- 1 Executive summary
- 2 Content
- 3 Principal acronyms
- 4 Foreword
- 5 1 Background
- 6 2 Procedure
- 7 3 The country reports
- 8 4 Agriculture in SSA
- 9 5 Agricultural education
- 10 6 ICT policies
- 11 7 ODL and Tech-MODE
- 12 8 Recommendations and Conclusions
- 13 Annexure 1
- 14 Figures 1 and 2
- 15 Annexure 2
- 16 Annexure 3
- 17 Related information
- 18 Web Resources
Education, training, information and communication for agricultural research and development in combination with information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming increasingly urgent in developing countries. Technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) - a combination of open and distance learning (ODL) with ICT - has potential to satisfy the increasing demand for education and training. With its expertise in various regions of the world, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) wishes to expand Tech-MODE for agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). To enhance collaboration and synergy among several stakeholders, COL intends to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role at various educational levels, from grassroots to academic education.
For the identification of its role in SSA, with the help of national collaborators, COL undertook eight country case studies with the objective of documenting an inventory of local institutions, facilities, capabilities and potential for Tech-MODE. The countries included were Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. This synthesis report summarises information from the individual country reports.
As generally known, countries in SSA depend highly on agriculture, yet agriculture is a weak sector of economy. Although governments do recognize the importance of agricultural education and training in their economic policies, their implementation varies. Conventional agricultural education and training systems cannot satisfy the demand, therefore educational and training institutions are looking at ICT-mediated ODL to implement ODL.
Some countries have a long history with the application of ODL. ICT-mediated ODL and Tech-MODE is evolving quickly. But countries are at different stages with regard to ICT policies and infrastructure, especially in relation to agricultural education. In general, a wide potential for the implementation of Tech-MODE is available in SSA.
Recommendations from the case studies for consideration by COL and interested partner organizations, particularly the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), fall into five interrelated subject categories: policy, infrastructure, socio-economy, capacity building and collaboration. In this context, COL's complementary and catalytic role could involve facilitating and assisting in needs assessment exercises, supporting policy issues, helping in the establishment of linkages and partnerships, facilitating the development of action plans, and assisting in the execution of action plans, including development of infrastructure, capacity building, training, development of materials, monitoring and following up.
Executive summary Principal acronyms Foreword Acknowledgment 1 Background 2 Procedure 3 The country reports 4 Agriculture in SSA 5 Agricultural education 6 ICT policies 7 ODL and Tech-MODE 8 Recommendations and Conclusions Annexure 1 - Instructions for the Tech-MODE workshop Annexure 2 - Report to FARA from Tech-MODE Side-Event Annexure 3 - Executive summaries from country reports Related information
CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research COL Commonwealth of Learning DE Distance Education DL Distance Learning FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FARA Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa ICT Information and Communication Technology(ies) NARS National Agricultural Research Systems NGO Non-Governmental Organisation ODL Open and Distance Learning SSA Sub-Saharan Africa Tech-MODE Technology-Mediated Open and Distance Education
The Learning for Livelihoods Sector of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL; www.col.org) addresses the major challenges related to learning and skills development that are key for living and for improvement of livelihoods. Developing conceptual frameworks, influencing policy, enabling technology-mediated learning, and strengthening networks and partnerships are some of the strategies that COL uses for promoting learning and skills for agricultural development, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection. In this context, COL aims at building individual and institutional capacity in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) combined with open and distance learning (ODL) in the way of technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE).
COL supports learning activities at various levels from grassroots to policy through partnerships with public, private and community-based national, regional and international institutions and organisations involved in agricultural education, extension, research and development. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are the key international partners.
Anticipating that Tech-MODE will increasingly become an essential tool in the delivery of information, knowledge and education in sub-Saharan Africa, COL undertook eight country case studies with the help of national collaborators from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The twenty authors and co-authors who provided the case studies are eminent practitioners and observers of Tech-MODE in agriculture. COL expects that these studies will be encouraging and useful to, and taken up by partners in the area of agricultural research and development in SSA.
COL is fortunate to have Dr. Rainer Zachmann as its consultant to put the case studies together. Dr. Anthony Youdeowei’s generous support to this initiative is also highly appreciated. Both of them drew upon their experience and knowledge of Tech-MODE in agriculture to shape and enrich the information contained in this report.
Krishna Alluri, Education Specialist, Food Security & Environment and Team Leader, Learning for Livelihoods, COL - KAlluri@col.org
It was a pleasure and honour for me to accomplish this assignment. I complement COL and Dr. Krishna Alluri for taking up the initiative with far-reaching implications. The efforts of the national collaborators in producing extensive and relevant information in a short time are admirable. I am grateful to our advisor, Professor Anthony Youdeowei, for his support.
Consultant, International Agricultural Research, Training and Communications
Education, training, information, and communication for agricultural research and development in combination with information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming increasingly urgent in developing countries. Technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) - i.e., a combination of open and distance learning (ODL) with ICT - is expanding through diverse initiatives and at various levels from agricultural grassroots to academic levels.
