Financial literacy as core competency of South African military officers : a measurement instrument

Van Nieuwenhuyzen, Bernard J. (2009-12)

Thesis (PhD (School of Public Management and Planning ))—University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Since 1994, education and training in South Africa has experienced various changes, driven mainly by the Green Paper on Skills Development and the White Paper on Education which set objectives and outcomes and gave guidelines on how education and training should be approached, planned, and managed. The White Paper on Education necessitated change in SA tertiary institutions such as Stellenbosch University and its respective faculties. The Faculty of Military Science, which is situated at the South African Military Academy (SAMA) in Saldanha, accepted the challenge of contributing to the full personal development of students, by undertaking to shape people capable of organising and managing themselves and their human activities, including their financial activities, responsibly and effectively. The success of higher education institutions in empowering young people to be financially capable is questioned by various publications and surveys. Preliminary findings from surveys in 2004 and 2005 among students at the SAMA suggest that they are largely financially illiterate, thus potentially economically volatile. These findings introduce the research problem and serve as a foundation for the development of a scientific, socially relevant, valid and reliable financial literacy measurement instrument. A combined qualitative and quantitative research methodology is applied to develop a measurement instrument, which is then assessed for validity and reliability by applying it in a case study. The secondary objective of this research is the social study of the financial knowledge, financial behaviour and financial attitude levels of individuals. To ensure relevance between the case study and the measurement instrument, financial literacy is initially evaluated as a management competency. Financial literacy is stated as a key competency in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The financial literacy measurement instrument was constructed after an exploration of the contextual and conceptual nature of financial literacy. A questionnaire was selected as the ideal method of gathering the required information. The questionnaire’s validity and reliability were assessed as part of descriptive research in the development phase, as well as in the case study. The face and content validity were proven through input from respondents and subject experts. Reliability of the measurement instrument was assessed by calculating item difficulty, item discrimination, means, standard deviations and ultimately the internal consistency of the financial knowledge, behaviour and attitude sections of the measurement instrument. In the case study first-year students achieved an average of 50.17% for their financial knowledge although they rated their own knowledge levels to be 60.8%. The respondents struggled most with questions pertaining to investment, insurance, and inflation, and least with retirement and income and expenditure questions. This research underlines the importance of financial literacy as a management competency and its importance at a global, national, organisational and personal level. It produces a valid and reliable financial literacy measurement instrument that can be used by different stakeholders in South Africa to assess financial knowledge, behaviour and attitude, and thus indicate where intervention is required. Having a valid and reliable measurement instrument for measuring financial literacy creates opportunity for future research and development.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert 1994 het die opvoeding- en opleidingsteater in Suid-Afrika dramatiese veranderinge ondergaan met veral die die Groenskrif op Vaardigheidsontwikkeling en die Witskrif op Opvoeding, wat die doelwitte en uitkomste gestel het en die toon aangegee het in terme van hoe opvoeding en opleiding aangepak, beplan en bestuur behoort te word. Verandering genoodsaak deur die Witskrif op Opvoeding sou by assosiasie ook verandering noodsaak in SA tersiêre inrigtings soos Stellenbosch Universiteit en haar fakulteite. Die Fakulteit Krygskunde, gevestig by die Suid-Afrkaanse Millitêre Akademie (SAMA) in Saldanha, het die uitdaging aanvaar om by te dra tot die totale persoonlike ontwikkeling van studente deur te onderneem om mense te vorm wat in staat sal wees om hulself en hul aktiwiteite verantwoordelik en doeltreffend te bestuur, insluitend hul finansiële aktiwiteite. Hoër Onderwys se sukses met die bemagtiging van jong mense tot finansieel vaardige individue is deur verskeie navorsingsverslae bevraagteken. Voorlopige bevindinge van studies in 2004 en 2005 onder voograadse studente van die SAMA is dat hulle grootliks finansieel ongeletterd is en gevolglik ekonomies kwesbaar. Die bevindinge is die vertrekpunt van die probleemstelling vir hierdie studie, en vorm die basis vir die ontwikkeling van 'n wetenskaplik- en sosiaalrelevante, geldige en betroubare finansiële geletterdheidsmetingsinstrument. 'n Gekombineerde kwalitatiefkwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie is toegepas in die ontwikkeling van 'n metingsinstrument, en die verbandhoudende bepaling van sy geldigheid en betroubaarheid deur die toepassing daarvan in 'n gevallestudie. Die sekondêre doelwit van hierdie navorsing is die sosiale studie van die finansiële kennis-, finansiële gedrags- en finansiële houdingsvlakke van individue. Ten einde relevansie tussen die gevallestudie en die metingsinstrument te verseker, is finansiële geletterdheid aanvanklik as 'n bestuursvaardigheid geëvalueer. Finansiële geletterdheid word in die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag (SANW), as kernvaardigheid aangedui. Die finansiële geletterdheidsinstrument is gekonstrueer na 'n verkenning van die konteksuele en konsepsuele aard van finansiële geletterdheid. 'n Vraelys is geselekteer as die ideale metode om die relevante data te bekom. Die vraelys se geldigheid en betroubaarheid is as deel van deskriptiewe navorsing in die ontwikkelingsfase, en ook tydens die gevallestudie, bepaal. Die gesigs- en inhoudsgeldigheid is bevestig deur respondentterugvoer en vakspesialisinsette. Betroubaarheid van die metingsinstrument is bepaal deur die berekening van itemmoeilikheidsgraad, itemdiskriminasie, gemiddelde, standaardafwyking en uiteindelik interne betroubaarheid van die finansiële kennis-, gedrags- en houdingsafdelings van die metingsinstrument. In die gevallestudie, het eerstejaarstudente 'n gemiddeld van 50.17% vir die kennisfaktor behaal, alhoewel hulle hul eie kennisvlakke gemiddeld as 60.8% aangedui het. Respondente het hoofsaaklik gesukkel met kennisvrae wat handel oor beleggings, versekering en inflasie. Hul het die minste gesukkel met kennisvrae wat handel oor aftrede en inkomste en uitgawes. Hierdie navorsing bevestig die belangrikheid van finansiële geletterdheid as bestuursvaardigheid, asook op 'n globale, nasionale, organisatoriese en persoonlike vlak. Hierdie studie het 'n geldige en betroubare finansiële geletterdheidsmetingsinstrument opgelewer; een wat deur diverse finansiële geletterdheidsaandeelhouers in Suid-Afrika aangewend kan word. Hierdie metingsinstrument sal empiriese inligting oor finansiële kennis-, gedrags-, en houdingsvlakke genereer en aantoon waar intervensie benodig word. Die belangrikheid van finansiële geletterdheid, sowel as die noodsaak vir 'n geldige en geloofwaardige metingsinstrument, is geleenthede vir verdere navorsing en ontwikkeling.

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