Students in New South Wales will take the Agriculture and Food unit
By Diego Flammini
Students in part of Australia will soon have agriculture added to their curriculums.
Next year, the Agriculture and Food unit will become compulsory for students in New South Wales (NSW). The inclusion of ag into classrooms is partially the result of a 2013 review by Jim Pratley, an ag professor at Charles Sturt University.
The NSW government requested the review due to “the inability of the agricultural sector to attract new people, particularly young people,” Pratley’s document says.
Pratley is pleased with the government’s decision to make ag an official part of the curriculum and hopes other parts of the country will follow suit.
“We would hope that there would be spillovers into the other states over time, which often happens in the education system,” he told ABC news Tuesday.
The challenge for educators will be figuring out how to properly teach the new subject.
“The resource is a big problem when it comes to providing some sort of agricultural experience for the kids,” Luciano Mesiti, president of the New South Wales Association of Agriculture Teachers, told ABC news.
Teachers might also need to balance a focus on the food side of agriculture with the production side, Mesiti said.
Farmers are happy to see the government take an interest in ag education, especially as many consumers are multiple generations removed from a farm.
"As each generation gets one step further away from having uncles and aunties and cousins who are on the land, that natural link that was very strong in the past is being lost,” Trevor Whittington, chief executive of the Western Australian Farmers Federation, told ABC news.
At least one other school has made agricultural education compulsory.
The Sharada Vidyanikethana Public School in Mangalore, India introduced an ag science course.
Students from ages 10 to 15 learn about manure, soil preparation and other farming practices. The school has 3.5 acres of land for crop trials and has a full-time ag teacher to help students with their studies.