No one doubts the value of improving financial literacy and the treasury is supporting a programme with a film to spread the message.
Primestars, a youth development programme facilitator, has launched One Way to Graceland, a movie designed to improve the financial literacy of pupils, which is being screened at cinemas around the country. Designed to instil a culture of savings, it is targeted at grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. Using the catchphrase “smartbucks mind your moolah”, it aims to make young people aware of how they should spend money, save, budget and invest.
Seipati Nekhondela, the treasury’s director of banking development, told pupils attending the launch last month that, without basic financial skills, it is difficult to make good financial decisions. “Financial literacy is a necessary enabler for financial inclusion, consumer protection and empowering consumers and business owners to meaningfully participate in the financial sector.”
The movie features two characters, Grace (played by Candice Modiselle) and Kagiso (Tau Maserumule), who live with their grandmother, who runs a laundromat and tailoring business. Grace is a fashion design student and lands herself in debt because of her excessive spending on clothes and gadgets.
But, with the help of her friend Karabo, she decides to cut up all her credit and store cards. While working towards becoming debt-free, Grace becomes inspired to start a clothing range called Renewed.
Then her grandmother’s laundromat business is broken into. Her grandmother is also unable to continue working because she has arthritis. So Grace and Kagiso come up with ideas to keep the business alive. Grace hosts a fashion show and Kagiso approaches Fix-me-up, which funds small businesses, and they relaunch their grandmother’s shop.
“To date, the programme has reached more 75 000 learners and will reach a further 15 000 this year, using the cinema channel,” said Primestars’ managing director, Martin Sweet.
Pupil Thato Serodi said: “This programme has changed my life so much because now I know the importance of saving, and I have to save from now and in order live well in the future and not to depend on my parents by thinking that my parents will save me.”
Another pupil, Bulelo Mbalula, said: “This programme has taught me so much about saving and having a budget and sticking to it … It is difficult but you should not spend money without thinking of cases of emergencies.”
A study by the Financial Services Board shows that South Africa’s financial literacy level of 51% ranks well when compared with developed countries but a 2017 National Credit Regulator report claims South Africans consumers have a combined debt of R1.7-trillion.
The report says the poor credit standing of many consumers, the numbers of consumers ending up in debt distress and reckless lending are some of the biggest problems facing South Africa.
Thulebona Mhlanga is an Adamela Trust financial reporter at the M&G