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Minister Pushes Importance Of Maths

Education Minister Nick Smith says New Zealand must perform better in maths at all levels if we are to build a knowledge economy in the new century, and the Government needed to take new initiatives to promote maths education.

"New Zealand children perform below the international average in Mathematics. We do well in the final year of schooling but do poorly at primary school level. Our eight year olds ranked only 18th out of 24 countries in the most recent International Mathematics and Science Study."

Dr Smith told parents and pupils at a visit to Nayland Primary School in Nelson that a lift in New Zealand's performance in maths would require an increased focus by parents and teachers. As part of the 'Feed the Mind' campaign, presenters Jude Dobson and Joanna Paul will be showing easy ways to help young children learn in the home, on '5.30 with Jude' every Tuesday for the next 20 weeks, starting this week. This is an extension of the 'Feed the Mind' campaign which has been running on television, radio, billboards, bus shelters, and in mailouts since early May this year.

"Television can so often be a negative for children's learning. This campaign aims to use television as a positive medium to address a key educational issue."

Government has also recognised the importance of attracting people with maths skills to the teaching profession. To address the shortage of maths teachers at the secondary level, with 25 TeachNZ scholarships for people with maths degrees to take up secondary teacher training. The scholarships are worth $10,000 each and applications close on 27 August.

"These scholarships are a good start but are not enough. We need to upskill our existing maths teachers and push harder to attract more maths teachers. I am working on initiatives to address this. We also need to provide greater incentives for children to achieve levels of excellence in mathematics. I want students who excel in those subjects that are so important to New Zealand's future to get encouragement and reward for their endeavors. A new initiative is being planned that will better reward excellence in mathematics."

"In an increasingly technology orientated society, skills in mathematics are becoming more and more important. Our education system must respond to that challenge."


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