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  • The Morrison government is extending its strong focus on STEM education with a $5.2 million funding boost to the School Pathways Program
  • The funding boost will see the program extended to 2022
  • Developed by the Department of Defence, the School Pathways Program lets students partake in STEM-focussed activities to develop skills helpful to national defence
  • The program is designed to help prepare students for potential careers within the defence department
  • Over 189,000 students around the country have engaged with defence industry organisations through their participation in the program
  • the Federal Government copped criticism in 2020 for its strong focus on STEM university degrees over arts and humanities degrees

The Morrison government is extending its strong focus on STEM education with a $5.2 million funding boost to the School Pathways Program.

The program, developed by the Department of Defence, is designed to give students more opportunities to develop key skills that could prepare them for careers in the defence industry.

Through the program, students can partake in STEM-focussed activities — that is, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — that train them in skills helpful for the defence department.

For example, one of the program’s initiatives is the SUBs in Schools challenge, wherein school teams across the nation design and build remote-control operated vehicles or submarines.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said following the funding boost, the School Pathways Program will be extended to 2022.

“The Schools Pathways Program is a key initiative of the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy,” Minister Price said.

“It will continue to improve access for secondary stduents to defence industry career pathways by engaging in interactive STEM-based activities.”

So far, over 189,000 students around the country have engaged with defence industry organisations through their particiaption in the School Pathways Program, according to the Department of Defence.

“Initiatives such as these provide secondary students with hands-on STEM experiences and supports the Morrison Government’s effort to enhance engagement in STEM studies and careers,” Minister Price said.

Strong STEM focus

While the School Pathways Program has been running for years, the Federal Government copped criticism in 2020 for a major shake-up of university fees that drove students towards STEM subjects and away from arts and humanities subjects.

At the time, Education Minister Dan Tehan said the fee shakeup was designed to make “job-relevant” degrees more easily accessible.

The new fees model, which was part of the government’s plan to address an increased demand for higher education during the COVID-19 contraction, slashed fees for maths, agriculture, teaching, and IT degrees by between 20 and 62 per cent.

On the other hand, some humanities and arts degrees doubled in cost.

“We are determined to build a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industrial base,” Minister Price said.

The SUBs in Schools national challenge final will take place in early-December 2021 in Tasmania.

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