Tech-MODE in Zambia

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Executive summary

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.


Executive summary 
Principal acronyms 

 1  The framework for Tech-MODE 
 2  Economic and political context of agriculture 
 3  Open and distance learning in Zambia 
 4  Agricultural education and training in Zambia 
    4.1  Formal university education in agriculture  
    4.2  Continuing professional agricultural education  
    4.3  Life-long learning for farming communities 
    4.4  Agricultural education at primary and secondary schools 
 5  Current national policies on agricultural education and training 
 6  National ICT and ODL policies in relation to agricultural research, education, 
    training and extension 
    6.1  Educational policies  
    6.2  Information communications and technology policy  
 7  Potential issues affecting the introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE 
    for agricultural education and training 
 8  Facilities and resources for the implementation of Tech-MODE 
    8.1  Institutions and facilities 
    8.2  Status of individual and institutional capabilities for Tech-MODE 
    8.3  Government support and potential available to implement Tech-MODE 
    in collaboration with COL 
 9  Identification of capacity strengthening needs to support the implementation of Tech-MODE 
10  Potential and issues for effective collaboration with COL 
    10.1 Institutions and organisations to be involved and criteria for their selection 
    10.2 Mechanism for the introduction of Tech-MODE 
    10.3 Pattern of collaboration with COL 
    10.4 Strategies for strengthening capacities for Tech-MODE 
11  Conclusions 
12  Recommendations 
13  References 

Related information 

Principal acronyms

ATI        Agriculture Training Institution 
COL        Commonwealth of Learning 
DDE        Directorate of Distance Education at UNZA
GDP        Gross Domestic Product 
ICT        Information and communications technology 
ISTT       In-Service Training Trust 
MACO       Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives 
MAFF       Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 
MCT        Ministry of Communications and Technology 
NRDC       Natural Resources Development College 
ODL        Open and Distance Learning 
Tech-MODE  Technology-mediated Open and Distance Education
UNZA       University of Zambia 
ZCA        Zambia College of Agriculture 
ZEGA       Zambia Export Growers Association 

1 The framework for Tech-MODE

In 1964, the Zambian government recognized the low levels of educational provision and the consequential under-development of human resources at the time of independence and adopted expansionist post-independence education policies (Mumba, 2002). The Government adopted open and distance learning (ODL) as one of the educational strategies for increasing access to both formal and non-formal education and for improving the quality of education (Lungwangwa, 1999; Mumba, 2002). Since then, the Government, non-governmental organizations and international institutions have invested in ODL to alleviate problems of access, equity and quality in educational provision. However, the Zambian economy has experienced a decline since the mid 1970s due to several reasons inter alia the low productivity of the agricultural, mining, and manufacturing sectors. The net effect has been a reduced per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and increased poverty levels are now estimated at over 70% of the population, living on less than US$ 1 per day (MCT, 2006).

Economic turbulence coupled with a portfolio of austerity measures such as the structural adjustment programme progressively eroded the education system and reduced the living standards of many Zambians (IAS, 1996). The situation has been exacerbated by a turbulent shift to democracy and a free market economy. Therefore, despite the rapid and extensive extension of education and training services provided during the post-independence era, Zambia still experiences problems of limited access to education, a phenomenon that contributes to poverty and general socio-economic underdevelopment (Lungwangwa, 1999; Mumba, 2002). In response, the Government has adopted several strategies including Education for All (1991), Focus on Learning (1992), Educating our Future (1996), and ICT (2007). However, can technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) play a role in agricultural education and training in Zambia? How feasible would it be? This country report examines these questions, and recommends the most feasible model(s) for introducing Tech-MODE in Zambia.

2 Economic and political context of agriculture

Zambia is a land-locked nation with a total land area of about 752,600 km2 and a population estimated at about 11.7 million, with an average density of about 11 people per km2 (World Bank, 2007). The estimated annual population growth rate has declined from 2.0% in 2000 to 1.6 % in 2005, due to several reasons, including successes in family planning programmes, public health problems, and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS.

Historically, the Zambian economy has depended mainly on the mining sector. However, the steady decline in the productivity of the mining sector has resulted in economic decline and erosion of the general standard of living (MCT, 2006). By contrast, the agricultural sector is increasingly assuming a key role in the development of the Zambian economy and will soon become the engine of growth for the next decade and beyond (MAFF, 1999b). The sector employs about 67 to 75% of the total labour force, the second largest source of employment after public administration. Although 50 to 60% of the population derives its livelihood from farming (IAS, 1996; MACO, 2004), the share of agricultural production in GDP has remained between 18 to 20%, contributing about 3 to 5% to export earnings (MACO, 2004). Agricultural GDP growth averaged only 1.5% per annum from 1965 to 1997 and exports for most years were less than 3% (Wichern et al., 1999; MACO, 2004).

Zambia has the best surface and underground water resources in Africa, with many rivers, lakes and dams and 58% of Zambia’s total land area is suitable for agriculture. However, only 14% of this land is currently being utilised for agriculture (MACO, 2004). Therefore, Zambia’s largely underutilised natural resources could potentially be developed for production of crops, livestock and fish.

There are three categories of farmers in Zambia: small medium and large-scale farmers. The majority, about 800,000 small-scale farmers, have on average 1.5 ha (Francis et al., 1997). They use simple farming tools and techniques, and rely heavily on family labour. The second category includes about 1000 large-scale commercial farmers along the line of rail (Southern, Central, and Lusaka provinces) and in eastern Zambia (Wichern et al., 1999). These farmers use modern technology, hire labour, and produce food and cash crops as well as livestock. This category is characterised by high agricultural production. In between the two categories are 50,000 medium-scale farmers with per capita land size of 5 to 20 ha. These farmers usually use draught power.

Farming in Zambia is predominantly (99%) rain-fed with maize being the staple food and cash crop (MACO, 2004). Other cultivated crops include cotton, tobacco, sorghum, groundnuts and cassava. The livestock sector has declined in the last three decades because of several reasons including poor grazing, diseases, unfavourable macro-economic conditions and poor animal husbandry practices. However, the presence of several large wetlands, lakes and major river systems, combined with the wide diversity of habitats and species, favours the development of a lucrative fishing industry.

Before 1991, the Zambian agricultural policy empowered the Government to control the delivery of agricultural services and, to some extent, direct production of commodities through parastatals, cooperatives and other government-supported institutions (MAFF, 1999b; MACO, 2004). However, in 1992, the Government embarked on agricultural policy reforms as part of the economic structural adjustment programme (MAFF, 1995a). The main aim of the reforms was to liberalise the agricultural sector and to promote private sector development and participation in the production and distribution of agricultural goods and services. From 1995 to 2001, the Agriculture Sector Investment Program (ASIP), under the then Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF), was the main vehicle for implementation of agricultural policy objectives (MAFF, 1999b). ASIP adopted a holistic approach to provision of improved and sustainable services to the sector by enhancing production through free market development, reduced government involvement in commercial activities and provision of efficient public services.

