Poverty reduction strategies and relevant learning in higher agricultural education: case studies from Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda

Poverty reduction strategies and relevant learning in higher agricultural education: case studies from Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda

Agricultural education in African poverty reduction strategies

This paper analyses agricultural higher education in relation to poverty reduction strategies in four African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

The paper addresses three key issues in the four African countries:

  • how the PRSPs are reflected in official policies, implementation plans and fund allocations to agricultural education
  • how case study countries agricultural education is responding to the strategies in terms of teaching, training, research and outreach
  • what is needed for the successful transformation of agricultural universities to meet the society's needs and demand Education is an important pillar in the various poverty reduction strategies.

Major conclusions of the paper include:

  • Although agriculture is the most important sector for reducing poverty in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, agricultural education is barely mentioned in the respective poverty reduction strategies
  • in the private sector there is little collaboration between the agricultural universities and the private sector, including farmers' organisations
  • graduates of the agricultural universities/colleges lack practical and managerial skills in entrepreneurship
  • agricultural universities/colleges are not receiving the resources required for them to play a meaningful role in the fight against poverty
  • students report too much emphasis on theory and too little on experiential learning in their study programs.

The paper recommends:

  • research and extension should be recognised and reported as poverty reduction efforts in official progress reports
  • financial support should be made available to enable the agricultural universities/colleges to carry out demand-driven research, outreach and training
  • external, cross-societal membership in the governing bodies of the universities should be considered
  • efforts to prepare agricultural graduates for employment and self-employment in the private sector should be accelerated
  • governments need to create and enforce policies that facilitate the establishment of agriculture-based companies and industries
  • a fund should be established for development of relevant and affordable teaching and training material within higher agricultural education in tropical Africa.

[adapted from author]

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