Calls by Northland budget advisors over the years for financial literacy to be taught in schools has been rewarded as lessons on such matters now attract NCEA credits.

The School Leavers' Toolkit includes a website for high school students with self-directed learning about financial literacy, civics education, the key competencies workers need on the job, and information about personal wellbeing.

The toolkit includes information on how to enrol for further study or training, how to manage money, and the skills and attributes expected in the workplace.

They can also learn about money matters either in general class or as part of related subjects such as mathematics.


Financial literacy classes teach students the basics of money management such as budgeting, saving, debt, investing, and giving.

That knowledge lays a foundation for students to build strong money habits early on and avoid many of the mistakes that lead to lifelong money struggles.

Whangārei Anglican Care Centre budgeting coordinator Dianne Harris said financial literacy in schools would definitely make a difference for students moving forward in life.

"Budget services have always said how important it is for kids to learn some form of financial literacy but schools say it's hard to include it in their curriculum, but now it's happening,'' Harris said.

"It's great and why not get people like financial mentors to come along and complement the work of the teacher, particularly after Covid-19, for students to understand how important it is to have savings?''

She said lessons on financial literacy would make an impact if done well and with a good curriculum to work with.

It would be ideal, she said, for students to understand by the time they finished school what Kiwisaver is, how insurances work, what debt is, how to read credit contracts, and the importance of putting aside money for emergencies.

"We run courses here to teach financial literacy and cooking and participants say how good it would be if their kids could come along and learn cooking,'' Harris said.


"Money is not one of those things people talk about so you just learn from your own experiences but I think it's important people are taught about financial literacy, especially these days when it's so easy to get a credit card, easy pay and things like that."

From an early age, she said they could risk being sucked into cycles of bad debt that could hold them back.

Harris said while the workload of budget advisors would not decrease, financial literacy in schools would mean struggling parents would seek more in-depth advice on money matters.

She used to give talks to students about financial literacy when she lived in Auckland 12 years ago and pushed for the subject to be included in the school curriculum.

"Schools are now teaching something that parents should be teaching at home but it's good it's now part of the school curriculum."

Post Primary Teachers' Association Northland lower regional chairwoman, Rachel Burnett, said financial literacy was optional and could either be learned online or taught more likely as part of subjects like maths, commerce, and vocational studies.


At Dargaville High School where she teaches, she said plans were underway to introduce financial literacy classes for Year 9 and Year 10 students in general class time.

"Just to get the conversation going and basic knowledge about money so students don't get shy talking about money matters. When we have educated students, we have educated parents,'' Burnett said.

"A lot of parents are desperate for students to get that education in schools and I expect the topic to be integrated into other subjects going forward," she said.

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