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The term “Extension Education” was first introduced in 1873 by Cambridge University to describe a particular educational innovation. This was to take the educational advantages of the universities to the ordinary people, where they lived and worked. The term “extension” was first coined in England, not in America as is often thought.1

1 Maunder, A.H., Agricultural Extension, a reference manual, FAO, Rome, 3rd printing 1978, p.1.

2.1 The Background and Meaning of Extension

Within a decade or so the movement had spread to other institutions in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere. The term “extension” has come up to us from the United States of America. In that country, the Congress passed a law in 1914, known as the Smith-Lever Act, “in order to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture and home economics, and to encourage the application of the same…”. To that end, the same law provides that “… in connection with the college or colleges in each State, …agricultural extension work…shall be carried on in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture…”.2

In the United States, extension work is essentially an educational institution, in effect, it is the college that is being popularized through extension. Extension education is different from the conventional educational institution; it is informal without regular classes, grades, degrees, or diplomas. The success of extension in teaching depends on the learner's willingness to learn.

Most countries nowadays have an extension program of one kind or another, however, many of these organizations/agencies cannot be called “extension”. Nevertheless, the name “extension education”, “extension work”, or “extension” has come to be accepted generally to mean informal education of the rural population no matter what agency or institution administers it.

In the Philippines, among the most important accomplishments of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in early 1977 was to intensify, so to speak, the nationwide extension machinery which the Bureau has been putting together since 1974. Nevertheless, there were earlier extension beginnings.

The term “Fisheries Extension” was formally adopted when the Fisheries Extension Division was created by Presidential Decree No. 704 on May 16, 1975. Fisheries Extension may be defined as: the dissemination of the educational advances of institution to persons unable to take advantage of such in a normal manner. All forms of extension bring education to the people. By definition, extension and extension education are synonymous. Fisheries extension brings to the fishermen, fishfarmers, and fish processors that form of educational assistance best suited to their needs.

A more detailed definition of fisheries extension is: a system which assists people in the fish and fishing industry, through educational procedures, in improving fishing, fishfarming and fish processing methods, increasing production efficiency and income, and improving their socio-economic conditions.

2 Kelsey, L.D. & C.C. Hearne, Cooperative extension work, Constock, Itchaca, New York, 1949, p. 29

2.2 Objectives of Extension3

It is generally accepted that the role of extension is to help people help themselves through educational means to improve their socio-economic conditions. However, this concept is only a very general guide to extension advisers, administrators and policy makers. Extension workers are interested in more concrete expression of purpose. The masses want help in solving their immediate problems and policy makers are concerned with the contribution that extension can make to national economic and social progress.

3 Maunder, A.H., op. cit., pp. 3–4

In certain situations, national needs may surmount in importance the needs of the individual villager. Where extensive production of fishponds is low, increasing the production of existing ones may be a more important strategy than developing new ones. But similar national objectives can only be achieved through the action of the masses. People may be motivated by patriotism for a time but soon lose their enthusiasm unless programs appeal to their own best interest as they see them. For example, certain governments reduced the established prices of basic food items so that consumers could afford a higher level of nutrition. This results in lower domestic production and shortage of supplies because of the reduced incentive to the masses. To achieve its purpose, both nationally and locally, the objectives of extension must be known and accepted by the masses as valuable contribution to their own welfare.

2.3 Philosophy of Extension

Extension work is based on a number of principles discussed below, and which are generally accepted in many countries throughout the world.

2.3.1 Extension is an economic necessity

Today, most enlightened governments have realized that without a stable, productive, and contented rural population, all other factors towards economic development may fail. No country can afford to neglect its rural population, the reasons are plain to see:

First, every country needs an ample and dependable supply of staple foods for the whole nation. Generally, city-dwellers do not produce their own food. In a country where the farmers/fishfarmers are discontented or not very efficient, the supply of staple foods can not meet the demands of the whole nation.

Second, where there is a great difference between the standard of living of city-dwellers and that of rural people, many of the best young men will tend to leave agriculture/aquaculture and drift to the cities. But the city is not always able to absorb them. And frequently the result is overcrowding slums, unemployment, vagrancy, and social unrest.

Third, it has been found that besides producing food, a modern farmer can also grow industrial crops. These crops provide valuable raw materials for many and diverse industries which help provide employment for swelling population and increase national wealth.

