Statistics about how kids are doing with STEM in our schools.
Modelling by PwC shows that shifting just 1 per cent of the workforce into STEM roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP (net present value over 20 years).
The mathematical literacy levels of Australian 15 year olds have declined significantly since at least the turn of the century. The top 10% of Australian students now perform at about the same level as the top 40-50% of students in Singapore, South Korea and Chinese Taipei.
Year 12 participation in STEM subjects is declining. Over the twenty-year period from 1992 to 2012 there was a fall in participation of 11% for intermediate mathematics,10% for biology, 5% for chemistry and 7% for physics.
In the most recent round of Year 4 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) Australia came 18th out of 50 countries in mathematics and 25th out of 50 in science. We have fallen behind Canada, Ireland and many of our Asian neighbours.
In 2012 in the highly innovative manufacturing nation of Singapore, 52% of university graduates were from a STEM-related course. In Australia the proportion was just 16%.
According to the Chief Scientist, less than 3% of total primary school teaching time is devoted to science instruction. By contrast, in Western Europe the average is 9% of total teaching time. (PwC, 2016)
Engaging children in science before the ages of 11 to 14 is critical to generating long-term interest in the discipline. However, Australian primary school teachers are required to spend only 1.5-2.5 hours on science and technology in the 30 hour school week.
Participation in STEM subjects in Australian schools is declining, with enrolment in some elective subjects at a 20 year low.