Community throws support behind teachers

Hundreds of locals showed their support for Cooma TAFE and public school teachers at the Rotary markets on Sunday, signing a petition of protest about funding cuts to education.

The teachers had a stall in Centennial Park at the markets to provide information to the community about the effects of the NSW government's cuts to education and seek community support for their continuing protest campaign.

Monaro Teachers Federation representative Scott Grosse said the main reason for the teachers stall on Sunday was to gather support in the community for the teachers' campaign in response to the cuts.

"It came off really well. We got hundreds of signatures on the petition and gave away balloons and had face painting," Mr Grosse said.

"We were quite pleased with the amount of support shown by a wide variety of community members, there was a good cross-section."

In September, the NSW state government announced it was slashing funding to education by $1.7 billion.

This includes the loss of 800 TAFE employees over the next four years.

Cooma TAFE has already felt the effects of funding cuts with reduced hours for teachers and support staff.

The Member for Monaro John Barilaro has previously justified the O'Farrell government's decision to slash TAFE and education funding saying "tough times call for tough decisions".

Mr Barilaro said he was a strong supporter of TAFE and had written to the minister for Education Adrian Piccoli outlining his concerns to protect regional areas from the recently announced cost cutting measures.

Cooma TAFE Teachers Association president Rita Brademann said the association had invited Mr Barilaro to Cooma to discuss specific concerns, including the new funding model for TAFE NSW based on competitive tendering and student entitlement, the decline in local staffing numbers, including support staff, the loss of courses for 2013, including disability and visual arts students, and the impact on local students.

"We also want to talk to Mr Barilaro about the impact of increased TAFE fees on our local community where income is below state average," Ms Brademann said.

Australia spends less than the OECD average on education, and in NSW, the education share of the state budget has declined from 28.4 per cent in 1989-90 to 22.4 per cent in 2012.

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