TAFE-HIGHER SCHOOL CERTIFICATE PATHWAY
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: My question is directed to the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Minister for Tourism and Minister Assisting the Premier. I note with satisfaction that the Minister now bears the odious responsibility of Minister Assisting the Premier.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: It is not odious.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: I should have said onerous, not odious. I trust the Minister will excuse my slip of the tongue. Would the Minister inform the House where the TAFE-higher school certificate pathway option will be available next year? What benefits will the TAFE-HSC pathway option offer students? Will the Minister indicate how long it might be before a location such as Broken Hill will be included in that process?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The Hon. D. F. Moppett shows great vigilance in pursuing the interests of rural education, as well as education generally. He has been assiduous in making representations on behalf of many rural communities, particularly disadvantaged rural communities, given the recession and the rural downturn. Approximately 1,200 places will be offered next year. Information, letters and brochures are currently available about what we call the fourth pathway - the HSC-TAFE pathway.
For the information of those honourable members not fully aware of the development, as of next year we will offer 1,200 places in TAFE where students can do accredited TAFE courses in five disciplines at the same time as they complete the equivalent of years 11 and 12 of their HSC. At the end of that time they will have TAFE certification in a particular area, a capacity to go on in TAFE, a tertiary entrance rank and a capacity to make a choice in relation to university education or to pursue open employment. That is a most exciting and, I think, relevant development for young people. I know that the honourable member, who has been very helpful in the development of this program, would like to see this option available in more centres.
Two main factors must be borne in mind. I, along with the New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission, have been careful to ensure that we moved in an experimental way or by pilot stage into this new territory, uncharted for TAFE, and to ensure that the place offerings, in particular at metropolitan or provincial centres, did not have a negative impact upon existing traditional education providers such as government or non-government schools. Indeed, after initial selection of potential areas to offer the TAFE higher school certificate next year, there were discussions with local school communities, and on the basis of those discussions some of the locations were adjusted. I would like to believe that the result is a good spread of locations in metropolitan, provincial and major country areas. The honourable member is correct, however, in saying that at this stage the smaller towns in rural New South Wales do not have a TAFE option.
Two factors will need to be taken into account before further extension of this pilot program. The first is how to make the TAFE option available without denuding local school communities - a result that would be counterproductive. Perhaps a co-operative co-location venture may be the way to go in that respect. Second, with 1,200 places being made available next year, TAFE will learn a lot, as will the students. As we move to 1995 and beyond and make more places available, we can do so with the confidence of having had a year in 1994 to test the project with 1,200 student places. We can move forward and offer the TAFE option to more students, with confidence that we are offering them something of world class standard that is of enormous educational and vocational benefit.
I would be delighted to make available information about the precise locations of the TAFE higher school certificate option to any member who is interested in it. However, in terms of the non-availability of that option in some smaller centres, I hope I have provided a logical explanation of what I think is in the best interests of existing educational facilities. It is certainly my desire to follow the positive example of some European countries that have always had a long and proud tradition in that regard, particularly Germany, Scandinavia and, increasingly, the United Kingdom. Though I hesitate to use figures, tens of thousands of young students in the United Kingdom are taking up that option. We have taken our basic structure of education from the United Kingdom, but the system is changing there. We are trying to learn what Germany, Scandinavia and some other countries have always known. In so doing we hope that with the first 1,200 places being made available next year we can ensure that the educational and vocational training offered to our young people truly fits their needs a little better than it has in the past.