Education Knowledge

Posted May 1997

Agricultural Education and Training:
Issues and Opportunities - Part IV

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Conclusions and recommendations

The changing role of agriculture and implications for agricultural education

Agriculture will remain a major contributor to the economies of most countries, particularly in the developing regions. In many countries, however, its share of the GDP will progressively decline.The agricultural sector is undergoing rapid changes as a consequence of both technological progress and economic forces which call for an increased market focus, competitiveness and higher productivity.

Employment opportunities in the off-farm sector are expected to increase at a faster rate than in agriculture. This will further emphasize the present employment shift of agricultural graduates to related sectors, requiring a revision of existing curricula to better address educational needs. Furthermore, agricultural education curricula need to be redirected to more specifically address national problems.This reorientation should incorporate both the new role of market-oriented agriculture as well as issues of direct relevance to the improvement of subsistence agriculture and rural poverty.

All the round tables and expert consultations considered ways to make agricultural education institutions, particularly universities, active promoters of change within their environments. The working document, An Agricultural University for the 21st Century, presented at the round table for Asia/Pacific, outlined three ways to view education institutions:

The majority of agricultural universities seem to fall into the first category. A smaller number appear to follow the second model and only very few universities are in the third category. A challenge facing many universities over the next decade will be to move towards the third model, i.e. to take an increasingly pro-active role rather than passively reacting to circumstances. While universities have an opportunity to greatly influence their environments through the technology that they are capable of generating, political support from national governments is often a prerequisite to the process. Agricultural universities have made significant contributions when they have joined together research, teaching and extension functions.

The challenge for the next century is to move:

Key recommendations are:

Global issues

The key recommendations presented by the round tables and expert consultations focused on a number of topics, many of which were outlined in this report. Individual recommendations are more fully documented in the various meeting reports. While many of the recommendations are based on general principles which are widely applicable, some will need to be adapted to the specific conditions and educational systems in individual countries. The recommendations presented by the round tables and expert consultations include:

Specific regional issues

The regional round tables suggested the creation of a number of regional organizations:

Principles for developing an FAO strategy in support of agricultural education and training

The problems, examples and recommendations presented by the various round tables as well as the observations and conclusions of the 1991 and 1993 expert consultations can be summarized and developed as a 'charter' for FAO concerning its agricultural education and training support policy. Special considerations

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