Improving the Relevance and Effectiveness of Agricultural Education and Training in Africa: Insights from Agricultural Role Models

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June 1, 2014 - Author: <blade@msu.edu>, Antony Chapoto, <Sheryl.Hendriks@up.ac.za>, Stephen Kabwe, Isaac Minde, Johnny Mugisha, Fanie Terblanche, and Aissetou Yaye

Abstract

This paper examines the career trajectories of 66 distinguished African agricultural
professionals. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews, the paper explores the answers to
two critical questions: How can Africa motivate its youth to consider careers in agriculture
and agribusiness? How can agricultural education and training (AET) institutions better
prepare youth for productive careers in agribusiness?
In order to motivate youth, the role model interviews suggest that children growing up in
rural areas respond to clearly perceived family needs coupled with demonstrable profitability
of modern agricultural and agribusiness opportunities. In contrast, Africa’s rapidly growing
cohort of urban youth respond to inspiring science education, emerging awareness of the
significant social and economic importance of agriculture and access to role models who can
demonstrate the range of professional opportunities afforded by modern agribusiness and
commercial agriculture.
To prepare youth for successful agribusiness careers, the role models admonish agricultural
education and training institutions to develop more practical curriculum, build a stronger
early foundation in sciences and mathematics, increase emphasis on business management
and entrepreneurship, and substantially improve the frequency and quality of interactions
with agribusinesses through guest lectures, internships, applied research and attachments. In
order to keep AET institutions on track in preparing youth with the skills required by
agribusiness, the role models advocate systematic communication conduits for ensuring
regular feedback from private and public sector agribusiness employers on AET curriculum
and programs through vehicles such as private sector advisory boards, formal AET-industry
consultations and employer liaisons.

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