Despite the enormous potential for high agricultural production, after four decades of experimenting with various economic and agricultural policies, per capita production has generally declined because of unfavourable weather, hostile macro-economic conditions, and untenable sectoral policies (MACO, 2004). Other problems not addressed by previous policy reforms include poor service delivery particularly for small-scale farmers, marketing constraints especially in outlying areas as a result of poor infrastructure notably feeder roads, a void in agricultural finance and credit, weak regulatory framework and poor enforcement of legal framework, unfavourable world and regional markets, and poor accessibility and administration of land in Zambia (Wichern et al., 1999).

Following a review of previous agricultural policies in 2004, the Zambian Government embarked on a policy reform for the decade 2005 – 2015 (MACO, 2004). The overall objective of the new policy is to facilitate and support the development of a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that ensures food security at national and household levels and maximises the sector's contribution to GDP. The policy addresses specifically the following:

  • ensuring national and household food security through an all-year round production and post-harvest management of adequate supplies of basic foodstuffs at competitive costs;
  • contributing to sustainable industrial development by providing locally produced agro-based raw materials;
  • increasing agricultural exports thereby enhancing the sector's contribution to the National Balance of Payments;
  • generating income and employment through increased agricultural production and productivity;
  • ensuring that the existing agricultural resource base is maintained and improved upon.

The strategies for attaining these policy objectives include the strengthening and monitoring of the liberalised markets, facilitation of the private sector development, and diversification of agricultural production. The Government also endeavours to develop a science- and technology-led agricultural sector with emphasis on adoption of farming practices that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

The agricultural policy will result in:

  • attainment of food security for the majority of households with at least 90 percent of the population being food secure by 2015;
  • an increase in agriculture’s contribution to total foreign exchange earnings from the current 3-5% to 10-20% by 2015;
  • agricultural growth at between 7-10% per annum from 2005 onwards;
  • a rise in overall agricultural contribution to GDP from the current 18-20% to 30% by 2015 and thus increasing the share of crops, livestock and fisheries;
  • increased incomes of those involved in the agricultural sector.

3 Open and distance learning in Zambia

The Zambian Government recognises education as a key element in national development (MCT, 2006). Shortly after independence, the Government adopted different forms of open and distance learning tailored to specific educational and training needs in the country (Mumba, 2002). The objectives of ODL are to

  • provide second-chance education for the dropouts of the formal education system;
  • raise the educational level of public servants, teachers and general public;
  • provide opportunities for re-entry into the formal and face-to-face education system;
  • provide opportunity to gain further qualifications;
  • allow people to learn while they work, thereby saving both the employee’s and employers’ resources;
  • provide a relatively inexpensive form of education;
  • overcome the shortage of trained teachers and other specialists;
  • improve the quality of instruction in educational institutions;
  • raise the basic standard of agriculture, health and education in general, which have assumed greater socio-economic importance;

The aim is to increase national literacy level and to develop the human resource to meet national educational and training needs.

Zambian institutions have historically provided ODL at the primary school level (Educational Broadcasting Services, EBS and Community Schools), at the secondary school level (National Correspondence College, NCC), and at the diploma and the undergraduate levels (Directorate of Distance Education, DDE, at the University of Zambia). Other ODL initiatives include in-service training (National In-service Teachers Training College), cooperative education (Zambia Cooperative College), radio farm forums for farmers (Agricultural Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, MACO), broadcasting for literacy (Ministry of Community Development and Social Services), media and non-formal and informal education (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, Zambia Information Services). However, the post 2000 era has seen a proliferation of local and international institutions that have launched the ODL mode from the postgraduate to the grassroots levels.

The potential for distance education in Zambia to contribute to socio-economic development has been widely recognised and several institutions have either launched or are keen launch new ODL programmes. However, the existing capacities of various institutions to offer ODL should be matched against necessary requirements for providing such programmes. Can Tech-MODE play a role in agricultural education and training in Zambia?

4 Agricultural education and training in Zambia

Since independence, in 1964, one of Zambia’s major policy objectives has been to develop human resources to meet dynamic needs of the agricultural sector. As a result, the Government has established several institutions, which offer agricultural education and training at the degree, diploma, secondary and primary school levels as well as at grassroots level.

Agricultural training in the country is offered at various institutions including the University of Zambia (degree level), Natural Resources Development College (diploma level), Mpika and Monze Agricultural Colleges (certificate level). Veterinary training is provided at the University of Zambia (degree level) and the Zambia Institute of Animal Health (certificate level). Other institutions such as Kalulushi, Chapula and Kasaka Farm Training Institutes, Palabana Livestock Development Trust and Farm Training Centres provide short-term, demand driven courses. Some training institutions under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training also offer courses in Agricultural Mechanics (MACO, 2004).

Co-operatives education and training is provided at the Co-operative College, Katete Centre of Marketing and Co-operatives and Kabulamwanda Co-operative Training Centre. Other training institutions such as the Natural Resources Development College (NRDC), Zambia College of Agriculture (ZCA - Mpika and Monze), the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU) are encouraged to introduce the co-operatives concept in their training programmes (MACO, 2004).

4.1 Formal university education in agriculture

Established in 1971, the School of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Zambia offers a five-year B.Sc. degree with majors in agricultural economics and extension, animal science, crop science, land management and food science and technology.  In 1983, the University opened the School of Veterinary Medicine, which offers a six-year undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine to satisfy the need for qualified veterinary personnel in the country. Students, who initially enrol in the School of Natural Sciences, are admitted to the second year of the undergraduate programmes in the two Schools - Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. At the end of the second year, students in the School of Agricultural Sciences choose courses which lead to a B.Sc. degree with one of the five agricultural science majors. A research project and industrial attachments constitute a major component of the undergraduate programmes.

The two schools also offer two-year postgraduate (master’s) degrees in veterinary medicine and agricultural sciences (with majors in agronomy and animal sciences). These programmes comprise one-year of taught courses followed by another year of research. The programme in agronomy attracts students from the SADC region.

In 1990, the School of Agricultural Sciences launched an in-service training programme in agriculture to share recent developments with stakeholders in the agricultural sector, including extension and research personnel, farm managers, land use planners, farmers and people in related fields.

4.2 Continuing professional agricultural education

Some of the institutions offering post secondary agricultural education and training leading to diploma and certificate qualifications in different areas of agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives are described below:

The Natural Resources Development College (NRDC), established in 1967, offers six three-year Diploma programmes in Agriculture (with majors in animal science, crop science, and agricultural business management), Fisheries, Agricultural Education, Agricultural Engineering, Water Engineering, and Food and Nutrition. NRDC also offers a four-year Diploma in Horticulture in partnership with Zambia Export Growers Association (ZEGA). The NRDC diploma is underwritten by the University of Zambia and its School of Agricultural Sciences is actively involved in curriculum development and quality management through the UNZA-NRDC Professional Committee. The College has a capacity of 300 full-time students.

