Slashed funding hits industry and thousands of students
"EDUCATION should be considered a solid investment."
That is what Stephen Andrew, state Member for Mirani, said about the removal of funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program and the decision to close two of Queenslands agricultural schools at the end of 2019.
The program has allowed students to have access to industry professionals since it began.
"The SIPP has a 15-year history of bringing agricultural education closer to thousands of Australian kids growing up in places like Brisbane," Mr Andrew said.
"With stubborn amounts of youth unemployment, and quality learning places at the last remaining ag college going unfilled, on top of dropping of funding for the SIPP program, these two events leave little hope in attracting future generations to agriculture; and even less once the Queensland ag colleges disappear forever.
"Agriculture has been a big part of establishing Australia and whilst the industry undeniably faces many struggles; it is still worth $14b to the Queensland economy and underpins hundreds of rural and remote communities."
Last year, the State Government announced it would no longer provide the $181,000 to fund SIPP, because it was no longer relevant, which is fiercely denied by the National Ag Educators' Association.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the agriculture industry was absolutely dumbfounded as to why such an important and cost-effective program that reached more than 10,000 students at hundreds of schools every year was cut.
"For many city kids, SIPP offered their only opportunity to learn about farming, about how their food is grown, and about what an interesting and diverse environment agriculture in Queensland is," Mr Guerin said. "For many kids, SIPP events are the first time they have ever touched a farm animal, felt real wool or an ear of wheat, seen a tractor or harvester or talked with a farmer."
Hardy Manser, Queensland Ag Teachers Association president and central Queensland teacher, said this would not just impact 10,000 students, but the teachers too.
"With the professional development we have received (with this program), all of those teachers going back to their students, it will be exponentially larger," Mr Manser said.
He added that industries will change over time, and it's important for teachers to be able to adequately prepare students for the future.
"In reality, the SIPP is a pretty massive tool in our arsenal," he said.