the programme to be rolled out to township and rural schools across KZN over the next two months. The agency has set a target to reach 10 schools during the 2017 campaign.

“Instilling a culture of saving in children when they are young will have a positive and lasting effect on the economy which needs more financially literate and empowered individuals,” said Sitandiwe Dimba, Ithala’s Corporate Social Investment Co-ordinator.

Since 2011, Ithala volunteers have reached over 46 schools and engaged over 10 000 learners in in KZN. Ithala volunteers, including employees and executives from across 39 branches in KZN, have attended training sessions hosted by the Association and financial literacy lessons are delivered at schools by the volunteers themselves.

Nationally, since 2008, the programme has reached almost one million learners, and many more through programme integration in over 3 000 schools nationwide. Twenty one banks and 43 financial institutions participate in the ‘StarSaver’ programme.

Ithala volunteers presented financial literacy lessons to 250 learners at Prospect Farm School school and learners listened intently as information was delivered on various topics including banking, saving, money management and entrepreneurship.

Prospect Farm School accommodates 600 learners from rural and impoverished homes.

“The level of participation was very encouraging and many learners proved to be money savvy - some children even ran their own enterprises on a small-scale from home,” said Dimba.

Grade seven learners Nokuzotha Ngiba and Sphesihle Mkhwanazi are both high on saving. “I am saving to do something nice with my friends,” said Nokuzotha.

“I am saving for high school next year,” added Sphesihle.

“We really enjoyed the lesson and picked up a lot of tips about saving and spending money. What was also very useful was the information around security, especially at ATMs”, they agreed.

“We talk about needs and wants in order to address the “instant gratification” syndrome which exists among the youth. Many young people do not save because they think they do not have enough money to save and believe that this is a luxury they cannot afford,” added Dimba.

“One of the key aims of our lessons is to instill a discipline of putting money aside no matter how small the amount. To achieve this, we use real life examples of saving just a small amount and then demonstrate how this can grow over a period of time. Our message is simple: starting small makes it easier to increase savings as you grow up and money becomes more available. This is the first step in the journey to financial freedom.”

The School Enterprise Challenge, sponsored by Ithala and piloted in KZN during 2014, is a global enterprise competition designed and managed by a London-based organisation called ‘Teach a Man To Fish’. The programme is championed by KZN MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott, and the KZN Department of Education in partnership with The Saville Foundation, Business World and Ithala. The partnership is in response to current challenges in education, entrepreneurship and community development to enable significant and relevant social change.

The project aims to bridge the employment gap between education and the workplace. Through a competition, teachers and students are encouraged to work together to establish a profitable business.

Ithala’s investment of R1 061 million to date has supported learners at approximately 360 schools in KZN who were exposed to vital business skills; gaining the competitive advantage; SWOT analysis; market research and sales; operational planning, financial planning and business sustainability. The programme also enabled learners to carry out a resource assessment, business idea brainstorm, feasibility study and plan options for start-up capital.

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