Banqer hosted a webinar in November, bringing together four expert panelists to deliberate on the potential shape of mandatory financial literacy in New Zealand and the crucial role of incorporating it into school programs.
The webinar, 'Compulsory Financial Literacy in Schools’, can be viewed here. However, if you're looking for a brief overview, continue reading.
Why prioritise financial literacy now?
Strong financial capability has become more important than ever. We’re still feeling the post-pandemic effects, and this is layered with once-in-a-generation inflation. The pressure on nations, communities, and individuals worldwide is being felt. The economic and well-being consequences of poor financial literacy cannot be ignored. Both major political parties and smaller ones alike have recognised this and are prioritising financial literacy education. Schools are continually being asked to do more, making it crucial to find an approach that works best for all.
One major challenge in implementing financial literacy education
The most obvious hurdle in moving toward compulsory financial education is resourcing. In most countries, including New Zealand, the curriculum is packed. Teachers and school leaders feel this pressure acutely. Therefore, it is essential for the Government to provide adequate resources and allow schools to decide how to position financial literacy within their existing curriculum.
Adapting the curriculum
Flexibility will play a key role in successfully integrating financial literacy into the curriculum. Schools in New Zealand have the autonomy to implement the curriculum as they see fit, and so financial literacy education must be able to be tailored to meet the specific needs of different communities.
Making financial literacy experiential and meaningful
Given the current context and climate, there is increasing urgency for students to develop strong financial literacy. Students need more than to be simple observers of the financial world. They deserve the chance to begin actively participating in financial decisions before they leave school.
Financial literacy can be positioned in various learning areas depending on a school's approach. For schools that work primarily in specialist subject areas, there are many opportunities to integrate financial literacy. Alternatively, for schools that favour a more project-based or holistic approach, integrating learning areas can offer different opportunities.
By breathing life into core concepts such as risk assessment and strategic planning and intertwining them with subjects like health, students begin to comprehend the pivotal role of financial literacy in future preparedness. Financial literacy might just be the missing ingredient that adds a dash of intrigue to subjects like math, particularly for those students who struggle to see its relevance. By putting mathematical principles to work in real-world financial scenarios, the subject sheds its abstract cloak and becomes tangible and relatable.
Tailoring financial literacy education to local needs
It's vital that financial literacy education is fit for purpose and tailored to the specific needs of each school and community. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Instead, the Government should provide flexible, contextual guidelines that allow for adaptations to local curriculums across the country. It’s also important that local MPs advocate for financial literacy education and for educators to be proactive in their advocacy efforts.
Practical advice for educators to deliver financial literacy now
Firstly, and quite simply, integrate financial literacy into an existing curriculum. Instead of viewing financial literacy as an extra burden, find ways to integrate it into existing subjects. For instance, layering financial literacy into maths turns mathematical principles into real-world financial scenarios as students learn to balance a budget, forecast savings or calculate tax. Mathematics can go from abstract to exceptionally practical and relevant.
Secondly, make learning experiential. Encourage students to become active participants in their financial education. This could involve real-life simulations or projects that require strategic planning and risk assessment. This approach can help students understand the importance of financial literacy in their daily lives.
Finally, be flexible in how you implement financial education. Recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective when it comes to financial literacy. Instead, adapt the curriculum to meet the specific needs of your school and community. This might involve focusing on different aspects of financial literacy or using different teaching methods.
Keep the conversation going
Thanks to our panellists, Carole Fullerton, Jarrod Kerr, Holly Bennett and Rob Clarke, for sharing their expertise and exploring what compulsory financial literacy in New Zealand schools could look like. We'll have a more in-depth breakdown next week so keep an eye out!
Access to the right tools to help manage time and curriculum constraints is critical and will be key to successfully implementing compulsory financial literacy education. Banqer provides educators a simulative platform to explore a virtual economy with their students, underpinned by teaching and learning resources that save time and effort.
If you’re ready to see how Banqer High can help your school be ahead of the curve and offer rich, engaging financial education now, get in touch. We’d love to help.