With its expertise in various regions of the world, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) wishes to expand Tech-MODE in agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). COL has its presence in SSA, though primarily in the schooling and higher education sectors. COL's initiatives on agricultural education for improved livelihood are gaining ground and prove to be promising. To foster collaboration and facilitate synergy, through country case studies, COL wishes to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role - preferably in coordination with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) - on the following levels:
- formal agricultural degree and postgraduate education,
- continuing professional education,
- lifelong learning for farming communities,
- agricultural education at primary and secondary schools.
For the Tech-MODE exercise, COL commissioned eight country studies and called on a consultant with experience in agricultural research, education, training and communication in developing countries.
For the identification of its role in SSA, COL undertook eight country case studies with the objective of documenting an inventory of local institutions, facilities and capabilities for Tech-MODE. Information collected included:
- overall country situation of livelihood and status of agriculture / horticulture;
- national ICT policies and strategies for agricultural production, research, extension and education;
- individual institutions, facilities, capabilities, government support and potential available to implement Tech-MODE in collaboration with COL for
- - formal agricultural degree and postgraduate education
- - continuing professional education
- - life-long learning for farming communities
- - agricultural education at primary and secondary schools
- recommendations, suggestions, wishes, etc. for COL.
The countries involved are Kenya and Uganda; Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone; Cameroon; Tanzania and Zambia, representing East, West, Central and Southern Africa respectively.
In each country, renowned national collaborators from universities, research and training institutions collected and summarized the information:
Cameroon – Ajaga Nji Ghana – Collins Osei, Reuben Aggor, Edward Badu Kenya – Geoffrey Kironchi, Agnes Mwang'ombe Nigeria – Adewale Adekunle, Adeolu Ayanwale, Morolake Adekunle, Moses Ubaru Sierra Leone – Aliyageen Alghali, Bob Conteh, Edwin Momoh Tanzania – Camilius Sanga, Ayubu Jacob Churi, Siza Tumbo Uganda – Moses Tenywa, Bernard Fungo Zambia – Mungule Chikoye, Martin Kaonga
Several national collaborators are known to the consultant from earlier contacts and the rest has been identified through wide consultation.
The study was initiated in March 2007 by contacting the national collaborators. The consultant received the first draft of a country report for review at the beginning of April 2007. Most draft reports have been presented at a side event during FARA's General Assembly, Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2007 (FARA 2007). Revision and improvement of country reports continued all through 2007. Possibly, collaborative revision and improvement will continue even after publishing the reports on WikiEducator.
The following description synthesizes general information from the country reports on the overall agricultural situation, agricultural education, ICT policies and status of ODL and Tech-MODE. Recommendations are the result from the discussions at FARA 2007 and from suggestions in the country reports.
3 The country reports
In the country reports, national collaborators included mostly all of the information requested, although they did not necessarily follow the sequence and structure as suggested under "Procedure" above. The writing styles are pleasantly diverse. Some collaborators described their country situation with plain facts, others combined facts with philosophy on, for example, African development perspectives, educational analyses, gender situation and extension methods. All collaborators undertook extraordinary and admirable effort in collecting and compiling relevant and valuable information.
According to one contribution, Africa offers many opportunities: natural resources, economic potential and geographical size. Even colonialism, an erstwhile obstacle, is seen as an opportunity in today's globalizing world. The African continent is threatened by two global social forces: globalization and competition. Both forces come with threats and opportunities for ODL. ODL and education became trade commodities.
The present collection of country case studies shows the most relevant opportunity: the human potential.
The Zambian authors assume that "… the capabilities of Zambia institutions to provide distance agricultural education and training with strong vocational components have not been formally assessed." This assumption is possibly true for many countries. Therefore we expect that these country case studies will be of general interest, relevance and value.
4 Agriculture in SSA
The status of agriculture in SSA is well known. Figures on the agricultural and rural situation vary according to source. However, we can generalize that countries are highly dependent on agriculture. Still, agriculture remains a weak sector of economy. Nevertheless, agriculture is considered the engine of development and growth. A recent report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) concluded: "Agricultural growth will continue to play an important role in promoting overall economic growth and reducing poverty in most of Africa's agrarian-based economies … only smallholder food-staple and livestock production can generate broad-based agricultural growth" .
In all countries examined, agriculture is the main economic activity for 60 to 85 % of population, depending on the country. A still higher proportion relies on agriculture as the principal source of livelihood, even in economies that historically relied on mining, such as Zambia. The contribution of agriculture to export can be as high as, for example, 85 % in Tanzania. In contrast, due to the exploitation of oil, there has been a significant decline in agricultural exports in Nigeria. Nevertheless, in the same country, in spite of little interest in agriculture, the growth rate of agriculture was higher than that of the population.
Although scale and type of agriculture depends on the specific country situation, the majority of rural people live from subsistence farming. Up to 70 % of population live below the poverty line (< 1 US$ per day). Countries emerging from civil unrest, such as Sierra Leone, even need food import and food aid.
Countries try to overcome the situation through government plans, strategies and policies on agricultural research, development and education. In view of the agricultural situation at grassroots, Tech-MODE should be based on farmer's needs and begin with the farmer (… and her husband).
1 Diao, X.; Hazell, P.; Resnick, D.; Thurlow, J. 2007. The role of agriculture in development; Implications for sub-Saharan Africa. Research Report 153. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI; www.ifpri.org), 2033 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006-1002, U.S.A. 74 pages. ISBN 978-0-89629-161-4. http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/abstract/rr153.asp.
