Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Bill Gets a "D" for Science & Technology
"So whether it's Southland students working hard to break new ground, or hi-tech businesses striving to maintain their competitive edge internationally, science and innovation are key drivers of economic growth and the Government is ready to support them."
I thought it ironic that Bill English was promoting the success of the Southland and Tecnology Fair (September 5) and a little disingenuous of him to imply that the science and technology teaching has good support from his Government.
Primary Schools have struggled to teach Science and Technology as well as they would like to since the funding and resourcing for these learning areas has been largely wiped since the introduction of National Standards. The fixation on literacy and numeracy has seen almost all professional development in the other learning areas cut and the school advisors for Science and Technology have been sacked. The Government's own Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, has expressed concerns about the lack of investment in the teaching of Science.
As one of the writers of our current technology curriculum it is continually frustrating for me to see how little support this learning area has in our primary schools when it is so pivotal in ensuring that our country has the capacity to compete in a world dominated by technology. While I applaud the initiative to provide broadband to all schools, such tools are useless if we don't also develop the knowledge and skills to use them effectively.
Mr English and his Government also like to mention the millions of dollars being spent on research and development but the reality is that although the budget has increased slightly to 1.3% of GDP we are still well behind the OECD average of 2.4%.
I'd have to give Mr English a "B" for recognising the importance of Science and Technology and a "D" for his Government's commitment to it. I would also include the comment "can do better if he tried".