The Apartheid Museum was chosen as the venue to host the FinLit Spelling Bee during Savings Month and as we celebrate Mandela Day.

It was perhaps fitting to describe yesterday’s mood (23 July 2015) as “Spellbindingly unnerving” to the learners from the 8 Schools that were participating in Gauteng Province’s first ever Financial Literacy (FinLit) Spelling Bee, an accessory component of the StarSaver™ Programme of The Banking Association South Africa. Winnie Mandela High, Blue Eagle High, Itirele Zenzele High, Cosmo Secondary and S’godiphola High Schools (Gauteng Province) as well as Mabande Secondary and Dlomodlomo Secondary School (Mpumalanga Province) battled it out in what was a tongue twisting word edutainment, while observed by learners from Muzomuhle primary school (Spectator School) as well as an audience of financial gurus from various Banks and Financial institutions, Government officials from National and Provincial Department(s) of Education, Teachers, Parents, Volunteers, local and international guests, with a spoonful of our very own StarSaver™ Stars/Ambassadors – Tebogo “ProVerb” Thekisho, Mpumi Mbethe and Sibusiso Vilane.

The motto of the Banking Association’s flagship generic financial literacy programme StarSaver™, “Ligotshwa Limanzi” is an ancient notion meaning “best shape a stick whilst moist”. On Thursday, 23 July 2015, learners were not only trying to pronounce a variety of financial words, but they were also celebrating, and learning about the rich history of South Africa at the Apartheid Museum where the event was held. The event was planned to bring all present to their knees with laughter, suspense, fun and anticipation as ProVerb, the host of the day, steered everyone through an exciting line-up featuring nerve easing comedy for the learners by comedian –, messages of support by various partner institutions: SABRIC, Department of Basic Education, Gauteng Department of Education, KZN Financial Literacy Association, National Debt Mediation Association and encouragement by the StarSaver™ Ambassadors and the SURPRISE of a carefully selected music piece by the programme’s own ambassador, ProVerb, (performing song: “My Day Will Come” a special message that ProVerb wanted to personally share with the learners) and of course the highly unnerving, edge-sending competition which sets both learners and observers to heightened anticipation.

The Gauteng FinLit Spelling Bee Activation was 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, at The Big Hole Diamond Museum, Kimberley, Northern Cape, followed by the Mpumalanga Activation which took place on 17 June 2015 at Bongani Mountain Lodge, Luphisi Village in Mpumalanga. 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 convenient for everyday use and are meaningful for the Grades 7, 8 and 9 for their Economic Management Science classes. This was 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. It is a gateway to reading and writing and the spelling bee improves learners’ retention of financial concepts that touch on our daily lives. July is Savings Month in South Africa and July 18 is International Mandela Day – the global movement of Volunteering 67 Minutes of ones’ time to do something that is of kind service to and for others. Therefore StarSaver™ embraces both these concepts.

At the end of the competition the participating/competing learners and winners walked away with various prizes that are for educational purposes including: Calculators, Business and Economic Studies dictionaries, pens, ruler sets, financial literacy games, word games, backpacks, drawstring bags, Books: “Long Walk to Freedom” and Sibusiso Vilane’s “To the Top From Nowhere”, StarSaver™ Aflatoun club buttons, T-shirts, ProVerb’s “The Read Tape” CD, FSB’s booklet – “A Financial Guide for Youth” Invited as special guests were the 3 winners from Mpumalanga – 1st Mr. Glet Thwala of Sitintile Secondary School Ehlanzeni, 2nd Ms Mandy Sibanyoni of Sidungeni Secondary School, Luphisi Village at Ehlanzeni and 3rd Mr. Vuyisile Malaza of Coronation Secondary School, Emalahleni.

Winners of the 2015 Gauteng FinLit Spelling Bee were:

1st Place: Ms Mashila Sekgala of S’godiphola High School
2nd Place: Ms Bontlenyana Tshabalala of Winnie Mandela Secondary School
3rd Place: Mr. Zikholi Khoza of Mabande Secondary School

The Banking Association South Africa would like to thank the National Department of Basic Education and Gauteng Department of Education for the continued support of the private sector’s efforts to improve the education outcomes of the learners; such Public Private Partnerships are what the National Development Plan calls for to move the country forward. StarSaver™ is made possible by the participation of 23 banks and 43 financial institutions, and we are very grateful to their volunteers. 25 Tips for Star Spellers were handed-out to all learners. The Apartheid Museum tour was how the day was wrapped up.