The Federal Government has announced a $1.1 billion plan to increase Australia’s innovation, including a renewed focus on promoting science, maths and computing in schools.
In the recently-released National Innovation and Science Agenda Report the Federal Government has outlined key measures to support the delivery and participation of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools, these include:
• Supporting the teaching of computer coding across different year levels in schools;
• Reforming the Australian Curriculum to give teachers more class time to teach science, maths and English; and,
• Requiring that new primary school teachers graduate with a subject specialisation, with priority for STEM.
It has been labelled the ideas boom designed for the nation’s future prosperity and to help it move on from the mining boom that has passed.
“We want to be a culture, a national culture of innovation, of risk-taking, because as we do that, we grow the whole ecosystem of innovation right across the economy,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the launch. “We become more experienced, more innovative, more agile, more prepared to take on risk and become a culture of ideas because it is the ideas boom that will secure our prosperity in the future.
“By unleashing our innovation, unleashing our imagination, being prepared to embrace change, we usher in the ideas boom. That is the next boom for Australia and, you know something, unlike a mining boom, it is a boom that can continue for ever.”
A pledged $48 million Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literacy program intends to help schools with the following:
• Encouraging school students to participate and achieve in science and maths by supporting participation in international competitions and by introducing youth prizes in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science;
• Engaging preschoolers with fun experiments, inquiry and play-based learning apps focussed on STEM concepts; and
• Backing science in communities, with events such as National Science Week, that inspire STEM curiosity and knowledge in young people.
The government will also implement a five-year $51 million package starting in July 2016 to promote digital literacy and has set $13 million over five years aside to be used to encourage and retain women and girls in STEM industries.