The two Zambia Colleges of Agriculture (ZCA, Monze and Mpika) offer two-year general certificate programmes in agriculture. Their graduates constitute key front-line agricultural extension workers interfacing with farmers. Other commodity based agricultural training institutions were established to meet the specific needs of the sub-sectors such as the co-operative movement (Co-operatives College 1979), tobacco industry (Popota Tobacco College 1965); the dairy industry (Palabana Dairy Training Institute, 1965); and the horticultural industry (Zambia Horticultural Training Centre 1969). Kalulushi Farm College was established (1963) to train school leavers who would themselves set up farms or work on commercial farms. Two institutions, Katete Centre for Agricultural Marketing and the In-Service Training Trust (ISTT), provide competitive short in-service agricultural training. Their customised courses address dynamic needs of the agricultural sector.

Agricultural education and training institutions in Zambia have not adequately met the dynamic needs of the agricultural sector because

  • previous agricultural policies have lacked clear education and training objectives to meet the needs of changing agricultural landscape;
  • declining national budgetary allocations to educational institutions have seriously undermined infrastructural development and flexibility in education service delivery;
  • different agricultural institutions administratively belong to different sectors/sub-sectors and thus management of education and delivery of agricultural training programmes has been problematic;
  • there has been a disconnect between educational institutions and other sub-sectors of the agricultural industry, resulting in training curricula which are insensitive to the changing overall national agricultural agenda.

Therefore, the current capacity of agricultural training institutions does not match the national capacity building needs of the agricultural sector.

4.3 Life-long learning for farming communities

The majority of farmers, especially in rural areas, are serviced by the national agricultural extension directorate in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO) and to a limited extent by NGOs and private organizations. Front-line agricultural staff stationed in rural communities usually conduct residential training for farmers at Farmers’ Training Centres (FTC) available in each district in the country. In addition, the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) provides non-formal training through television and radio programmes. Programmes such as Rural Notebook, Farmers Notebook, Farm Magazine and the Zambia Radio Farm Forum have reached some of the 800,000 small-scale farmers in the country. Distance learning approaches have complemented the conventional extension initiatives considering the underdeveloped rural infrastructure and understaffed extension department.

4.4 Agricultural education at primary and secondary schools

The formal primary and secondary school curricula contain modules in agricultural sciences. In primary schools, topics in agriculture are taught as a component of environmental science. Many schools, especially in rural areas, have well developed gardens, which equip pupils with basic farming skills. At secondary school level, agriculture is offered as an optional subject and concerned pupils actively participate in School Production Units. As part of the assessment of the subject, students carry out a project on a given topic. In most cases, agriculture science teachers have at least a diploma in agriculture.

5 Current national policies on agricultural education and training

The Zambian Government recognises that the available numbers and loss of trained and experienced agricultural human resources are major factors contributing to unsatisfactory performance of agriculture (MACO, 2004). Despite past and present investments in agricultural training, the existing agriculture training institutions (ATIs) have not met the critical mass of the human resources required for sustainable agricultural development. The recent policy reviews have stressed that training must be relevant, systematic, coordinated and demand driven. They also look for efficient and effective utilisation of trained personnel in both the public and private sector.

The Zambian national agricultural policy (2005-2015) has given ATIs a fresh education and training mandate. The overall objective of the Agricultural and Cooperatives Training Sub-Sector Policy is to produce a critical mass of suitable and adequately trained cadre of people that will meet the needs of both the public and private sectors in a liberalised agricultural sector (MACO, 2004). Specifically, it seeks to strengthen the capacity of the agricultural training institutions, ensure that quality and relevant agricultural training is provided through curriculum reform and development of teaching resources, commercialise or privatise some training institutions and enhance autonomy in some, and institute a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of agricultural training activities.

The Government’s main strategies are to:

  • undertake a training needs assessment;
  • carry out short and long-term training at technical and professional levels, including farmer training;
  • strengthen and carry out a programme of in-service training courses;
  • promote agricultural education at both primary and secondary school levels;
  • establish income generating ventures as well as cost-sharing mechanisms in local institutions of learning.

Considering that there has been no legal framework for establishment of several of its ATIs, the Government recognises the need to pass legislation through enactment of an Agricultural Training Act.

Agricultural training strategies of other sub-sectors (Crops, Irrigation, Land Husbandry, Farm and Mechanization, Livestock, Fisheries, Agricultural Cooperatives Development, and Agricultural Marketing and Credit Sub-Sectors) of MACO are to:

  • build the capacity of members and employees of cooperative societies through the provision of education, training and other support services;
  • develop training and education materials that address the needs of co-operative members;
  • build capacity of MACO staff at national and field levels in gender analytical skills and techniques;
  • facilitate the mainstreaming of gender in ATIs’ curricula;
  • promote and strengthen farmer groups and farmer field schools as targets for technology transfer;
  • facilitate delivery of skills training and technology transfer to small-scale farmers using Farmer Training Institutes at staff level and Farmer Training Centres;
  • use electronic and print media as communication tools to support extension information delivery;
  • train field staff in farmer friendly extension methodologies;
  • produce and distribute training and extension materials/manuals for both farmers and field staff;
  • facilitate capacity building among stakeholders in the fisheries sub-sector.

The agricultural policy recognises that achievement of agricultural education and training targets requires strengthening of both formal and non-formal models of education because traditional methods are not adequate by themselves.

6 National ICT and distance education policies in relation to agricultural research, education, training and extension

Agricultural reforms in Zambia have created an enormous need to develop and re-train human resources to meet diverse needs of the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, a predominantly traditional formal educational system cannot meet the human resource needs of a dynamic social and economic development system. Similarly, agricultural education and training has traditionally depended mainly on formal training delivery systems, which have limited capacity to cope with the increasing training needs of sub-sectors in the industry. Therefore, as much as there are demands in the formal educational system, there are considerable training and continuing education needs in agriculture (MCT, 2006). Even with an influx of donor funding, Zambia cannot meet training needs of the changing agricultural landscape using the traditional educational and training methods.

Previous distance learning initiatives in agriculture have greatly complemented the formal educational and training system, especially in rural areas where the poor infrastructure (roads) development and understaffing of the extension sub-sector limit face-to-face sharing of agricultural information. However, the prospects of a sustainable distance learning programme in agriculture cannot be envisioned without considering the critical role of ICT. Therefore, development of agricultural research, education and extension sub-sectors greatly depends on sound ICT and distance educational policies.

