A survey conducted among South African students has revealed that 90% of the
respondents feel they would handle their finances with more confidence if they had
been taught about financial planning while at school.
This follows a confidence level of 67% being recorded among respondents when they
were asked how confident they are that they have a good understanding of financial
matters such as budgeting, savings, retirement and insurance. This was a decline of
four percentage points from the inaugural survey.
The second PPS Student Confidence Index (SCI) was conducted with approximately
390 students in their fourth year or above studying at a university or university of
technology towards a profession specific degree, such as; engineering, medicine, law
According to Gerhard Joubert, Executive Head Group Marketing and Stakeholder
Relations at PPS, the results of the survey point to the need for more comprehensive
financial literacy to start at a basic school level. "After leaving school, many pupils
are not equipped with the necessary tools to manage and understand their finances.
This could be one of the major reasons why so many South Africans live in debt, do
not budget or save properly and cannot afford to retire comfortably.'
Joubert says a number of institutions have recognised the importance of
providing the youth with financial education and as a result run a number of
initiatives to address this gap.
However, it is time for the education system to consider adding a specific
financial literacy and planning subject to the curriculum, or to ensure that financial
education forms a more significant part of another subject at school, so that children
have a deeper understanding of financial matters from the start, says Joubert.
It is important for children to learn about financial matters from a young age
because they form opinions and habits at these critical ages, explains Joubert. "By
providing children with a basic understanding of financial and economic principles and
concepts, as they grow they will have a strong foundation and be better prepared to
handle their own personal finances in the future.
Pupils who are exposed to an economic way of thinking and to personal financial
concepts at age appropriate levels, will find it easier to adapt to real-life situations
and as a result will be able to make better financial decisions and be more likely to
develop solid saving and spending habits, he says.
"While South African children are taught about money, bank accounts and basic
savings skills while at school, they are not really exposed to matters such as
insurance, medical aid or investments. It would be hugely beneficial if high school
children could leave their primary education years feeling informed about such
matters,' concludes Joubert.