22 March 2018
Comments from NSW Minister of Education Rob Stokes that STEM is a fad have been rejected by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).
ATSE President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, said understanding mathematics, which is a foundation for all science, was vital if people were to participate successfully in a 21st century society.
“The fact that 20 per cent of students do no maths in year 12 at all is very worrying – that’s 20 per cent of the population who will find it difficult to function effectively in an increasingly digital economy and society,” Professor Bradlow said.
“But overcoming a historic under-emphasis on STEM by encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering and maths does not denigrate the role of other disciplines in creating rounded citizens.
“ATSE, as one of Australia’s four Learned Academies, collaborates with our colleagues in the humanities and social sciences. We recognise the need for balance in education.
“However, we also are concerned at the decline in the number of students taking STEM subjects. In our schools, the number of students studying advanced and intermediate maths stands at about 10 and 20 per cent respectively.
“Since 2012 the proportion of students taking intermediate and advanced mathematics at year 12 has plateaued at a historic 20-year low.
“And fewer students are doing engineering at university.
“This is a worrying trend that will damage the productivity of the Australian economy over time – which is why Minister Stokes’ comments are very unhelpful.
“Our kids need to hear a positive message about STEM, for their sakes and for Australian society as a whole.”
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