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Exam results stress for students and learners at the end of the year is inevitable

Exam results stress for students and learners at the end of the year is inevitable

By Charine Glen-Spyron

CEO Clinical Psychologist, Bel Esprit Hospital.

The end of the year is the time to start unwinding and letting the stress and hard work of the year leave your mind and body. A well-deserved break is on the cards, as is a fun and relaxing time with family and friends. One would think this is the case for everyone, but it definitely isn’t.

School leavers and students at all levels are filled with fear, stress and anxiety, as it is the season of grades and exam results. Grades that often determine their futures and careers and even their shot at happiness, or so we are all made to believe.

In Namibia we emphasise the importance of education and the need to perform well academically. For many it is the only chance they have of getting a bursary, getting into their Tertiary Education Institution of choice, scholarship or positioning themselves for a good job, career and financial security. This brings enormous pressure on pupils and students. Pressure which they put on themselves, pressure which their parents, family and school puts on them as well and pressure from society. Each new Namibian generation is told that they are the future and must build and contribute to creating a ‘knowledge-based’ society. That’s a big ask.

However, this pressure causing stress and anxiety is not just a Namibian problem. Research from the UK’s charity Childline shows that counsellors delivered 11,700 sessions to children and teenagers struggling with mental health issues in 2015-6. That number rose to 21,300 in 2017-18, almost doubling within a year.

As CEO, and a clinical psychologist at of Bel Esprit, a facility that offers mental health care in all its forms, these numbers shock, but don’t surprise me. I see a great deal of issues amongst youngsters, students and school leavers. Whether it is depression, anxiety or a myriad of physical ailments caused by stress and pressure, it is disheartening to see. This is one of the reasons why we have teamed up with Southern Business School Namibia and Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM. To broach this very sensitive topic of mental health and to get people talking. Radio remains the most broadly accessed medium of communication. This makes it the ideal medium to reach people at all levels of society.

We are confronted way too often with young people taking their own lives, seeking solace and comfort in drugs or alcohol because of exam results. When exam results don’t quite turn out how the students, school leavers or parents anticipated. The world seems to fall apart and can become an incredibly lonely and dark place for many. Without the proper support network through the schools, friends and families, young adults and school kids are left to flounder and have no outlet for their disappointment, questions and feelings of anxiety.

Southern Business School Namibia realised this is a real issue and together with us at Bel Esprit want to raise awareness on this issue. At Bel Esprit we are teaching Grade 12 school leavers and students, that grades and exam results are important, however your mental health and as a direct result your physical well-being is infinitely more important.

Through education, raising awareness and simply allowing people to talk about their feelings, the pressure they feel and giving them tools and techniques that will empower them to deal with disappointment and unfulfilled or deferred goals that might result from academic results. This is not only true for the students themselves, but there’s a need to educate friends and family who may be piling on disproportionate pressure and expectations. There are some tools and techniques that can be used to educate and raise awareness, such as;

Take a moment to wallow. Find a word for how you feel, such as disappointed, resentful, or afraid. Let the waves of disappointment wash over you, speak out loud (if only to yourself), and honor your emotions.

Do a reality check—is it really that bad? After feeling the first blows of disappointment, step back and assess. Look objectively at your problems to help separate fact from fiction and reduce negative self-talk.

Don’t stew in negativity. Turn the emotional tables on disappointment and always look for ways to grow from it. Turn negative emotions into a positive emotion like determination.

Put things in perspective. In any disappointment we need to find something useful that we can build on, or that at least lets us see even the smallest positive.

Limit others from dumping their disappointments. People who put a negative spin on everything often spew the negativity on the people around them, she says. Sometimes you have to limit contacts and when exposed, let negative news go in one ear and out the other. Especially when trying to process your own disappointments.

These are just a few pointers, going online or speaking to a professional will give even more methods and techniques on how to deal with this pressure. The most important take-away is to remember to be supportive and realise that these kids have put their heart and soul into their work and that exam results are but a mere snapshot, it doesn’t define them. Be there for them and be strong together and there’s always someone to reach out to.


About The Author

Sanlam 2018 Annual Results

7 March 2019

 

Sanlam’s 2018 annual results provides testimony to its resilience amid challenging operating conditions and negative investment markets

Sanlam today announced its operational results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018. The Group made significant progress in strategic execution during 2018. This included the acquisition of the remaining 53% stake in SAHAM Finances, the largest transaction concluded in the Group’s 100-year history, and the approval by Sanlam shareholders of a package of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) transactions that will position the Group well for accelerated growth in its South African home market.

Operational results for 2018 included 14% growth in the value of new life insurance business (VNB) on a consistent economic basis and more than R2 billion in positive experience variances, testimony to Sanlam’s resilience in difficult times.

The Group relies on its federal operating model and diversified profile in dealing with the challenging operating environment, negative investment markets and volatile currencies. Management continues to focus on growing existing operations and extracting value from recent corporate transactions to drive enhanced future growth.

The negative investment market returns and higher interest rates in a number of markets where the Group operates had a negative impact on growth in operating earnings and some other key performance indicators. This was aggravated by weak economic growth in South Africa and Namibia and internal currency devaluations in Angola, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Substantial growth in Santam’s operating earnings (net result from financial services) and satisfactory growth by Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) and Sanlam Corporate offset softer contributions from Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) and Sanlam Investment Group (SIG).

