Headlines for January 1-13, 2023

Australia Makes Tech and Further Ed Courses Free

Young Kids Play

As part of the AUS$1 billion (US$69 million) Skills Agreement—a joint initiative between Australia’s federal and state governments to address the nation’s skills shortages—180,000 Technical and Further education courses are free for students, as of January 1st. These courses are concentrated in underskilled sectors including care, technology, hospitality, and tourism, among others. First Nations Australians, people with disabilities, and people between the ages of 17 and 24 will receive prioritized placement. The federal government has contributed AUS$493 million (US$340 million) to this program and plans to scale up the program over the coming years to offer approximately 500,000 fee-free courses. Read more about the initiative at SBSNews.

​​England’s Prime Minister: All Students to Study Math Until Age 18

In his first speech as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said he wants to ensure that all students in England study mathematics in some form until the age of 18. Currently, only about half of 16 to 19-year-olds take math courses, according to Mr Sunak, and most of these are students in STEM programs. Mr. Sunak wants even students pursuing degrees in humanities and creative arts to take courses that would give them financial literacy skills for life and prepare them to succeed in a world where, according to Mr. Sunak, “data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job.” No firm plans are yet in place, but the government is looking at expanding existing qualifications and courses rather than creating new ones and looking for innovative ways to incorporate more math into the curriculum. The first challenge to the Prime Minister’s plan may be a lack of qualified math teachers. According to the Association of School and College Leaders, there was a “severe shortage of math teachers” across the country, and a 2021 survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that 45 percent of secondary schools in England were using non-specialist teachers to deliver some math lessons. Read more at BBC.

Students taking an exam

Ontario Updates Future-Ready High School STEM Curriculum


Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that a new course—Digital Technology and Innovations in a Changing World—will replace Introduction to Computer Science for 10th graders starting next September and a new Technical Education curriculum for high school with a focus on “automation innovations” will be introduced in September of 2024 for 9th and 10th graders. Lecce said, “Job creators and innovators have been very clear—what we teach our children must be cutting edge. It must reflect the changing marketplace.”  Students in the province are required to take either a third science course or a computer science or technical education course for graduation. For more, see News Ontario.

How Singapore’s Education System Will Evolve in a Changing World

Singapore must continue to evolve its education system to remain relevant and competitive in a fast-changing world, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said at a conference last week. Even though the island nation leads the world in many education outcomes, it cannot afford to sit still, he argued. The Minister outlined five priority areas for growth: customizing learning; promoting lifelong learning and incentivizing adults to create knowledge and value; promoting collaboration between education and industry; strengthening the linkages between education and other sectors of society; and investing in teachers’ ongoing development so they can explore new pedagogies. Read more at Straits Times.