Education Knowledge

Posted December 2000

Participatory curriculum development in practice

An experience at the Eastern Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry in Trinidad and Tobago

Anita Hermsen
Associate Professional Officer Education and Extension
FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean


See also "A participatory approach to curriculum development".
Summary

Participatory Curriculum Development has the objective to promote mutual learning and to revise and actualise the curriculum with involvement of all stakeholders (farmers, extension agents, bureaucrats, project staff, policy makers, suppliers, traders, researchers, students, teachers, management etc.). The curriculum should be responsive to the needs of stakeholders, especially prime stakeholder farmers. The Eastern Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry in Trinidad and Tobago with the guidance of an external facilitator initiated a participatory curriculum development process. Due to the fact that participatory processes are not part of the routine of the Institute, a balance had to be sought between the desired level of participation and the desire to have a new curriculum within the available timeframe and budget. As a result, the level of participation of external stakeholders was limited to consultation and providing information and the participation of internal stakeholders differed from providing information to joining in the analysis. Delay of acceptance of higher hierarchy stakeholders (policy makers) of the proposed occupational profile, general learning objectives and credit allocation to subject disciplines can be seen as a serious hitch in the continuation of the participatory approach. Based on the ECIAF experience it can be concluded that building trust and confidence in the participatory approach and maintaining motivation of all stakeholders are important to keep the process going. An agreed flexible planning-scheme among stakeholders of all stages of the process including time and resource allocation would be helpful to guide the process. Special attention should be given to achievement of commitment of policy makers and involvement of farmers as prime stakeholder directly from the initial stage.

Introduction

Despite the recognised importance that education should respond to new demands in the society in general and subject matter features in specific, reality in agricultural educational institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean is frequently different.

Historically, the Caribbean Islands were depending strongly on their agriculture economies, which is characterised by two sectors operating side by side. The export-oriented commercial sector based largely on plantations and small farmer production mostly based in marginal lands. Nowadays the region's agriculture is in a state of flux, with increasing uncertainties in future markets for the traditional export commodities of bananas, sugar, and rice, hitherto enjoying favourable treatment particularly in Europe. Agricultural diversification policies have been advocated with the hope of increasing food crop and livestock production, as well as leading to the stabilisation of commodity crop production. Nevertheless, successes have been limited because domestic vegetable and fruit production face stiff competition due to increasing liberalisation of international trade, but also because only a small number of farmers were able to benefit from technology advances, knowledge and information.

It is a major concern for agricultural institutions to ensure their educational programmes reflect changing demands and support enlarging access to technology advances for all farmers. However initiation of a process of revision and innovation of the curriculum seem to encounter many obstacles, which are caused by the fact curriculum development includes many complex issues whereon crucial decisions have to be taken.

This article presents reasons, approaches, results and a reflection of the initial phases of an intended participatory curriculum development process to design a new curriculum for the Agriculture School of the Eastern Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry (ECIAF) in Trinidad and Tobago. The FAO manual "Participatory Curriculum Development in Agricultural Education" - a training guide - serves in this process as reference guide. The manual focuses on involvement of stakeholders in curriculum development with the objective to promote mutual learning and to revise and actualise the curriculum with involvement of stakeholders, in particular the prime stakeholder farmers. This is a guiding principle of Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKIS) for rural development, whereby education, extension and research services - public or private - respond to farmers needs for knowledge to improve their productivity, income, welfare and manage the natural resources on which they depend in a sustainable way (FAO/World Bank, 2000).

Challenges for Curriculum Development to support Agriculture Development

The Agriculture School of ECIAF has been encouraged on revision of its curriculum to ensure that the curriculum responds to demands in agricultural development in the Caribbean and especially in Trinidad and Tobago. Other reasons are achievement of similarities in educational structure within member colleges of Trinidad and Tobago's Community College and facilitation of a larger accreditation of courses at the University of West Indies, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

Today's curriculum trained, over the past decades, more than 1500 technicians of the various Ministries of Agriculture in the Eastern Caribbean region. The present student population is however largely national (80%) due to changes in policy of international funding agencies.