5 Agricultural education
In their economic policies, countries recognize the importance of agricultural education and training. However, the implementation varies.
Since independence, in Zambia, for example, agricultural education and training reaches from grassroots to degree level. A variety of institutions are involved in lifelong learning for farming communities, agricultural education at primary and secondary schools, formal tertiary education and informal professional training. A diversity of informal and formal training and education also exists in Ghana and Nigeria.
Several countries offer agricultural experience at primary level through school gardens as in the case of Cameroon and Ghana. At the junior and senior secondary level, agricultural education may be optional or compulsory, depending on the country. In Ghana, for example, agriculture starts at junior level as a compulsory subject. It becomes optional at the senior level. In Nigeria, agriculture is a compulsory subject in the new nine-year basic education curriculum for primary and secondary schools. In Sierra Leone, the ten-year rebel war affected schooling. Nevertheless, agricultural education is compulsory at all senior secondary schools. In Kenya and Uganda, agriculture is optional at secondary level. In Cameroon, "… there is no strongly enforced government policy on agricultural training in secondary schools."
Higher agricultural education through colleges, polytechnics and universities varies even more widely. Sierra Leone offers practical-oriented training for teachers of primary and secondary schools. In many countries, several public and private institutions offer certificates and diplomas in agriculture. All countries offer tertiary agricultural education through colleges and universities. Several public and private universities offer a range of agricultural disciplines in Kenya and Nigeria. The University of Dschang in Cameroon and the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania are pioneers in agricultural education and training. In Uganda, among several tertiary institutions, only Makere University offers postgraduate degree in agriculture.
In all countries, agricultural education and training shows the usual technical, logistical and political limitations and challenges. Sierra Leone notices male-bias and lack of women participation. Generally, agricultural education and training cannot satisfy the demand, and as a consequence, educational institutions are looking at ICT to implement ODL and hence the Tech-MODE initiative.
Apart from few interesting and promising exceptions, lifelong learning opportunities for farmers seem to be limited.
6 ICT policies
Information and communication technologies are evolving quickly. However, a recent study of the Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN) found that human resource capacities to use and manage ICT are lagging behind (Zachmann, R.; Musewe, V.O.; Baguma, S.D. 2005. Assessment of ICT/ICM Human Resource Capacities and Related Training Needs in the Context of Agricultural Research for Development in Eastern and Central Africa. http://www.asareca.org/rain/index.php?option=publications&Itemid=8&lang=eng) Therefore, RAIN is initiating a regional post graduate programme in agricultural information and communication management, including ODL. RAIN is a network of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) which in turn is a sub-regional organization of FARA. Also, FARA is involved in several initiatives related to information and education.
To facilitate such initiatives, governments are designing national policies on ICT. Countries are at different stages with these policies, especially in relation to agricultural education. In Sierra Leone, private sector activities led to a robust ICT infrastructure. However, a national ICT policy was begun recently in 2006. Uganda has no specific ICT policy for agriculture or education, although the importance of ICT is increasingly accepted, and a general ICT policy, developed in 2003, recognizes the relevance of ICT for agriculture.
In contrast, in Ghana several development strategies include ICT with specific and detailed objectives on agriculture and education. In Zambia and Nigeria, ICT policies have profound implications and far-reaching consequences for agricultural development. In Kenya, ICT is widely used in public functions, and a national education policy of 2003 gives prominence to ICT.
In general, ICT is still inadequate and unevenly distributed. A recent report of ATICS (Africa Tertiary Institutions Connectivity Survey) showed, that the average African university has a bandwidth capacity that is equivalent to a broadband residential connection available in Europe, and pays 50 times more for their bandwidth than their educational counterparts in the rest of the world (IDRC. 2005. Promoting African research and education networking. Summary of a study sponsored by the IDRC. http://network.idrc.ca/uploads/user-S/11247479201PAREN_Summary_study.pdf). In Cameroon, with deficient infrastructure, ICT remains a dream. In the educational context, the tertiary sector seems to be most advanced with the implementation of ICT. Nevertheless, there is hope for the evolution of ICT, ODL and Tech-MODE in SSA, as the digital gap is closing rapidly.
7 ODL and Tech-MODE
According to the country studies, traditional formal education cannot meet the human resource need of a social and economic development system. In Kenya, the demand for higher education has increased due to population growth and due to the increase in number of secondary school graduates. Similarly, in Ghana, the demand for higher education has increased, though women are at a disadvantage. In Cameroon, less than 25% of Cameroonians who want to study agriculture at all levels get a chance to do so, with less than 25% of overall student are females, and less than 25% of university students come from poor families. Thus, to satisfy the demand, the potential of distance education, ODL and Tech-MODE is evident, and most countries recognize their value.
In Cameroon, at the University of Dschang, distance education was initiated in 1988. It evolved at the Faculty of Agriculture to a programme with 20 agricultural courses in both English and French. A national forum on distance education in 2003 with support from COL - not specifically for agriculture - identified opportunities, strengths, obstacles and constraints.
In Ghana, ODL existed for long time, especially for the upgrading of teachers. ODL for continuing agricultural education through collaboration with COL is new. Extension programmes by NGOs through Tech-MODE are still limited.
