TENS of thousands of students and teachers are about to take part in financial literacy trial lessons.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's MoneySmart teaching program will be trialled nationally at secondary schools for the first time from term one, adding to a primary school program that began last year.
About 120,000 children and 6000 teachers will take part in the trials, with topics to include compound interest, supermarket unit pricing, and finding the most cost-effective mobile phone plan.
ASIC senior executive for financial literacy Robert Drake says three out of four children own a mobile phone by the time they start high school.
"Year 7 students learn about saving money by buying smart and comparing mobile phone plans, ensuring that their mobile phone costs remain within budget,'' he says.
The trial topics are aligned with the Australian curriculum but are separate to a new curriculum that will be rolled out over the next four years, which will have a bigger focus on financial literacy.
"From 2017, all kids in years 5-8 will be doing economics and business,'' Drake says.
"Knowing how to handle your money and the choices you make as a consumer is a challenging thing in modern life, and really is a core skill.
"With money increasingly invisible because everything happens electronically, it makes it harder to learn about money through everyday life.''
Impact Financial Coaching director Allan Ward says the trial is a "great idea'', particularly for teens who are gaining independence with money.
"Programs that teach them to make smart decisions for the small things will be useful down the track when they are earning more and making bigger financial decisions,'' he says.
"We haven't had parents who have been great with money, and kids learn a lot from their parents.''
ASIC's trial program will involve taking feedback from schools, with an aim to make it available more broadly from 2014.
Education resources for parents and teachers are at teaching.moneysmart.gov.au