Extension Education: Extension, as a non-formal education input, can make important contributions to sustainable agricultural production and rural development. There is a critical need for well-trained extension workers in many developing countries. However, the extension methodology portion of the curricula and programme of study of many agricultural education institutions is inadequate and in need of review and revision.
There is a tendency among many institution to place emphasis primarily on providing students with scientific and technical knowledge in the various agricultural discipline. Often, too title attention is paid to providing workers who can effectively communicate with diverse rural groups as well as support these groups in a process of collaborative problem-solving. In revising curricula for extension training, it is important to recognize that there has been a shift in thinking and in practice from expert-driven, technology-transfer extension approaches to collaborative learning approaches with participant groups.
Try and read this:
- AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
- Agriculture: Contextual Constriants, Budgetary and Financial Crisis
- Marginalization of Agriculture and Rural Life
- Relationship between agricultural education and research and extension
- Integration Population Issues Into Agricultural Education
- Agricultural Change to Curricular Content and Emphasis
- Agricultural education: Changes to Educational Processes
In many cases, the lack of relevance of extension education to the rural world is problem for student’s graduation from agricultural institutions. The gap between the methods and content taught and the rural socio-cultural context causes difficulties for graduates in establishing good communication with rural people. As noted above, this is especially serious for those with an urban background who go into extension work.
In many states, small scale family farms constitute the majority of the total number of agricultural holdings. A major challenge for extension is helping them advance in sustainable ways from substance agricultural to commercial agriculture.
Agricultural education institutions, especially those at the intermediate technical level, have a key role in training extension workers so that they are oriented towards addressing the improvement of small-farmer agriculture, and in particular improving their food crop production and marketing capabilities.
This situation calls for more interaction among academic staff and students with members of the farming community, including the NGOs and agric-business firms that provide production services to farmers. The development of mechanism and channels of communication which facilitates the understanding and utilization of local agricultural knowledge is of vital important for the training of extension workers.
Periodic curriculum review and revision, with a focus on local development problems and solutions, are needed in order to keep the knowledge-base relevant and to ensure that there is not a “cultural gap” between extension workers and the ultimate beneficiary’s farmers and rural dwellers.
The Need for an Inter-Disciplinary Approach to Agricultural Education
At a relatively early stage of their education, students need an overview of the agricultural and rural system of their stages. Throughout their training, they need not only specialized course which deal in-depth with specific technical subject-matter, but courses that help them think holistically, or in terms of integrated agricultural systems, so that they can understand the multi-dimensional nature of sustainable agricultural production. This requires an inter-disciplinary systems approach to agricultural education.
Training in he system approaches is essential for agricultural education because of the increasing complexity of agriculture, food and rural system, the problem of environmental protection and management, women farmers and household issues and the needs of small-scale farmers. Even conventional subject-matter teaching should take place within an inter-disciplinary framework of agricultural systems rather than an isolated subject.
Increasingly, education in agriculture needs to take the form of course in agro-forestry, agro-ecology, and the scio-economics of integrated production systems. Local food production systems need to be studied in terms of the complexities of the larger economic and social context.
A systems approach to agricultural makes it possible to understand, evaluate and integrate the many disparate elements of production systems into a unified study of how those system work and they affect the biological, economic and social environments.
Teaching an inter-disciplinary, systems approach to agricultural and rural development applies to training students at every level of agricultural education (secondary, intermediate and higher levels). A system approach to agricultural requires a team- teaching methodology using case studies, problem- involving approaches and practical, field- base excises. The goals of education in agricultural system can be achieved through approaches that:
1 Focus on whole-farm systems rather than single disciplines;
3 Use agro-ecological systems as the unit of study and analysis;
4 Encourage multi-disciplinary teams in teaching and encourage students work in problem-solving group; and
5 Emphasize the linkages between basic and applied science, between research, education and extension, and between people, the environment, sustainable agricultural production and rural development.
Student need to be provided with more active learning roles within a farming system perspective. Curricula need to integrate course work so that students can apply a range of skills to solving agricultural problem. To be effective agricultural change agents, students need to learn how to effectively communicate with farmers.
Finally, more of their educations need to experientially based