The NSW Virtual STEM Academy has been awarded a share of $596,000 in funding from the St George Foundation Schools Plus Inspire Grant to help drive the programs nationwide expansion.
Located at Murrumbidgee Regional High School (MRHS), the Virtual Academy is part of the STEM Industry School Partnerships Program (SISP), which targets regional and rural students and provides a range of STEM based learning opportunities.
Deputy Principal of the Virtual STEM Academy, Ian Preston told The Area News that the funding would 'ensure certainty' for the Academy for the next three years as it expands to reach an estimated 10,000 students across the country.
"The Virtual STEM Academy provides world leading STEM education, access to industry, universities and international collaboration to students in our community not available elsewhere," Mr Preston said.
"Now, the next stage is expansion to the Australian Virtual STEM Academy which will be lead by the Queensland and NSW Academies."
Chief Executive Officer Schools Plus, Rosemary Conn from the St George Foundation said the funding will provide a crucial launching pad for the Academy at a critical time.
"A workforce with strong STEM skills is essential to keeping the Australian economy growing," Mrs Conn said.
"Digital innovation alone can potentially deliver $315 billion in gross economic value to Australia in the next 10 years.
Increasing STEM literacy is a vital pathway to long-term employment opportunities for current and future generations that will lead to sustainable, fulfilling, and secure lives."
Students from a number of local partner primary schools started the program back in August, enjoying lessons centered around text based coding and electronics.
Tara Beath, Acting Chief Executive of the St George Foundation said that the goal of the grant was to ensure quality education for as many people as possible regardless of their location or background.
"We want all young people to be set for success, which means every child should be afforded an excellent education that builds capacity in problem solving, inquiry, critical thinking and creativity," Mrs Beath said.
"Crucially, the program will help to improve educational outcomes for students experiencing disadvantage now, giving all children an equal opportunity to access the jobs of the future."
More information about the NSW Virtual STEM Academy can be found here.
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