I see that Simon Power is taking up some of the recommendations of the Capital Task Force. All very good. But the emphasis that Powers is putting on improving the financial literacy of New Zealanders in the spin on the decisions is quite strange bearing in mind decisions already made by the government. All of the reporting I’ve seen has been about starting to teach more financial literacy in schools.
But that is a long-term strategy – it does nothing for investors now. What the government should be doing is improving basic financial literacy for current investors. They are the people who need the advice the most right now. In particular they need to be able to sort the bullshit from the gems offered by financial advisors like stock or financial brokers. So what is the best vehicle for delivering that type of education?
Ideally it should be accessible to people doing relatively small investments. That means it should be low cost and most commercial financial seminars are done by sharks pushing their own products and charging like wounded bulls. It should not interfere with work or weekends. Therefore it should be available in the evenings.
In fact the ideal system would use existing classrooms in schools as night classes with people teaching the basics, and where there is no direct salesmanship in selling financial products. But Anne Tolley just destroyed the long running cheap effective and more efficient than the alternatives Adult Community Education program in a burst of short-term stupidity, pushed through under urgency with no public submissions. This appears to me to be done to financially prop up private schools.
“Adult education in New Zealand has survived one hundred years, two world wars and a global depression.” Fordyce stated. “We will educate this government that social needs are just as important as economic ones.”
Approximately 220,000 New Zealanders participate in outside education courses each year. The petition delivered to Parliament this afternoon is the largest to be presented this term.
Expecting Anne Tolley as Minister of Education to understand the importance of education in financial literacy in schools as seems as unlikely as her ability to comprehend exactly how important the second chance opportunities that ACE offered are. She appears to have little idea about many of the objectives of education, preferring to concentrate on unrequired and probably ineffective irrelevancies like ‘National Standards’.
On Simon Powers panacea of kid education in finance, I’d suggest that current investors here keep their scepticism and caution well and truly alive. This looks more like a short-term PR stunt by a government wanting to shore up the battered confidence of investors rather than anything substantial. Clearer statements are not a lot of use if you don’t have the basic education required to understand what they’re saying. They’d be better off educating the adults.
On a personal note about adult education. My mother had to leave school early to become a nurse and later to raise me and my siblings. A decade later, she returned to education using the adult community education night classes to get her university entrance. Having night classes were critical – she was raising three small children.
She subsequently got a degree and started working at a much more productive level than would have been possible otherwise. She also triggered a a interest in higher education not only amongst her children, but also in the wider family – which had previously not been noted for any interest in education.
If the night school had not been there in the first place, it is unlikely any of that would have happened. Nor is it likely that our family would have been making the contribution to our economy that we have made over the decades since that all-important second chance. Night classes are an important second chance point of access to education. They were cheap and remarkably effective in providing people the incentives to do further education.
I’m furious at the effective destruction of night classes by this government. As far as I’m concerned cutting them to push money into private education is ridiculous, as well causing a economic problem for New Zealand further down the line. If there are budget constraints in the education budget, then cut the subsidisation of people affluent enough to pay school fees. Use the money saved to rebuild the critical second chance adult education system.
That is a policy that I think parties of the left should adopt and push for the next election. Who is drafting the resolutions for Labour?