Pupils urged to ‘Get on the Maths and Science Bus’

The chairman of Mallow Development Partnership has urged schoolgoers to “get on the maths and science bus” if they are to avail of the opportunities that are available in Ireland’s new economy. Speaking at the Mallow Smart Careers Competition at St. Mary’s Secondary School , John McDonnell said it was clear that maths and science were the keys to unlocking opportunities in the knowledge economy, and it was also evident that there were skills deficits in Ireland which were having to be met by bringing in suitably qualified people from abroad. “There is no doubt that innovation will drive economic growth in the future. Maths and science proficiency will allow young people to access opportunities in sectors like ICT, biopharma and pharma, health and wellbeing and increasingly also in agriculture and food. Many pupils begin to decide on career choices as early as the first and second year post-primary stage. I would urge them to talk to their parents, school guidance teachers and their maths and science teachers about the whole range of careers that can be accessed by becoming more intensively engaged with maths and science.”

Mallow has become the lead school district nationally for the development of new approaches to the teaching of mathematics and science. Three secondary schools and seventeen primary schools in the Mallow area, and two secondary schools in Doneraile and Buttevant, are now in year 2 of a four year programme with Mallow Development Partnership (MDP) and the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE- MSTL), based at University of Limerick. Teachers in all of these schools are participating in a programme designed to improve the teaching of maths and science thereby improving the interest in and take up by students of these subjects. NCE-MSTL in partnership with sponsors, ESB Ireland and with MDP, the Nimbus Centre in CIT, Intel, and Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork recently invited students in primary and post primary schools in Mallow to explore how mathematics and science can influence careers and to explore and present their findings today.

This latest initiative in Mallow is but one of a number to focus attention on the importance of maths and science. Last September, almost 3,000 parents and children attended a Maths and Science Fair in the town, the first community- based event of its type involving a range of third level, research institutions and technology companies. A similar event is planned for October next. Said John McDonnell. “That attendance was remarkable. There is something very special going on in Mallow and North Cork at present and the participation and collaboration of schools, teachers, pupils and third level institutions has been unique. We are funding the schools maths and science project through local orgnanisation and companies. None of it would have been possible without the magnificent financial support of our sponsors, the Barry Group, Dairygold, Greencore, Cork County Council, Mallow Town Council, Mallow Credit Union and Forfas. Their contribution is all the more appreciated as it comes at a difficult time for the economy. I believe their contribution will be critical in positioning Mallow for the future. “