6.1 Educational policies

Shortly after independence, Zambia adopted an educational policy aimed at increasing access to both formal and non-formal education and for improving the quality of education (Lungwangwa, 1999; Mumba, 2002). However, almost 45 years after independence, Zambia still experiences problems of limited access to education, a phenomenon that has contributed to poverty and general socio-economic underdevelopment (Lungwangwa, 1999; Mumba, 2002). Despite austerity measures introduced to revamp the Zambian economy, including liberalization of the economy, resources allocated to the education sector have declined, capital investment in the education sector has declined, and the number of qualified teachers in schools reduced. In addition, the number of scholarships for tertiary level education were drastically cut, tuition fees for post-secondary and higher education were instituted and the funding for capacity building in the education sector declined. Other measures introduced included parental contributions to primary and secondary education, and encouraging private education initiatives.

Institutional budgets have failed to keep up with inflation. Although 68% of the Zambian population is literate (World Bank, 2007), 40% of school age children in rural areas, and 20% in urban areas, do not attend school (Mumba, 2002). Thus, these reforms have excluded children and youths form low-income and vulnerable groups of the society.

Previous educational reforms have also created an enormous need to retrain staff in the teaching profession. Unfortunately, inadequate resources preclude development of adequate human resources using the conventional educational system within the required time frame. Alternative strategies are needed to redeploy scarce financial resources if literacy levels are to be increased.

In 1990, Zambia participated in the World Conference on Education for All, which adopted a World Declaration on Education for All and Framework for Action to meet basic learning needs. As a signatory to the declaration, Zambia, like many other countries, has broadened the scope of basic education to include early childhood, primary and non-formal (including literacy for youths and adults) (Mumba, 2002). The Government has, therefore, adopted several policy strategies including Education for All (1991), Focus on Learning (1992), Educating our Future (1996), and ICT (2007) to develop an education system that will meet the socio-economic needs of a developing society. Thus, current educational policies stress that to achieve education provision to a rapidly growing school age population and out of school youths and adults, there is need to expand both formal and informal modes of education delivery, and ICT becomes a handy medium.

6.2 Information communications and technology policy

Underdevelopment of the ICT industry has been a major contributing factor to the poor performance of the national economy (MCT, 2006). The limited capacity of Zambian citizens to actively contribute to, and draw from, the rich ICT-mediated knowledge and technology reserve has deprived the nation of its much desired social and economic development. The Government recognises that the use of ICTs in education offers an opportunity for a wider process of self-managed change for vulnerable groups, the poor and the marginalised.  In Zambia, distance learning has been delivered by physical means including libraries, postal communication and the print media, but these techniques have suffered from limited investment in infrastructure. Radio and TV are also popular media, but TV has limited coverage across the country. Thus, unless the ICT industry is developed, distance education provision will remain an under utilised resource.

Zambia’s commitment to ICT development is demonstrated by the approval of the ICT policy in April 2007 and the inclusion of ICT as a priority area in the Fifth National Development Plan (2006-2010). The Government also created the Department of Communications in MCT, to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the policy. The ICT Policy objectives for the education sector are to:

  • deploy ICTs at all levels of the Zambian educational system in order to improve and expand access to education, training and research facilities;
  • modernise the educational delivery system with the aim of improving the quality of education and training at all levels;
  • strengthen the administration and decision-making capacity in the educational system through the deployment of education management information systems;
  • promote collaboration of research and development systems within the local industrial set-up to facilitate product development, innovation and delivery of world-class services that can compete on the global market.

The current educational and ICT policies have profound implications for agricultural sector development. The policies, if implemented, will increase the capacities of agricultural sub-sectors (education, research and extension) to deliver services through:

  • increased access to information by stakeholders;
  • increased literacy levels;
  • increased infrastructural development;
  • capacity building in ICT;
  • use of ICTs to extend agricultural research facilities and increase access to higher education.

Thus, agricultural development depends on supportive educational and ICT policies.

7 Potential issues affecting the introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE for agricultural education and training

In Zambia, introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE for agricultural education and training may be a promising and feasible option of alleviating problems of access, equity and quality in education provision. However, there are many potential issues to be considered, if Tech-MODE is to be successfully adopted widely.

Most of the current distance education programmes in Zambia have a limited component of field or laboratory activities. Agriculture is perceived as a difficult subject to teach through distance learning to people in need of vocational training (Coote, 2002). Even with careful curriculum development, some face-to-face or ‘hands on’ are still required. Where distance agricultural education and training have succeeded, it is offered at the postgraduate level. Some providers organise day schools, weekend workshops, practical home experimental kits, local organisation or field visits, laboratory work, etc. for on-the-job practical training.

Many parts of Zambia are not connected to the national electricity grid and telecommunication systems. The cost of satellite access prescribes wireless technology as the only pragmatic and affordable option. Although most rural communities in Zambia can access radio programmes, internet, intranet and TV facilities are accessible mainly in urban and peri-urban areas. While the Government has approved the ICT, educational and agricultural policies that favour ODL, the existing infrastructure is still rudimentary.

For many people, introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in the agricultural sector would represent a cultural shift from the present passive and dependent culture of learning to more self-sustained study and enquiry by students. This shift is difficult to internalise because most of the resources which people are used to are associated with the conventional educational system. The challenge is how to provide distance learning resources with an impact equivalent to that derived from formal agricultural education. Development of resources takes time, expertise and financial resources. Even in situations where an institution uses imported materials, adaptation of such materials to the local conditions can be costly.

The success of distance education will depend on the environment in which it is delivered. While rural communities need the opportunities Tech-MODE can provide, social problems, such as alcoholism, poverty, diseases, crime, unemployment, greatly undermine the positive attributes of the educational programmes. Management education and training is also a pressing need in several organizations. Employers should be keen to provide material and local support (coaching and mentoring) and on-the-job training in agricultural practical skills.

Distance agricultural education for the youth is likely to be more challenging than that for adults. Any model used for young learners, therefore, must ensure:

  • well organised learning materials to suit the age group;
  • careful selection of media and print;
  • adequate local support for the learner and parents;
  • thorough induction and clarification of roles for pupils, parents, teachers and supporting staff;
  • speedy feedback on student questions and assignments;
  • relevant curriculum to retain the interest of rural children and parents.

A successful ODL programme should adequately address the above requirements.

In Zambia, there is very limited experience of distance education in agriculture. A major challenge to adoption of Tech-MODE is the expertise needed to develop the agricultural learning materials and the resources to accomplish the task. There are few qualified agricultural teaching and training staff with expertise in distance education (Robinson, 1995). Therefore, there is a, need to train teachers and trainers to equip them with skills and the level of expertise required to identify what kind of media to use, under what circumstances, and for which learners. So far, professional development of trainers is rudimentary.

The cost of developing distance education is a critical factor in promoting Tech-MODE. Contrary to the popular notion that distance education is cost-effective, it may be costly depending on the number of learners, mix of communication technology, media and learning materials, degree of learner support, salaries and employment conditions, production standards, institutional working practices and overhead costs (Billham and Gilmour, 1995). This educational approach is time consuming, expensive to set up and requires efficient administrative support.

