Education Knowledge

October 2001

A Compendium of FAO Experience in Basic Education

Education and Food For All

by Katia Noseck Sommer
Lydia Sorflaten
and Johanne Lortie

in collaboration with
"Informal Task Force on Education and Food for All"1

Part 3 of 3

1 2 3

Focus 4: Community development

Title: Environmental and Life Skills education for children from rural communities through IPM Student Field Schools

Strategies: Training of trainers; curriculum development; facilitating community participation; nutrition linked to food production; partnership development

Media: Printed materials; video

Since 1990, more than two million farmers have graduated from Farmer Field Schools (FFS) having trained to apply an ecological approach to plant protection called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), minimising use of pesticides involving a wide range of practices aimed at growing a healthy crop. Eight of the twelve countries associated with the regional Community IPM programme; Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Viet Nam Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia have trained farmers to be facilitators of IPM Farmer Field Schools. Over 30,000 farmers in the region have gone through the TOT (training of trainers) activities conducted in these countries. These farmers have played a key leadership role in providing education for children to help community and children understand the ecological system and the IPM approach to using chemical pesticides.

With funding from the Governments of Australia and Norway, and training inputs from FAO, a discovery learning process has been developed in collaboration with schools, communities, local NGO's, the Ministry of Education, the Department of Agriculture and Extension, World Education ASIA for teaching Integrated Pest Management on rice and vegetables. Curricula, classroom materials and teacher training programs have been developed and implemented in Primary and Secondary Schools, as well as non-formal education of adult students. In learning about agriculture and the environment, students are developing skills in language, mathematics and science. They are also learning teamwork, responsibility, self-confidence, decision-making and independence in learning; an excellent combination of knowledge, skills and values education.

The IPM Student Field School programme promises to be a significant innovation in basic education. It brings together teams of agricultural specialists, teachers and local farmers to teach a program addressing the key rural issues of food security and environmental protection. It promotes the accountability of rural schools to parents for the quality and relevance of their educational programs and the responsibility of parents to become involved in the schools. It helps open up school governance to community participation by working through Community-School Management Committees. IPM Student Field Schools contribute to the continuing education of the teachers of today and the farmers of tomorrow. FAO initiated the project and continues to do training. Some examples are provided below.

Thailand, in April 1998. a regional workshop was held in Nakhornsawan, to discuss IPM activities for school children. This was organised by World Education Asia, with support from FAO and CARE. Participants for this one-week event came from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia and Philippines. In Thailand, the Wat Nong Mu School, with assistance from the 1995 the Ministry of Education and World Education, developed and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for students, The new school curriculum an active learning environmental education program using a multidisciplinary approach. Field samples are collected. Experiments are conducted with soil and insects. Science looks at rice field ecology, math teachers help students calculate field data, language conveys the findings through convincing presentations and reports, art graphically represents insects and plants. Critical questions are asked about the environment. Discovery learning involves both teachers and learners in environmental education to actively seek solutions. WEA pioneered the use of IPM methods in Thai primary education, beginning with the sixth level students in Wat Nongmoo School, Nakhornsawan Province in 1995. Parents were initially displeased to see their children spending school hours in the rice field but, as children became more motivated, interested and involved, parents became more supportive. Curriculum, materials and teacher training program have been developed. The program is currently underway in 22 schools in two provinces, involving both rice and vegetable programs.

In 1998, WEA, together with the Department of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) and the FAO Inter-Country Program in Rice IPM, conducted the first full-season training of trainers (TOT) for rice IPM in Thailand. Participants are vocational and general education contract teachers, and provincial NFE officials. A second TOT was initiated for IPM in cabbage crops later in 1998. Ultimately the aim is to have solid IPM-based curricula functioning in the NFE high-school equivalency, vocational education degree, and short-term vocational education courses throughout the nation.

For further information:
Non formal education, IPM in the Primary Schools:
Home Page:
Thai Education Foundation []
School IPM in Thailand' is a 15 minute video by World Education Asia which shows innovative IPM activities with Thai school.

