49% of South Africans are deemed financially illiterate and approximately only 5% of South Africans will be able to retire comfortably. These facts are beyond frightening considering just how big of an impact personal finances play in shaping an individual and a countries future.
“I believe financial literacy needs to urgently be introduced into the high school syllabus” says PocketFin founder and Entrepreneur Pierre Van der Merwe.
In a rapid moving world currently fuelled by dramatic developments in technology and access to information, it has now become easier than ever to self educate oneself in an array of important topics and skills. Unfortunately however many only start to understand personal finance and topics such as debt management and investing in their late 20’s or 30’s, often once numerous financial mistakes have already been made which could shape just how well or poor one’s financial health is determined all the way in to retirement.
”I have met with and proposed to the Department of Education that we urgently roll-out a financial literacy program both digital and print to learners age 16-18 as I believe the impact it could have on our youth can be monumental as they enter adulthood, this will ripple effect all the way into future generations” says Van der Merwe.
South Africa has approximately 26 000 schools with 6000 of them being high schools educating an approximate 13 million learners. The Department of Basic Education have been allocated a budget of R29.6 billion for 2022.
In a strenuous time socially, financially and economically worldwide post the Covid 19 pandemic, especially emerging countries such as South Africa face rising inflation and interest rates, staggering unemployment especially amongst the youth and high levels of debt. This furthermore impacts the number of entrepreneurs and small business in South Africa and proves that action needs to be taken to improve opportunities and education which can ultimately lead to an increase in GDP, amongst other important figures for South Africa.
“Until something can be done to up skill our youth and sensitise high school learners to the topic of personal finance, I strongly encourage South Africans to spend just five minutes a day to learn about financial literacy” says Van der Merwe, who is on a personal mission to teach the youth about even the most simple of topics such as opening and managing a bank account, understanding debt and student loans and saving and investing.