Distance education is subject to market forces. Institutions need to consider the concepts of added-value and customer services as they apply in other fields (Billham and Gilmour, 1995). The challenge is that an average distance learner tends to be older, more mature, more experienced and potentially more demanding than an average full-time student. The service provider will, therefore, need a whole range of strategies to keep the distance learner satisfied, motivated and fulfilled.

The qualification and institutional accreditation tend to motivate students. Many students are keen to acquire qualifications from a reputable and well-established institution. The distance learner must be convinced that an institution will offer a qualification that is equivalent to that awarded under a formal educational environment. It is also imperative that quality management and assurance mechanisms are enshrined in distance learning programmes.

In short, a distance agricultural education and training programme can only succeed if there is a perception of good practice, based on quality of teaching materials, clear course goals and objectives, media options, course administration, student support systems, assessment and feedback, calibre of tutors, local tutorial and practical support, study guidelines, flexibility of the programme and training needs assessment (Billham and Gilmour, 1995).

With a background of under-funding, Zambian institutions should demonstrate that good practice is a description of their course delivery. As the nation considers introducing and adopting Tech-MODE agricultural education and training, the challenges mentioned earlier should be ably addressed.

8 Facilities and resources for implementation of Tech-MODE

Agricultural sub-sectors (education, research and extension) and other agro-based industries have inherent capacities to deliver distance education and training. The research sub-sector has research sites, libraries, laboratories, ICT (internet, intranet and telephone), seminar rooms, and access to farmers’ fields. ATIs have teaching facilities (laboratories, libraries, classrooms, farms) and ICT facilities. The agricultural extension sub-sector has access to TV and radio facilities, Farmers' Training Centre, farmer field schools, and farm demonstrations. Agro-based organizations have a wide range of facilities including laboratories, ICTs (internet, intranet, video-conference and telephones), conference rooms, commercial farms, processing plants, farm machinery, greenhouses and several other facilities.

Most of these institutions have hosted research and industrial attachments and would, therefore, serve as demonstration and research facilities for distance education programmes. It must be stressed that, although institutions have been under-funded over years resulting in underdeveloped infrastructure, some of the institutions have attempted to build up their capacities to the extent that they have either launched or are about to launch distance education programmes. Whatever the case, these institutions need recapitalisation if they are to offer quality programmes.

Zambia has invested substantially in human resource development for several years and has a high calibre of staff in most branches of agriculture. However, the nation has also experienced a high turnover of agricultural staff. Recognising the need to maintain a critical mass of human resources, the Government in its National Agricultural Policy (2004) outlines several measures aimed at training and retaining agricultural staff in the agricultural sector.

The Government and its international development partners are the main sources of funding for agricultural education and training in Zambia. Recent agricultural policies have also encouraged institutions to commercialise some of their activities in order to increase the funding resource base to sustain their programmes.

8.1 Institutions and facilities

Table 1 shows facilities at selected agricultural education and training institutions.

Table 1: Facilities at selected agricultural institutions

Institution Facilities
University of Zambia
1 School of Agriculture Lecture rooms, laboratories, greenhouses, office accommodation for staff, research farm, access to agricultural research station fields, library, access to meteorological station, computers and internet, access to national radio and TV facility, telephone and fax, overhead projectors and VCR.
2 School of Veterinary Medicine Lecture rooms, laboratories, animal clinic, farm, kernels, office accommodation, access to national animal research facilities, library, computers and internet, access to national radio and TV facilities, telephone and fax, overhead projectors and VCR.
The University has a Directorate of Distance Education (DDE) and is an authorised internet service provider. Its computer networks are linked to the regional branches of DDE and tutors can interact with distance learners in their regions.
Natural Resources Development College (NDRC), Lusaka Lecture rooms, office accommodation, library, laboratories, model village structure, commercial farm, ranch, access to green houses, orchard, engineering workshops, student accommodation, meteorological station, access to national radio and TV facilities, computer laboratory, telephone and fax, overhead projectors and VCR.
In-Service Training Trust (ISTT), Lusaka Seminar and break away rooms, resource centre, office accommodation, participant accommodation, access to farms, research stations and farmers’ fields, access to national TV and radio facilities, computer and internet, telephone and fax, overhead projectors and VCR.
Zambia Colleges of Agriculture (ZCA) at Monze and Mpika Lecture rooms, office accommodation, library, laboratories, commercial farm, ranch, orchard, engineering workshops, student accommodation, meteorological station, access to national radio and TV facilities, video facilities, telephone and fax facility, overhead projectors and VCR.
Katete Centre for Agricultural Marketing (KCAM), Lecture rooms, office accommodation, library, laboratories, commercial farm, ranch, orchard, engineering workshops, student accommodation, access to national radio and TV facilities, video facilities, telephone and fax, overhead projectors, VCR and access to regional marketing facilities.

All education institutions have basic facilities including office accommodation, lecture rooms, laboratories, libraries, and basic audio-visual aids. However, smaller Colleges such as Zambia Colleges of Agriculture (ZCAs) and Katete Centre for Agriculture Marketing (KCAM) lack computers and internet facilities. The range of facilities at an institution depends on the nature of programmes and the level of education and training they provide. The University of Zambia, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, has generally better infrastructure than colleges, while the ISTT has facilities designed to provide in-service training. The common feature of all institutions is that they are designed mainly for on-campus education or training. However, they would be very useful for residential schools, weekend workshops, or for other components of distance education for students based in areas close to the institutions. These facilities can be developed to provide quality ODL programmes in agriculture.

8.2 Status of individual and institutional capabilities for Tech-MODE

Although there is no specific distance education policy, the establishment of the Distance Education Unit in the Ministry of Education, production of the Government Distance Education Strategy Paper, approval of the ICT policy in 2007, and agricultural policy reforms strongly favour the adoption of Tech-MODE. It is important to stress that traditional distance education programmes have heavily relied on the print media, radio, and to a lesser extent TV facilities. However, the development of Tech-MODE in the long-term will depend on the development of a national infrastructure (telecommunications, roads, electricity grid, roads), especially in rural areas, which are still adversely affected by the digital divide.

Assessment of the existing institutional, material and human resources in selected agricultural and training institutions suggests that there is a capacity for introducing and implementing Tech-MODE programmes in agriculture. However, there is need to build the institutional capacities to ensure that Tech-MODE is sustainable in the long-term. The ability of an institution to provide ODL depends on human, material and institutional resources.

This section provides a brief assessment of the status of individual and institutional capabilities for introduction of Tech-MODE in Zambia.

