Neil Edmond was dismayed to discover that Kiwi kids’ understanding of money does not appear to have improved since he was a child.
“I’m 52 and my generation grew up knowing very little about money. We weren’t told how much things like cars or houses cost, or how much we’d need to earn to support a family or how to invest our money”.
Decades later, and not much has changed, says Edmond, after extensive research informing the development of a new online financial literacy program for schools called MoneyTime.
Edmond, the managing director of MoneyTime, conducted more than 200 sessions with students in Years 7 and 8 and found less than half had a bank account, most thought interest was something to do with a house, and virtually none had any idea about what investing is.
“If we don’t teach our kids about budgeting, good debt vs bad debt and investing, they are going to end up learning the hard way, like we did.”
Determined to make a difference, Edmond has teamed up with a successful software entrepreneur, a software developer and an ex-school principal to develop an interactive online program that makes learning about money fun. Incorporating the latest thinking in online learning from Australia, the US and the UK, the program comprises 30 lessons ranging from earning money, banking and earning interest through to buying property, making investments and business basics.
“That might sound a bit serious but the kids love it. They want to know about these things” says Edmond.
A key feature of the program is students earn money for each correct quiz answer to spend on avatars and investments within the program. They have Everyday and Savings accounts and are required to make their own decisions around saving, spending and investing. They learn through trial and error without real life consequences.
It also is aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum, following the financial capability progressions and fits well into English, Maths and Social Science learning areas.
Feedback from teachers has been unanimously positive.
“My class are loving the programme and are begging me to unlock the next module,” says Julie Burrows, Academic Coordinator for Year 7 & 8 at St Peter’s College in Gore. “They are telling me their parents are just as excited as them about the program and are working through it with them at night. This is a fantastic way to get whanau talking.
“I think it is one of the best programs I have used as far as student engagement goes and it’s great to see they are transferring their learning back into the classroom program,” says Burrows.
After 18 months of research, development and testing, Moneytime was launched in June this year, and is already in use in 86 schools nationwide with another 100 schools trialling the program.
The program costs $30 per pupil per annum which is in line with other leading online programs. Edmond says most parents spoken to think this is excellent value for money but many schools are reluctant to pass the cost on, especially lower decile schools. MoneyTime is seeking sponsorship to pay for the program into all schools and has two major banks interested.