Published on May 6th 2022 in

Suncorp backs drive for financial literacy course in schools

Suncorp is calling on governments to introduce financial literacy as a standalone course across all secondary schools as research commissioned by Suncorp found the current traditional maths approach is failing young Australians, particularly teenage girls.

Most students had little or no knowledge and understanding of insurance, as well as how other concepts such as superannuation, interest, inflation and investing translate to personal finance. Many, especially girls, found the current maths-based approach to financial literacy was a barrier to learning these essentials. “Not enough emphasis is put on this important life skill in schools and more can be done,” said Clive van Horen Suncorp Bank CEO. “A standalone course based on managing personal finances supports their financial and mental wellbeing.”

Secondary schools should deploy tools such as storytelling and context, Griffith University academics Laura de Zwaan and Tracey West say in the Suncorp-commissioned study, done in partnership with charity Financial Basics Foundation.

“It is important to match the learning activities with what the students are experiencing, and to use real life scenarios,” the report said. While females outperform males overall in high school, outnumber males in university and are higher qualified in the workforce, they have lower financial literacy levels.

The researchers urge that the delivery of financial literacy education in maths be improved and also expanded to new subjects, that a range of assessment methods be offered, the financial experience of students be acknowledged, and that students receive more exposure to effective strategies, in particular moderation of spending for saving.

NCR Suncorp's Clive van Horen 
For many students, maths is not the most effective curriculum area for learning about personal finance, the report said, often fixating on formulas and calculations without understanding of the underlying concepts, leaving many students disengaged. “There is evidence that knowledge and awareness of effective financial strategies is actually going backwards,” said Katrina Samios Financial Basics Foundation CEO. “This is a significant concern and the Financial Literacy of Young Australians report should be a wakeup call for governments and educators. We want all young Australians to have a secure financial future and a clear understanding of the strategies they can employ to achieve that.”

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