Steam education

Mr DULUK (Waite) (16:05): I rise today to talk about the very important subject of education and about STEM in our school system. We all know what STEM is. Today, the member for Florey talked about LAMP as well. They are two acronyms that are very important to the education of our future generations. STEM is based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Rather than teach four disciplines as separate subjects, there is an increased focus on integrating them into a cohesive learning program.

STEM education encourages students to learn about these topics, take an interest in these subjects and potentially find a career in a STEM-related field which will prepare students for a working life after school. Students are encouraged to gain and apply knowledge, deepen their understanding and develop creative and critical thinking skills. The knowledge developed through studying these subjects has an increased importance in our daily lives and in future job markets.

We want to encourage youth engagement with STEM, as jobs in the STEM fields are indeed on the rise, especially in South Australia. One argument we have at the moment is around the migration debate here in South Australia and the lack of a skilled workforce in our economy. Anything that we can do as a government and as a community to increase those skills, especially in the STEM-related space, will certainly help our future workforce. Encouraging STEM topics now will help meet the employment needs of the future. It is about ensuring that our kids are developed and ready for tomorrow's challenges.

STEM not only teaches students about science and maths but it demonstrates how it can be useful in everyday life and applied outside the classroom. Most recently, in yesterday's state budget—the state budget that is here to clean up Labor's mess and also to recalibrate the South Australian economy—it was announced that the South Australian taxpayers will be investing $250 million to provide wonderful new state-of-the-art purpose-built learning spaces in 139 schools in South Australia. This government is continuing the substantial and quite significant investment in education. I think that over half a billion dollars is being spent over the next four years in the education of South Australian students.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Hawthorndene kindy annual community science night. I was very happy to open that community science night. The Hawthorndene kindy provides quality, stimulating early learning for students that now extends into science, which is fantastic. With kindies encouraging an early interest in science, I have no doubt that some of the kindy students I met a couple of weeks ago will continue to build on those science and STEM skills as they go through their education journey. I hope that science night for those kindy kids will encourage them as to the importance of STEM.

On 19 August, I had the pleasure of representing the Minister for Education at Mitcham primary to officially open the new STEM centre there. Can I just say that school captains Ruby, Alice, Chuck and Nitin as well as Isaac did a wonderful job in showing me and my federal colleague the member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, through the new building, which had fantastic interactive learning spaces. On 21 September, in a couple of weeks, the Blackwood High School STEM centre will open as well. There is some magnificent investment in STEM in my community.

I have to say, though, that as much as I applaud STEM it is always important to look at the missing letter in STEM, which is A for arts. STEAM is important in our education as well. Education must have a creative component. Students need a creative outlet, and that is why the arts are so vital. Languages, humanities and philosophy are critically important to students' education as well.
When we look to the future at those fields that require more employees, there will always be a focus on STEM. However, the arts and various arts subjects, including design, drama and music, play a critically important part in the economy and in education and that is why it is so important that we progress from STEM in our narrative in education to STEAM. That is how we will ensure that we have the best kids, the smartest kids and the most rounded kids leaving our schools and entering our workforce to work in the important jobs that are required in the future to ensure that South Australia is a magnificent place to live and well and truly plays its part within the federation.