Money week kicks off

ELOISE GIBSON
Last updated 11:51 03/09/2012
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MAKING MONEY: Empty rooms are an untapped asset.

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Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard is publicly backing a campaign for wider teaching of financial literacy in schools, saying it would help younger generations prepare for future recessions.

In a statement marking the start of New Zealand's first Money Week, Bollard said financial literacy was an important life skill: "Investing in financial education in schools will ...mean younger generations have an understanding of the global financial context which is especially important during a recession".

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan has used Money Week to repeat calls for New Zealand to follow Australia by putting more money into getting financial literacy into classrooms.

Australia last year announced $10 million in funding over five years.

"If New Zealand doesn't follow suit and invest money and resources into financial literacy programmes it is our children who will suffer,'' she said.

Better teaching would lead to higher national savings and lower debt in the future, said Crossan.

She said a new resource being launched by the Ministry of Education this week would not be enough because teachers needed skills to use the resources that were already available.

''We're not asking teachers to load the curriculum, we're saying you can use financial education to teach maths and social studies.''

Money Week is the inaugural financial awareness week being run by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income.

Australia also kicks off its first money week today, leading Crossan to joke that they will probably say they launched theirs first.

''This is going to be like Pavlova,'' she says.

Budgeting services, schools, companies and Government departments are running free events around the country and close to one hundred financial advisers have agreed to offer pro bono advice over the phone (0800 404 422).

Crossan said the response had been amazing but she had thought large institutions might get more involved.

''They might not have realised how important it is.''

Free events range from a Craigs Investment Partners session on investment basics to a debate on Waiheke Island featuring actor Michael Hurst and Green MP Denise Roche on Ayn Rand's statement that ''Money is the barometer of a society's virtue''.

Of the major banks, only Kiwibank was listed as a participant on the Money Week website as of last Friday. BNZ is launching a short story competition with the Commission.

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Funding has been an ongoing issue for voluntary budgeting services but Crossan said the Commission was not ''thumping the desk'' as much as it might be because even ''fairly fundamental'' services were being squeezed.

''Refugees services, relationships services, all kinds of organisations are having their funding cut. So while we always want more money and we think budget advice is really important at this time, we also know the Government is cutting funding everywhere.''

If Crossan had access to more money it would go towards financial literacy in schools, she said.

''It sounds terrible not to give it to budget advice when you know individuals are in strife but in the long term I would be putting more money into teacher development for financial education.''

''New Zealand children and young adults shouldn't be coming out of education without understanding the world they live in.''

People wanting to take part in Money Week can look for free events in their area at moneyweek.org.nz

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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