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The local beneath the national and global - institutional education, credentialed natural resource management (NRM) and rural community (UN) sustainability

  • Year: 2011
  • Author: Franklin, Janice
  • Journal Name: Education in Rural Australia
  • Journal Number: Vol. 21, No. 2
  • Country: Australia

The implementation of strategies for national and global outcomes has in some instances left rural community resources and practices devalued and disturbed and rural people demoralised with the result that local community sustainability has been compromised. Formal education in Australia is about many things, but is rarely sympathetic towards rural community sustainability beyond providing specific human resources to meet difficult to fill industry and service needs. The move from a state to a national curriculum for high school students and the nationalizing of Vocational Education Training (VET) credentials reflects a commitment by governments to deliver educational "equity and excellence", for "Australian sustainability" and "the global agenda for change". Education is in practice focused on the preparation of students for the attainment of credentials to conform to national or even regional industry and service delivery needs, but is ot often directed to meeting individual rural community needs. This paper examines an example of how directing education towards "equity and excellence" for large scope sustainability goals can inadvertently subsume local sustainability and jeopardize much more than the social and cultural assets of some rural people and their communities. Professional land managers in Australia are educated and credentialed exclusively by the disciplines of the natural sciences, and social justice issues or the possibility that NRM outcomes might jeopardise rural social, cultural and 'informal' knowledge assets are overlooked. Water rights, environmental conservation, fisheries protection, and the regulation of native vegetation on farmland, are all examples of how NRM has been defined exclusively by natural science paradigms to reflect particular national and global sustainability goals. Inadvertently in the pursuit of 'excellence' and "Australian sustainability" in NRM curricula design and professional practice, traditional and informal rural knowledges and practices have often been devalued and replaced resulting in the erosion of social sustainability in rural jurisdictions. The contemporary management of wild dogs is one significant example of how professional NRM has directly threatened the social and cultural sustainability of affected rural communities by displacing local community values with NRM imperatives that unashamedly reflect "the global agenda for change". The challenge for education facilitators who seek to address rural sustainability, has become more than simply a question of how to redress the inequities of education delivery and to train regional industry and service personnel. The inequities that have been created by the increasing emphasis on teaching for credential acquisition for national and global sustainability must now also be examined. Educating to supply industry with human resources has come at the expense of educating to address locally relevant social, industry and environmental (un) sustainability issues. Both school and tertiary educators must also seek to design and deliver education that includes preparing rural young people to meet the significant social changes that are delivered by strictly economic and environmental sustainability priorities as these are imposed to meet non local imperatives like those represented by NRM policies and practices.

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