Another in my series of “Success is the journey not the destination and it’s the people you partner with that determine how fast you get there and how rewarding it will be”
I have been bombarded with emails from lots of people who thought I would be excited by this press release titled Food a Tasty Addition to the Australian Curriculum
At first glance I was indeed quite excited then I saw who was actually going to be driving this project and I just shook my head
Here we go again. Logic it appears has once again gone out the window and the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF) formed to be the peak industry body to encourage primary industries education in schools through a partnership between industry, government and educators has been by passed in favour of Agrifood Skills Australia who dabbles in a little bit of this and that
After all is was only through PIEF (with funding from Woolworths) that we all now know that 27 per cent of year 6 students think yoghurt comes from trees and not cows
Yet this highly regarded organisation whose core business is being the preferred provider on credible, relevant and factual information on all matters relating to agriculture, fisheries and forestry for Australia’s teachers, students and the community has been overlooked when the dollars get handed out to provide a source of credible, objective and educational resources for schools to maintain and improve community confidence in Australia’s primary industries
PIEF has the knowledge, expertise, experience and networks. They have built Food and Fibre in the Curriculum from the ground up and understand the needs of schools and the needs of teachers yet all this gets forgotten when we have $1.5M to make it happen
Now whilst $1.5M might seem a lot the government allocated $10M for Financial Literacy and that didn’t turn out too well for agriculture it would seem. See Money Smart not so Smart
So we have to get this right we can’t afford to dabble or work with dabblers in this space. There are 3.5 million students, 250,000 teachers, 9,500 schools. We can’t get to them all. We must go with the people/organisations whose core business is primary industries curriculum content for education in schools. We must go with the people who have the runs on the board. That organisation is PIEF. The horse may have bolted but it doesn’t stop us asking the right questions and demanding answers
1. Why has Funding been provided to Agrifood Skills Australia? When has a school based project being in the domain of a skills council.
2. Why are we not making use of knowledge learnt, expertise gained and research undertaken by PIEF
3. Why are we wasting valuable $ to develop internal capacity in Agrifood Skills Australia for them to dabble in an area foreign to them
4. Why are we promoting more duplication, more wastage, more division
5. Why has there been no consultation with National Farmers Federation or Primary Industries Education Foundation
6. How can an organisation with no prior experience in this area deliver the best outcomes for agriculture with the best return on investment
7. How will success be measured? Will the evaluations be internal or external
As a farmer, as someone who engages with industry, trains young farmers and runs awareness programs in schools, I work within the fragmented structure that is agricultural capacity building, every day. I know what success means
Success for the Archibull Prize is when schools who sign up for three years in a row say this
As we roam the school students are excited about the prospect working with a new cow. As we have had a couple years’ experience in the program, students now understand what the having a ‘cow’ means to the school.
Students are keen to ask what the THEME is this year, and having seen our cows at the Easter show, are aware of its agricultural implications.
It’s not just the students involved with Archie who benefit. It is very rewarding when families see our cow at the Easter Show or displayed elsewhere as there is a roll on effect. Conversations start, explanations are given to family and friends about the cow. We can explain what the cow is about to them which hopefully passes on our knowledge of what the cow means and how farming affects us all, all this = education!
Success for agriculture in the education sector it appears it is going to be a very long journey whilst we let others determine the paths that we will travel and who we have to partner with to help us get there.
We need to position Australian farmers as committed, caring and professional. We need to position agriculture as the career of choice for Australia’s best and brightest. But this cannot simply be a “push” situation by industry and government, it needs agriculture to step up and define the “pull”