12 more schools around Australia will be included in a trial program known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), following an announcement of a futher $4.6 million in funds from the Coalition Government.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with students from McCarthy Catholic College in Emu Plains to coincide with the announcement.
McCarthy Catholic College students are just one of the groups to be partnered with young PwC employees under the terms of the program.
“There will be kids that are not particularly inspired by their studies – they’re smart kids, they’re hard-working kids but it doesn’t seem terribly relevant to them at age 15,” he said at a press conference on school grounds.
“And then they meet … a young person from PwC who talks about their story, what they studied, and suddenly a light goes on and that 15-year-old boy or girl is inspired.”
The original trial program, which is designed to deliver better results in STEM subjects, was announced by Tony Abbott in 2014, after the former Prime Minister became inspired by a similar pathways initiative in the US.
The US-based P-tech program is the brainchild of computing technology corporation IBM, and the process of transplanting the initiative in Australian soil has already drawn criticism from pundits, including The Register’s Richard Chirgwin, who has voiced concerns that it’s being expanded upon before initial evaluation has taken place.
P-TECH’s expansion follows the current Government’s focus on STEM learning, in which Australia is seen to be falling behind other OECD nations, with Government documents citing just 16 per cent of Year 4 students are taught science by a qualified teacher (TIMSS and PIRLS, 2011), while just 40 per cent of Year 7 to 10 maths classes were taught by a qualified maths teacher (Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda).