The Australian government Department of Education and Training has responded to concerns from the advice sector that financial literacy efforts for school students are insufficient, saying it “provides a number of opportunities for students”.
Recently, ifa reported on adviser suggestions that Australia is one of the most financially illiterate nations in the developed world, with industry figures such as Instreet managing director George Lucas saying “financial literacy is not taught well at schools”.
Speaking to ifa in response to these claims, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said, "The Australian Curriculum...provides a number of opportunities for students to develop financial literacy".
"For example, the mathematics learning area provides opportunities to explore budgeting, planning and investigation of financial claims," the spokesperson said.
In secondary school, the economics and business content offers students the opportunity to learn about managing money and assets, the spokesperson added.
Further, there are initiatives such as the ASIC MoneySmart Teaching website, as well as the National Consumer and Financial Literacy Framework and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), which support the teaching of financial skills to high school students, the department said.
“The Australian government recognises the importance of ensuring that young people have the information and knowledge to manage their financial affairs,” the department said.
Despite this, others believe there needs to be greater collaboration between state and federal education departments and finance experts.
“Students need to understand the importance of everyday budgeting and spending within your means, taxation and superannuation as these are common issues that are not often a focus in the curriculum, and yet are necessary in the working world," MaKe Financial Decisions financial adviser Mary Kelly told ifa.
“Schools are focused on preparing students for a career. However, once someone is in their ideal or chosen career, they may still have no idea on how to live within their means, understand their superannuation and save on tax."
According to a 2015 survey conducted by financial education firm, The Wealth Academy, 65 per cent of students said their high school did not prepare them with the financial life skills they need as adults and 71.1 per cent of students believe financial life skills should be taught weekly, monthly or at least once per term.
Ms Kelly said advisers can help by, “getting involved with schools in their local community and giving back to schools where possible".
"I am building a relationship with my old high school now by talking to students and teachers about various financial aspects,” she said.
The Department of Education said, ”Financial advisers wishing to engage with schools should familiarise themselves with the Australian Curriculum content. They may also wish to discuss their work with the relevant education authority. “The Australian government is committed to attracting high-quality candidates to the teaching profession who might not otherwise have considered a career in education.”
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