In-Service Training Trust (ISTT)

The ISTT provides in-service training in agriculture and related fields. The Trust has a qualified team of subject matter specialists in agriculture. This team has been instrumental in the development, testing, and editing of distance education materials in selected fields of agriculture. ISTT has provided ODL programmes in collaboration with COL and other institutions in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda and local institutions including DDE at the University of Zambia, Katete Centre for Agriculture Marketing, and ZCA Monze.

With an 80-bed capacity, ISTT is capable to hosting residential schools for distance learners. Within its institutional Strategic Plan, ISTT intends to offer a dual mode of training because it already has access to ICT infrastructure such as computers, internet and phones. In addition, the institution has human resources to manage ODL. It also has a resource centre, spacious seminar rooms, and good audio-visual aids. The Trust is a self-financing institution. Therefore, ISTT holds great potential for providing Tech-MODE in agriculture.

Natural Resources Development College (NRDC)

NRDC is an established diploma awarding institution with well-trained human resources and basic infrastructure to potentially offer distance education programmes. With its affiliation to the University of Zambia, quality management and assurance, and assessment schemes are consistent with guidelines given by the University of Zambia. The College has a library, a commercial farm, computers and phones to basically support ODL. Being a training institution under the Ministry of Agriculture, it can easily access the national radio and TV facilities. NRDC is funded by the Government although the current agricultural policy encourages institutions to commercialise some of its activities to supplement government funding. Although it has no history of offering ODL, it is about to launch an ODL diploma programme in agriculture. Therefore, introducing and adopting Tech-MODE fits squarely in its strategic plan.

Zambia College of Agriculture Monze

The college has experience in running ODL programmes and has a curriculum that is regulated according to MACO Cooperative and training sub-sector. The college has a library, a training farm and basic building infrastructure. Although, it currently has no access to computers and the internet, its experienced lecturers have maximised the use of the print media, and have some experience in training distance learners The college is government-funded, but it is also encouraged to generate additional resources through commercialisation of some of its activities.

Zambia College of Agriculture Mpika

The Zambia College of Agriculture at Mpika has never offered any formal distance education programme. However, it is currently working with Copperbelt University to develop an ODL diploma programme in agroforestry. The College has a library, training farm, and basic building infrastructure for on-campus agricultural education and training. Although it currently has no access to computers and the internet, the lecturers have vast experience of teaching agricultural courses using the print media. The current initiative to introduce ODL programmes is a major incentive for improving its institutional capabilities and for adopting distance education in agriculture. In addition to government grants, the college is commercialising some of its activities to generate additional resources for its programmes.

Katete Centre for Agriculture Marketing

The Centre is an experienced open and distance education provider with access to a community radio station. It has good infrastructure, a library and has well-trained and experienced lecturers who have trained distance learners. Although the Centre has computers and phones, it has no access to the internet. The Centre plans to develop an ODL diploma programme in agricultural marketing.

University of Zambia

The two Schools, Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Zambia have great potential to offer distance education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels because they have

  • well-trained lecturers and administrative staff who could easily be re-trained to offer distance education;
  • basic infrastructure (laboratories, greenhouses, a research farm and clinic) and access to computers, telephones, TV and radio facilities;
  • established quality management and assurance systems, education monitoring and evaluation systems and student support systems;
  • collaborative links with other agro-based organisations.

Although agricultural and veterinary programmes have large components of ‘hands on’ requirements, they can draw lessons from the DDE within the University which are offering distance education.

DDE is electronically connected to its regional centres and as such is able to interact with its distant learners through the internet. The two Schools – Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine - could effectively utilise this facility to launch their ODL programmes in agriculture. Thus, the University can develop its capacity to offer Tech-MODE in agriculture.

8.3 Government support and potential available to implement Tech-MODE in collaboration with COL

Successful introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in Zambia depends, to a larger extent, on Government policies in the agricultural, education, and communication sectors. Current policies strongly emphasise on communication infrastructural and ICT development, increased use of ICT in education and training, human resource development in the agricultural sector, development of a knowledge-based society. Other issues include restructuring of education and training institutions to strengthen ODL, capacity building, strengthening, retaining skilled human resources, and increasing the portfolio of funding to the agricultural sector. These aspects of Government policies provide a foundation for introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in agriculture.

Although Zambia does not have a formally articulated policy to guide the distance education mode, the Government’s initiative to establish a distance education unit in the Ministry of Education and to produce a publicly accepted formal Government strategy for distance education clearly demonstrates its commitment to enhanced education delivery through ODL. The establishment of NCC and Open Secondary Schools (Siaciwena, 1994), DDE at the University of Zambia, National Agricultural Information Services in MACO and several other sector-specific ODL programmes strongly suggests that the Government is committed to the development of distance education. In addition, the Government’s commitment to the following is an incentive to the development of distance education:

  • Education through Education for All (1991), Focus on Learning (1992), Educating our Future (1996), Education for Better Future;
  • ICT development by approval of the ICT Policy (MCT, 2006);
  • The Agricultural Policy (MCT, 2004).

The educational and agricultural reforms, high turnover of agricultural staff, under-funding of the sectors, supportive Government strategies and the need to develop a knowledge-based society, have collectively generated acute training needs and there will be continuing need for education in the long-term. With 30% of school age children in Zambia not attending school (Lungwangwa, 1999), tuition fees and limited places in tertiary institutions, and with 70% of the population living on less than US$1 per day (World Bank, 2007), the distance education mode is becoming increasingly attractive. In Zambia, there is a literate and educated population as potential students and conventionally well-qualified staff capable of delivering distance education, if re-trained.

Although Zambian institutions have not offered agriculture by distance education, there is experience of distance education in non-vocational disciplines and models from other countries to draw on that can inform the start-up phase of Tech-MODE. Association with international distance education institutions has assisted some Zambian institutions to participate in joint ODL programmes. In addition, there is willingness of development partners to fund the introduction of ODL approaches as part of development projects and explicit political will in several sectoral policy and strategy documents. Therefore, current educational needs can be associated with different benefits associated with ODL, including providing in-service training to agricultural staff, delivering on-job training to employees, tertiary education and supporting agricultural training for farmers.

9 Identification of capacity strengthening needs to support implementation of Tech-MODE

The decline in the Zambian economy over the years has undermined the institutional, material and human capacity building capabilities of most potential Tech-MODE providers. The situation has been further compounded by limited experience of ODL in agriculture. Therefore, to successfully introduce and adopt Tech-MODE in agriculture, there is a need to:

  • develop human resources in the use of information and communication technologies for teaching, administration and delivery of materials;
  • strengthen institutions through provision of hardware, software and technical assistance;
  • train teachers and trainers in production and use of educational materials.

However, capacity building and strengthening approaches should be sustainable in the long-term.

Before Tech-MODE is introduced, the PDEs need to constitute technical teams to:

  • examine current ICT capacities, human resources and programme needs to ensure efficient deployment of resources;
  • engage strategic planners to assist PDEs to concretise plans to incorporate or increase the use ICTs in distance education and training;
  • plan and test satellite services;
  • develop web-portal and train human resources in the use of ODL management software;
  • examine the use of distributed printing for distance education.

