The Government must continue to prioritise the teaching of maths and the physical sciences in secondary schools, Engineers Ireland director general John Power said today.
Speaking in the wake of the ASTI survey that indicated many secondary level schools have been forced to drop science subjects and reduce the availability of higher-level maths, Power called for the Government to heed what it heard at Farmleigh last weekend that engineering and creativity are the keys to Ireland’s future.
The ASTI report stated that 25% of schools in one Galway region have dropped science from the curriculum. In east Mayo, 20% of schools have also dropped science subjects, according to the survey.
“The initial ASTI findings are extremely worrying,” said Power.
“Subjects that are fundamental to the Smart Economy framework such as physics, chemistry and maths are claimed by the ASTI as casualties of school cutbacks. The Government needs to ensure that its cuts are strategic and not impacting on areas around maths and science subjects.
“Maths and the physical sciences are key elements of the engineering syllabus at third-level as well as being key pillars of the Smart Economy.
“Engineers Ireland has already highlighted the direct link between the decreasing numbers studying these subjects and the shortage of engineers entering Irish industry.
“Engineers Ireland fully acknowledges the need for cuts in public sector spending in a difficult economic climate but undermining maths and science subjects that underpin the Smart Economy framework seems short-sighted and counter-productive.”
A major report by DKM Economic Consultants earlier this year found that engineers directly contribute €5.5bn to the economy and are particularly prominent in high-tech sectors that account for almost 80% of merchandise exports.