In Kenya, the University of Nairobi provides ODL in sciences, while other universities concentrate on humanities. The only notable Tech-MODE is AGORA - an information service of FAO - for NARS and faculties of agriculture. Some NGOs use ICT in their work with farmers. Extension and training programmes for farmers use technologies from research institution, such as the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and universities. The government is in the process of e-enabling all 4000 secondary schools. Several institutions offer a high potential and a favourable environment to implement Tech-MODE.
In Nigeria, the potential for Tech-MODE in agriculture concentrates around the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) and the civil society Total Development International Foundation (TODEV).
In Uganda, ODL existed at the Makerere University since 1953 in the form of in-service training. Recently, blended ODL arrangements have been initiated to include several programs. The Department of Distance Education offers a diploma course jointly with the Open University of Tanzania. Internet kiosks offer ICT access to students, yet the demand is overwhelmingly high. Makerere University is undertaking substantial efforts on improvement of infrastructure as well as staff development. The Institute of Computing and Information Technology is a regional referral centre for ICT training. In the area of agriculture, a recent distance education project involves Makere University with the Universities of Nairobi and Florida and the International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Apart from Makere University, only Martyr's University offers Bachelor of Agriculture through ODL. Telecentre projects for farmer training are also evolving. Recently, Makerere University and several Kenyan universities came together for a collaborative venture on "Strengthening of university capacity for promoting, facilitating and teaching rural innovation processes".
Sierra Leone is still struggling with basic infrastructure. Nevertheless, community radios with telephoning programmes and discussions are proliferating.
Tanzania has good experiences with telecentres. The Sokoine University of Agriculture offers technical ICT expertise and staff motivation. Potential for collaboration exists between the Sokoine University of Agriculture and the Open University of Tanzania.
In Zambia, shortly after independence, different forms of ODL emerged for specific educational and training needs, including agriculture. Zambian institutions historically provided ODL at several educational levels. Other ODL initiatives include in-service training, cooperative training, radio farm forums and others. Today, the potential of ODL is widely recognized. The government is committed to distance education and adopted ODL as an educational strategy in both formal and non-formal education. Also NGOs and international institutions invest in ODL. Thus, ODL is becoming increasingly attractive, although formal ODL in agriculture does not exist as yet. The infrastructure may still be rudimentary, and socioeconomic conditions may affect the adoption of Tech-MODE. However, facilities and resources for Tech-MODE are plentifully available.
In general, existing ODL is mostly dual-mode, print based, and with little or no use of ICT. However, developments are encouraging, and a wide potential is available for the implementation of Tech-MODE.
8 Recommendations and Conclusions
The recommendations resulting from the country case studies encompass a wide area that cannot be covered by COL alone. Eventually, COL has to decide what recommendations fall within its purview and what recommendations must be shared with other partners. The recommendations presented here originate from two sources - a workshop on Tech-MODE related to the country case studies, and the country reports.
The Tech-MODE workshop began a few days before the COL-FARA Side Event, at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) Nairobi in continuation of a workshop on agricultural open educational resources (AOER), also organized by COL. The workshop followed a specific procedure (Annexure 1). It workshop continued at the Side Event. Participants identified a great number of concerns and classified them into five interrelated subject categories: policy, infrastructure, socio-economy, capacity building and collaboration (Figures 1 and 2). For each of the subject categories, the working groups listed a number of recommendations for consideration by COL, FARA and other interested organizations:
- Support awareness and advocacy initiatives, targeting policy makers at all levels.
- Facilitate the integration of Tech-MODE into the mainstream formal educational system at all levels.
- Facilitate policy formulation and implementation at national level in an integrated manner in the areas of information and communication technologies (ICT), open and distance learning (ODL), and intellectual property rights (IPR) that results in increased and improved access without gender and generation barriers.
- Engage in advocacy dialogue for promoting access to Internet connectivity to various stakeholders especially the marginalized.
- Facilitate policy formulation at institutional and national levels on quality standards for Tech-MODE.
- Strengthen the infrastructure to digitize information in knowledge and information institutions.
- Encourage African countries and institutions to develop infrastructures in an integrated manner in ICT and ODL that results in increased and improved access without gender and generation barriers.
- Assist in the use of Tech-MODE to promote access to education and training, competitiveness and quality in agriculture, with due consideration to improving gender equity and family welfare.
- Support capacity building in Tech-MODE and its components, such as development and delivery of learning materials, providing learner support, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and in governance and management of Tech-MODE-based educational programmes.
- Create awareness of the importance of developing collaborative content that is of particular relevance to Africa, and to make it available to all users using flexible copyright licenses such as Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org). Towards developing such open content, strengthen individual and institutional capacity to use free/libre open source software (FLOSS), develop open educational resources (OER) through appropriate Internet platforms such as WikiEducator (http://www.wikieducator.org).
- Integrate and lead multi-community partnerships with an aim to promote lifelong learning opportunities for farmers, using Tech-MODE, for improving their livelihoods. Assist in bridging the missing links among all the stakeholder communities: farmers, educators, technologists, researchers, policy makers, marketers, financers, governmental and non-governmental institutions, and national and international organizations.
The result of the Tech-MODE workshop was presented to FARA (Annexure 2).
