Labor believes we must attract our best and brightest graduates to the classroom – to nurture the next generation of Australian scientists, innovators and leaders.
NSW should be at the forefront of science and innovation. Yet under the Liberal Government we are falling behind other Australian states and countries such as China, India, Singapore, Japan and Korea.
Of the Australian states, NSW ranks 3rd in mathematics, 3rd in science and 4th in reading. This is not good enough.
Ten years ago, 23 per cent of Year 12 students studied chemistry compared with 18 per cent now. Over the same period, physics has fallen from 21 to 14 per cent. And the number of our students graduating from university with engineering or science degrees is in freefall.
Labor knows that without a robust, inspiring education system, it is impossible to create a skilled and competitive workforce – ready to meet the demands of the 21st century.
We need inspiring curriculum programs and investment in teachers.
That is why Labor will fund an additional 200 scholarships for talented students to train as teachers in secondary maths, science and English. The scholarships will be available for students completing their HSC, studying a relevant course at university or people willing to make a career change.
Students will receive a $5000 annual training allowance while studying full time for a teaching qualification. Upon graduation, they will be guaranteed permanent employment in a NSW public school and awarded a further $3,000 to assist with expenses such as relocation costs.
Labor is also committed to ensuring teachers are able to deliver effective drug education programs, to encourage our young people to make wise decisions and lead healthy and productive lives.
There has been an alarming increase of drug use in NSW schools – with 175 incidents in 2013, up from 27 incidents in 2005. But the Liberal Government has abolished a critical resource to combat teenage drug use – the Drug and Alcohol Education Unit – in a foolish cost-cutting measure. The Unit provided parents and students with resources and curriculum materials to tackle substance abuse.
NSW Labor will reinstate the specialist Drug and Alcohol Education Unit, because our schools should have access to world-class curriculum materials designed by educators who are experts in drug and alcohol prevention.