Family farmers face climate change, limited water availability, rising fuel costs and unknown market opportunities, while their lands are coming under increasing pressure. They require access to information, and the knowledge that can help them deal with the complexity of the context in which they live. Most rural areas nowadays have access to some form of education. Nonetheless, the agricultural education system often has many shortcomings. Many get frustrated because the education available does not provide them with the answers they are looking for. Education rarely prepares youth for a future in agriculture and often encourages them to migrate to urban centres. Girls and women often don’t have the same educational opportunities.
Many experiences are showing that agricultural education can do much more: it can be a powerful tool in strengthening the social value attached to farming. It can make people aware that there are low-cost and sustainable alternatives to “modern agriculture” which, for many small scale farmers, can be a route into debt and misery.
Clearly changes are needed at different levels – at vocational schools and agricultural universities, but also in informal and adult education initiatives and even at primary schools – so that education makes a positive contribution to agriculture. Agricultural educators – whether extension agents from public or private sector, university professors, school teachers or farmers themselves – need to become agents of change. They need to support farmers in the task of reconnecting to the agro-ecosystems that they manage, rather than becoming increasingly disconnected from them.
Issue 29.3 of Farming Matters will focus on the role of education in changing the mindsets of rural communities. We seek contributions that describe innovative education in rural areas. Who are involved? What is being taught? What teaching methods are used? What lessons are learned? And what makes these experiences valuable? We will also look at how educators prepare themselves for their job in a fast changing world, what their aspirations are, how the education system supports and how they connect with different stakeholders in the agricultural system, such as farmers and other value chain actors, fellow educators, researchers and
Please send your contributions! Articles for the September issue of Farming Matters should be sent to Jorge Chavez-Tafur, editor, before June 1st, 2013. E-mail: email@example.com
To view and download latest publication Farming Matters 29.1 – SRI much more than more rice