National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults: Seeing the ‘financial’ in adult literacy and numeracy

The National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults is a key part of the national infrastructure to strengthen the literacy and numeracy skills of adult learners in New Zealand – including their financial capability.

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by Professor Diana Coben

The National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, hosted by the University of Waikato, was established in 2009 through a contract with the Tertiary Education Commission.

We focus on literacy and numeracy for adults as a large-scale issue of national strategic importance.

Financial capability (sometimes called ‘financial literacy’) is a key aspect of the literacy and numeracy skills adults use in work and everyday life. Without literacy and numeracy it’s difficult to be financially capable in the modern world.

For us, financial capability is “literacy and numeracy plus”.

We provide professional learning opportunities for the New Zealand tertiary education sector and workforce through workshops, modules, symposia and a tailored advisory service for organisations, educators and managers.

We facilitate collaborations with key stakeholders nationally and internationally, bringing together literacy and numeracy expertise in a range of tertiary, workforce training and workplace settings.

In one such collaboration, the National Centre is working with the Ministry of Education on communications to prepare the ground in the Tertiary Education sector for New Zealand’s results in the latest International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS).

The survey is part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It is the most comprehensive survey of adult skills ever undertaken.

Adults’ skills were assessed in literacy, numeracy and the ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments. Background information was collected on education, languages spoken and socio-demographic information, work and adults’ use of skills at work and in everyday life – including financial aspects of these skills.

New Zealand’s PIAAC/ISAS results are due to be released in mid-2016.



National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Director, Professor Diana Coben, chaired the Advisory Group of the 2013 Financial Knowledge and Behaviour Survey.

She also serves on Te Māngai Penapena Pūtea Financial Literacy and Savings Partner Working Group.

The Working Group was established to meet Goal 3 of He Kai Kei Aku Ringa, the Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership.

Te Māngai Penapena Pūtea has produced two reports:

Both reports can be found here on the MBIE site.