AEU leadership calls for banks to be banned from Tasmanian schools

IMMEDIATE action is needed to protect impressionable Tasmanian school children who are being taken advantage of by money-hungry commercial banks.

The Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch Executive this week used an extraordinary meeting to call for an end to big banks using school banking programs as marketing tools for vulnerable children.

AEU State Manager Brian Wightman said the Tasmanian Government must act in the best interest of Tasmanian students and follow the lead of other jurisdictions in banning banks from classrooms.

“There is obvious need for financial literacy to be a part of the school curriculum, however our students deserve programs delivered by qualified teachers, without being exposed to one of Australia’s largest child marketing schemes,” he said.

“These programs are marketed as financial literacy education programs that support teachers in their delivery of the curriculum, when in reality they are transforming students into customers of financial institutions by allowing banks to market their brand and make money from school children.”

A recent ASIC Review into Schools Banking Programs report found children aged 5-13 years are unable to understand messages and marketing at a sufficiently nuanced level to be informed consumers of any financial service or product.

The review found children are susceptible to marketing tactics as they have limited cognitive capacity and lack the ability to effectively understand that the content is advertising.

ASIC also flagged concerns about banks paying schools to incentivise school banking programs and found banks had failed to effectively disclose that a strategic objective of their programs is customer acquisition.

Ending Tasmanian school banking would follow the sensible move by the Victorian Government which banned the classroom marketing exercise earlier this year, ahead of legislation also passed in the ACT to do the same this month.

Mr Wightman said better outcomes could be achieved in public education without interference from private interests.

“Given the lack of evidence school banking programs lead to better financial literacy, their removal won’t have much impact on children’s learning,” Mr Wightman said.

“In fact, it might be the impetus schools need to take financial literacy education more seriously.

“We urge the State Government to take immediate action on this matter.”