Grade 11 learners in schools across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape are being better prepared to deal with their finances through the Metropolitan Kickstarz Programme.
Responding to the alarming 58.2% youth unemployment rate as reported in the Q3 of StatsSA 2019 report, Metropolitan recognises that young people need all the help they can get in understanding financial concepts that could help drive sustainable self-employment.
“With formal employment options on the decrease, youth need to become more entrepreneurial and find ways to earn their own income. The programme teaches them financial management skills and aims to inspire them to consider entrepreneurship as a valid career path.” Said Momentum Metropolitan Group CSI Manager Charlene Lackay.
The insurer initially conducted focus groups with students at a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-focused school in Gauteng – the University of Johannesburg Metropolitan Academy (UJMA) – to establish how best to interact with them about finances and identify their passion points. Not surprisingly, music and fashion – particularly sneakers – were at the top of the list and this was the birth of the Metropolitan Kickstarz Programme, which was piloted in 2016.
The content was presented as an opportunity to start their own sneaker businesses. They had to design a pair of sneakers, come up with a business idea and create a brand philosophy, all via an app that was specially developed for the exercise.
At each school, three separate lessons were interweaved into school days over a five-day period. These lessons covered core topics around financial education such as budgeting, saving, bad debt, net income, deductions, blacklisting and needs versus wants. Students were also encouraged to discuss the concepts at home with their parents. This culminated in an exhibition of their designs and the schools could then vote for the best sneaker design.
Says Lackay: “The programme not only teaches financial principles, but also valuable skills such as teamwork and presentation skills, which are not necessarily taught in textbooks.”
On completion of the programme, awards ceremonies are held during school assemblies, incorporating as many grades as possible. In the build up to the awards for the best sneaker design, all students who are present at the assemblies are given a financial education Master Class and the services of local entertainers are enlisted to create excitement and hype on the day.
An important part of the programme is the ongoing measurement and evaluation of its success. Metropolitan outsources this to an independent assessment company, which conducts surveys and randomly selected student’s workshops in each of the schools.
The assessments show that students’ understanding of the various financial principles has increased significantly across all schools. Metropolitan also elicits feedback about the programme itself from the students, which it then uses to improve the programme every year.
Lackay says Metropolitan has gained key insights since it first started running the programme. “We have condensed the programme to better fit in with the school curriculum and not disrupt the normal school activities too much. We have also learned a lot about how money moves in families and how important it is to engage with learners about their personal experiences.”
In addition, Metropolitan has discovered that one of the most important elements of the programme is the final assembly when students present their business ideas and brand philosophies to the rest of the school and their parents.
An unintended and happy consequence of presenting in public is the boosting of students’ confidence and presentation skills. Metropolitan has heard from young people, who were considered to be ‘nerds’ by their fellow students, that they felt ‘cool’ because the course allowed them to reveal their creative and business-savvy sides.
Sentiment towards the programme is positive and can be summed up in the words of Tembisa’s Boitumelong High School principal, Mrs Sesi Makena: “The school’s learners are doing so much better when dealing with finances and they are even giving their parents financial advice. Kickstarz is changing communities and I believe that in years to come we will have a much more financially savvy community.”