In what can only be described as an act of absolute insanity, the Baillieu government has now cut funding for the coordination of the Victorian certificate of applied learning (VCAL) program, which will affect 70 per cent of government secondary schools as well as TAFEs and registered training organisations. More than 12 000 Victorian students are currently enrolled in VCAL, which provides students with work-related experience and alternative pathways to prepare them for either further education or employment as they complete years 11 and 12.
It is nothing more than irrational and illogical to cut funding for such a valuable and popular program. That view is shared by the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, which said:
“… notification of the withdrawal of VCAL coordination funding, reflects a very poor understanding of this very important pathway … This decision flies directly in the face of government election commitments to support schools by cutting bureaucracy and red tape for schools and makes a mockery of commitments to ‘give back to government schools the control and support they need to give every child a world-class education’.”
This is sure to hit students and schools hard, particularly in rural and regional Victoria where there are low socioeconomic areas and more limited access to educational opportunities. This is a serious justice issue in that the most vulnerable students in our education system are having their only opportunities slashed by what I can only describe as an immoral and stupid decision. I call on the Minister for Education to reverse the decision to cut the VCAL coordinators now. To do otherwise is to disenfranchise thousands of needy students who just want to have a chance and who just want to have a go.