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Common Problems in Agricultural Education and Training Institutions

It is important to note that not all AET systems are uniformly weak. There are examples of reforms, some successful, others not, and improved curricula, better stakeholder linkages, and the use of public-private partnerships to catalyze AET change. However, these examples are not widespread so the generic weaknesses of AET systems described below prevail in a large number of countries.

Division of responsibilities and its impact on AET: Whether it is part of a robust, well-integrated system or not, agricultural education and training is weakened by the division of AET responsibilities among ministries, the isolation of individual ministries and their failure to collaborate in designing and delivering education and training in a manner that meets the needs of all AET stakeholders. Under these circumstances, a broad vision for AET is rarely in place. An outcome of this lack of vision is that policies and strategies for modernizing agricultural education are seldom well developed and national and international donors are not keen to invest in what appears to be an institutionally weak and ill-defined AET system.

Lack of policy coherence
: The unfortunate absence of policies to guide the system (or failure to apply those policies) and the consequent low level of investment impedes reform in AET institutions. A number of generic weaknesses in the planning and delivery of agricultural education and training in developing countries have persisted over time. Briefly, these weaknesses include a lack of university autonomy, weak links to stakeholders, lack of accountability for quality or employability of graduates, outdated curricula and teaching approaches, weak training in practical skills, the variable quality of programs, weak adoption of information and communications technology, and low remuneration of faculty and staff.

Many of these weaknesses create barriers to change and relate to governance of AET institutions. It is difficult to bring about governance change without clear policy guidance.

Weak links to Stakeholders: Diploma-level education and training, the source of skilled technicians, also exhibits weaknesses, including the absence of supporting policies, weak links to stakeholders, programs that fail to reflect labor market needs, inadequate and inconsistent funding, and a shortage of skilled teachers/instructors. Poor Image of Agriculture: One outcome of the weaknesses and low investment in AET is the reluctance of students to choose agriculture as their preferred academic pursuit.

Weak Subject Areas: Many AET programs are weak in subject matter fields that were not emphasized during the period when donors invested in AET institutions. Agribusiness and marketing, trade, food safety, natural resource management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, agricultural economics, and biotechnology and ICT applications are relatively un-developed in some institutions, but are critical to future sector development.

Culled from US AID report “Building Capacity in Agricultural Education & Training

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