The recommendations from the country reports support the outcomes from the workshop as given below:
- identify needs and action plans,
- assist in development of policies,
- facilitate mainstreaming of Tech-MODE,
- assist in identifying and managing funding,
- advise on infrastructure,
- assist in training and capacity building,
- support development of ODL materials,
- jointly develop courses through FARA, RUFORUM, etc.,
- strengthen linkages and partnerships.
The conclusions for COL as given under `Background’ are pre-conceived in the study framework: "COL wishes to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role …". The country studies identified plenty of opportunities for Tech-MODE in all countries examined. COL's complementary and catalytic role may include:
- identifying priorities among opportunities specified in the country reports,
- assisting in needs assessment,
- supporting policy issues,
- helping in establishment of linkages and partnerships,
- facilitating development of action plans, beginning with farmers' needs,
- assisting in the execution of action plans, including development of infrastructure, capacity building, training, development of materials, monitoring and following.
COL initiated these country case studies with the expectation that they will be taken up and expanded by regional and international institutions such as the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Instructions for the Tech-MODE workshop, 8 June 2007, at ICRAF Nairobi
Background. The recent initiatives of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) on Tech-MODE for agricultural education and improved livelihoods look promising. COL is committed to expand its experiences in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). To enhance collaboration and synergy, COL wishes to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role with strategic partners, such as the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), on the following levels:
- formal degree and post-graduate education
- continuing professional education
- life-long learning for farming communities
- agricultural education at primary and secondary schools
The need for modern ICT and Tech-MODE for education and training in agriculture at academic, research, policy, development and grassroots communities is becoming increasingly evident. COL, therefore, is undertaking a few country case studies to document an inventory of local institutions, facilities and capabilities for Tech-MODE, as well as describe the learning needs that can be addressed through Tech-MODE. The country studies will be discussed for further action during this workshop and eventually presented at the FARA General Assembly, June 2007.
Expected outcome: Suggestions for further action on COL's complementary and catalytic role in collaboration with strategic partners, such as FARA, on Tech-MODE in agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.
Procedure: Participants will be the case study collaborators and additional attendants, including participants from the preceding AOER workshop.
Rainer Zachmann explains the procedure and presents a key question that should lead to the expected outcome:
What are the challenges for COL's complementary and catalytic role in collaboration with strategic partners on Tech-MODE for agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa?
Throughout the following presentations, workshop participants note down keywords related to the key question on A5-size cards. 1 - 3 words, 1 subject per card, felt-tip pen, large lower-case letters (no CAPITALS !).
Country collaborators present the executive summary and conclusions of their country reports (15 minutes each + 10 minutes for clarifications).
Someone else describes other initiatives in SSA (SCARDA, RAILS, BASIC, …)
Krishna Alluri describes possibilities and limitations of COL.
Workshop participants jointly classify the collected keywords into subject categories.
Participants grouped around subject categories elaborate suggestions according to the expected workshop outcome (30 – 60 minutes). Depending on time, groups may rotate to allow interaction.
Groups present their suggestions to the plenary.
On 9 and 10 June 2007 we will continue discussing the challenges and suggestions at a COL-FARA Side Meeting in Sandton with additional stakeholders. On 15 June 2007 between 11:00 - 11:20, we will have 5 minutes to report the outcome to the FARA General Assembly.
Figures 1 and 2
Tech-MODE workshop - identification of concerns
Report to Fara from the Tech-MODE Side-Event
Executive summaries from the country reports
Cameroon - Ajaga Nji
This country case study examines the dilemma of African development with particular reference to the role of agricultural education and training in Cameroon. The study attempts to show the needs, challenges and opportunities in the development of Cameroon agricultural sector using open and distance learning (ODL). Against the backdrop of global change and technological development it discusses the role of science, technology, research and development within the context of agricultural development. Using a map showing the location of the present agricultural and livestock training institutions in Cameroon, the author argues that there is great potential for increasing the access and improving the relevance of agricultural education through information and communication technologies (ICT). He identifies priority areas for expanding technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) in agricultural education in Cameroon. The author further stresses the need for partnerships and makes recommendations for consideration by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in its on-going initiatives in promoting technologies in education in the Commonwealth.
Examining a continent-wide picture of the role of technology in agricultural education, Africa offers many opportunities for economic and human development of the continent, based on natural resources, enormous economic potential, the rich and diverse geography of the continent, and even its kaleidoscopic colonial history. It is time to transform erstwhile obstacles into opportunities and face the challenge currently being imposed by limited access to, and timid use of, available technology. Tech-MODE can contribute to effective and efficient agricultural and rural development in Africa, leading to sustained livelihoods, particularly among the poor, tillers of the soil and keepers of the hearth.
In Cameroon, national development is affected by a chronic and sluggish growth in the agricultural sector which, ironically, is considered the backbone of Cameroon’s future. Time is an important element in this strategy. In the 21st Century, African countries are obliged by rapidly changing circumstances to move fast and swiftly to marry science, technology and policy in their development agendas, particularly with regard to agricultural education. Unhappily, in Cameroon, ICTs are only being sluggishly encouraged and Cameroon is notoriously slow in creating an enabling environment for the rapid and widespread use of ICTs.
