Financial management skills are best taught at a young age, however despite the development of a curriculum for financial education, few schools have taken up the opportunity to teach kids about money, claiming lack of resources and a crowded curriculum. There is another very significant barrier to financial education and that is the lack of financial skills in teachers themselves. Teachers at all levels of our education system have an important role to play in improving financial literacy and they need to be properly trained and resourced to carry out this role.
An exciting new pilot programme is about to get underway which will train tutors from Whitireia Polytechnic so they can acquire the skills and resources needed to deliver financial education. This initiative arose from a joint research project between the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income and Visa to explore ways of increasing the quality of formal financial education. The research was based on a survey of a number of institutions involved in trade training and the provision of community services. It showed that tutors in the surveyed institutions tended not to have specific expertise in the content or processes of financial literacy. Often, they relied on their own personal experience of financial matters. Less than half had received training or professional development and what they had received was not exclusively linked to financial literacy. When providers were asked why their teaching staff had not been trained or offered professional development, the common response was that it was due to professional development opportunities not being available. The conclusion of the research is that there is a pressing need for professional learning and development for teachers in formal financial education. If we want to see good quality financial education in this country, we must first train the teachers.