A report by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) about our nation’s declining participation and achievement in maths highlights the urgent need to make science, maths and digital literacy a national priority.
AMSI’s Discipline Profile of the Mathematical Sciences report released today concludes that “the overall picture indicates many deeply disturbing problems affect Australia’s capacity and capability in the mathematical sciences”.
The report also highlights concerning trends including
- A lack of qualified mathematics teachers in secondary schools;
- Declining results in national numeracy testing in schools, and slippage in Australia’s international rankings;
- Declining participation in mathematics-based courses in university, especially among women; and
- Below-average employment and wage levels among graduates.
This week we have seen similarly concerning results in Australia’s schools and higher education system; with NAPLAN results published yesterday showing little improvement across numeracy and literacy testing, and university data showing increasing drop-out rates among undergraduate students.
To ensure Australia remains competitive internationally, we need a Federal Government that will make education a national priority.
Instead, we have seen the Abbott Government make savage cuts to schools and universities, vocational education and research.
We know that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations today require skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations.
Yet in 2012 only 16 per cent of higher education students in Australia graduated in STEM-related subjects, compared with 52 per cent in Singapore and 41 per cent in China.
Labor is the only party that is committed to investing in STEM, research and innovation to build and sustain the jobs of the future.
Labor has announced initiatives that will prepare our children, our workforce and industries for the changing economy. These policies align closely with AMSI’s recommendations to boost Australia’s mathematics capacity.
- Establish a STEM teacher training fund to support 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines.
- Encourage STEM graduates to teach, by offering 25,000 Teach STEM scholarships over five years, to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Recipients will get $5000 when they commence a teaching degree, and $10,000 when they complete their first year of teaching.
- Provide 100,000 STEM Award Degrees – 20,000 a year for five years – which will provide a financial incentive for students to enrol in and complete a STEM undergraduate degree, in recognition of the significant public benefit of growing Australia’s STEM capacity. STEM Award Degree recipients will have their HECS debt written off upon graduation.
- Give every child in Australia the opportunity to learn coding and computational thinking in school.
For more detail about Labor’s policy visit www.futuresmartaustralia.org
THURSDAY, 6 AUGUST 2015