Today Fiona Patten MP, leader of the Reason Party, questioned the government on its commitment to creativity, music and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education.
During the Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates committee hearing today, Ms Patten questioned the Minister for Education, James Merlino, about the Victorian Budget Paper’s $1 Million funding for music in schools. Ms Patten welcomed the government’s commitment to funding music in schools but questioned the extent of the funding. Ms Patten asked “Music teachers have been speaking to me about the much needed funding and I suppose I was a little disappointed that it was only $1 million and only for a year and I was wondering if there are plans to expand that in the future?”
Ms Patten has been a strong advocate for music in schools and has an election pledge to bring music lessons to all primary schools. She campaigned alongside the Basics Rock and Roll Party at the 2014 state election.
Ms Patten continued to question the Minister on the importance of including the arts in their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programmes. She said “It is crucial that we put arts in STEM programme […] have you [The Minister or the Department] looked at expanding the way you look at STEM, into STEAM?”
The Minister for Education responded, “I agree with you that we need to do more. Employers are looking for critical and creative thinkers and that stems from science and the arts.”
Quotes from Ms Patten:
“We must not overlook the importance of music and the arts in education and children’s development. There are four areas that are integral to childhood development and learning: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. I welcome the government’s commitment to STEM but this cannot come at the expense of Arts funding. The government need to refocus the STEM programme to include the Arts with STEAM.”
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