Development of the ODL mode should also include building and strengthening the capabilities of teacher education institutions and that of primary and secondary schools to provide distance education in agriculture. It must be stressed that efforts to introduce Tech-MODE should embrace capacity building at all levels of the education and training systems.

10 Potential and issues for effective collaboration with COL

According to Truelove (1998), the general principles of distance education are:

  • teacher and students are separated by physical distance;
  • lesson materials are prepared in a structured, sequential order for study by students on their own;
  • media are used sometimes in conjunction with face-to-face communication for the exchange of learning materials;
  • the presence of an educational system.

Effective implementation of distance learning requires appropriate facilities and resources. Existing agricultural education and training institutions have curricula, instructional materials, instructional media, assessment schemes, student support systems, staff training, training management systems and ICT that have been designed mainly for formal education. However, due to under-funding, the capabilities of these institutions to provide quality education and training have been undermined and hence have failed to satisfy the human resource demands of the national economy. Therefore, although Zambia already has a tradition of distance education, very few institutions have inherent capacities to provide ODL.

Successful implementation of Tech-Mode for agricultural education requires well-trained human resources, including teachers, trainers, administrators, mentors, extension officers, ICT experts and others depending on the nature of the programme. However, there are very few Zambians who have been specifically trained in distance agricultural education. Several institutions, which intend to launch ODL programmes in agriculture, have to retrain their staff in the use of ODL techniques, administration, ICT and development of learning materials.

Zambia has an underdeveloped ICT industry for several reasons including due to under-developed infrastructure, limited investment in ICT and under-funding of institutions. Most of the agricultural institutions have limited or no access to ICT facilities and therefore their application in teaching, administration and developing training materials is limited. Such institutions need resources to either upgrade or introduce ICT in their training programmes.

Limited resources have hindered effective market research to enable institutions to design curricula that respond to the needs of the industry. Involvement of stakeholders in curriculum development has been problematic due to inadequate resources. Development of marketable education and training programmes will require institutions to consistently review their curriculum based on current training needs analyses.

One deterrent for introducing distance learning is that it requires considerable up-front investment to train staff, design curriculum, prepare materials and acquire selected technology (Saint, 1999). This front-loaded expenditure pattern suggests that the tertiary distance education projects are ideal candidates for international development assistance. COL can contribute to the seed capital and technical support to launch the programme over the initial phase of 4 to 5 years, ensuring that the programme is sustainable in the long-term. Zambian agricultural education and training institutions could greatly benefit from collaboration with COL. The most important areas of collaboration are curriculum development, development of instructional materials, telecommunications and technology, development of information services, training, and continuing professional education. Recent agricultural policies, which emphasise on distance agricultural education and training, suggest that that financial resource may increase due to:

  • increase in budgetary allocations;
  • income generating activities of the ATIs;
  • donor funding;
  • income likely to accrue from delivery of ODL;
  • organisations sponsoring on-job training.

The ability of the institutions to mobilise financial resources will greatly determine the success of the programme.

10.1 Institutions and organizations to be involved and criteria for selection of institutions and organizations

For an organisation to offer distance education, it must be legally established under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. It should demonstrate that it has potential to effectively manage distance education with appropriate infrastructural facilities and adequately trained and experienced personnel. Educational standards should be comparable to class-based system complying with standards for academic and professional qualifications. The potential distance education provider must have qualified teachers, trainers and support staff. In addition, the institution should have

  • an educational system with adequate distance education technologies and sufficient integration of education media to ensure distance learners receive good educational services and pursue self-directed learning of high quality;
  • a measurement, monitoring and evaluation system to ensure effective evaluation of learning achievement with quality comparable to class-based systems;
  • an efficient checking and control system to ensure students learn, take examinations and carry out academic assignments by developing examination management for summative and formative evaluation;
  • an appropriate quality assurance system comprising curriculum administration, instructional and research resources, student support system and market-directed training;
  • an effective and appropriate internal quality assurance system according to external quality assessment system.

Although most Zambian institutions do not exactly match the criteria above, PDEs include the In-Service Training Trust, Natural Resources Development College, Zambia Colleges of Agriculture at Monze and Mpika, Katete Centre for Agriculture Marketing and the University of Zambia. These institutions are capable of providing distance education because they:

  • offered a distance education course, either in partnership with other institutions or solely;
  • are about to launch a distance education qualification programme;
  • exhibited flexibility in their education or training programmes.

Distance education programmes for rural communities are designed according to conditions set by MACO.

10.2 Mechanism for introduction of Tech-MODE

Most of the ATIs in Zambia that offer distance agricultural education and training are already providing education using conventional methods, thus the dual mode of education provision seems appropriate. Dual mode approaches that make use of existing academic staff and facilities reduce competition for scarce resources often associated with establishment of new institutions and erode staff resistance by offering opportunities for direct staff participation (Saint, 1999). Likewise, common admissions policies for residential and distance education students and the awarding of a single qualification based on common standards will do much to offset the notion that distance education is of inferior status.

Institutions such as ISTT, the University of Zambia, NRDC and ZCA should safely adopt this ODL mode. They can involve all or some of their departments in distance education provision. The dual model allows the institution to build on its existing capacity. However, depending on available resources and facilities, the institution can either develop its own ODL materials or import materials and adapt them to suit the local conditions. If conditions and resources permit, institutions should develop their own training materials.

10.3 Pattern of collaboration with COL

Establishment of a distance education capability in Zambia requires both subject expertise and distance learning expertise. Most agricultural education and training institutions in Zambia have very little experience of distance agricultural education although they have provided on-campus education and training. Issues related to agricultural distance education are different from non-technical education and could not be easily explained by text, especially if students do not come from a technical society.

Bilateral institutional collaboration with COL is an ideal pattern. Daniel (1987) indicates that costs of collaboration (both monetary and non-monetary) are exponentially, rather than linearly, related to the number of partners. Considering that the agricultural sector is based on diversified agro-ecological conditions and unique socio-economic factors, the distance education programme should be jointly developed by the potential distance education provider and COL. Only in exceptional cases should external consultants be brought in to develop the capability of the PDEs in production or delivery of distance education.

10.4 Strategies for strengthening capacities for Tech-MODE

To build the capacity of agricultural education and training institutions to deliver Tech-MODE in Zambia, there is a need to:

  • constitute teams to examine ICT facilities, use of print media, human resources, and programme needs;
  • concretise plans to incorporate or strengthen ICTs in distance education delivery;
  • secure resources for programming of piloting, dissemination and staff training;
  • train academic, administrative and technical personnel in the use of ICTs for teaching, administration and delivery of learning materials;
  • provide hardware, software, technical assistance and train personnel to maintain the ICT facilities;
  • establish partnerships and collaborative networks to effectively utilise limited resources and create economies of scale.

