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Chapter 2

Process and methods of EET in the agricultural sector: a systematic approach to collaborative curriculum development and training implementation

Dr Chye-Hean Teoh
Graduate School of Environmental Science
Monash University, Melbourne
Australia

1. INTRODUCTION

The incorporation of EET to the agricultural sector signals an important implication for the direct implementation of Agenda 21 activities at the grassroots level. One of the sections in the Agenda 21 document of the 1992 UNCED's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro focused on the conservation and management of resources for development which contained the issue of sustainable agriculture. This issue addressed one of the most fundamental tasks of global sustainable development to provide adequate food for an expanding world population and at the same time protecting the environment. With these tasks, the agricultural sector now needs to be concerned not only with increasing agricultural production but also ensuring that the environment is protected for long-term sustainability.

In this context, EET in the agricultural sector has a significant role to play in disseminating to its technical field personnel and the farming population the necessary knowledge and skills to help protect the environment. This chapter describes the processes, steps and methods in the planning and implementation of the EET activities based on the projects undertaken by the eight agencies from six countries' collaborative efforts to develop the EETM since 1994. The process of systematic training programme development should be an integrated approach and involve the important principles related to communication and networking as well as team-work in curriculum design and training.

The contents of this chapter reflect the systematic, integrated and participatory approach to curriculum development and training implementation. It is divided into three sections; (1) the EETM development process, (2) collaborative curriculum development activities, (3) the implementation of EET in the agricultural sector.

2. THE EETM DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

The EETM development process followed by the agencies/institutions in the six countries may be divided into five phases of activities:

  1. Phase 1: initial start-up activities;
  2. Phase 2: first EETM regional workshop;
  3. Phase 3: EETM development activities;
  4. Phase 4: second EETM regional workshop;
  5. Phase 5: third EETM regional workshop.

2.1 Phase 1 activities: initial start-up activities

Through the initiatives of FAO, the integration and development of EET through agricultural extension programme started in Indonesia in 1987. A pilot project was then implemented to train extension workers in environment conservation management and practices which eventually led to the development of the TM on environment conservation for agricultural extension workers. In 1992, the AAET, MOA, Indonesia, with the assistance of FAO undertook to develop an EETM designed to be used as a basic course in natural resources and environment. The successful case experience of this pilot project prompted FAO to share and duplicate this experience with other countries in the region through a series of planned workshops.

2.2 Phase 2 activities: first EETM regional workshop

The development process of the Indonesian EETM was documented and the prototype materials presented at the first regional workshop on environment education through agricultural extension, organized by the Agricultural University Malaysia or Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia and sponsored by FAO, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 20 to 25 June 1994. Participants for this workshop were selected from various prospective institutions/agencies in different countries which planned to incorporate environment education in their agricultural extension training system. The activities of the EET development process, undertaken by Indonesia and the prototype materials produced were presented as case materials and discussed during the workshop. These provided the framework and guidelines for such activities to be undertaken by other countries/agencies in the region.

The major outputs of this workshop were (a) a list of recommendations on the critical environment issues and identified priority target beneficiaries, and (b) review of the processes and activities to develop a prototype EETM. There was strong emphasis on the need for a more systematic and holistic approach in dealing with environmental issues, especially through training. The workshop advocated that a more concerted effort be made among the various organizations and expert groups to form strategic alliances to address the most common critical environmental concerns. In addition, the agricultural extension, education and training institutions should explore more innovative methods in their training programmes and have the task of extension to cover issues concerning the environment.

At the conclusion of this workshop, seven agricultural/rural development agencies from five different countries submitted proposals to develop EETM for training different priority target beneficiaries. Various strategies to develop the EETM were used by these agencies; some of them worked in partnership with other in-service training institutions, formed multi-agency group or undertook the project independently; all aimed to optimize the effectiveness from reaching the priority target beneficiaries. These agencies included both government organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs) and they target a range of beneficiaries including the farmers, extension workers and trainers as well as planners and policy/decision-makers.

The contents of the proposed modules to be developed by the agencies/organizations reflected the most critical needs of the various target beneficiaries and included both technical contents and policy guidelines as well as advocated environmental issues and concerns relevant to the needs in current situations.

