One thing for sure is that you cannot help but get emotionally involved both as a competitor, supporter or just an observer. This was the exhilarating atmosphere at Mpumalanga’s 1st FinLit Spelling Bee competition took place on 17 June 2015 at the Bongani Mountain Lodge at Mthethomusha game reserve. Learners were from 4 schools – Sitintile, Coronation, Sidungeni and Sibukosetfu SecondarySchools. “Ligotshwa lisemanti” (Siswati adage meaning “best shape a stick whilst moist”) is the StarSaver™ programme logo. This is the Banking Association’s flagship generic financial literacy programme. StarSaver™ is truly ‘’Proudly South African” and is a “Mandela Day” advocate that aims to ‘Make Everyday a Mandela Day”. We deliberately had the financial literacy competition on 17 June as this was our way of celebrating Youth Day and Month. Learners mingled with financial gurus from various banks and financial institutions, Government and Ehlanzeni District officials from the Mpumalanga Department of Education, teachers, volunteers, various stakeholders with a dollop of StarSaver™ programme’s own Stars/Ambassadors – Tebogo “ProVerb” Thekisho, Mpumi Mbethe and Sibusiso Vilane.

ProVerb was the host of the day. “ProVerb” Tebogo Thekisho, is the Idols SA presenter and coproducer, hip hop artist, radio and TV personality, and StarSaver™ Ambassador. The StarSaver™ programme with 23 banks and 43 financial institutions participating is pleased to be back in Mpumalanga after a resounding successful launch of the programme in July 2013 graced by the MEC for Education, Reginah Mhaule. Our pronouncers, adjudicators and checkers for the day were from Old Mutual, Ubank, Nedbank, Postbank and The Banking Association South Africa. Amongst other reps from Standard Bank, National Credit Regulator, National Debt Mediation Association and Swaziland’s Ministry of Finance Microfinance Unit. The Department of Education rep. pointed out that the Commercial subjects are experiencing a diminishing numbers of learners, thus programmes such as FinLit Spelling Bee are most welcome to sustain interest in commerce, economics and business studies. provided some hilarious moments through his comedy show and this helped in easing the tension of the learners that were about to start the FinLit Spelling Bee competition. Messages of support came from the Department of Education, Caring4Girls Programme, National Debt Mediation Association and Swaziland’s Microfinance Unit. Words of encouragement were shared by our StarSaver™ Programme Ambassadors – ProVerb, Mpumi Mbethe of Ligwalagwala FM and Sibusiso Vilane, the mountaineer and adventurer of note who has summited Mount Everest twice, Mount Kilimanjaro 18 times and all the highest peaks of the 7 continents. The host and StarSaver™ Ambassador ProVerb brought the house down with his performance of “Nothing New”. We then revealed the 2 SURPRISES of the day – the 3 Winners would be invited to the Gauteng activation of FinLit Spelling Bee to be held at the Apartheid Museum and Imbumba Foundation’s Vision 20/20 would treat them to a weekend getaway at Bongani Mountain Lodge.

The Mpumalanga FinLit Spelling Bee activations are a continuation of the work which began during the Global Money Week at the 8th Annual National Launch of StarSaver™ and Inaugural FinLit Spelling Bee Competition in March 2015 in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. The competition aims to encourage learners to go beyond learning the English language in class but to develop better understanding of the language through other subject areas such as financial terms and concepts that are part of the school curriculum of the Grades 7, 8 and 9 in the Economic Management Science subject. This is done as an extension of the StarSaver™ Programme which purposes to foster a culture of saving in children and youth. Spelling is a significant part of learning and developing key cognitive skills. Spelling is a gateway to reading and writing and the spelling bee will improve learners’ retention of financial concepts that touch on our daily lives.

The theme for this year’s Youth Month celebrations is “Youth Moving South Africa Forward”. Excellence in education is very key in the attainment of such, thus our contributio9n throughStarSaver™, FinLit Spelling Bee and StarSaver™ Aflatoun social and financial education clubs.

At the end of the competition the 30 competitors walked away with various prizes that are foreducational purposes including: Calculators, Business and Economic Studies dictionaries, pens, rulersets, financial literacy games, word games, backpacks, drawstring bags, bookmarks, Books: Long Walkto Freedom and Sibusiso Vilane’s “To the Top From Nowhere”, StarSaver™ Aflatoun club buttons, Tshirts, ProVerb’s “The Read Tape” CD, mobile phone chargers and wireless headphones. The Top 3 winners were awarded trophies engraved 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.

  • The Champion – No.1 was Glet Thwala, Grade 8, Sitintile Secondary School
  • No.2 – Mandy Sibanyoni, Grade 8, Sidungeni Secondary School
  • No. 3 – Vuyisile Malaza, Grade 8, Coronation Secondary School

Common thread amongst the 3 winners is that they love reading, participate in debates, poetry, school clubs and take an interest in EMS and English.

The MEC for Education in Mpumalanga was quoted saying: “This programme resonates well with our endeavour to instil confidence, broaden the horizons and inculcate entrepreneurial prowess of our young children. I also wish to express my profound appreciation to the Banking Association South Africa and its partners for conceptualising this idea since it rekindles healthy and productive engagements between our learners. The Mpumalanga Department of Education supports this initiative.” MEC Reginah Mhaule

The FinLit Spelling Bee comes on the heels of the Department of Basic Education’s Spelling Bee South Africa programme, which was launched in 2014 for the intermediate phase, Grades 4 to 6. The Banking Association South Africa supported the Gauteng Department of Education to roll-out their 2014 spelling bee and saw an opportunity to augment it and designed FinLit Spelling Bee for Grades 7 to 9 adding the financial literacy twist. The Banking Association South Africa would like to thank the Mpumalanga Department of Education for the continued support of the private sector’s efforts to improve the education outcomes of the learners, such Public and Private-Sector Partnerships (PPPs) are what the National Development Plan calls for to move the country forward. All hands on deck as we deliver the

FinLit Spelling Bee!