English, computers and financial independence

We recently had Courtly Mokwana, an Absa financial education specialist from the Absa/Barclays Corporate Citizenship programme, deliver a lecture to our adult ICT Academy students at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre.

There is an assumption that especially rural people – all over the world – save by stashing money underneath the mattress.

That makes sense. Access to the machinations of “saving” and “investment” is lower in remote locations, trust in banks is less, and education or mentoring on the subject of “financial independence” is limited.

To this day I see grandmothers and grandfathers who cannot use an ATM; who look genuinely surprised when a machine in the wall dispenses money.

But television, billboards and cell phone adverts have reached the current generation of young people.

Not only is there an increase in messaging to “spend” but there is also an increase in messaging to “borrow”. Easy access to loans and the pervasiveness of these services has created a new “norm” in society: it is okay to be in debt.

One statistic shows that from 1994 to 2010, South Africa’s exposure to credit in the private domestic sector increased from R230 billion to close on R2.1 trillion.

The FinScope South Africa 2013 financial survey shows that about five million South Africans are battling with over-indebtedness.

And even worse, fifty-eight percent said they are not saving at all.

That is simply not acceptable.

Our vision at Good Work Foundation is to guide young adults so that they can “speak” the languages of the world: digital and English.

But actually, whether we like it or not, money talks. It’s a language of its own. It’s no good equipping young people with skills to be successful in the job market, only for them to accumulate debt as soon as they start earning.

Mr. Mokwana introduced our students to concepts like: (1) drawing up a budget, (2) understanding the principles of credit, (3) growth and wealth creation and (4) protection and planning.

As far as I am concerned, there should be more of emphasis on “financial independence” throughout high school, for everyone.

Thank you Mr. Mokwana.

To our students: Learn how to speak English, learn how to “drive” a computer, and as much as possible, learn the steps to becoming financially independent.


Kate Groch