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4.6.2. Future directions for PEDAEX replications
One of the most important conclusions and recommendations based on the project's results and experience is the need to provide a systematic and quality-controlled PEDAEX training programme following the SEC training approach. Such a training programme with specifically-tailored PEDAEX curricula, syllabi, lesson plans, teaching aids/learning materials, etc., which can be flexibly adapted or modified for specific country situations, problems and needs, would facilitate and contribute greatly in developing PEDAEX know-how among local agricultural extension and training personnel.
Training in PEDAEX management should also be encouraged because an important element in the PEDAEX concept is the need for inter-ministerial/departmental collaboration. Proper PEDAEX planning skills are especially needed in view of the need of joint field programming activities among concerned agencies/institutions. The demand-creation effects generated through population education by agricultural extension workers must be well-synchronized, through effective referral services, with other relevant field inputs/supply delivery agencies (i.e., health, family planning, environment, women affairs, etc.) to avoid a frustration of rising expectation situation among rural families.
4.6.3. Lessons learned from PEDAEX activities
Based on the results of FAO/UNFPA project INT/88/P28 on "Strategic Integration of Population Education into the Agricultural Extension Services (PEDAEX)", as well as the findings of the process and summative evaluation studies conducted for the project's pilot activities in the eight participating countries (Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tunisia, Morocco, Honduras, Jamaica, and Thailand), the following lessons have been learned from the PEDAEX experiences:
Successful PEDAEX activities require functioning and well-organized agricultural extension services which are fully operational at the field-level, in order to integrate effectively population education into regular and institutionalized agricultural extension & training programmes.
Essential policy support from within the Ministry of Agriculture must be mobilized by providing important policy/decision- makers with clear and explicit rationale for PEDAEX, including its comparative advantages, especially on the concrete and practical benefits to both the agricultural extension service and its main clientele, - small farmers, rural women and youth.
Inter-ministerial/departmental/agency collaboration or coordination, at least in the form of a PEDAEX task-force or steering-committee, is needed for obtaining advice or inputs on appropriate and relevant technical subject matters related to PEDAEX. Such a collaborative and coordinated effort can also help to synchronize field implementation programming and activities, especially with agencies responsible for providing rural health and family planning inputs/service delivery.
PEDAEX task-force meetings, if held regularly, can be very effective especially for identifying priority population education contents/messages, and for joint programming/planning and monitoring of field implementation activities.
Problem-solving oriented PEDAEX activities can be most effective, especially if problem identification and/or needs assessment exercises are conducted, using a participatory approach involving the target audience, through a specifically designed baseline or Knowledge, Attitude & Practice (KAP) survey, including appropriate focus group interviews (FGI).
KAP surveys' end focus group interviews' results are most useful for PEDAEX's objective formulation, strategy development and planning tasks, if the survey focuses more on relevant issues related to the inter-relationships of population issues and agricultural development, or on population-related factors that will positively or negatively affect agricultural production or productivity at the farmers' level, instead only on population/family planning issues.
The implementation of PEDAEX activities is more likely to succeed if undertaken in a systems-approach based on the suggested PEDAEX conceptual framework which identifies its basic processes, elements/components and operational steps, rather than conducting only parts of its elements/components or activities on an ad-hoc basis.
The involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture's subject-matter specialists (SMSs), in addition to its extension planners, trainers and field workers, is very much needed. Such involvement and collaboration are especially necessary in the important and difficult tasks of properly matching, integrating and packaging relevant population issues/contents with priority agricultural production/development messages, for dissemination through agricultural training and extension services.
Due to the complexity and technical nature of the inter-relationship between population, agriculture, and also environment, PEDAEX messages cannot rely mainly on general, simplified, and slogan-oriented information. PEDAEX issues need to be communicated to, and understood by, the target audience. Such PEDAEX messages could be internalized better and easier by the target audience if they are specific, issue or problem-solving oriented, and locally-relevant.
As the objective of PEDAEX is not limited to awareness creation on population-related issues, PEDAEX message dissemination tasks cannot be done solely through mass communication or mediated-communication channels. To facilitate proper understanding of the rather complicated nature of PEDAEX messages, the use of an educational approach, rather than a communication approach, is preferred. Such an educational approach can be effectively implemented through small group meetings or training to allow for more complex and comprehensive PEDAEX information/messages to be shared, discussed, analysed, and evaluated in order to enhance the target audience's learning process.
The effectiveness in developing appropriate or relevant PEDAEX messages and population educational strategies depends largely on the quality of PEDAEX training programmes for extension planners, trainers, and field-workers. The use of appropriate and well-tested curricula, instructor's manual, training aids and learning materials can significantly improve PEDAEX training performance and results. Specifically designed and high-quality PEDAEX training materials are also critically needed to facilitate PEDAEX replications within a country or in other countries.
Agricultural extension workers and trainers can undertake PEDAEX activities more effectively if they focus mainly on the informational, motivational, and educational aspects of population issues, and provide only referral services on contraceptive methods or family planning related issues to other competent and concerned agencies and/or their field workers.
Sustainability and institutionalization of PEDAEX activities can be facilitated by employing a participatory planning and training approach involving local agricultural extension planners, trainers, field workers and farmer leaders in undertaking PEDAEX problems/needs identification, objective formulation, strategy development, message design and extension/training support materials development and testing, as well as field implementation, management and monitoring activities.
Specifically designed and field-tested PEDAEX multi-media extension and training support materials, based on problems identified through KAP survey and the planned strategy, are critical for effective PEDAEX field implementation. Such PEDAEX materials, especially when these were attractively designed, developed and tested by the potential users themselves, do not only serve as essential aids to facilitate a high quality-controlled extension/training service delivery. The use of such PEDAEX multi-media materials by extension workers and trainers, also boosts their morale and enthusiasm, and increases their professional credibility and confidence. Although a considerable proportion of PEDAEX operating cost is required for the development, testing, and production of multi-media extension/training support materials, such an expenditure is well-justified in terms of its cost-effectiveness.
A realistic and gradual/phased-approach to planning and management of PEDAEX field implementation, including PEDAEX staff assignments and budget allocations, is necessary in introducing and demonstrating PEDAEX as a viable and desirable programme which should become a part of a national agricultural extension service.
PEDAEX activities can benefit significantly from the results of process/formative evaluation and summative evaluation studies, especially for making necessary modifications and/or improvements. Such evaluation studies as an integral part of the PEDAEX activities also proved to be useful for encouraging wider PEDAEX replications. Such replications can be further facilitated by a PEDAEX process documentation which provides important descriptions and/or analyses of major operational steps, results and experiences of PEDAEX activities.
PEDAEX Results Demonstration and Experience Sharing Workshop in Morocco
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