The Land NSWFA View Advancing ag education

The Land Newspaper
NSW Farmers View
19 December 2013

Sarah Thompson - Chair Rural Affairs Committee

The release of the NSW review into agricultural education and training last week marked an important step in raising the profile of agriculture within the education system, hopefully addressing some of the knowledge gaps within the community and skills needs for our industry.

We welcome the NSW Government’s response to the report and its commitment to action a number of the recommendations. We believe however, the report did not go far enough to ensure all school children have the opportunity to learn where food and fibre comes from and the resources involved in agricultural production. Furthermore we will look to the government to underpin its support with the appropriate commitment of resources. 

The consideration of agricultural high schools within the report as specialist schools for education and training in agriculture and primary industries is important.  The recommendation however, did not address their unique funding and resource needs in delivering specialist education with land, equipment, machinery and boarding facilities.

The recommendation for the inclusion of agriculture as a content area for study in the year 7/8 technology curriculum is very positive and will complement the position of food and fibre within the technology curriculum at a national level. This is important as it transforms learning about agriculture from an optional related study area into a core area. We will look to see how this translates into the NSW syllabus. 

NSW Farmers has been advocating the position that with sustainability as one of three cross curriculum perspectives in the national curriculum, the contexts of food and fibre production and resource use must surely be relevant and should be embedded across the curriculum. As such, we believe the recommendation for a statement to guide teachers teaching agriculture at a primary school level has not gone far enough to ensure all school children are given the opportunity to have this exposure.

Recognising the challenges of increasing food demand, greater competition for finite resources, climatic conditions and consumer awareness around food safety and animal welfare, it is important that future generations are well informed about agricultural production.

If we do not pursue food and fibre learning outcomes, we believe that we abrogate our responsibility to ensure the next generation is best placed to make important decisions affecting their food security.

As such, there continues to be work which needs to be done by both industry and government in the education space moving forward, but this report is an important step in the process. 

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