Combining the growing demand for premium food and fibre with education would make a substantial contribution to boosting regional communities and the State economy, according to Professor John Halsey.
Professor Halsey (pictured), the Sidney Myer Chair of Rural Education and Communities at Flinders University, says that key primary industry areas of South Australia are ideally suited for the establishment of a network of specialist Primary Industries Entrepreneurial Schools (PIES).
“According to the European Commission, entrepreneurial education is more than preparation on how to run a business. It is about how to develop the entrepreneurial attitudes, skills and knowledge to enable a student to ‘turn ideas into action’,” Professor Halsey said.
He said that currently almost all specialist schools are located in cities.
“Creating a network of specialist PIES, either individually or as a cluster of programs, provides an ideal opportunity do something practical to give rural schools and their communities a much needed boost, and presents a powerful way to provide a better city-country balance,” Professor Halsey said.
“We should remember that the value of agricultural production in South Australia in 2012 was over six billion dollars.
“Our rural communities are where agricultural production is, where the skills are, and where there is huge potential for further development.”
He said, for example, that schools in Eyre and Yorke peninsulas could have a focus on broad acre farming and aquaculture: “In the Riverland it could be on viticulture and horticulture, and in the South East on beef, dairy and forestry.”
Professor Halsey said increasing sustainable food and fibre production is critical to the future of our state, Australia and indeed the globe.
Australian farmers produce almost 93 percent of Australia’s daily domestic food supply. With the agricultural supply chain, including the affiliated food and fibre industries, there are over 1.6 million jobs in the agricultural sector of the national economy. Professor Halsey said that there was an obvious opportunity to ramp up the contribution of rural communities through their schools.
“Let’s give our rural schools the chance to do their own value-adding to our system of food production, distribution and marketing,” he said.