United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday said his government will work with the education sector to ensure that all children in the country study maths in some form until the age of 18.
In his first speech of the year, Sunak announced that he is making numeracy a central objective of the country’s education system. “Right now, just half of all 16 to 19-year-olds study any maths at all,” he said. “Yet in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, letting our children out into that world without those skills, is letting our children down. So we need to go further.”
The prime minister stressed that the UK must re-imagine its approach to numeracy so that citizens feel confident about their finances.
“Just imagine what greater numeracy will unlock for people: The ability to do your job better and get paid more and greater self-confidence to navigate a changing world,” he said. “Improving education is the closest thing to a silver bullet there is.”
Sunak, who took on the job after his predecessor Liz Truss resigned in October after just 44 days in office, said the matter of education was personal for him.
“Every opportunity I have had in life began with the education I was so fortunate to receive,” he added. “And it’s the single most important reason why I came into politics: to give every child the highest possible standard of education.”
The policy details of Sunak’s announcement to make all children in England to study maths up to the age of 18 have not been formulated yet, the BBC reported. Critics also say that his plan cannot be implemented without more maths teachers.
Sunak’s Conservative Party, which has been in power in the UK for 12 years, is lagging behind the Opposition Labour Party in opinion polls. The next general election is expected in 2024.
“No tricks, no ambiguity,” the 42-year-old prime minister said in his speech on Wednesday. “We are either delivering for you or we are not. We will rebuild trust in politics through action or not at all.”
Sunak also promised to cut inflation as well as National Health Service waiting lists, reduce debt and expand the economy. Inflation in the UK is at nearly its highest point in four decades and economists see Britain slipping into a long recession. Sunak’s government is also facing pressure as thousands of workers across sectors have gone on strike to demand better wages to keep pace with soaring prices.