Cameroon's education policy is segmented among different ministries of the Government. The Government does not seem to enforce agricultural training in basic and secondary education. To the best of my knowledge, only one non-governmental organisation provides non-formal education in agriculture by distance to farmers. So far, government-owned and run agricultural training institutions offer formal post-secondary agricultural education in the country. The University of Dschang is the only institution of higher learning offering degree-level training and education in agriculture and agriculture-related disciplines such as agricultural engineering.
Taking into account its privileged position as the only national institution for agricultural education at the tertiary level, the University of Dschang experimented boldly with innovative methods in agricultural education through distance learning in 1988 under the leadership of this author. Today, agricultural education by distance is an approved academic programme at the University at both the Associate Degree level and BSc level. This programme by distance is offered in three options: Crop Production, Animal Production and Agricultural Management and consists of 20 courses available in both English and French, essentially in print mode.
Course development is a time and labour consuming process, involving many challenges, including demand, access, equity, equality, relevance, quality, management, and funding. Several indicators give hope for Tech-MODE in Cameroon. It is in this context that this case study identifies priority areas, guiding principles, intra and transsectoral issues for ODL in Cameroon.
As a recognized leader in ODL and a catalyst, COL can assist African countries in the expansion of Tech-MODE in many aspects, from the formulation of policies, through capacity building, to implementation of sustainable programmes. Finally, the promotion of ODL must be seen to be under two global social forces - globalization and competition - that come not only with opportunities for human progress but also with threats and challenges. The promotion of Tech-MODE must be harnessed to embrace these obstacles and transform them into challenges and opportunities for sustainable development in Africa in the 21st Century.
Ghana - Collins Osei, Reuben Aggor, Edward Badu
Open and distance learning (ODL) and distance education (DE), are not new in Ghana, but can be described as being at their early stages. Providers of ODL/DE are dual mode institutions which offer small-to-medium-scale ODL/DE programmes apparently because the administrative structures needed for effective operation of large scale ODL/DE are not yet in place. Print constitutes the most important medium used by practitioners of ODL/DE programmes for education and training. This can be attributed to factors such as lack of capacity in material development other than print, unreliable electricity and a fair information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) programmes for grassroots agricultural training are currently being exploited by public and private institutions with assistance from development partners such as the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD). Pilot Tech-MODE programmes are currently used in Ghana to enhance conventional extension methods of building capacity of extension workers and farmer groups. They are also used to enlarge the information space and the learning within it through available and supportive ICT.
In pursuit of the above, it is suggested that consideration should be given to strengthening relations with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) under its programmes on Regional Agricultural Information and Learning System (RAILS) and Building African Scientific Institutional Capacity (BASIC). Support should also be provided in the networking of national, regional and international programmes in Tech-MODE for improved livelihoods and access to education.
Kenya - Geoffrey Kironchi, Agnes Mwang'ombe
Open and distance learning (ODL) in Kenya, like in many other developing countries, is characterized by, and offered through, dual mode institutions. Most of these programmes are in humanities and social sciences. Currently, one private university is offering agricultural training at a distance using print medium. A few private organizations or NGOs carry out short duration informal agricultural capacity building programmes to farmer groups and extension workers using technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE).
The Government of Kenya placed emphasis on education and training in agriculture, because of the important role it plays in the country’s economy. Although great potential exists for the use of Tech-MODE in agricultural sciences at primary, secondary, tertiary and informal levels in Kenya, its application still largely remains untapped. However, with the recent completion of the National ICT Policy (2006), the Ministry of Education, in consultation with stakeholders, developed a comprehensive National ICT Strategy for education and training, with a view to guiding the implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in the education sector.
This country report highlights the existing potential in Kenya that the project on Tech-MODE for agricultural education proposed by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) could build on. It is suggested that consideration should be given to strengthening relations with the existing national, regional and international institutions and networks or programmes. Priority areas for training should be identified by all participating stakeholders for support in content development and institutional capacity building.
This initiative offers opportunities for multi-institutional partnerships to prepare training content that would not only provide locally relevant and practical knowledge, but also would be internationally recognized. Tech-MODE for agricultural education would offer viable alternatives by lowering education costs, increasing professional retention and not taking trainees out of their professional roles and homes for extended periods. In addition, beneficiaries would contribute to increased and sustainable agricultural production, development in the country, poverty reduction and improved food security.
Nigeria - Adewale Adekunle, Adeolu Ayanwale, Morolake Adekunle, Moses Ubaru
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) wishes to expand technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) for agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa by identifying opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role, preferably in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). For this purpose, this rapid survey was conducted to assess the status of information and communication technologies (ICT) in relevant institutions in selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria.
Agriculture is the key to sustainable livelihood in Nigeria engaging about 60 to 70% of the population. Agriculture therefore has great potential for micro- and macro-economic growth and development in Nigeria. But due to governmental neglect of agriculture with the emergence of the oil industry, agricultural development experiences a major decline. Tech-MODE activities are necessary to give fillip to this sector.
The country study indicated that the political climate in Nigeria is supportive of Tech-MODE activities. Nigeria has an agricultural policy that supports the use of ICT and an ICT policy that aims at tapping the advantages of the technology to improve livelihoods. Besides, the Nigerian government has set up different agencies to implement activities in ICT guided by the policy and has fostered a good telecommunications climate. All these have synergistically fostered a climate conducive for Tech-MODE activities in Nigeria.
