Agricultural educators hit by cuts

Teachers miss out after school based agricultural program axed


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Downlands College deputy principal Tim Morrison and AgForce CEO, Michael Guerin, with school children at the final Moo Baa Munch event in October 2018, which has been axed after funding was pulled from the SIPP. Photo - Helen Walker.

Downlands College deputy principal Tim Morrison and AgForce CEO, Michael Guerin, with school children at the final Moo Baa Munch event in October 2018, which has been axed after funding was pulled from the SIPP. Photo - Helen Walker.

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Specialist agriculture teachers will miss out on vital training under State Government cuts.

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SPECIALIST agriculture teachers have gathered in Brisbane for what will be the last Food, Fibre and Agricultural Educators Conference after the State Government axed funding to the flagship program.

About 100 teachers from Queensland and interstate attended the conference, which was run under the now defunct School to Industry Partnership Program (SIPP).

The AgForce facilitated program was designed to give educators the most up to date knowledge of agricultural industries to pass on to school children in a bid to get them to understand the role of agriculture and consider careers in the industry.

But the conference is another causality of the $181,000 annual funding for the SIPP being cut after it had been running for 14 years. 

Queensland Ag Teacher’s Association president Hardy Menser said educators relied on programs such as the SIPP to work with industry to ensure the most up to date information was being passed on to the kids.

Mr Menser said the cut would impact on the future of agriculture in Queeensland.

”The effect on the industry probably won't be seen for a number of years, in fact we're preparing the next generation,” Mr Menser said.

“With a large amount of jobs being lost around Queensland and changes in agriculture in recent times, teachers’ abilities to prepare the next generation are really hindered if this program stops.

“Teachers work from the toolbox of resources we have, we are poor in time, and to lose SIPP, it really is a  major weapon in our arsenal.

“To be able to adequately prepare our students for future generations it's going to be a hard thing to replace.”

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin has launched a last ditch effort to get the government to reconsider the funding cut, saying the SIPP was a cost effective way to reach students.

Mr Guerin said it was incomprehensible that Queensland, home to the country's largest and fastest-growing agricultural industry, was cutting ag education just as other states were beginning to invest - many using SIPP as a model.

"While New South Wales implements compulsory ag classes in high school, and Tasmania injects an additional $16 million into their school farms initiative, Queensland has axed its home-grown program that cost just $18 per student to deliver," Mr Guerin said.

"This is another kick in the guts from the State Government for agriculture, an industry which the Government's own AgTrends report estimated will top $20 billion in terms of gross value of production this year.

"The continued strong growth of our industry depends on having a well-educated, appropriately trained workforce that is passionate about working in agriculture, whether that be on-farm, in food processing, or in science and research.

"Our industry needs to be at the cutting edge of agricultural research and farming practices, retain the knowledge and experience we have, and attract fresh perspectives and enthusiasm, and we can't do that with access to quality education and training.”

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