2.3 Phase 3 activities: EETM development activities

Having participated and submitted the initial project proposals at the first regional workshop, each of the agencies/institutions from the various countries is now better equipped to undertake the tasks of implementing the EETM development activities following a more systematic and integrated approach. These projects, upon approval by FAO were each provided with a small amount of seed money, ranging from US$5 000-US$10 000 to undertake the planned activities. The proposals submitted during the workshop reflected only spontaneous reactions to their needs during the workshop. The critical environmental issues and concerns, the target beneficiaries and the strategies to be adopted in order to operationalize the activities for the EETM development process were further investigated and validated by the authorities concerned in the home countries. These were linked to the strategies of partnership, consortium or individual approach to undertake the EETM project. For example, in Malaysia, the UPM partnership with two other agricultural training institutions, the MOA and the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) was important in promoting environment education through agricultural training as almost all the trained agricultural human resources in the country were from these three institutions.

The context of policy advocacy for environment education was important in China and was therefore incorporated in the training of agriculture and rural development planners and local leaders. On the basis of the prominent status of the NGOs in the Philippines, environment education therefore formed part of the training programme of their rural outreach workers. In the other countries, Bangladesh and Thailand, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) played a key role in information and technology dissemination to the rural communities, hence the department undertook the EETM project on an individual basis. The key objective of the various strategies used in the different countries and their collaborative efforts was to enhance the optimal dissemination of knowledge and skills on the critical environmental issues to the target beneficiaries.

The development of the EETM undertaken by these agencies was guided by the recommendations proposed at the first regional workshop. All the agencies/institutions therefore followed the EETM development process based on the framework and lessons learned from the Indonesian experiences. Thus, over the following 14 months, from August 1994, each of the teams of module writers from the various agencies/institutions worked on their prototype EETM based on these guidelines.

2.4 Phase 4 activities: second EETM regional workshop

After the given time frame for each of the agencies/institutions to prepare the prototype EETM, a second regional workshop was organized to: (a) review the progress and assess the results of the EETM development activities; (b) share the lessons learned and suggest further improvements in the EETM development process and methods; (c) plan the utilization of the EETM in a sustainable and institutionalized manner. The five-day workshop, organized by the AAET and sponsored by FAO was held in Bali, Indonesia from 16 to 20 October 1995 and attended by 21 participants, the majority of them having also participated in the first regional workshop. These participants represented the core group of professionals who were considered as EETM network members and were directly involved in the EETM development activities of their respective agencies/institutions.

The workshop provided tremendous opportunities for the agencies/institutions to share experiences and learn from each other the best practices to be adopted and the mistakes to be avoided. In addition, the experiences and lessons learned from other parallel activities on PETM development were also discussed and highlighted. Prior to this workshop in Bali, a regional workshop for the PETM development project had already been conducted in Chiang Mai, Thailand in March 1995 and attended by 27 participants from 15 countries.

The major outcomes of this second regional workshop were three important recommendations on the strategies and action for improving EETM development made at the conclusion of the workshop. These included (i) the principles to follow in a modular approach to participatory training, (ii) the basic sequential steps in the module development process, and (iii) suggestions for cost-effective utilization and sustainable institutionalization of EETM for extension workers.

2.5 Phase 5 activities: third EETM regional workshop

The third EETM regional workshop was held about a year after the second regional workshop in Bali, Indonesia. The time lapse enabled the EETM development team members to consolidate their ideas and implement the recommended activities for a systematic EETM development. The workshop was organized by the Deptartment of Education, Ministry of Agriculture of China, in collaboration with the CIAD, and supported by FAO. This workshop, held in Beijing, China from 26 to 30 August 1996 was to demonstrate the results of the outputs and share the experiences gained during the implementation of the activities. This five-day workshop was attended by 20 participants, the majority of whom were also EETM network members. Among the major outcomes, the workshop was able to:

The demonstration of results and sharing of experiences gained from the preparation of the EETM by the network members during the various regional meetings significantly enriched the whole developmental process. As a result of these lessons learned, the best practices were identified for EETM development (see also Annex 1, Chapter 1). They are reflected in the following sequential steps and/or procedural activities which should be followed in order to ensure the effective and efficient development of EETM:

Step 1: Selection of the strategic lead institution

As an entry point to introduce EET into a system in a country, a strategic lead institution should be identified and selected. The decision to select such a strategic lead institution should be guided by the following criteria:

Suggested criteria for selecting the strategic lead institution:

into mandate training programmes.

Step 2: Appointment of CAC and TM

These are the two key personnel who will be responsible to undertaking and implementing the project activities. Their selection and appointment should be based on the following criteria:

Suggested criteria for selecting the CAC:

Suggested criteria for selecting the TM:

Step 3: Establishment of steering/advisory committee

The steering/advisory committee should be established as early as possible. This committee should comprise of decision makers and technical experts and have the capability to mobilize resources and rally support for the project's activities. However, the personnel composition of such a committee may vary from case to case.

