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StartSmart: financial literacy at schools in Australia

How could we integrate financial literacy into school and universities' curricula?

Photo of André Fernandes
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How could we integrate financial literacy into school and universities' curricula?

How the traditional financial institutions could engage into financial literacy programs? What's missing in this case?

StartSmart is a Commonwealth Bank Foundation initiative in Australia that offers school kids a guided approach to learning about money in the classroom. The program is funded by the Foundation and has been developed in consultation with education experts. It's also aligned with the school curricula.

The program teaches students about financial literacy, empowering them to make wise financial decisions for themselves. We have gradually expanded our offerings to cater to as wide a number of students as possible, customising our workshops according to their needs, interests and levels of learning.

It was launched in 2007 and consisted of a range of workshops aimed at secondary school students. Each workshop was tailored towards a topic of direct relevance to secondary students’ daily lives and experiences: Earning, Saving, Spending and Investing.

Following the success of our Secondary program, the Commonwealth Bank Foundation decided to extend StartSmart to primary schools in 2010. For the Primary workshops, StartSmart consulted specialists in primary education, cognitive development, instructional design and financial literacy.

The Primary program consists of three stages, each of which corresponds to a different level of learning. The workshops are engaging as well as educational, featuring characters such as Captain SuperCents, Coach Cash and Gobbles the Wallet Monster, who represents all the temptations to spend money needlessly.

In February 2012, StartSmart launched a new program: Pathways. This program has emerged in response to research highlighting gaps in financial awareness among 18 to 25 year olds. It aims to empower upper secondary and vocational education students to take control of their financial futures, through an all-new set of four workshops.


One Milion Kids: description about the StartSmart facilitation program


Join the conversation:

Photo of Will Fung

This is a great initiative! I love the idea of teaching kids at a young age about financial investments, and in particular the stock market. From SmartStart's website, SmartStart Secondary students are exposed to the topic of stock markets, but I was unable to find any details as to the extent that stock markets are covered. Based on the promotional videos, it appears as though students may not be provided with the proper tools to continue developing their knowledge on investments.

I came across an article (see below for link) a few months ago about a family with 3 children that already owned stocks in companies. I would like to see something similar in which students would "purchase" stocks (fake money could be used) and monitor how well their investments do. One could argue that having the early exposure of "playing" in the stock market would eventually lead students to actually investing in the stock market much earlier in life. For many of my friends and colleagues, the main hurdle that prevented them from purchasing their first stocks was that they have never done it before (real or fake). It's very similar to playing at a casino for the first time. Initially, it's quite intimidating, but eventually one becomes habituated to the environment.

Photo of André Fernandes

Hi Will, interesting your suggestion about develop the knowledge on investments for students. It's a good idea that you can propose on the Ideas phase, currently going on. Check here the other ideas that have been posted:

Photo of Will Fung

Hi André, thanks for the suggestion! I'm new to OpenIDEO, so I'm still trying to navigate my way through everything. I'll be adding to the ideas section!

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