In Cambodia, there are over 6000 FFS alumni and around 300 Farmer IPM Trainers. In 1996, the National IPM began experimenting with organising Field Schools for students. In November 1997, IPM Facilitators and teachers who had been involved in the trials met in Puirsat. They recommended that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport investigate introducing the program into the national curriculum. A more formal pilot program was organised in twelve schools in 1998, with support from FAO, CARERE and UNICEF, and results presented at a national conference in 1999. The MoEYS signed a Letter of Understanding with the NGO World Education/Cambodia on June 21, 1999 to develop an official program. This agreement to the organisation of some 30 Field Schools in wet season 1999, including Field Schools for primary and secondary students and for students at Provincial Primary Teachers' Training Centres. Four of these Field Schools covered vegetable IPM. Six other Field Schools were organised for the training of some 200 primary school teachers and local education officials from six provinces. The aim of these Field Schools was to train Resource Teachers. The main role of the Resource Teachers (someone who has completed a Teacher Field School and additional training equivalent to a 15 day TOT) would be to spread new ideas about the teaching of science and agriculture to other teachers in their schools and clusters.

Guidelines have been published to help schools and community groups who want to organise their own SFS, explaining what resources; human and financial, are necessary to run effective programs. Basic resources require for an SFS are; (I) a field of approximately 1000 square meters (2) IPM SFS Curriculum (3) A teaching team (4) about $500 (5) Community assistance in kind.

*Guidelines for Resource Teachers, Schools and Communities in Environmental Science and Agriculture Programs based on IPM Field Schools, draft, World Education, Cambodia, May 31, 2000
Video: An IPM Student Field School video was made in Pursat in 1999. Copies are available from Provincial Offices of Education, UNICEF offices or World Education/Cambodia.
A School: At Laupara in Bagmara Upazila in Rajshahi District, members wanted a school for their children. The group built a second building which became a school for local children. There are now 37 pupils attending grades one through six at this school.

For further information
Environmental and life skills education for children from rural communities through (IPM*) Student Field Schools, 1998 Integrated Pest Management REPORT Drawing on the Case Studies of twelve Student Field School programs conducted under the project, Contact: World Education/Cambodia, #46 Street 294, Boeng Keng Kang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia ( Tel/Fax 855 23 216 854P.O. Box 74, Phnom Penh

In the Philippines, IPM training activities for school children have been initiated in both Mindoro and Mindanao, involving the school authorities, local NGOs and Provincial Departments of Agriculture. These activities have received the support of Governors, Mayors and Church leaders.

CARE Bangladesh's main purpose is to extend the benefits of IPM activities beyond the project period. Farmer IPM Trainers are assisting school children to learn about ecology and crop production.

For further information:

Newsletter about IPM training including email addresses for individual IPM projects; (communityipm/Spiderweb/spider)
Documents to download and Internet Links:

For further information on the IPM student field schools in general:

Contact: at FAO Headquarters, Rome, or Rdilts@attlocal (Jakarta)

Title: FAO Supports Rural Radio Stations in South Mali

Strategies: Awareness raising

Media: Radio

Mali: With the technical support of FAO, and funded by the Netherlands, four rural radio stations have been built and fully equipped with highly sophisticated radio technology in the South of Mali. Engineers, producers and radio reporters have been recruited locally, trained and advised on radio programme content and presentation techniques. As control over information and information dissemination can easily become a political question of power, influence and diverging interests, the establishment of a radio council shall ensure that political interest will not be promoted over the air waves. Furthermore, the radio councils are made up of local people, representing crucial voices of the society to ensure a pluralistic programme approach. Often this is the only radio station in the region, which disseminates programmes in the local Bambara language. The ownership is high, as farmers themselves got involved from the very beginning. They also built the radio stations by themselves.

Radio, which can be touched, used to have people contribute to and participate in the transmissions, to listen to and gain information, but also as a stimulus for social change. There is lively debate over what topics should and should not be discussed on the radio. Some young women, for example, defended strongly the population education programmes that discuss gender roles, family planning and the various living arrangements of families.

To promote a variety of foods, a well-balanced diet, mobile support teams desperately try to disseminate information in regions which are sparsely populated, where people cannot read and don't have access to electricity, other forms of telecommunication or transportation. This is why today food preparation, including interesting and useful recipes, and health information broadcast over the radio are so important to young women in Mali, although they still have difficulty coping with their workload.

Although young women and men in rural Mali may not know exactly what the FAO stands for, they are proud of their own radio station, which they would like to hear for even more hours every day.

