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Chapter 13

Mainstreaming environment education into agricultural extension
and training programmes: best practices and lessons learned

Dr Ronny Adhikarya*
Senior Training Officer
The World Bank
Washington, DC, USA

1. LESSONS LEARNED FOR POLICY AND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT

As demonstrated in the previous chapters, several generic conclusions can be made based on the results and experiences of integrating environment education into agricultural extension and training programmes. All eight institutions in the six countries which participated in the EET programmes supported by FAO reported that they have now been considered as pioneers in their respective countries in mainstreaming environment education into agricultural training and/or extension activities. Their approaches and experiences have also been shared with interested AET institutions in the Near East and Africa, where similar EET programmes have been replicated (and some have been combined with population education programmes supported by FAO and UNFPA). Using proper methods of peer learning, participatory training, information networking and institutional partnership, local training institutions, with only limited support from donor/external agencies, are able to launch innovative programmes and collaborate with other institutions within and outside their own countries to replicate similar activities as demonstrated in the EET programmes.

Peer and collaborative learning, especially in EET which require a multisectoral and interdisciplinary approach, is essential. It can facilitate consensus building, partnerships, programme legitimization and "buy-in" by relevant agencies which are necessary for EET implementation, sustainability and institutionalization. As shown in the cases of Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, and China, it was due to the "buy-in" by relevant organizations/institutions that EET programmes obtained credibility and mobilized the necessary resources (i.e., funding was obtained from various sources).

It is estimated that funding from FAO covered less than 30 percent of the total expenditures of EET programmes (including staff costs).

To facilitate cost-effective and efficient multiplier effects for replicating (with necessary adaptations or reinventions) and "rolling-out" EET methods wider and faster, a regional or international collaborative approach by involving strategic training institutions from a number of countries in a participatory and peer learning programme would be needed. In such a programme, the focus should be on providing opportunities for sharing of ideas, problems and experiences, as well as peer collaboration, competition and evaluation in planning and implementing EET programmes based on an agreed upon conceptual and operational framework with structured and guided activities. As demonstrated by FAO in supporting the EET programme, external or donor agencies should limit their role to that of a catalyst, and provide only basic conceptual framework/guidelines and limited seed funding to undertake important proof of concept activities.

The EET activities clearly showed that in undertaking complex and integrated development programmes, such as environment education through agricultural extension and training, they required the collaboration of other relevant and interested organizations or agencies. The key to such successful partnerships is through leveraging one's resources and ideas and forging strategic alliances in implementing specific activities which can produce mutual benefits. In each of the six participating countries, EET programmes have been planned and implemented not by a single institution but by several agencies, both government and NGOs, which contributed ideas, technical information, training contents, funding, facilities and/or personnel. The active involvement of various, but appropriate, stakeholders also greatly facilitated the success, sustainability and institutionalization of EET programmes.

The EET programme is implemented not only as a regional collaborative undertaking whereby participating institutions and their staff work with, and learn from, each other. It is also managed as an information network through which members have continued to develop and strengthen their professional contacts and personal friendships. By providing its network members with an opportunity to meet regularly for EET peer review and experience sharing, which now includes Internet/Web-based virtual networking, the EET programme has thus also offered a healthy competitive environment and a market place for new and innovative ideas.

2. BEST PRACTICES: SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR APPLYING EET METHODS

Based on lessons learned and experiences from the eight institutions which undertook the EET programmes in six countries, the following are some of the important best practices:

2.1 Mainstreaming environment into AET

2.1.1 Build strategic alliances with appropriate partner institutions

2.1.2 Strategic positioning of environment education messages for rural populations

2.1.3 Communicating environment issues with rural population

2.2 Increasing stakeholdership and facilitating sustainability

2.2.1 Use participatory-oriented approach to encourage local ownership

2.3 Sharing EET responsibilities through partnerships and institution building

2.3.1 "Franchising" and "wholesaling" of EET

2.3.2 Inducing quality assurance and standards

2.3.3 Advocating multidisciplinary partnerships

Environment education requires multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral, and inter-agency team approach.

2.4 Developing global knowledge partnership on EET

2.4.1 Facilitating institutional and professional networking activities

2.5 Facilitating EET replications

2.5.1 Preparing process documentation of EET

2.5.2 Completing the "last-mile" tasks

2.5.3 Lessons from EETM replications in four countries in the Near East

Gaaya (1999) reported a similar effort in integrating environment education into the training programmes of agricultural extension workers, using the model and approaches tried in the six Asian countries, which was successfully replicated and implemented in four countries in the Near East: Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, Egypt and Jordan. As mentioned in Chapter 1, during the period June 1997 to May 1998, EETMs were developed and pretested by AET institutions in these four countries and, starting in 1998, a total of 85 extension trainers in those countries were trained in the use of the specially developed training modules.

During the multi-country EETM experience-sharing workshop which was held in the Syrian Arab Republic (Damascus, 24-26 May 1998), the participants identified the major results and benefits acquired from this EETM development activity and summarized the following lessons learned from such experience (Gaaya, 1999):


* Prior to joining the World Bank in 1996, Dr Adhikarya was a senior-level officer at the SDRE of FAO in Rome, Italy. One of his many responsibilities at FAO was the implementation of the EET programme which is reported in this book. While he was the planner, manager and coordinator of this EET programme, the opinions expressed in this chapter are entirely of the author, and should not be attributed in any manner to the World Bank, nor to FAO.

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