Onus on states and territories to stem students sliding maths rankings

Catherine Garrett

Engineers Australia says tackling the nation’s plummeting school rankings in maths and science is a pressing issue for every state and territory following another international survey which shows our students slipping further behind their international peers.

The Association's latest statistics on national trends for students studying advanced maths and science in years 11 and 12 show there is much work to be done in changing attitudes.

EA's numbers show only 6% of girls and 11% of boys nationally are studying advanced maths in their final school years.    

Engineers Australia CEO Stephen Durkin said while the Federal Government can influence STEM funding, real change in the classroom needs to be directed by the states and territories.

‘Our educators need proper training in the maths and sciences and better resources to support their teaching. That includes getting industry and professional bodies involved in helping to advise them,’ Mr Durkin said.

Latest findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted every three years - show Australia is rapidly sliding in rankings for maths and science.

The results revealed that Australian 15-year-old students were up to two years behind the world's strongest performers.

The news follows the recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study which showed Australia had slipped to 27th in global Grade 4 maths rankings.

Mr Durkin said government, industry and educators need to get better at communicating to young people and parents what a wealth of creative work opportunities STEM subjects can offer and dispel some of the outdated stereotypes that STEM jobs are all about geeks and hardhats.

‘Science, technology, engineering and maths subjects are vital building blocks to careers and jobs of the future. There can be no doubt that Australia’s future will be high-tech and knowledge based,’ Mr Durkin said

He also supported the need for a Federal Government strategy to implement long-term plans for infrastructure, defence and energy to encourage STEM jobs growth and the transition to a ‘smart economy.’ 

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