The agricultural situation in Trinidad and Tobago influenced major changes, although the government still views the agricultural sector as one of the pillars on which the achievement of overall national development lies (Republic Trinidad and Tobago, Medium Term Policy Plan, 1996). Agriculture employs nearly 10% of the workforce. However in the last decade, the agricultural sector contribution to the Gross Domestic has been declining from 8.4% in 1992/1993 to 2.2% in 1998/1999. This decline in contribution to the GDP over the last years is directly related to production levels of export commodity crops as sugar cane, coffee and cocoa (see table 1). However, citrus production re-established as a result of revitalisation politics. Over the past 30 years, food crops production in fresh vegetables doubled whereas livestock production increased in chicken meat and milk and decreased in beef and veal.

Table 1
Production levels of Trinidad and Tobago's agricultural produce
(FAO Statistics database: update 5 April 2000)

Production in Mt

1970

1980

1990

1999

Sugar Cane

2,610,173

1,709,511

1,478,413

1,200,000

Citrus

43,681

14,949

16,353

27,900

Coffee, green

2,302

2,240

1,944

367

Cocoa beans

6,213

2,381

2,110

1,270

Fresh Vegetables

1,990

3,300

3,800

3,600

Chicken meat

15,450

18,800

24,400

20,702

Beef and veal

1,519

2,012

1,206

913

Milk, total

7,482

5,857

11,147

9,800

Land use and production patterns are divided in two groups, the large plantations and small farms. Parastatal farm Caroni (1975) Ltd, farms nearly 30% of Trinidad's cultivated land area, and produces 46% sugarcane, 80% citrus and 73% rice of the country's total production. The remainder (122,000ha) is farmed predominantly by small farmers, some in very small plots, concentrating mainly on vegetables and fruits, mostly in irrigated and drained areas (FAO, 1999).

ECIAF's experiences of Curriculum Development in the past

The aim of the curriculum, as established in 1954, was that graduates would be capable farmers and be able to command the scientific theory which underlies farming work. Since its establishment, the two-year Agriculture Course curriculum never experienced an integral revision whereby views of different stakeholders groups were taken into consideration. Although the curriculum changed, the focus was towards adding new courses and making adjustments within courses mostly on teachers' or policy-makers' initiatives. In practice, new subjects were included without reducing the amount of credits for other areas, which suggests that the present curriculum is overloaded.

What is considered the curriculum is a list of courses and content including credit hours allocation. However, it lacks foundation in a situation analysis or occupational profile and learning objectives. It is based on assumptions of what is needed to prepare a capable farmer, farm manager or extension officer. In practice, of course, the curriculum includes teaching-learning methods and evaluation criteria. However, this part of the curriculum is not shared among stakeholders and relies completely on individual choices of teachers. Teachers have a large autonomy to decide what will be taught and, as a consequence, what students possibly could learn. This situation inhibits stakeholders' involvement in curriculum development to support responding to changing needs and opportunities in the society. It also limits improvement of the quality of education and development of more efficient and effective education.

Involvement of stakeholders

To be able to develop a meaningful curriculum it is necessary to have insights on the overall agriculture situation and specific subject matter features. After all, without an analysis of the situation and specific needs, a wonderful curriculum could be developed but the appropriate needs of the target audience may not be met (El Sawi, 1996). Therefore, it is essential to have a large variety of stakeholders involved in the curriculum development process.

At the beginning of the process discussions were kept to raise awareness on what involves curriculum development, with different stakeholders under guidance of the Curriculum Development Facilitator1. This generated a consensus on the importance of initiating a participatory curriculum development process including as many stakeholders as possible to help ensure that the curriculum is relevant to students and to the region.

Different phases of the process

At initial stage of the participatory curriculum development process, staff members representing different subject disciplines formed a Curriculum Committee, in order to support, monitor and guide the process in co-ordination with the external facilitator. The in this curriculum development distinguished phases are:

Phase 1: Needs Assessment
Phase 2: Design of Occupational Profile
Phase 3: Establishment of Overall Learning Objectives and design of new curriculum framework
Phase 4: Detailing curriculum at course level
Phase 5: Implementation of curriculum
Phase 6: Evaluation
Phase 7: Adjustments.

Phase 1: Needs assessment

To identify possible gaps between what is actually done and what should be done according stakeholders, a needs assessment was conducted.

Who participated and how?

The internal stakeholder survey included students, teachers and members of the academic board and management. Hereby 20 students of the first and second year, representing one-third of the total student population, were interviewed in focus group meetings. Most students have agricultural backgrounds and therefore had previous to ECIAF hands-on experiences on farms of different features and sizes. Teachers (n=15, representing 83%) completed a questionnaire and participated at focus group meetings. Teachers have on the average long working experience in the agriculture sector (25 years) and at ECIAF (12 years).

The external stakeholder survey was conducted by ECIAF's teachers and included 31 employers and 40 graduates. The employers group represents a large part of Trinidad and Tobago's agricultural sector, and organisations can be characterised as 48% governmental, 7% non-governmental, 32% private sector and 13% other. Almost all graduates interviewed (90%) are working in governmental organisations.

Previous to the survey, it was expected that the graduate group would include farmers, given that the present curriculum would prepare students to be capable farmers. However, only a few assessed graduates mentioned being part-time farmers - besides being government employees. Small farmers views are therefore based on a previous FAO study on improving the relevance and effectiveness of agricultural extension activities for women farmers. Additionally, policy documents and literature were reviewed for the situation analysis.

All consulted stakeholders were invited to participate at a consultation workshop where a preliminary analysis of survey findings was discussed.

[Note: Possibly survey tools, in annex, could be included in a hidden format and opened upon request by 'double click']

Phase 2: Occupational profile

The needs assessment provides insight into what is done and what should be done, according stakeholders, to make it possible to draft an occupational profile of an ECIAF Agriculture School graduate. To validate this analysis, the occupational profile was discussed among stakeholders and resulted in a consensus on the following profile.

Background

The agricultural sector in Trinidad & Tobago and the wider region of the Eastern Caribbean is changing from single commodity production to agricultural diversification. This implies changing demands of human resources to support the region's economy generally and the agricultural sector specifically.

To address these changing demands emphasis should be placed on organising the sector to maximise efficiency, competitiveness and sustainable development. In this process of organising the sector there is a need to promote domestic food security and nutrition, to expand private investment and thereby expand (self) employment opportunities and promote sustainable management of agricultural resources.

It is vital to the process to maintain continuous co-operation with different groups of land-users in agriculture, government support services and agribusiness enterprises.

To support these requirements of the changing agricultural sector the ECIAF graduate is expected, after a short on the job orientation period, to master a number of tasks in the priority fields of agriculture, as follows:

1. Manage and supervise a farm, thereby using the most appropriate crop, horticulture and animal production methods and technology under the given conditions of the agro-ecological zone and socio-economic circumstances.

2. Advise and train farmers on appropriate and new agricultural production techniques according to environmental aspects, making use of different extension methods.

3. Promote and market agricultural produce taking into consideration ethical and environmental aspects and trade agreements.

4. Perform supervisory functions on resources of the private enterprises, estate and experimental station to achieve efficient performance of staff, labour, equipment and finance.

5. Promote workers' safety and health and make them aware of sustainable management of agricultural resources such as soil and water conservation, forest conservation, plant protection and other environmental concerns.

6. Promote sustainable agricultural development and encourage agricultural production for home consumption and agro-cottage industry at primary and secondary education level by organising lectures and competitions in schools and clubs.

7. Assist in developing appropriate communication and training materials for different target groups. This training and extension advice will emphasise appropriate and new management techniques and technologies on agricultural production and marketing.

8. Assist in planning and implementation of agricultural demonstrations or experiments on farmers' fields or at the research station.

9. Assist in data collection and basic analysis of agricultural production systems to receive insights on production potentials and applied techniques and technologies in the field.

10. Promote and advise on record keeping and accounting in order to support farmers in obtaining finance, including subsidies.

11. Prepare accurate, pertinent and properly written reports and keep relevant records for his/her field of work.

12. Support programme planning for specific land areas and support implementations of monitoring and evaluation.

13. Operate and simple maintenance of farm machinery and equipment on farm infrastructure (irrigation, drainage) and mechanisation (tillage, pest control, mechanical harvesting).

14. Support establishing post-harvest handling and marketing requirements for different agricultural produce.

Phase 3: Overall learning objectives and design of the new curriculum framework

Without doubt stakeholders' opinions on farm practice as a very important feature of ECIAF's education. The preference teaching-learning philosophy, which guides the curriculum, therefore is "learning by doing".

Overall learning objectives

The overall learning objectives are the results intended from the educational programme and are derived from the occupational profile. The drafted learning objectives in knowledge, skills and attitudes, for each different subject discipline matter, were modified during the consultation workshop. This resulted in a stakeholders approved list of learning objectives for every subject discipline distinguished as general and basic science, crop, livestock, soil, extension, farm mechanisation and farm management. The learning objectives for students to be able to be proficient in agriculture extension are listed below, as example.

Knowledge Diagnose the socio-economic conditions, needs and constraints of farmers' community in the region.

Knowledge/skills Prepare a programme plan on district level based on identified constraints of farmers.

Knowledge/attitude Select and disseminate extension, training and teaching material containing management practices in agricultural production, small scale (agro) processing and marketing for farmers and school children.

Skills Demonstrate and assist in the implementation of innovative production methods for farmers according to socio-economic conditions.

Attitude Initiate and promote interaction between farmers and farmers' groups to enhance sustainable and economically sound agricultural production systems in the region.

Credit hours

Many graduates, students and some teachers mentioned that the workload at present is very high. This would be a result of curriculum development in the past by adding new subjects without reducing other subject areas. Internal stakeholders recognised that this workload should be reduced from 100 to 80 credits in the future, whereby it was emphasised that unnecessary workload should be taken out.

Rationale for shifts in subject disciplines

Basic science and general science

To achieve a horizontal and vertical integration of studies within the community college basic and general science subjects should have a similar high standard. Basic science subjects should be taught at the beginning of the course to strengthen Ordinary-level students preparation and to support improving their understanding of technical subject matters. Communication, especially use of English and report writing, and analytical skills are in high demand by employers and policy stakeholders.

Crop production

The strong emphasis on large commodity crops in today's curriculum does not reflect the regional agricultural situation according to students and employers. More attention would be needed for pest and plant identification and environmental friendly crop protection mechanisms.

Livestock production

Many small- and medium-scale farms have a livestock component. However most of the extension work activities are focused towards crops. Few graduates are working in the livestock sector, and survey findings show that the demand for graduates in this sector is very limited.

Soil science

Knowledge on soil, fertiliser and water management is fundamental for all agricultural development. Environmental awareness, also in relation to tourism development, is in high demand for sustainable land and water use.

Farm mechanisation

Farmers (FAO, 1995) ranked problems related to farm mechanisation as crop storage, weed control and lack of food processing, harvesting and cultivation techniques as major limitations to farming. Policy-makers referred to high labour costs in the region as a serious constraint to develop a competitive agricultural production without the use of appropriate technologies. Whereby it is identified that lack of appropriate farm technology and maintenance inhibits small and medium-scale farm enterprising. It was recommended that the practical component of this discipline in particular should increase.

Agricultural extension

Many graduates start and continue to work in the area of extension and education. To establish an appropriate extension programmes insight into the dynamics of society and rural development are pivotal to design extension approaches and methodologies. Extension officers (FAO, 1995) indicated that problems were encountered in providing extension work to farmers because of lack in training in extension methods and communication skills, and lack of demonstration materials. Employers also identified extension as an area of need for additional training.

Farm economics and management

The present curriculum has limited credits for farm management and not at all for marketing. Survey findings and policy documents indicate a need to attract new entrepreneurs to the agricultural sector and a need to establish a support mechanism to facilitate the growth of small- and medium-scale agro-businesses. Employers indicate frequently the need for skills in management, marketing, customer interaction and stock management.

The new model

The rationale for changes as a result of survey finding, a comparative analysis of priorities among Tertiary Level Agriculture Education models (see Roberts, 1997) in the region, and priorities given to the new learning objectives for each subject discipline generated a discussion on priorities of each subject disciplines. Workshop participants balanced priorities by allocating a percentage of time to each subject discipline. The outcome was translated in a draft new curriculum model, which was subject of several discussion meetings with stakeholders (teachers, management and policy-makers). Results of the modifications are shown in Table 2.

Table 2
Credit hour division for different subject disciplines

Subject discipline

Present model (%)

New model (%)

Difference in %

Basic science

18

18

=

General science

3

10

+ 7

Crop

26

17

- 9

Livestock

26

17

- 9

Soil

8

9

+ 1

Extension

8

8

=

Farm mechanisation

5

8

+ 3

Farm management

4

9

+ 5

Project

3

4

+ 1

Phase 4: Detailing the curriculum at course level

The challenge faced in curriculum development is continuation of the process. So far, the new curriculum in development has been placed in a scope of priorities of demands and desires of stakeholders. The established overall learning objectives are ambitious and include a risk that the new curriculum again would be a crowded one. This can be considered as one of the dilemmas of participatory curriculum development because everyone would like to see his/her own ideas reflected. Difficult choices are part of the task of planning courses whereby priority setting should be guided by: what is needed (must)? What is helpful (should)? and what is nice (could)?

The planning of curriculum at course level was initiated at a workshop on objective writing and teaching and learning methods. Emphasis was thereby placed on the importance of the exchange of ideas among teachers and external stakeholders and the set-up of a more formal and sustainable organisational structure for continuation of these activities.

ECIAF's Curriculum Committee would continue to monitor, guide and support detailing the course curricula according the new framework. All teachers are assigned to courses in the new curriculum, thereby advised to consult stakeholders, to specify the overall learning objectives into specific course objectives. For every specific course objective also the education content, teaching and learning methods and evaluation criteria would be determined. This approach respects the teachers' autonomy, but also acknowledge the fact that the chance of future implementation would be very limited when an external person describes a curriculum without full agreement of teachers.

Analysis of success

After an eight-month journey of curriculum development, an analysis the success of the participatory approach, so far, seems to be appropriate. Indicators to support this analysis of ECIAF's Curriculum Development are derived from Bor et al (1994).

Indicator 1: Participation of stakeholders and the degree of exchange of ideas

The curriculum development was initiated upon request of ECIAF's management, with support of an external facilitator. Despite activities of other departments, i.e. the recent development of the Forestry Course Curriculum, curriculum development was not a vivid theme among internal stakeholders. As a consequence at the initial phase, participation was at level of being informed by the external facilitator, followed by staff participation in giving information and answering questions. A curriculum committee was formed to support the process, whereby members supported proposing adjustments of survey tools and the conduct of the survey. This participation can be seen as consultation or participation for incentives to achieve opportunities to visit enterprises, to create flexibility in work-schedule and/or to visit the island of Tobago. Interactive participation - implying that no extras in time, finance or other rewards were received - was limited to a small critical group. This group participated in a joint analysis and drafted the profile and objectives with support/guidance of the external facilitator. Management guidance, including a certain degree of obligation for participation, was crucial to achieving involvement of other staff members.

Participation of external stakeholders was limited and remained at a level of consultation (interviews and workshops) whereby no organisational or personal commitments were achieved (for levels of Participation, see Pretty (1994)). Small and medium-scale farmers as prime stakeholders, were not directly participating. Their views were deducted from a previous survey, which can not be considered as exactly the same as participating in planning a new curriculum.

Indicator 2: Systematic approach, planning and time management.

The different phases and activities of the process were proposed by the external facilitator and mostly accepted, after minor adjustment, by the academic board, management and teachers. The pace of the process was determined by the time and dedication of internal stakeholders to support accomplishing different phases (stakeholder survey, revision of proposal on new curriculum and follow-up on course writing workshop). Staff members' agreements on approach and individual responsibilities are essential for success. Interim deadlines and external intervention are helpful in improving and maintaining staff's motivation. Participation of external stakeholders, in particular the stakeholders group farmers, was limited. Achieving external' stakeholders involvement required more time to explain the process of participatory curriculum development and roles of external stakeholders, in order to prepare and convince them on the value of their participation. However the time schedule - related to the limited budget allocated -constrain the necessary flexibility to adjust the process.

This experience shows once again that a participatory process should follow the pace of stakeholders, but systematisation and guiding timely decision-making without rigidity are crucial to keeping the process going.

Indicator 3: External consistency or degree of consensus among different stakeholders

The survey results show a variety of interests among stakeholders groups (students, teachers, management, policy makers, employers, farmers and graduates). However different viewpoints did not seem conflicting and therefore did not generate major discussion. Consensus was achieved fairly easily on what would be the occupational profile of ECIAF's graduates and what should be the general learning objectives derived from this profile. Also an agreement exists on the overall teaching and learning philosophy "learning by doing" emphasising the need for adequate innovative farm practice.

The translation from learning objectives into a new curriculum including a shift of priorities in disciplines has been discussed, adjusted and approved among internal stakeholders (teachers and management). However external stakeholders consulted on their opinion remained silent or placed the theme on the policy agenda for a yearly meeting. The latter can be seen as a serious hitch in the participatory approach, even more so it involves the stakeholder policymakers.

Indicator 4: Internal consistency or logical order and sequencing of curriculum based on objectives

The new curriculum is situated in a framework of general learning objectives of subject disciplines and courses including credit allocation, developed on outcomes of the survey. The process on sequencing and course detailing is on-going and, ideally spoken, should be continuous. Based on the overall learning objectives and credit allocation to each course, ECIAF's teachers will continue describing the specific learning objectives, selecting content and, teaching and learning methods and establishing evaluation criteria. The internal consistency depends heavily on continuation of communication among stakeholders about course curriculum aspects during the planning phase, but also during implementation and evaluation phases. Formal organisational structures were proposed to communicate on course detailing and will support obtaining improvement of curriculum efficiency. The sustainability of these newly formed structures relies on interactive participation, the achievement of which is too early to conclude.

Indicator 5: Relevance of local and regional needs

The needs assessment and situational analysis include many stakeholders relevant to the agricultural sector. However despite the compensation of small and medium-scale farmers views through an earlier FAO-study, the absence of direct participation of farmers in the needs assessment and planning phase is a risk in responding to the appropriate needs of the central stakeholder group.

Major changes proposed are shifts from the traditional strong emphasis on technical crop and livestock production to more innovative farming including farm management, marketing and mechanisation. This seems to be an overall Caribbean tune. Further, it was recommended to prioritise "life long learning" aspects as communication and analytical (problem-solving) skills, which are relevant for local, national and international needs.

Indicator 6: Degree of applicability of the new curriculum

Internal teachers have the knowledge and skills to continue course writing within their subject disciplines, whereby planning possibilities are restricted by available resources. Although with creativity and proper planning more optimised use could be made of the present resources. It is also believed that enlarging external stakeholders involvement in continuation of the curriculum planning would increase the probability of realisation of the learning philosophy "learning by doing". A serious limitation for application of the new curriculum is the increased dependency of external teachers (37% of subjects). To ensure future application it will be essential to identify internal teachers' training needs and training opportunities to prepare teachers to support implementation of the new curriculum.

Conclusion

The participatory approach of curriculum development delays achievement of clearly stated outcomes, but supports settling an inspiring process. Stakeholders recognise that this approach creates acute awareness among different interest groups on needs for innovation of education in general, the complexity of the agricultural situation and its implication of curriculum development for teaching and learning.

The degree of participation achieved, so far, at ECIAF has left room for improvement. Major limitations on achieving stakeholders' participation were limited time and budget allocation and lack of trust and confidence in participatory processes. The limited participation includes a major risk that a beautiful occupation profile and learning objectives are written but the needs of the target audience would not be met. Therefore in continuation of the process, while detailing the curriculum at course level, efforts should be made to correct limited participation. Emphasis should be placed on inclusion of a larger variety of stakeholders, in particular to farmers. This is to ensure the curriculum is responsive to the needs of the target audience and also to create a larger stakeholder commitment to support education development. However, an initial investment of institutional and/or governmental resources - in finance and staff - is the key component for achievement of this success.

Initiators of participatory curriculum development should, directly from the initial stage, place high importance to achieve awareness among stakeholders (farmers, policy makers, extension agents, traders, suppliers, researchers, students, teachers, management etc) on the importance of their involvement. Since the stakeholder 'farmers' is very divers and their stakes are not represented by one organisation, it is complicated to achieve a representative view of farmers, by just having some farmers participating. Therefore it is necessary to pay special attention to ensure a wide-scope of their stakes in the new curriculum.

It also should be recognised that stakeholders involvement in curriculum development delays the achievement of outcomes. Building trust and confidence and maintaining motivation of participatory processes among all stakeholders is pivotal for achieving a desired level of participation. Stakeholders at the top of the hierarchy (policy makers, management) will have to be prepared to listen and accept others opinion and stakeholders at the bottom of the hierarchy (farmers, students) will have to be empowered to actually express their needs. Due to the nature of frequently vertical organisational structures in the Caribbean this requires attitude changes which are not easily to achieve and are part of a longer process.

Initiating a process on curriculum development involves many challenges, which also can be seen as barriers. For institutions which are not familiar with participatory processes the approach of Participatory Curriculum Development could imply an additional barrier and maybe one too high. Therefore, a balance should be sought between the desired level of participation and the desire to have a new curriculum within the available timeframe and budget. External agencies could play a role to support institutions facing these challenges of curriculum development and thereby emphasising a participatory approach. Ideally spoken the process would be guided by a flexible planning of all stages of the participatory curriculum development, including allocation of time and resources.

Bibliography

Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Alexa Khan (1998). Critical Training Needs in Trinidad & Tobago: A sectoral perspective, a study commissioned by the Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited. Research Department, University of West-Indies- Institute of Business.

Bor, van den W., Ian Wallace, Geza Nagy, Chris Garforth (1994). Curriculum Development in a European context an account of a collaborative project. Paper prepared for the second European Conference on Higher Agriculture Education, Hongary: Godollo.

FAO (1995). Improving the relevance and effectiveness of agricultural extension activities for women farmers. André Mayers Research Study by Manju Dutta Das. SDRE: Rome.

FAO (1998). Participatory Curriculum Development in Agricultural Education. A training guide. FAO by Rogers, Alan and Peter Taylor in collaboration with W. Lindley, L VanCrowder, M. Soddemann. SDRE: Rome.

FAO. (1999). Agricultural Mechanisation Policy and Strategy Project. For CARICOM. Trinidad and Tobago, AGSE: Rome.

FAO/World Bank (2000). Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD). Strategic Vision and Guiding Principles. Rome.

FAO Statistical Databases, Agriculture. Crops Primary and Livestock Primary, update 5 April 2000 (www.fao.org/stat).

El Sawi, Gwen. (1996). Curriculum Development Guide: Non-Formal Education Programming for Out-of-School Rural Youth. SDRE: Rome.

Jarlind, Hans. (1998). Curriculum Development Philosophy and Procedure. SADC FSTCU Technical Publication Series No: 1. SADC Forestry Sector Technical Co-ordination Unit (FSTCU) in Co-operation with Zimbabwe College of Forestry.

Pretty, Jules, Irene Guijt, John Thompson, Ian Scoones. (1995). Participatory Learning and Action, A trainer's guide. IIED: London.

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. (1996). Medium Term Policy Framework 1996-1998. Port of Spain.

Roberts, Vivienne. (1997). Report on workshop Articulating Tertiary Level Institutions and University of West Indies Programmes in Agriculture on April 1-4, 1997. St. Lucia.

Survey tools, eventually to be included by double click

Box 1
Questions for students focus group meetings

1. What type of agriculture experiences did you have previous to your arrival at ECIAF?

2. What is the reason for choosing to study at ECIAF?

3. What kind of career would you like to pursue after graduation?

4. What do you think are opportunities for employment for a person with an ECIAF qualification?

5. Does the ECIAF's programme correspond with your requirements and the reality of the labour market?

6. Do you have the opinion that the subjects and subject matters are well structured? In case your answer is in the negative what changes do you propose?

7. Did you identify areas of similarities between different subjects? In case your answer is affirmative what are the main similarities, in which subjects?

8. Did you identify areas of discrepancy in the information, which you identified as necessary in order to reach your own (professional) goals?

9. How do you value the teaching methodologies used? Do you have any proposal for change?

Box 2
Teacher's questionnaire

1. Name:

2. What are your Education backgrounds?

0 ECIAF
0 University of West Indies, specialisation:
0 other, please indicate which institution...

3. What are your subjects of teaching at ECIAF? ____ For how many years?

4. What were your job positions external to ECIAF?

5. How many years' working experience do you have in the agriculture sector?

6. Do you have contacts in the agricultural sector? If so, please list contacts.

7. Does the present curriculum correspond with the agricultural situation in the region? Please explain, why or why not?

8. Which subject disciplines would need more or less attention in the present curriculum?

9. ___ General Science, __ Crop, __ Livestock, ___ Engineering, ___ Farm management/ Economy, __ Soil, __ Extension.

10. Do you think that the curriculum programme is well structured? Please, explain.

11. What changes would you like to propose for courses (overlap and gaps in content, methodology etc) Please specify?

12. How do you develop the practical component of your course(s)?

13. What are the major constraints for development of the practical component of your course(s)?

14. Do you prepare detailed plans of your courses (e.g. the objectives, topics, time, teachers and students activities and evaluation)? Please, attach format existing plan or fill out the attached planning scheme.

15. Do you think that students are satisfied with the programme? (scale 1-5)

16. What is your opinion of the communication between teachers? (scale 1-5)

17. Do you have suggestions on improving of the communication situation in between teachers?

18. Do you have any other observations or remarks on ECIAF's curriculum or this questionnaire in general?

Box 3
Employers interview scheme

Name of interviewee: _________________________________________

Function: __________________________________________________

Educational background: ______________________________________

Name of Organisation: ________________________________________

1. How would you define your organisation? Government, Non Governmental Organisation, Private Enterprise, Other.

2. What are the main activities of your organisation?

3. What are the perspectives for future development of your organisation?

4. How many ECIAF graduates are presently working within your organisation?

5. How many ECIAF graduates worked within your organization in the past?

6. In case of a change, what could be the reason for this change (related to question 4-5)?

7. What are the job positions of ECIAF's graduates, at present?

8. Are there any recent graduates ('96, '97, '98, `99) working in your organisation?

9. What are starting positions for ECIAF's graduates in your organisation?

10. Please name for all different positions filled by ECIAF graduates and what are their main activities.

11. Give for every activity indicated in question 10, your opinion on whether the knowledge, skills and attitudes are adequate to perform these activities.

12. Did you identify any weak points in the training, at initial stage on employment of ECIAF's graduates?

13. In which area(s) have you identified needs for additional training or education for ECIAF's graduates?

14. Do you have any other recommendations for education and training of ECIAF in general?

Box 4
Graduates interview scheme

Name: _______________________________________________________

Year of Graduation: ____________________________________________

Name of Organisation: __________________________________________

1. How would you define your organisation2? Government, Non Governmental Organisation, Private Enterprise, Other like ...

2. What types of employment did you have after ECIAF graduation?

3. How do you perceive your possibilities on career development with an ECIAF education? (1-5 scales very well to very difficult).

4. What are the main activities of your organisation?

5. What are your main activities to fulfil your job? (if possible provide a job description)

6. Do you have contacts with professionals of any kind outside your organisation? Please list the organisations.

7. Give your opinion on the applicability of the different subject disciplines (1 = minimum, 2 = sufficient, 3 = good, 4 = excellent) as taught at ECIAF to perform at your job. ECIAF' subject disciplines are General Science, Crop Production, Livestock Production, Soil Science, Agriculture Engineering, Economics/Farm Management and Extension.

8. Give your opinion of the theory of the different subject disciplines as it relates to your job activities.

9. Give your opinion of the practical component of the different subject disciplines as it relates to your job.

10. Does ECIAF's education provide you with sufficient background to perform in your job(s)? Please indicate why.

11. In what area(s) would you like to receive additional training to improve your job performance?

12. What would be your recommendation for changes or modification in ECIAF's curriculum?

13. Do you have any remarks about this interview?

1 The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and ECIAF Management requested FAO's Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean to support the Agriculture School of ECIAF to revise its curriculum. FAO assigned the Associate Professional Officer, Education and Extension, as ECIAF's Curriculum Development Facilitator.

2 Please note that in the interview we will refer to "organisation", by which we imply "enterprises, government, non-governmental organisations, farms, etc".

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