Key features of the 2018 annual results include:

Net result from financial services increased by 4% compared to the same period in 2017;

Net value of new covered business up 8% to R2 billion (up 14% on a consistent economic basis);

Net fund inflows of R42 billion compared to R37 billion in 2017;

Adjusted Return on Group Equity Value per share of 19.4% exceeded the target of 13.0%; and

Dividend per share of 312 cents, up 8%.

Sanlam Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Kirk said: “We are satisfied with our performance in a challenging operating environment. We will continue to focus on managing operations prudently and diligently executing on our strategy to deliver sustainable value to all our stakeholders. The integration of SAHAM Finances is progressing well. In addition, Sanlam shareholders approved the package of B-BBEE transactions, including an equity raising, at the extraordinary general meeting held on 12 December 2018. Our plan to implement these transactions this year remains on track.”

Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) net result from financial services declined by 5%, largely due to the impact of new growth initiatives and dampened market conditions. Excluding the new initiatives, SPF’s contribution was 1% down on 2017 due to the major impact that the weak equity market performance in South Africa had on fund-based fee income.

SPF’s new business sales increased by 4%, an overall satisfactory result under challenging conditions. Sanlam Sky’s new business increased by an exceptional 71%. Strong growth of 13% in the traditional individual life channel was augmented by the Capitec Bank credit life new business recognised in the first half of 2018, and strong demand for the new Capitec Bank funeral product. The Recurring premium and Strategic Business Development business units also achieved strong growth of 20%, supported by the acquisition of BrightRock in 2017. Glacier new business grew marginally by 1%. Primary sales onto the Linked Investment Service Provider (LISP) platform improved by 5%, an acceptable result given the pressure on investor confidence in the mass affluent market. This was however, offset by lower sales of wrap funds and traditional life products.

The strong growth in new business volumes at Sanlam Sky had a major positive effect on SPF’s VNB growth, which increased by 7% (14% on a comparable basis).

Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) grew its net result from financial services by 14%. Excluding the impact of corporate activity, earnings were marginally up on 2017 (up 8% excluding the increased new business strain).

New business volumes at SEM increased by 20%. Namibia performed well, increasing new business volumes by 22% despite weak economic conditions. Both life and investment new business grew strongly. Botswana underperformed with the main detractor from new business growth being the investment line of business, which declined by 24%. This line of business is historically more volatile in nature.

The new business growth in the Rest of Africa portfolio was 68% largely due to corporate activity relating to SAHAM Finances, with the East Africa portfolio underperforming.

The Indian insurance businesses continued to perform well, achieving double-digit growth in both life and general insurance in local currency. The Malaysian businesses are finding some traction after a period of underperformance, increasing their overall new business contribution by 3%. New business production is not yet meeting expectations, but the mix of business improved at both businesses.

SEM’s VNB declined by 3% (up 6% on a consistent economic basis and excluding corporate activity). The relatively low growth on a comparable basis is largely attributable to the new business underperformance in East Africa.

Sanlam Investment Group’s (SIG) overall net result from financial services declined by 6%, attributable to lower performance fees at the third party asset manager in South Africa, administration costs incurred for system upgrades in the wealth management business and lower earnings from equity-backed financing transactions at Sanlam Specialised Finance. The other businesses did well to grow earnings, despite the pressure on funds under management due to lower investment markets.

New business volumes declined by 13% mainly due to market volatility and low investor confidence in South Africa. Institutional new inflows remained weak for the full year, while retail inflows also slowed down significantly after a more positive start to the year. The international businesses, UK, attracted strong new inflows (up 57%).

Sanlam Corporate’s net result from financial services increased by 4%, with the muted growth caused by a continuation of high group risk claims experience. Mortality and disability claims experience weakened further in the second half of the year, which is likely to require more rerating of premiums in 2019. The administration units turned profitable in 2018, a major achievement. The healthcare businesses reported satisfactory double-digit growth in earnings, while the Absa Consultants and Actuaries business made a pleasing contribution of R39 million.

New business volumes in life insurance more than doubled, reflecting an exceptional performance. Single premiums grew by 109%, while recurring premiums increased by a particularly satisfactory 56%.

The good growth in recurring and single premium business, combined with modelling improvements, supported a 64% (71% on a comparable economic basis) increase in the cluster’s VNB contribution.

Following a year of major catastrophe events in 2017, Santam experienced a relatively benign claims environment in 2018. Combined with acceptable growth in net earned premiums, it contributed to a 37% increase in gross result from financial services (41% after tax and non-controlling interest). The conventional insurance book achieved an underwriting margin of 9% in 2018 (6% in 2017).

As at 31 December 2018, discretionary capital amounted to a negative R3.7 billion before allowance for the planned B-BBEE share issuance. A number of capital management actions during 2018 affected the balance of available discretionary capital, including the US$1 billion (R13 billion) SAHAM Finances transaction. Cash proceeds from the B-BBEE share issuance will restore the discretionary capital portfolio to between R1 billion and R1.5 billion depending on the final issue price within the R74 to R86 price range approved by shareholders.

Looking forward, the Group said economic growth in South Africa would likely remain weak in the short to medium term future, and would continue to impact efforts to accelerate organic growth. The outlook for economic growth in other regions where the Group operates is more promising. Recent acquisitions such as the SAHAM transaction should also support operational performance going forward.

“We remain focused on executing our strategy. We are confident that we have the calibre of management and staff to prudently navigate the anticipated challenges going forward,” Mr Kirk concluded.

Details of the results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018 are available at www.sanlam.com.