Original Research

Evaluating financial education initiatives in South Africa: The importance of multiple evaluation approaches

Emily Massey, Alyna Wyatt, Caitlin Smit
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 4, No 1 | a125 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v4i1.125 | © 2016 Emily Massey, Alyna Wyatt, Caitlin Smit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 March 2015 | Published: 10 June 2016

About the author(s)

Emily Massey, Genesis Analytics, South Africa
Alyna Wyatt, Genesis Analytics, South Africa
Caitlin Smit, Genesis Analytics, South Africa


Background: Given the low levels of financial literacy in South Africa, financial education projects have a significant role to play in reducing some of the demand side barriers to financial inclusion. Measuring the impact of a financial education project is important to assess whether the project achieves its ultimate objectives, for justifying scaling up and for policy design. However, impact evaluations alone are not sufficient in describing the success or failure of a project.

Objectives: This study aims to show that, particularly in a South African context, where investment in financial education interventions is mandated by the Financial Sector Codes, impact should not be the only criterion assessed when evaluating financial education projects.

Research method and design: This study was informed by a literature review, a synthesis of team experience on a range of financial education projects in South Africa and the development of case studies.

Results: Describing the success or failure of a project needs to go beyond impact and explore factors such as project relevance, design and quality. In order to verify these other factors, different types of evaluations are necessary at the various stages of the project’s life-cycle.

Conclusion: Expanding the learning objective beyond the exclusive identification of whether financial behaviour was achieved is particularly important where financial education projects, and the monitoring and evaluation thereof, is mandated. In the African context, where resources are scarce, money for monitoring and evaluation should be selectively channelled into determining project relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and then only impact.


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