The country study further revealed that potential partners for Tech-MODE exist in the public and private sectors in Nigeria. Several universities have basic equipment to undertake Tech-MODE, but few are carrying out any research and development work in this area. The few that are exploring the possibilities under Tech-MODE do so only to stretch their distance learning degree awarding programmes. Many of these programmes are not currently in the area of agriculture.
The National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) is the only research institute that combines capacity with experience in Tech-MODE programmes for improved livelihoods. The only civil society organization with considerable capacity and experience in the use of Tech-MODE for educational and improved livelihoods is the Total Development International Foundation (TODEV) which works in such areas as agriculture, adult education, and vocational training. The University of Ibadan has recently approached TODEV to jointly explore the use of their facilities for degree-related distance learning programmes.
We recommend that COL and FARA consider working with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) for policy and macro projects, some universities for distance learning, and with NAERLS for continuing education in agriculture especially for extension officers. TODEV is the most important potential civil society collaborator for all aspects of Tech-MODE for promoting agricultural development.
Sierra Leone - Aliyageen Alghali, Bob Conteh, Edwin Momoh
Agricultural education and training has seen a great deal of evolution over the years in Sierra Leone, and with emerging trends and improvements in science and technology, one cannot help but move along these trends. The mode of delivery of basic information in agriculture had been seen to play a pivotal role in the adoption of new technologies and innovations. Although there is presently no national policy on information and communication technologies (ICT) in Sierra Leone, provisions for ICT utilisation are embedded in the National Science and Technology Policy. At the same time, the National Education Master Plan 1997–2006 outlines plans for upgrading teachers through the mode of distance education.
Despite all the difficulties the country faces, i.e., poor infrastructure, limited degree of stability and lack of a national ICT strategy, private sector activities have led to some efforts at developing a robust ICT infrastructure. Given the present state of the country, this paper attempts to highlight the preparedness of Sierra Leone in adopting technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) in agricultural education and training.
Tanzania - Camilius Sanga, Ayubu Jacob Churi, Siza Tumbo
This country report outlines the opportunities and challenges for Tanzania to collaborate with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in establishing technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) in agricultural education and training. Data for this report were collected from existing research documents and through personal interviews with some of the stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
The agricultural sector in Tanzania employs approximately 85 % of the labour force. The Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025 reveals that agriculture continues to be dependent on rainfall and traditional technology, consequently, productivity is low and erratic. The low productivity partly reflects lack of creativity and innovativeness that limits full application of science and technology as well as development of the agricultural trade.
Information and communication technology (ICT) continues to play a key role in agricultural development. The current environment is highly favourable for the country to collaborate in open and distance learning (ODL) with local and international institutions. Tanzania has a national ICT policy, and many higher learning institutions have ICT policies which underscore the need for the implementation of ICT-based teaching and learning. These policies emphasise the use of ICT in the agriculture sector as well. Tanzania has the basic ICT infrastructures which can be used to provide agricultural education through ODL and Tech-MODE.
The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) offers formal degree and post-graduate education through distance learning. In addition, several residential-based universities, such as the University of Dar es Salaam, the National Correspondence Institute and the Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies, are providing some form of distance education. Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) has a potential to establish ODL programmes in collaboration with OUT, because these universities have a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in teaching, learning, consultancy and research. Furthermore, SUA is the only agricultural university with staff and vast amount of electronic teaching materials in agriculture, veterinary medicine, forest and nature conservation, science, continuing education, computer science, pest management, development studies and sustainable rural development.
Life-long learning for farming communities has started through telecentres and multi-purpose community centres. Established telecentres have shown that they are affordable and are a best method to introduce ICT sustainably at the grassroots level. Examples of telecentres are Cromabu (Mwanza), Mazingira telecentres (Shinyanga), Kilosa telecentre (Kilosa), and Kibengwe telecentre (Bukoba). These telecentres provide additional avenues for ODL and Tech-MODE.
Like other developing countries, Tanzania has many challenges and promising opportunities for the use of ODL and Tech-MODE in agricultural education, but we suggest that both public and private sector collaboration with SUA and COL can extend the potential benefits of the new initiative of ODL and Tech-MODE to Tanzanians.
Uganda - Moses Tenywa, Bernard Fungo
Uganda is well-endowed with natural resources but remains a highly indebted poor country (HIPC) and one of the world’s twelve poorest countries characterized by prevalent hunger, malnutrition, low life expectancy (52 yrs), high infant mortality (67/1000) and death rates (13/1000). The economy is predominantly agrarian constituting 82% of the labour force. Poverty is largely attributed to the low human resource capacity in harnessing science and information communications technology (ICT) to overcome the constraints in agricultural production (e.g. drought, pests, diseases, weeds, markets, soil infertility). A study conducted by the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) revealed that the greatest reductions in poverty and marginal returns in agricultural production in Uganda came from investments in agricultural research and extension followed by education.
The Inter Academy Council (2004) notes that the next generation of African students must have a strong and holistic science-based training with problem solving and critical thinking skills. In addition, they must possess good communication and inter-personal skills. This is a challenge for which the existing predominantly face-to-face mode of training in Uganda is compelled to face amidst the growing population. Implicitly, the future of agricultural education and research lies in exploiting advances in technology-mediated open and distance learning (Tech-MODE) because of its flexibility, reduced cost and interactive approach for reaching out to a larger population of learners.
