The Evolution of Agricultural Education
Edobong Akpabio is an agro-entrepreneur by vocation and a business…
Education can be described as the system and process of transmitting knowledge and values in a society.
Education guides people to learn about their culture. It also helps to mold behaviour and trains individuals on work and survival skills, and directs people towards their ultimate role in the society. In the many cultures, education was about the entire landscape and all the activities therein… with the adults acting as the teachers. But as societies grow more complex, the kind, quality and quantity of knowledge to be passed on from one generation to the next needs more efficient and effective means of transmission. So, today, we have the formal education—the school and the specialist called the teacher.
Although education is universal, the needs and aspirations of societies usually differ, thereby determining the model or technique through which education is communicated. For alongside the formal education method is the apprentice-type of education which has been formalized into technical and vocational education. So, education is as old as human civilization and pre-dates writing. We can attest to this with such ancestral skills as farming, hunting, weaving, pottery, carpentry, metal work, wine tapping, trading, etc.
In Nigeria, education in agriculture has undergone some transformation in understanding and practice in order to meet the needs of contemporary times. Apart from the changes in societal perception, there is the influence of formal education, increase in population, and the development and widespread use of technology which have deepened the relevance and demand for agricultural awareness, knowledge, investment and support. Today, agriculture is the link to many other activities and economic sectors in Nigeria and globally.
You cannot discuss environmental protection and conservation, aviation, tourism, healthcare, solid minerals, the media, engineering, power and energy, education, trade, etc, without referring to agriculture. Agriculture permeates nearly every (if not all) facet of life. Therefore, agriculture needs to be seriously developed as a profession and as a vocation and education, whether formal or informal, is key. With agriculture as a profession, we can have varied and multiplicity of careers ranging from film making to medical personnel. As a vocation, we can have people trained in a variety of skills to support the businesses established right through the value chain.
Training and education in agriculture has been mostly, a government endeavour. Nigeria has about four (4) universities of agriculture, seventeen (17) colleges of agriculture and up to seventeen (17) research institutions focused on agriculture and nearly all generic universities have a faculty for agricultural training and education. Today, opportunities abound for private participation in the development of agricultural education. An enormous amount of skills, many largely untapped, and many more needing improvements for better productivity are out there requiring training and education.
Today’s agro-entrepreneurs require people with knowledge and skills in farm management, record keeping, product development, financial management, marketing and sales, use of technology, people management, international trade, extension services, etc. Furthermore, let us bear in mind that gone are the days when agricultural education was regarded as the choice of ‘losers’. With widespread awareness and knowledge being provided through education and training, many can prosper in their career and/or business in agriculture.
- Egun, A. C
- Indepth Research Services
- Merriam-Webster English Dictionary