Changing Employment Opportunities in Agriculture
Reduced government spending as a result of structural adjustment has put pressure on agricultural education institutions to better relate curial to employment opportunities.
The dramatic reduction in employment by Ministries of agriculture in recent years, in some cases over 50 percent staff reductions, means that students increasingly need to learn knowledge and skills for private-sector employment. It is also likely that employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector will grow at a faster rate than in agriculture. this requires a continues analysis of job market and employer’s requirement in order to plan develop appropriate curricles.
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
The message of sizeable reductions in the public- sector workforce is not lost on students who are demanding curricular change that will prepare them for employment opportunities in the private sector. University and college administrators and teaching staff, however, have been slower to accept the need for changes. What is required is that they engage frequently in consultation with prospective private-sector employers to obtain estimate of the numbers and type of job that are likely to be available for graduates and plan curricula accordingly.
To adjust training to private-sector employment requires that agricultural education institutions develop ways of keeping in touch with the labor market. Ideally, institutions should set up permanent mechanisms for observations off the job- market and continuous adaptation of courses.
However, a lack of financial and human resources often makes this difficult to accomplish. Some institutions are taking action, however, to establish better contact with potential employers of graduates.
For example, the institute Agrcole de Bouake in the Ivory Coast has set up a committee to study the agricultural employment market and identify related training needs. The institute also makes use of visiting instructors from agric-business firms and has arrangement for attaching students to agricultural enterprises so that they gain practical experience and possible entry to jobs.
Improving the employment opportunities for graduates require that curricula focus less on specific technical knowledge that will quickly becomes obsolete and more on processes and abilities of student to think and problems that are relevant to societal needs. Student should learn skills and abilities that are transferable to a wide range of occupations. For example,excellent communication skills are as needed by agricultural graduates who plan to work in extension as business school graduates who hope for a career in the banking industry. Likewise, teaching methods should be change to reflect the needs of society, and thus better respond to demands for trained human resources.
Teaching with practical, reality-based cases is a good example of how teachers can change methods to meet student needs and those of the larger society (Boeher and linsky, 1990).
Budgetary And financial crisis in Agriculture
In most states, the major source of funding and financial support for agriculture education is the national government, or the provincial/municipal government level where decentralization has been implemental.
General, agricultural education institutions operate on the basis of an annual budget which depends on the number of student enrolled, previous funding level and government capacity to support the institutions. Tuition, fees and other possible source of income, such as donations and institutional revenue from farms or the provision of various kinds of services (e.g veterinary services),are often of limited significance.
The economic crisis of recent years and recurrent structural adjustment measures have imposed severe budgetary restrictions in many countries which have negatively affected support to agricultural education.
For example, the analysis of 20 case studies carried out for the 1991 FAO expert consultation showed that institutions use up to 85 percent of the total budget for salaries. If the educational infrastructure were in place (teaching labs, instructional equipment, and materials) spending 80-85 percent for salaries is within an acceptable range. However in most developing countries this is not the case.
Agricultural education is expensive. It requires teaching equipment as well as adequately equipped training and experimental farms. The initial funds for buildings, teaching equipment, text, books, and agricultural machinery have usually been provided in the past by government and donor assistance.
The maintains and replacement of these facilities is generally beyond the existing financial great difficulties in ensuring properly equipped, maintained and functioning laboratories and practice farms. Not surprisingly, the objectives of experimentation, teaching, outreach or agricultural production are inadequately achieved.
New innovative ways of funding institution need to be explored. A small percentage of money received from the sale of cash could be used as “check-ff money” for research and extension efforts. Agribusiness support of funding schemes for research could also contribute revenue.
An example of funding diversification that addresses the “capitalization” needs of both the institution and individual faculty members, is the faculty of agriculture, Cairo University, Egypt. The university has established specialized centers (e.g., Reclamation and Development Center for Desert soils) which provide fee-based services to commercial agricultural enterprises. The income that is generated is shared by both the faculty members and the teaching and research programmer of the centers.