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Research fund won’t address shortage in sciences

Media Release

11 March 2008

Multi-Million dollar research fund won’t address shortage in sciences – PPTA

Government plans to pump nearly a quarter of a billion into scientific research will not work without the scientists, PPTA president Robin Duff says.

The Prime Minister has hailed the Government’s $500 million plus fund to promote innovation in food sciences and agricultural research (which could grow to more than $700 million with interest) as a “quantum leap forward” for scientific research and innovation.

Mr Duff however feels the money is being poured in at the wrong end, with critical shortages in science, maths and technology teachers in secondary schools.

“They’ve got it all backwards – if they continue doing nothing to nurture science and technology in secondary schools, the quantum leap will not be forward.

“Where will these innovative scientists come from if there is no one there to teach them?” he said.

At present there was very little to entice New Zealand’s brightest into teaching secondary sciences, he said.

“They are currently paid at a generalist teacher rate – if we are to fill specialist secondary teacher vacancies, pay alone would need to increase by at least $10,000.

“There is not enough going into recruiting people with science, maths and technology qualifications – what incentive do they have?”

This was apparent in the drop in students training to be science teachers, he said.

“On top of the current shortage, we understand that no physics teachers have been trained in Auckland for the last two years. A similar situation is likely to be the case in maths and other technology areas,” he said.

Mr Duff said he would rather see the money spent of recruiting and retaining science teachers before the situation became any worse.
“At the moment we can’t see any improvement in the foreseeable future,” he said.


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