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Children in South Africa taught money management in school

In Johannesburg, school pupils are being taught about the importance of managing money.

As elsewhere in the world, it is common for households in South Africa to be heavily indebted. Therefore officials have decided that it’s now vital to reach the next generation and give youngsters advice on how to manage their money.

It’s the first time the country has attempted a financial literacy programme and the BBC’s reporter visited a school to see how the subject of finance was being addressed. Pupils in Johannesburg attended the screening of a locally produced movie. The film charts the possible consequences for individuals of reckless spending. For example, one young man who is spending more than he can afford is shown turning to loan sharks.

The idea behind the film is to encourage youngsters how to be smart with their money. Themes such as budgeting and saving are introduced as part of the programme. By examining these topics now, it’s hoped that this next generation of South Africans will not fall into the kind of debts now owed by the average household within the country.

Speaking to the BBC’s reporter after they’d watched the film, some of the pupils gave their reactions. One young girl said that she saved money by walking to school, because it wasn’t too far and also didn’t spend too much on her lunches. Another teenager talked about the economy and how saving (as well as spending) was important for the economic health of the country.

From these comments, it’s clear the youngsters seem to have absorbed the messages of the film. But comedy is also being used to help grab the children’s attention. One young comedian brought in to assist with the programme in schools spoke of his routine as helping to form ‘young minds’ and to reinforce the messages of financial responsibility. He told the BBC’s reporter that people live in a financial world and therefore youngsters needed knowledge about “investing, saving and budgeting”.

Many South Africans earn very low wages, as illustrated by the recent spate of strikes in the mining sector. But the financial literacy programme, which is being run with the help of private funding, does not have a political agenda. Giving an example of the importance of financial responsibility, the young comedian said “if you’re a dentist who can’t save, you’re still going to be broke”.

Laurinda Luffman signature