PCs push for post-secondary math and science expansion
Changes may be in sight for post-secondary students if the Progressive Conservatives are elected on June 12.
The PCs are proposing for extra emphasis to be placed on math, science, engineering and business programs in universities and colleges. They claim this push to expand post-secondary math and science education will help foster job creation and help Ontario’s economy adjust for the future.
“We think that’s where jobs will be in the future — in the high tech business and engineering disciplines,” said Ted Chudleigh, current PC MPP for Halton and critic of training, colleges and universities. “We’ve all heard the stories about the guy with two or three degrees sitting at home on his parents couch. We think that pushing mathematics-based courses will help bring good jobs to Ontario.”
The push is also a result of the state of mathematics and science education in the province.
“Even with a reduction in the amount of students, and increase in number of teachers, we’ve seen a decrease in our international math standing,” said Rob Leone, PC MPP for Cambridge-North Dumfries, and critic of education.
In response, both the PCs and Liberals have vowed to boost math scores and improve overall elementary and secondary math abilities. The PCs have proposed a province-wide science test for grade eight students in order to assess their abilities heading into high school.
According to Leone, the poor performance of students in science and math extends beyond elementary school and high school. It’s also present in the province’s post-secondary institutions.
“One of the reasons why math and science is a concern, is that many universities are reporting that as many as 50 per cent of students are failing first-year math courses,” said Leone. “Same thing in the colleges — colleges are reporting that the aptitudes of college students in math are not sufficient.”
The Liberals are proposing expanding and improving math education in the elementary and secondary levels, but have not made any specific proposals concerning post-secondary math and science education.
“The PCs are not unique in saying we need to continue to advance our science and engineering programs. We’ve been doing that for 10 years,” said Brad Duguid, Liberal MPP for Scarborough Centre and minister of training, colleges and universities.
With the push for expansion in post-secondary math and science programs, many may also be concerned that funding for the liberal arts will be reduced, or that liberal arts programs will no longer receive the attention that they garnered.
“What employers look for in graduates today is not just math, science and technological skills, but your ability to be creative and innovative. The liberal arts are still extremely important,” said Duguid.
That being said, the PCs are holding firm that an expansion in post-secondary math and science programs would bolster economic growth and ensure a brighter future for Ontario.
“I think there are people who will always go into the arts programs, and I’m not saying there wont be any jobs in that area, but I think if you look at the percentage of people who graduated from the arts and got a job, versus people who graduated from the sciences and got a job, there would be a stark difference,” said Chudleigh.