Campaign aims to encourage culture of saving among pupils

AS MOST people are forced to tighten their belts to survive through job losses and recession, KwaZulu-Natal has gone all-out to encourage pupils at schools about the benefits of saving money.

The provincial department of finance on Tuesday launched the savings month campaign at two schools in the poverty-stricken community of KwaPata in Pietermaritzburg.

Provincial MEC for finance Ina Cronjé encouraged children to "save your last cent so you can plough up more rands".

She said teaching children while they were still young about the culture of saving would help to build a financially healthy generation.

Each pupil received a savings box to save money at home and an information pack with all the details on saving.

KwaPata High School and Mthethomusha Primary School are based in a community that has a very high unemployment rate.

With the biting economic crunch, people in such communities are the hardest hit.

"This year's savings campaign comes at a very crucial time when the world is facing an economic meltdown," said Cronjé.

"We are here to promote a culture of saving among pupils, create awareness about the value of money and the importance of saving, promote financial literacy and assist pupils to appreciate the power of choice."

Cronjé said that the lack of financial literacy was one of the biggest barriers to saving.

She said the Finscope (2008) survey revealed that there was a high demand for financial education and education more generally in this country.

She felt the demand was due to the extent of misunderstanding of financial terms and the lack of financial knowledge.

"Without adequate knowledge of the available financial instruments, appreciation of the risks involved with different types of investments, and recognition of the benefits of long-term saving, behaviour for many people remains unchanged," she said.

Department of education senior general manager Simon Mbokazi said the campaign was in line with the school syllabus as it formed part of a life orientation subject.

Pupils at both schools were enthusiastic about the prospects of earning more money through saving.

For many it was the first time that they had been told about the importance of saving money.