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Investing in science and maths for a smarter future

08 May 2012
 

More science and maths teachers, equipped with better training and better resources, will enter Australia’s schools as part of the Gillard Government’s $54 million response to the Chief Scientist’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science in the National Interest report.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, and Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, said the Gillard Government and Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb agree that more students need to be educated in vital science and maths fields to ensure there are skilled workers to meet the job demands of the future.

“Our economy is undergoing a major transformation and the jobs of tomorrow will demand workers with high skills, technical knowledge and advanced learning in the sciences and maths,” Senator Evans said.

“The Gillard Government’s targeted investments will address the key issues raised by the Chief Scientist, including the number, quality and training of teachers in science and maths, the importance of encouraging the interest of students in these subjects and building Australia’s skill base in these critical areas.”

The $54 million science and maths package builds on the $8.9 billion investment in science and research in this year’s Budget and will help address the issue of emerging skill shortages in sectors such as engineering highlighted in Professor Chubb’s report.

The Gillard Government’s science and maths package includes:

National leadership to drive inspirational and high quality teaching in maths and science

  • $10.9 million to improve the quality of teacher training through innovative delivery of maths and science teaching programs for prospective teachers.
  • $3.0 million for national support and advice for teachers, including funding for a national advisory and linking service, online videos to illustrate new teaching standards, practical activities for school science laboratories and to provide advice for school science laboratory technicians and science teachers on safe practices.
  • $5 million for the Science Connections program to equip teachers with the ability and confidence to deliver inquiry-based science education and to provide a suite of high quality curriculum resources linked to the Australian Curriculum for Science (Foundation to Year 10).

National initiatives to set new benchmarks for raising the engagement, curiosity and participation of students at primary and secondary school levels

  • $20 million to establish the Australian Mathematics and Science Partnerships Program to support innovative partnerships between universities, schools and other organisations to improve secondary students’ engagement in maths and science and increase the number of students who go on to study these subjects at university.
  • $2.0 million for the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, providing students with access to advanced programs in the fields of mathematical and scientific research including through summer schools and vacation scholarships.
  • $6.5 million for expanding the Science Partnerships: Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program.
  • $2.4 million to support the participation of Australia’s most talented science and maths students in the international Science and Mathematics Olympiads.

National leadership to promote sustained awareness of mathematics, science and statistics targeted at industry, school and higher education sectors.

  • $4.3 million for a National Mathematics and Science Education and Industry Adviser, an important new post to be located within the Office of the Chief Scientist to champion the role of mathematics, science and statistics across education and industry.

Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett, said it is vital to engage students in science and maths education at an early age to foster their continued interest in these subjects.

“Students need to be encouraged to take up science and maths subjects and continue in these studies through their entire education,” Mr Garrett said.

“Science and maths foster critical thinking, reasoning, creativity and other skills that are important across a range of disciplines. These skills are essential for workers as we enter the new economy.

“Ensuring high quality science and maths education at school is an essential foundation for building Australia’s future productivity and economic success.”

The Government has also taken the decision to simplify student contribution amounts for maths and science units at universities by reinstating amounts for all students to Band 2 from 1 January 2013. This treats all students studying these units equally.

Senator Evans said the Gillard Government is committed to building and renewing Australia’s workforce capability through education and skills.

“That is why the Gillard Government will provide $16.3 billion in skills and training, as well as a record $38.8 billion for teaching and learning over the next four financial years to support the increasing number of students attending university as a result of our higher education reforms,” Senator Evans said.

The Government will consider the Chief Scientist's recommendations regarding student incentives and career pathways for maths and science students in its response to the Lomax-Smith report on the base funding of universities later in 2012.

Media Contact:
Minister Evans' office, Rhys Davies 0411 138 572
Minister Evans' office, Amy McKenna 0408 570 603
Minister Garrett's office, Lisa Miller 0419 124 717

 
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