Step 4: Identification of immediate and ultimate target beneficiaries

It is necessary to identify and prioritize the immediate and ultimate target beneficiaries (e.g. extension workers and farmers) for the EETM to be developed. The EETM development should take into account the number of ultimate target beneficiaries (e.g. farmers) as one of the bases for determining training messages and methodologies.

Step 5: Determine the training needs of target beneficiaries

In order to determine the training needs of the target beneficiaries, it is necessary to:

  1. conduct a participatory TNA using the appropriate tools and methodologies that will focus on the following key areas:
  2. ensure that the TNA be conducted with the participation of persons who are knowledgeable in the above key areas.

Step 6: Setting training strategies and goals

These are to be prepared by the CAC, TM and the steering committee members based on TNA results. The training strategies and goals will provide the guidelines for the module writers to formulate the objectives of training.

Step 7: Selection of module writers

Module writers are to be selected from potential trainers and/or other qualified and experienced subject matter specialist (SMS) as well as training specialists, preferably those who have been involved in the planning of environmental education programmes. These module writers should possess the following two requirements:

MUST requirements:

B ackground on the subject matter and/or training methodology;

E xperience in participatory training and extension work;

S hould be able to relate effectively to target beneficiaries;

T ime available for writing and pretesting the module and training of trainers;

T eam player.

WANT requirements:

E xperience in writing and development of modules;

S ubject matter specialization;

P rimary computer literacy.

The module writing team should also include those potential trainers who will conduct the EET course in the planning, design and development of the module.

Step 8: Conduct curriculum development workshop

It is necessary to conduct a basic curriculum development workshop to orient the module writers so that they will be able to produce consistent outputs. The involvement of a multi-discipline team of participants including relevant researchers, subject matter specialists, training curriculum development specialists, trainers, module writers, etc. in such a workshop is important. As a consequence of this workshop the module writing team should be able to accomplish the following:

Step 9: Further research and consultation on technical contents

In order to update and enrich the technical contents of the module it is necessary to conduct and undertake further research. The review of the technical contents and methodologies should be carried out by consultation and involvment of a task force which includes trainers, subject matter specialists, technical experts and the intended target beneficiaries.

Step 10: Prepare draft module

The initial activity to prepare a draft module is to conduct one or more TMD writing workshop whereby each of the module writers, prepares at least one complete instructional unit/activity as a model/sample.

The TM should supervise this activity and monitor the progress of each of the module writers following a planned schedule to prepare the draft prototype module. The draft module should be based on the agreed structure, contents, presentation format in preparing, etc. and pre-tested through a simulation training session by involving the module writers, trainers and subject matter specialists. Revision of the draft module should be based on the outcome of the pretest.

Step 11: Module tryout

A tryout of the draft prototype module should be conducted using selected sample target beneficiaries as participants. The tryout session should be carried out by the module writers and assisted by prospective trainers. The session should be assessed by the prospective trainers on the basis of duration, content appropriateness, user-friendliness, methodologies and procedures etc. Feedback should be solicited from the participants during the tryout session regarding the appropriateness of the methodologies as well as the relevance and comprehension of the module contents. The pre- and post-tests results of the course evaluation should be able to provide some critical feedback information.

Step 12: Technical review meeting

The draft prototype module should be made available in advance to the relevant panel of experts including subject matter specialists, technical experts, authorities and researchers so that they can review the technical contents. The technical review meeting is usually a one-day activity which is conducted to obtain and solicit comments, suggestions and technical clearance from the panel of experts. Revision of the technical contents is based on the comments, suggestions and recommendations of these experts.

Step 13: Legitimization

This may be a half-day activity and is convened as a module validation seminar for two key purposes:

  1. to brief senior officials regarding the need, purpose, process, methodology and results of the module development;
  2. to obtain endorsement and/or official mandate from the highest official of the relevant agency/institution for the use of the training module.

Step 14: Formatting and packaging

In formatting and packaging the training modules, the following features and characteristics should be incorporated:

Step 15: Editing and production

The entire module should be edited by an experienced editor. Subsequently, it should be proofread by an independent and skilled proofreader. The production of the required number of the training modules should be timely so as to ensure their optimum utilization.

Step 16: Training of master trainers

In order to ensure the proper utilization of the module, a core of master trainers should be trained by the module writing team on the use of the training module. Training should focus on the mastery of the module's technical contents, use of various training support materials and resources as well as training methodologies and platform/delivery skills.