For More Information: La Communication Pour le Developpement Etude De Cas 16. Le Centre de services de production audiovisuelle (CESPA) au Mali FAO Publication Radio Broadcasting For Rural Women and Farm Households

An article on this programme also appears in Youth Works:

For information on rural radio in the Philippines:

For information on an international workshop on the development of rural radio in Africa Ouagadougou, Burkin Faso, 10-14 June 1996:

Title: Communication for Rural Development: Pedagogia Masiva Multimedial Para La Capacitacion de los Agricultores

Strategies: Training of trainers; curriculum development; facilitating community participation and dialogue

Media: Video/TV; radio; printed materials

FAO has implemented three TCP projects in Costa Rica, Mexico and Dominican Republic for Communication for Rural Development or (Pedagogia Masiva Multimedial Para La Capacitacion de los Agricultores). The main objective is to develop a national communication and training system. To carry out this objective, the aim is to train a core group of national staff in the production and use of communication methods and media for participation, social exchange and small farm family training. These projects concentrated primarily on the application of a video-based system for the sharing of knowledge and skills, and radio and electronic networks for the training and dissemination of information. These methodologies work with the elements of adult education, to give the rural population the technical knowledge they need to improve their production and their lives.

A typical scene would be of a community group gathered to view a program produced in their area on a topic related to health (animal or human), agriculture, forestry or marketing. Adults, many of whom are illiterate, are seated under the trees in chairs. Children have the front row centre ground seats directly facing the car battery operated television. Sitting in a special box with slots for the VCR and TV, the wooden unit is built to be easily carried by two people. Motivation comes from many directions. Eagerness to learn, wanting to improve farming techniques, things that are relevant to their lives about their area. Children show their degree of interest by the many good questions they ask. The media used is mainly video, simple printed materials and loudspeakers.

Mexico: The per capita income in Mexico is one the lowest in Latin America; 27% of the total population lives in the rural areas of the country. 78% of this rural population has to live in extreme conditions of poverty. Reaching communities is really important in order to give them the necessary knowledge and information to respond to their needs and the needs of the rural development. "How to" knowledge (capacity building) is especially important.

A new project in Mexico, of duration June 2000 to December 2001, aims to have a 45 day training workshop for production of video, 6 workshops to train field workers in the use and application of produced materials. Twenty people will be trained in video and radio production, courses in video production will be given on issues of rural and sustainable development, 120 field workers will be trained to use the produced materials. An intensive campaign to train farmers with the materials produced will be conducted and a study on the impact of the project will be made.

Each department (agriculture, health, forestry) has an office from which materials that are produced will be made available to schools and communities. Fundacion Mexicana de Desarrollo is a Non Government Organisation (NGO). FAO is starting to work with Non Government Organisations, in order to make the action of development sustainable. The Foundation has 30 years of experience, and covers 23 states of Mexico. Fundacion Mexicana has been working with small farmers through micro enterprises: strategic links with the farmer's associations are already established; in addition Fundacion Mexicana co-ordinates and advises the state government with respect to organisations that support the rural areas.

The extension systems in the Latin America region are being replaced by technical private services and the technical support given by the NGO's. This is first experience with this kind of organisation for FAO.

For further information:
Contact: FAO/ SDRE

Costa Rica: At the Centro Nacional de Comunicacion and Capacitacion para el Desarrollo (CENCCOD), FAO trained technicians in the methodologies of how to produce radio and video for rural development. In total, 20 technicians and 120 extensionists have been trained in methodologies on how to use and apply these materials with the rural populations.

A big percentage of the rural population is illiterate. The video training sessions are welcomed by the family of the farmers, including the children who will be present and who are the ones who read the technical manuals to the parents! Another big campaign was implemented with farmers, to give them technical inputs through the training with video.

For further information:
Contact FAO/ SDRE

Dominican Republic: The FAO project worked with the Extension system to provide it with new methodologies on communication information and training that FAO has developed in the region ("pedagogia Masiva audiovisual"). A project was signed in 1997, three pilot areas were developed. Twenty persons were trained in how to produce video and radio for rural development. 120 extension and field workers were trained in how to to use these materials. A campaign was launched to reach 10,000 farmers to be trained in technical matters (soil conservation, banana production, etc.). Another result was the strengthening of a CIDER Centro de Informacion y Capacitacion para el desarrollo, that works within the Ministry of Agriculture.

In the rural areas children participate in the training sessions, helping and listening to the trainers. This is vital, since they are the ones who read the written materials to their parents.

For further information:
Contact FAO/ SDRE

Focus 5: Business management

Title: Enhancing women's managerial skills for small scale business enterprises through numeracy and simple bookkeeping training

Strategies: Improved livelihoods through literacy/numeracy; curriculum development

Media: Printed materials

An educational programme frequently requested from FAO is a training package to enhance business management skills of small scale entrepreneurs. This is produced by the FAO Regional Office for Africa consisting of numeracy and simple bookkeeping courses for adults. Using day care and primary school books as examples and adapting them to the needs of adult learners, the numeracy manual, "Figures for Bookkeeping" teaches Arabic figures, calculations and manipulations with money. The training material differs from other materials as:

  1. it only teaches Arabic numbers;
  2. uses the local currency in the examples and exercises; and
  3. employs amounts relevant to the local economy.