The Zambian Government must fully support Tech-MODE in agriculture through implementation of agricultural, education, and communication policies and strategies that directly or indirectly support the delivery of ODL by agricultural education and training establishments. The Government should also take responsibility for mobilising stakeholders in ODL and facilitate the implementation of programmes through establishment of professional bodies.

11 Conclusions

An assessment of the potential for introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in agriculture in Zambia concludes that:

  • despite its efforts to expand the formal and non-formal education systems in the post-independence era, the Zambian Government has not yet developed a critical mass of skilled human resources to meet the dynamic needs of social and economic development, probably due to declining productivity of vital industries (agriculture, manufacturing, and mining), economic mismanagement and inappropriate policies;
  • realising that the formal education system cannot meet all the human resource needs and national literacy demands, current education, agricultural and communication policies and strategies strongly emphasise on ODL as an education model that should complement the formal education system;
  • although ODL in non-vocational disciplines is not alien to Zambians, Tech-MODE in agriculture is a relatively new concept;
  • agricultural institutions with inherent capacities to provide formal education and/or non-formal education can be upgraded to offer Tech-MODE in agriculture;
  • although the Government has expressed a strong political will to build the capacity of ATIs to deliver formal and non-formal education and training, it does not have adequate resources to accommodate all the requirements of these education models.

These findings clearly demonstrate that there is a great potential for the introduction and adoption of Tech-MODE in agricultural education and training in Zambia. However, long-term sustainability of distance education delivery depends mainly on the commitment of the Government to develop communication, education, and agricultural infrastructure. The front-loaded nature of costs of distance education favours collaboration between Zambian institutions and COL in the provision of distance education.

12 Recommendations

The study, therefore, recommends that COL should constitute a team of experts from COL, PDEs and stakeholders (public, private and voluntary sectors) to:

  • conduct a training needs assessment and characterise individuals, groups and organizations, including key stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
  • develop mechanisms for active participation of stakeholders in curriculum development which ensures that the Tech-MODE programme is market-oriented.
  • evaluate the existing formal and non-formal education and training systems (infrastructure, ICT, curriculum, training materials and aids, human resources, funding mechanisms, quality assurance, accreditation and other programme needs of PDEs) to determine which components of the systems are directly transferable to ODL and those that must be developed.
  • facilitate the development of institutional, human, and material resources to meet the requirements of Tech-MODE. The overall objective should be to develop human resources in the use of ICT for teaching, administration and delivery of materials; strengthen institutions through provision of hardware, software and technical assistance, and to re-train teachers in ODL methodologies, production and use of educational materials and assessment techniques. It should also develop long-term plans for strengthening or integration of ICTs in distance agricultural education and training.
  • assess the existing market and cost the Tech-MODE programme to develop a sustainable cost-sharing mechanism and to ascertain the economic and logistical viability of the programme. This will guide COL and PDEs to secure resources for programming, dissemination of materials and training.
  • suggest how PDEs can introduce and adopt the dual mode of Tech-MODE delivery.
  • identify or facilitate the establishment of an independent professional body that should oversee the delivery of Tech-MODE in agriculture.
  • suggest how the COL will work with the Zambian Government, which has an obligation to support most PDEs through direct funding, policies and strategies, infrastructure development, commercialisation of training activities, capacity building and retention of trained staff, and to solicit funding for ODL.
  • suggest how bilateral collaboration between COL and PDEs could be established and maintained.

Apart from the existing formal education system, a few ATIs are either delivering, or about to launch, ODL programmes in agriculture using basic media techniques. Considering that Zambia has a tradition of distance learning in non-vocational, and to a limited extent, vocational disciplines, the approach to introduction of Tech-MODE should be to build on the existing structures. Where local expertise is available, the programme should extensively use it to deliver Tech-MODE in agriculture.

13 References

Billham, T. And Gilmour, 1995. Distance education in engineering for developing countries. Education research Paper No. 3. 102 p.

Cook, J.F. 1999. Distance Education for Agriculture and Rural Development. Background paper presented at the Workshop on Distance Education for Agriculture for Agriculture and Rural Development, FAO and the University of Reading.

Daniel, J.S. 1987. World Trends in Higher Education and Opportunities for International Cooperation in UNESCO Higher Level Distance Education. Deakin University Press and UNESCO.

Francis, P.A. 1997, Milimo, J.T., Njobvu, C.A., and Tembo, S.P.M. 1997. Listen to Farmers: Participatory Assessment of Policy Reform in Zambia’s Agricultural Sector. World Bank Technical Paper No. 375. The World Bank, Washington D.C.

Institute of African Studies, IAS 1996. Agricultural sector performance Analysis. Vol. 1. Main Report, UNZA.

Lungwangwa, G. 1999. Meeting basic learning needs of out of school children and youth through education broadcasting: a necessary step. Paper presented at the National Symposium on Education Broadcasting out of Schools Children and Youth, 19th April 1999.

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, MACO. 2004. National Agricultural Policy (2004-2015). MACO, Republic of Zambia, Lusaka.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, MAFF. 1995a. The on-farm storage of maize in a liberalised market environment. Market liberalization impact study, No.1, Lusaka.

MAFF. 1996b. From transition to consolidation. A critical policy. A critical policy review of liberalization of maize and agricultural input markets, 1993-1996. Market liberalization impact studies, No. 18. Republic of Zambia, Lusaka.

Ministry of Communications and Technology, MCT. 2006. National Information and Communication Technology Policy. MCT, Republic of Zambia, Lusaka.

Mumba, E. 2002. Non-formal education in Zambia: Experiences of working group on non-formal education in Zambia. Paper presented at the National Symposium on non-formal education in Mozambique, Maputo, 12-14 June 2002.

Robinson, B. 1995. Mongolia in transition: A role for distance education? Open Learning, 10(3):3-15.

Saint, W. 1999. Working Group on Higher Education – Association for Development of Education in Africa. World Bank, Washington D.C.

Siachiwena, R. 1994. Zambia Open Secondary Classes. In: M. Mukhopadyay and S. Phillips (eds.), Open Schooling: Selected Experiences in Vancouver. The Commonwealth Learning, pp 104-112.

Truelove, W. 1998. The Selection of Media for Distance Education in Agriculture. Social Dimensions, Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) FAO Research Extension and Training Division.

Wichern, R., Hausner, U., and Chiwele, K. 1999. Impediments to Agricultural Growth in Zambia. World Bank.

World Bank. 2007. Zambia – Country Assistance Strategy, World Bank, Report No. 27634. Washington D.C. USA.

Related information

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Web Resources

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: AOER Poster

For a Synthesis Report on all eight country studies see Tech-MODE Synthesis

For the Country Study on:

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.