This country report highlights the major ways in which agricultural education is imparted at various levels in Uganda. An attempt has also been made to explore the potential for the use of ICT in agricultural education and training in Uganda. The policy environment surrounding the use of ICT is discussed and the infrastructural, human and policy challenges facing Tech-MODE have been identified. Finally, a few recommendations have been made for strengthening agricultural education to enhance its contribution to livelihoods using Tech-MODE. It is envisaged that the information here will inform the process of nurturing a partnership between the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) and strategic institutions involved in agricultural capacity building in Uganda.
Zambia - Mungule Chikoye, Martin Kaonga
This country report assesses the potential for introduction and adoption of technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) in agricultural education and training in Zambia. It is based on desktop studies and interviews with stakeholders in agricultural education and training. Despite adopting expansionist post-independence educational policies, Zambia has failed to achieve the critical mass of human resources required for sustainable agricultural development because of a variety of factors including inadequate agricultural policies and reduced productivity of vital sectors (mining, agriculture and manufacturing). However, the current agricultural policy (2005-2015) recognizes that achievement of agricultural education and training targets requires strengthening of both formal and non-formal education modes because the formal education system alone cannot meet national training needs. The Government has expressed a strong political will to support open and distance learning (ODL) through education policies that recognize ODL as a complementary mode of education, and an information and communications technology (ICT) policy that seeks to integrate ICT in agricultural education and training.
Zambian institutions have historically provided ODL in non-vocational disciplines, but Tech-MODE in agriculture is a relatively new concept. The concept is complex because it has strong vocational components, requires specialised technological methodologies, depends on students’ abilities to motivate and manage themselves and requires a front-loaded investment. But the national ICT infrastructure is underdeveloped. Tech-MODE is also time-consuming, expensive to set up and requires efficient administrative support. Furthermore, it is subject to market forces, attracts a more diversified clientele, and requires credible qualifications, institutional accreditation and good practice to compete with class-based systems. These challenges will determine the performance of Tech-MODE in Zambia.
An assessment of existing institutional, human and material resources, previous institutional involvement in ODL and flexibility of institutional facilities and resources concluded that:
- six potential providers of distance education (PDEs) can offer Tech-MODE in agriculture; these include the In-Service Training Trust, Natural Resources Development College, two Zambia Colleges of Agriculture, Katete Centre for Agriculture Marketing and the University of Zambia;
- PDEs need support in re-training human resources, ICT development, market research and the development of a market-centred curriculum, resources for production and delivery of training materials and seed capital to launch Tech-MODE;
- the dual mode of ODL is the most appropriate for PDEs in Zambia;
- bilateral institutional collaboration between PDEs and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an ideal pattern because costs of collaboration increase exponentially as the number of partners increases;
- the front-loaded nature of the costs of distance education favours collaboration between Zambian institutions and COL in the provision of distance education;
- long-term sustainability of distance education delivery depends mainly on the commitment of the Government to develop infrastructure, implement supportive policies and invest in ODL.
This study suggests that there is great potential for introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in agricultural education and training in Zambia, provided institutional capacities of PDEs are strengthened or developed. It also makes recommendations on how Tech-MODE in agriculture could be introduced and sustained in Zambia.
The Main Page on Tech-MODE in SSA is Tech-MODE_in_SSA
For brief information on the country studies see the poster presentation: Tech-MODE Poster
For information on agricultural open educational resources (AOER) see the poster presentation:
For this Synthesis Report top of site see Tech-MODE_Synthesis
For the Country Study on:
- Cameroon see Tech-MODE in Cameroon
- Ghana see Tech-MODE in Ghana
- Kenya see Tech-MODE in Kenya
- Nigeria see Tech-MODE in Nigeria
- Sierra Leone see Tech-MODE in Sierra Leone
- Tanzania see Tech-MODE in Tanzania
- Uganda see Tech-MODE in Uganda
- Zambia see Tech-MODE in Zambia
Distance Learning for Agricultural Development in Southern Africa
Rainer Zachmann, Mungule Chikoye, Richard Siaciwena, Krishna Alluri
In 2001, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Vancouver, Canada, and the In-Service Training Trust (ISTT), Lusaka, Zambia, initiated a program for agricultural extension workers in Southern (and Eastern) Africa to develop and deliver distance-learning materials. Participants from Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia produced materials, pre-tested them with prospective learners, improved the materials in a workshop in 2002, and implemented pilot programs in their countries in 2003 and 2004.
ICT/ICM Human Resource Capacities in Agricultural Research for Development in Eastern and Central Africa
Rainer Zachmann, Vitalis O. Musewe, Sylvester D. Baguma, Dorothy Mukhebi
Human capacities are lagging behind the quickly evolving information and communication technologies and management (ICT/ICM). Therefore, the Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN), one of the networks of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), commissioned an assessment of ICT/ICM human resource capacities and related training needs in the context of agricultural research for development. The assessment included visits and interviews, questionnaire surveys, and desk studies at national agricultural research systems in the ASARECA subregion. We found a general lack of ICT/ICM policies which has serious consequences, and leads to a wide variety of training needs. Fortunately, most training needs can be satisfied with resources available locally, in-house, in the country, or in the ASARECA subregion.
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