3. COLLABORATIVE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

EET for sustainable agriculture covers a wide range of environmental issues and concerns which should be reflected in the curriculum. In the context of module development, the concept of curriculum and curriculum development may be better understood from the interpretations of the following two definitions:

Definition 1:

A curriculum is a structured set of teaching/learning activities designed to accomplish a set of intended learning outcomes (ILOs) in knowledge, attitude and skill/practice for a specific target audience and context (subject matter, environment, resources, facilities).

(FAO-sponsored integrated pest management (IPM) international workshop on training modules development, Baguio City, Philippines, 1988.)

Definition 2:

A curriculum is a grand design which spells out the contents to be covered in training, specifies expectations for trainees, delineates procedures for covering contents, suggests the methods for facilitating the learning process, identifies ways for evaluating or assessing learning, and puts everything in a time frame.

(Planning for effective training: A guide to curriculum development, by Tim Wentling, FAO, Rome, Italy, 1993.)

In the context of the above definitions, the curriculum development process should be an on-going endeavour that aims to improve the quality of education and training. However, with limited personnel and financial constraints, it may not be practical for a particular agency or institution to undertake this endeavour on a continuous basis or to prepare sets of curricula that will address the training needs on all major environmental issues and concerns. Priorities therefore have to be decided so that the contents of the curriculum/modules are focused only on the most important and critical issues.

Through the collaborative approach of institutional partnership, peer learning and networking, a more efficient utilization and sharing of limited resources can be effected. Such a collaborative approach has been adopted in the development of the EETM as well as the PETM which clearly demonstrated the improvements of the curriculum development processes, activities and outputs in at least three key areas: (1) enriching the curriculum contents; (2) standard format, structure and quality control; (3) well-tested curriculum development process.

3.1 Enriching the curriculum contents

The involvement of at least eight agencies and/or institutions from six different countries not only provided various perspectives and emphases on environmental issues and concerns but also greatly enriched the curriculum contents. For example, the EETM prepared by Thailand's Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE) focused on the need for environmental conservation to protect the total environment from toxic residues of chemical usage in agriculture. Technical expertise was sought collaboratively with other relevant agencies to enable the DOAE prepare the EETM. The curriculum contents of the EETM prepared by Bangladesh dealt with two key areas: the general aspects of the environment and the protection of agricultural resources. Although the project was undertaken by the GTI, Bangladesh Agricultural University, the main target beneficiaries were the field extension personnel of the DAE, MOA.

The EETM prepared by China and Indonesia both addressed the identification of environmental problems and planning for environmental conservation. China's target beneficiaries included the national-level planners and policy-makers as well as grassroots-level local community leaders. On the other hand, Indonesia targeted only the field-level agricultural extension workers and trainers as its main beneficiaries. China, therefore, prepared two sets of the EETM for the two levels of beneficiaries. The CIAD, China Agricultural University prepared the EETM for the upper level target beneficiaries while the Department of Education (DOE), Ministry of Agriculture, prepared the EETM for the training of grassroots level rural extension workers. This module focused on a practical hands-on approach to agricultural and rural environment conservation and protection in the local community.

In the Philippines, two agencies, the IIRR, (an NGO) and the UPLB, (a government organization), prepared two separate EETMs for a range of target beneficiaries, including extension staff, field workers, teachers and trainers as well as community leaders and farm families. The contents included a wide range of topics such as forest conservation, soil conservation, gender, development and the environment, the greenhouse effect and the agricultural environment, pesticide usage and environmental laws, to cater for the numerous and varied target beneficiaries.

The Malaysian EETM focused on the development of specific knowledge and skills, including the general concept of environment, how to conduct environmental impact assessment (EIA) as well as the preparation of an action plan for an EIA project area. The target beneficiaries were the agricultural field extension workers employed by the DOA and MADA.

3.2 Standard format, structure and quality control

As a consequence of the collaborative efforts among the various agencies and/or institutions to develop the EETMs, a standard format and structure was followed. This enabled a more consistent and better quality control process and methods of curriculum development and training implementation. The eight agencies/institutions developed the training modules based on a three-level structure module. These levels were designated (a) the module level, (b) the unit level and (c) the activity level. Training aims and objectives were explicitly stated and the details of the curriculum contents reflected at each level. Such a format and structure thus provided the basis for better quality control of the training activities and outputs as evaluation can be more systematic and objective.

The following example (Figure 1) illustrates the EETM prepared by the GTI, Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Bangladesh, following a standard format and structure:

3.3 Well-tested CD process

Beginning with the Indonesian experience of the training module development process and activities which were pres