Aussie school students have been ditching Year 12 maths, according to new research.
Only around 30 per cent of Year 12 students are taking intermediate or high-level maths. Only 7 per cent are girls while 12 per cent of boys study advanced maths.
Top actuaries David Barnesm, Martin Lulcare and Margarita Psaras said low participation rates in maths may “perpetuate systemic inequalities” that require a public policy response.
This means that the gap between those in lower socioeconomic conditions and those at the top may grow larger.
In a research note they said low levels of participation, and the fact maths subjects are not a priority in Australian schools, mean that the adverse implications for individuals and society in general, are serious.
“Actuaries solve the practical problems of managing risks using high level maths, statistics, economic and financial analyses,” said Actuaries Institute CEO, Elayne Grace.
The research found that as participation rates in maths continue to drop, students risk widening socio-economic inequalities in society.
“It is disappointing that as many as 25 per cent of Year 12 students in NSW are not studying any mathematics,” the research said.
“Of great concern is the disparity between males and females: only approximately 7 per cent of Australian female students in Year 12 study higher maths subjects, compared with around 12 per cent for males.”
The research said the Government may be forced to step in to enact some policy change to ensure students learn maths.
“The consequences of declining higher maths participation in school will be far-reaching,” it said.
“Participation in higher maths study is lower for girls than boys and performance in mathematics is lower in low socioeconomic (SES) communities than high SES communities.
“Hence, school level mathematics study may perpetuate systemic inequalities that policymakers are addressing in other areas.”