Greens MP calls on Marshall to protect ‘practical teaching interface’

Greens MP Dawn Walker at the Glen Innes TAFE protests the loss of face-to-face practical learning, along with (from left) Jess Ramezani, Abbi Sparks, Adam Curlis, Graeme Williams, Peter Sayers, Mercurius Goldstein, Lucretia Grant, Veronika Philp Warr and Noni Lincoln. Photo by Tony Grant.
Greens MP Dawn Walker at the Glen Innes TAFE protests the loss of face-to-face practical learning, along with (from left) Jess Ramezani, Abbi Sparks, Adam Curlis, Graeme Williams, Peter Sayers, Mercurius Goldstein, Lucretia Grant, Veronika Philp Warr and Noni Lincoln. Photo by Tony Grant.

Greens MP Dawn Walker met up with a small group of supporters during her stop at the Glen Innes campus on a tour of TAFE colleges on Wednesday, July 19, protesting at moves towards digital-based training.

Ms Walker fears the campuses in Glen Innes and Tenterfield will end up like that of Dapto, which she said has changed from a busy campus with 650 students to an outlet with five computer terminals and a reception desk.

“It’s the size of a fish-and-chip shop,” she said.

“There’s not even a toilet. They have to go across the road to the railway station.

“I’ve made a song-and-dance about it and the government is now saying they’re not all going to be like Dapto.”

She feels the move to Connected Learning Centres has gone too far, at the expense of face-to-face practical, hands-on instruction.

“TAFE has to be a world-class provider of world-class training in practical skills, to help young people get jobs and to assist older people with retraining to re-enter the workforce, from teachers with direct industry experience.”

Ms Walker said online learning has its place, but not at the expense of face-to-face teaching from experienced professionals.

“People expect practical hands-on training, be it in mechanics or plumbing or becoming a barista. You can’t get that from an online course.”

She’s also concerned that regional TAFE colleges are going to lose access to courses like welding, animal husbandry and hospitality, and that regional students will be expected to travel long distances to participate in any practical modules in courses they do undertake.

“It’s obvious that the government’s agenda is to run down regional colleges and replace them with pop-up shops with intensive online learning and little access to practical skills training.”

Ms Walker said these campuses are assets the community has invested heavily in, that shouldn’t be taken away from them.

“Communities fought long and hard to get these colleges, putting in their own time and effort to achieve success. It’s galling that now the National Party is running down these institutions and replacing them with computer terminals.

“I’m here to call on Adam Marshall, the local MP and assistant minister for skills, to assure the Glen Innes community that a Connected Learning Centre doesn’t mean they have to lose their TAFE college, and that the practical teaching interface remains for the community.”