"For courses and course content for our new value chain curriculum, the choices were made strictly with the target groups in mind – smallholder farmers and pastoralists. Critical consideration was given to scaling down sophisticated theories and concepts that were only marginally useful for practical extension work."
|New taro variety introduced by Dadiso Finta (left) and a mid-career student at Haramaya University in Ethiopia.|
Despite the human resource development efforts made through the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE), and its work with 16 universities and colleges across Africa, there are still challenges ahead in addressing the needs and demands from the field. Our current full-time residential programs have weaknesses: limited accessibility, low use of ICT, insufficient value chain content and a low level of female intake. All programs are now making concerted efforts to address these problems. Thus the new curricula, as well as the existing ones, were developed and revised along the agricultural value chain concept. Alternative modes of delivery (distance education and sandwich courses) are currently underway. Universities, participating in the program, in collaboration with SG 2000 staff, will develop field level short courses and modules on relevant topics to enhance SG 2000 field work.
A value chain-oriented curriculum for Ethiopia is now ready for implementation to start this year at Bahir Dar and Hawassa universities. The revised curriculum is a result of a long process that involved a threeday national workshop, with 37 stakeholder representatives, and a national survey with teams from Bahir Dar, Haramaya and Hawassa universities. The survey covered 69 employer representatives, 229 frontline extension workers and 300 farmers. This led to a draft curriculum proposal; a review of the proposed curriculum by an independent reviewer; a three-day national stakeholder validation workshop, attended by 76 stakeholder representatives; and, the finalization of the curriculum proposal by an inter-university panel of experts.
In developing the courses and course content, the panel was guided by two major considerations. First, the choices were made strictly with the target group – the smallholder farmers and pastoralists – in mind. Critical consideration was given to scaling down sophisticated theories and concepts that were marginally useful for practical extension work. The second major consideration was the value chain orientation, where opportunities, constraints and challenges are often commodity specific.
Seventy-two participants at the national stakeholder validation workshop received one day orientation training on the ‘agricultural value chain concept’ led by two colleagues from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana. The seminar had a considerable impact in raising awareness. There was even a request for creating ‘champions’ of the concept at each of the universities in Ethiopia.
The performance of the 25 graduated students in July 2011 was encouraging. Two of them graduated with Great Distinction while eight graduated with Distinction. The program has completed 13 full cycles – and is still going strong.
The level of enrolment continues to be encouraging - and the enrolment of women students picked up significantly for the 15th intake group (23 men and 10 women). This was due to a concerted effort by both SAFE and the university to persuade more women to come into the program.
The Haramaya alumni association was officially launched as a legal entity following its official registration with the Ministry of Justice. The launch took place at a workshop held in Addis Ababa on 22 February this year. The workshop was opened by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honorable Amin Abdulkadir, himself a graduate of the midcareer program at Haramaya.
The same workshop saw the establishment of a long awaited professional society – thanks to the leadership of the president of the university, Prof Belay Kassa. The society - the Ethiopian Society of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension - has already been registered as a legal body. It has since been represented at a symposium of the Pan-African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), held in Accra, Ghana.
Enrolment reached a new peak of 38 students including two women – reflecting the continued demand for the program in Ethiopia. The ideal intake for this staff-intensive program is 30.
A successful SEPs (Supervised Enterprise Projects) workshop was held in January 2011 where students received combined feedback from the lecturers and SG 2000 representatives. Several of the students’ projects were directly linked to SG 2000 work as a result of guest lectures given by SG 2000 staff during the year. The general observation was that the projects tended to focus more on crops with little work done on livestock and value addition.
At long last, the proposal for the distance version of the mid-career program has been approved by Makerere University. The approval process took a long time because of the need to involve the Department of Distance Education at the university. The program will be run jointly by the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies at the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Distance Education at the Institute of Continuing Education. The program is known as the Bachelor of Agricultural and Rural Innovation (BARI).
The staff have resumed the development/writing of modules that had stalled due to the slow process of approving the BARIExternal proposal. Two training workshops were held for the second group of module writers during the first half of 2011.
In the 2010/2011 academic session, SAFE programs embarked on the curriculum review process to meet the emerging needs of farmers and extension professionals in the sub-region. Following the stakeholders’ needs assessment workshops, conducted in Nigeria and Mali in 2009, and a similar survey conducted in Nigeria in the same year, a technical workshop was organized at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in 2010 with a focus on the value chain and its mainstreaming into the curricula of SAFE programs. This was coupled with a similar workshop organized for SAFE Francophone West African countries in Mali.
|Mid-career students working on class assignments in the computer laboratory at Samanko College, Mali|
New partnership model “Cost sharing model in Nigeria”:
In 2010, the government of Adamawa State released its counter-part contribution for the implementation of the SAFE program at Adamawa State University in Mubi. The program began in September – with SAFE also releasing its contribution for program activities in 2011. A committee was set up to manage the activities of the program with representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Agriculture at state level, the Faculty of Agriculture at the university, and the SAFE program.
The SAFE program at Adamawa State University is expected to improve the intake of midcareer extension professionals in Adamawa, Gombe, Bornou, Jigawa states - and other states in its catchment area in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. The start of the program at the University of Ilorin will improve intake in the middle belt, South East and South Western parts of Nigeria.
Use of SEPs as a field level problem solving tool
In Nigeria, the module development is undertaken at two levels - field level and university mid-career level. At field level, Bayero University Kano (BUK) is currently collaborating with SG 2000 staff to identify thematic areas for field level module development for the Jigawa State ADP (Agricultural Development Project). Adamawa state University is doing the same for Adamawa state ADP.
Through the state counterpart fund, SG 2000 will finance SEPs projects of the final year students at BUK and ABU from Adamawa and Jigawa states.
Subsequently, SG 2000 plans to involve mid-career students in their various demonstrations and needs assessments through SEPs.
Active alumni groups
SAFE alumni groups are developing and maturing in West Africa. The alumni groups and associations have increased the promotion of the program through their publications and annual meetings. Members of the association have also helped to supervise SEPs projects of students in the various regions thereby making supervision less strenuous for lecturers and employers. At country level, the following activities were implemented: