Half school leavers ‘financially illiterate’



Last updated 05:00 07/09/2009

Kiwi youngsters are leaving school “financially illiterate” and ill-prepared for the future, a new money knowledge survey shows.

The survey, released today by the Institute of Financial Advisers (IFA), shows that just over half of the 443 pupils surveyed could answer eight out of 40 questions correctly. The questions covered personal spending and saving, tax, KiwiSaver, earning power and education, credit-card interest, and rates of return on investments.

Institute president Lyn McMorran said the results underscored an “urgent need to increase focus on financial literacy in secondary schools”.

“We can conclude from the survey that most New Zealand senior secondary school students have a poor understanding of personal financial management and knowledge.”

She said the results were particularly disconcerting as more than 27 per cent of respondents reported they had had over 40 hours of financial literacy instruction.

The results were gathered from a cross-section of pupils from 54 schools around New Zealand.

Pupils did best on questions where they most likely had experience, such as ATMs and third-party car insurance.

Researcher Alex Neill, of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, said it was well known that many pupils struggled with basic numeric skills, let alone their application to more complex financial situations.

However, he questioned whether the survey properly judged their financial intelligence.

“A test which has that few items, that fewer than 50 per cent of students can get correct, has the mark of a test which is too difficult.”

First-year Canterbury University commerce student Saboor Masud could be an exception to the rule.

At 17 while at Shirley Boys’ High School in Christchurch Masud earned his realtor’s licence, selling his first home.

The proceeds from three home sales had paid for his university tuition so far, and he planned to graduate debt-free and with no parental assistance.

Masud said he did not want to be disadvantaged when starting his career.

He was not surprised school pupils fared so poorly on the tests, as “most don’t even bother to show up for school”.

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said the new school curriculum would incorporate a stronger financial literacy component.

In the survey, pupils had struggled most with questions on risk, compound interest and investment.

Only 10 per cent could correctly calculate monthly interest rate charges on a purchase and how long it would take to pay off.

When asked whether a savings account, government bonds, shares or a cheque account delivered the highest long-term interest rate, only 13 per cent answered shares.

Institute members would be talking to secondary school pupils this week to help raise awareness about the value of professional advice and financial education.

$1.5m paid to control kids


$1.5m paid to control kids

By LANE NICHOLS – The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A fund to help schools with troublesome pupils has dished out more than 1300 payments – mostly for dealing with violence and aggressive or threatening behaviour.

The Interim Response Fund was set up to help schools keep difficult pupils in class. In most cases the money is spent employing one-on-one teacher aides to work with difficult or dangerous pupils.

The fund, introduced last year, is part of a strategy to tackle “severe behaviour” after a sharp rise in incidents.

“It might be some sort of unprovoked assault,” Secondary Principals Association president Peter Gall said.

“That’s the worst sort of violence. That’s unfortunately the situation schools are faced with on an increasing basis these days.”

An Education Ministry report issued to The Dominion Post shows the fund has paid out more than $1.5 million on 1387 successful applications to support 1240 pupils.

Almost every crisis involved boys, most of whom were still at primary school. Injury had been caused in 41 per cent of cases.

A further 20 per cent involved other violent incidents, and 11 per cent involved aggressive or threatening behaviour.

After 10 weeks, nearly one in three schools said the situation was still unstable.

Asked how widespread violence problems were in schools, Special Education deputy secretary Nicholas Pole said the level of violence committed by youth offenders was growing – though the ministry did not “collect data on it in any systematic way”.

Some schools have started using a new confidential pupil survey to gauge whether pupils feel safe, how often they play truant and whether they get bored in class.

The ministry hopes the surveys will provide important information, but has ruled out making the use of them compulsory.

Council for Educational Research manager Charles Darr helped develop the Me and My School survey. He said it was being used by about 100 schools.

It asked pupils how engaged they felt at school, including their safety, truancy patterns, teacher relationships and how interesting they found classes.

“Schools are using it to get some sort of student voice on how well students feel they are involved in student life,” Mr Darr said.

“If you’re looking at the health of your school, you need to be looking at something like this as much as you do achievement information.”