These are some of the important reasons why governments have begun to take interest in the masses, and extension programs have been created all over the world. Extension serves the economic objectives of the nation. It is no longer a good practice for a villager to carry on what he learned from his father. Farming must be progressive and efficient, just like any other industry, or else the whole nation is likely to suffer. But the first requirement for progress is new information. The purpose of extension is to bring this information to those who need it.

2.3.2 Extension is based upon research

The main focus of extension is on people and the things that cause people to act as they do or how to influence them to change. At least two things are necessary to bring about change, namely:

  1. a source of new information; and

  2. a spread of the information to the masses.

Information does not just come out: it must be searched for and thought out. That is why there is a need for research institutions to get information. Researchers, on the other hand, will not know what kind of information to get, unless they are told what to research. The people in general have little opportunity to compare their practices with those of others, often they are not even aware there is room for improvement.

Therefore, the first job that extension workers have to do is to help the people define their own problems. Once the problems have been clarified, the extension worker can present them to the researchers, who in turn try to look for possible solutions. Very often they know the answer from previous experience, and there is no need for research. But again, the extension worker has to bring the solution back to the villager. He has to translate abstract formula into clear, understandable language, and show them how, when, and where the new knowledge may be profitably applied.

Research discovers and develops technology; it is the source of new information. Extension imparts the technology to be used; it spreads the necessary information (now or at any future time) from its source to the ultimate user - the villager and the members of his family and encourages them to use the information.

2.3.3 Extension bases its programs on people's need as well as technical and national economic needs.4

All people desire higher goals in life. Once people are convinced of the value of new methods and that the new methods will help them reach their goal, they will change to attain this desired goal. Therefore, the major task of extension is to convince the people of the value of new and better practices. Extension paves the way for further progress by making the community aware of the benefits to be obtained from this program.

2.3.4 Extension is education process5

The concept that the broader function of extension work is to help people solve their own problems through the application of scientific knowledge is now generally accepted. If this is true, then extension must be regarded as largely educational. But it is different from the type of education taught in schools and colleges. The principal difference is that extension involves no coercion of any sort. It is an accepted fact that no extension set-up has the necessary staff to direct every action and see that it is carried out effectively. Extension depends on the ability of a limited number of workers to inspire clientele and to create a desire for more efficient production, and better living conditions in the rural areas. The clientele must be encouraged to meet in groups to secure the information and assistance they have come to desire. If the extension worker would devote more effort to create a desire for information, the clientele would come and ask for it, rather than wait for it to be brought to them. The motivation of the clientele thus becomes a phase of extension work worthy of careful study.

4 Bradfield, D.J., Guide to Extension Training, (Rome: FAO 5th printing 1977) p. 11.

5 Maunder, A.H., op. cit., p. 1.

Extension differs from formal education in another aspect. It is concerned not only with learning, but also with the application of the knowledge gained from everyday living. It is an extremely practical and concrete type of education that may be put to use at once. This matter of timeliness must always be borne in mind in the planning of extension programs.

All definitions of extension involve changes in the behavior of the clientele, presumably resulting to further improvement in production, better living conditions and strengthening of the national economy. Fundamental to any permanent behavioral change is attitude. This is essentially relevant when working with traditional societies.

In order to change the behavior of many people, extension must first gear their attitude toward change. It may question traditional practices, and motivate them to improve their own living conditions.

To bring about a change in attitude is a basic educational function of extension. It has been suggested that extension is not solely concerned with teaching and securing the acceptance of a particular improved practice, but with changing the outlook of the clientele and encouraging them to take the initiative in improving their lives. The effectiveness of extension is measured by its ability to advance from the static situation which prevails in rural areas.

Change can be brought about by (1) choice, and (2) by force or coercion. Choice may be represented by education. It is a means to supply the people with knowledge, experience and/or know-how. Force may be represented by supplies and services in the form of physical/material inputs.

The idea of giving education (choice) instead of physical things is commonly expressed as “helping people to help themselves”. Education is the primary object of the extension work. Others may stress physical inputs (force) and make people dependent on them.

Actually, both Education and Supplies/Services, regardless of how they are organized, are necessary for highly effective extension work -- to get a big change, but the emphasis may vary. An extension worker should think about using both education to promote improved practices and then making it viable. He should try to bring out both factors in his work by having a secondary object. This secondary object is encouraging action through cooperation with others.

2.3.5 Extension cooperates with others which aims to develop individuals, community and nation.

Extension is only one of the many factors which tend to produce change in society. Aquaculture extension is concerned mainly with producing change to improve fish production.

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