New research has found the current approach to financial literacy in schools is failing teenage girls and recommends that it be taught as a standalone course instead.
Independent charity Financial Basics Foundation, in partnership with Suncorp Bank, commissioned the research by Griffith University to investigate why young women have lower levels of financial literacy than young men.
The Financial Literacy of Young Australians report highlights six key recommendations for secondary schools to improve their financial education, Suncorp says in a statement.
The report’s authors say that an extensive number of studies have found females outperform males overall in high school, outnumber males in university, and are higher qualified in the workforce.
“However, there remains consistent evidence that women, and in particular young women, have lower financial literacy levels than men.”
A summary of the report findings included:
- Financial literacy education should be elevated within high schools, ideally within a standalone program
- The delivery of financial literacy education in maths needs to be improved
- The delivery of financial literacy education should be expanded to subjects outside of maths and business
The report found that while some students were aware of financial concepts such as interest, inflation, investing, insurance and superannuation, most had little or no knowledge and/or understanding of how they translate to personal finance.
Despite the introduction of content and specific opportunities to develop financial literacy in two Australian curriculum learning areas (mathematics and economics and business) in 2014, the research revealed that many students, especially girls, found the maths-based approach to financial literacy was a barrier to learning these essential life skills.
Financial Basics Foundation CEO Katrina Samios says the research further highlights the need for all teenagers to learn more about personal finance and money management as a safe path to financial security.
…there is evidence that knowledge and awareness of effective financial strategies is actually going backwards…
“There is evidence that knowledge and awareness of effective financial strategies is actually going backwards, despite financial literacy education being addressed in the Australian school curriculum,” Samios says.
“This is a significant concern and The Financial Literacy of Young Australians report should be a wakeup call for governments and educators… Consistent with this report’s recommendations, we are calling on governments to introduce financial literacy as a standalone course across all secondary schools.”
Suncorp Bank CEO Clive van Horen echoed the recommendation to introduce financial literacy as a standalone course.
“A standalone course based on managing personal finances not only helps teach young Australians how to make good financial decisions, but it supports their financial and mental wellbeing, knowing they are working towards a financially secure future,” van Horen says.
“Not enough emphasis is put on this important life skill in schools and more can be done,” he states.