The 'Simple Bookkeeping and Business Management Skills' training is a continuation of the numeracy training. It aims:

Participants are expected to be able to do basic calculations, but they do not necessarily have to know how to read and write words. Where appropriate, symbols are used instead of words. Literacy courses can be held supplementary to the course on 'Simple Bookkeeping and Business Management Skills.

Bookkeeping training materials target small-scale entrepreneurs, both from rural and urban areas. Participants can be individual entrepreneurs or groups engaged in agricultural or other small-scale economic activities. The course explains the difference between "Money in" (credit) and "Money out" (debit) and provides examples of "Income" and "Expenditure". It teaches how to maintain a "cash book" (using symbols for the goods sold or the services rendered) and practises calculations on "Profit" and "Loss". Participants learn that "Profit" should be divided into monies used for the household, for the business and for savings. "Savings" should be divided into money to replace tools (or depreciation), money to expand the business (investment), money for emergency cases and money to improve the way of living. Furthermore, the participants learn when to sell or buy on credit and how to keep track of repayments in a "credit book". The training also includes lessons on "Costing and Pricing" and teaches basic notions of management when establishing a new business.

Numeracy and simple bookkeeping training courses can enhance the management skills of micro business entrepreneurs. Such courses not only increase the returns from productive activities, but also enhance the learners' self-esteem, their general well-being and their status in the community. Increased self-esteem helps build confidence and opens perspectives to further development. Moreover, numeracy and simple bookkeeping training offers opportunities for acquiring a "professional status" and thus contributes to improving access to formal banking systems or to rural organisations.

FAO provides technical assistance but is not a funding agency. Its mandate includes the development and testing of innovative training programmes, which can then be used by development partners for further implementation. Examples of how this is done are presented below:

Ghana: I. TechnoServe (an International NGO working in Ghana) - started a 3 year numeracy and simple bookkeeping programme in 1997. Initially, the programme included a literacy component, which was later handed over to a specialised languages training institute. In all, 58 groups completed the numeracy training and 34 groups continued with the simple bookkeeping training (adding up to an estimated total of respectively 900 and 500 participants).

II. Roman Catholic Diocese, Jasikan and SNV (an International NGO working in Ghana) - the Diocese's Women and Development Project started a numeracy training component in 1997. In 1999 a Simple Bookkeeping and Business Management Skills training component was added to the programme. Numeracy training is given in addition to the literacy classes implemented by the National Non-Formal Education Department . The participants are: a) members of saving and credit groups, related to the project; b) members of productive groups; and c) literacy class members. Most participants are women and they are usually engaged in trading and/or farming activities.

Togo:III. Direction d'Alphabétisation et Education des Adultes Togo - During the mid-nineties, the Department of Adult Education in Togo joined the FAO Regional Office for Africa in adapting the numeracy and simple bookkeeping training materials. Since April this year, the full package exists in French, ready to be used in all French speaking West-African countries. Non Government Organizations and civil societies fund most of the Department's activities, as Government funding for adult education has all but dried up in Togo. Numeracy is an integral part of the literacy training programme, which covers four aspects: writing, reading, numeracy and general development (e.g. nutrition, health etc). A number of organisations, such as the Togolese cotton society, are adjusting the training materials developed by the FAO according to the specific training needs of the sector they are working in. This is done in collaboration with the Department of Adult Education.


The impact of the numeracy and simple bookkeeping training programmes can be classified under three categories; namely:

Increased skills and knowledge

Participants mentioned the following skills obtained through the training programmes:

Greater trading skills and higher economic returns

Improved self-esteem and general well-being

Learners reported :

Box 1

Participants reactions

  • One of the learners indicated that thanks to the numeracy training, she could now assist her illiterate husband in his basket making business. She writes down the orders made by his customers.
  • A woman mentioned, "when my child takes a taxi, I can now identify the car number".
  • One husband told us about being pleased that he could share more of the work with his wife, now that she could read amounts.
  • A local bank manager approached the president of a women's group claiming that the group still had to repay part of its loan. The previously illiterate president had maintained a credit book of the group's loan. With this she was able to convince the bank manager that the loan had been repaid. In fact, careful studying of the credit book showed that the group had repaid too much and the bank was forced to return the money paid in excess.

For further information:

The complete presentation is available at this web site: