Asia and Latin America


FAO headquarters

Counterpart Organization:

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization


3 years from April 2003 to March 2006

Total Approved Budget:

US$252 771


Capacity Building in Education for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security

Project Rationale and Justification

The Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action adopted in 1996 clearly stressed that sustainable development policies should consider education essential for empowering the poor and achieving food security. Recent research indicates that the empowerment of poor people, and policy and institutional reforms in the rural sector leading to participation of stakeholders, needs to be the starting point. In this respect, education has a crucial role since evidence shows that a farmer with four years of elementary education is, on average, nearly 10 percent more productive than a farmer with no education.

Project GCP/INT/847/ITA, is part of the FAO long lasting effort to assist national policy makers in addressing the basic needs of rural populations, and contributing to poverty eradication through improved reforming and planning education and training systems. The project, funded by the Government of Italy, is a key component of the global partnership initiative on Education for Rural People (ERP) launched by FAO and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in September 2002, described in: http://www.fao.org/sd/erp/. The project became operational in April 2003.


The overall development objective of the project is to contribute to poverty reduction, rural development and improved food security benefiting especially vulnerable groups, by ensuring increased access to basic education to address needs of rural children, youths and adults.

The project has two immediate objectives. The first is to develop a positive response from multilateral and bilateral agencies to increase development resources and commitment to ERP. The second objective is to strengthen the institutional capacity of selected countries of reforming the ERP by increasing the capacity of a core group of policy makers and managers to plan a system that addresses rural population educational needs by participatory processes.

The project focuses on three interlinked activities: (i) participatory capacity building national and regional processes in two regions (Asia and Latin America) and in six selected countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru) addressing the present status of ERP in the different settings, and the ways to improve it; (ii) an international donor’s workshop to raise awareness of the need to support new interdisciplinary approaches to education for rural development; (iii) the preparation of virtual and printed information and training materials related to ERP for the participants to the capacity building events.

Activities and Main Results

Activities focused on the preparation and implementation of two International workshops in Asia and in Latin America. Such workshops have been very successful and have targeted donors and representatives of Ministries of Education and Agriculture of countries of the region as well as Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) in order to maximize the impact of the investments in terms of capacity building, advocacy and mobilization in favour of ERP.

The Latin America workshop was held from 3 to 5 August 2004 in Santiago de Chile and organized in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UNESCO Institute of Education Planning (UNESCO/IIEP), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture and the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of Italy. The Regional Centre for Research and Development in Education (CIDE) presented case studies on the situation of education for rural people in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Mexico and Peru, confirming that poverty is much greater in rural areas than in urban areas and that the educational gap among rural and urban communities is increasing. A book co-published by the conveners and CIDE was issued on the topic. One-day participatory national capacity building workshops were also organized in the six selected countries and included the participation of public sectors officials and staff from private and civil society organizations that generated a study on national practical experiences, providing a detailed review of ERP. This activity was undertaken in close collaboration with a regional NGO specialized in education research.

The Asia workshop was held in Bangkok from 25 to 26 May 2004. The workshop brought together representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Education of the nine participating countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, , Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam), and other participants representing international organizations, NGOs and academia.

The workshops have encouraged the identification of ways to increase collaboration among stakeholders in favour of education for rural people. Collaboration with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics has also allowed the preparation of a study on teachers and teaching conditions in rural primary schools, a crucial ERP topic. The study will take into account the use of national and international indicators and measurement issues that could help to inform the policy measures and monitor progress in this domain. It will also form part of the background information for a workshop on ERP statistics, which might be held during the possible continuation phase of the current initiative. Among the different training tools widely distributed during the capacity building activities are the two books: ’Education for rural people: Aid Agencies workshop, 12-13 December 2002’, funded by the present project; and ‘Education for Rural Development: towards new policy responses’, funded by FAO, and co-published with the UNESCO/IIEP. The ERP Web site is a complementary tool for the capacity building and awareness-raising activities of the project. Italy funded the Spanish translation of the ERP Web site.

During the second semester of 2005, the project is expected to conduct an ERP workshop in the Caribbeans with a subsequent workshop on statistics applied to ERP.