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The role of agricultural institutions of higher learning in producing the next generation agricultural leaders in Ethiopia


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Presented by Professor Belay Kassa (President, Haramaya University) at the 'Dialogue on Ethiopia’s Agricultural Development', 12 November 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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The role of agricultural institutions of higher learning in producing the next generation agricultural leaders in Ethiopia

  1. 1. The Role of Agricultural Institutions of Higher Leaning in Producing the Next Generation Agricultural Leaders in Ethiopia By Belay Kassa Haramaya University
  2. 2. Outline of the presentation <ul><li>Premises </li></ul><ul><li>The Agricultural Education System </li></ul><ul><li>The Current Situation in the Ethiopian AIHE </li></ul><ul><li>Achievements </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Requirements for AIHE to become Relevant to Development </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  3. 3. “ Universities play a crucial role in generating new ideas, and in accumulating and transmitting knowledge and yet they have remained peripheral to development concerns ” International Institute for Education Planning (2007), Newsletter , 25 (1), January-March.
  4. 4. Premises <ul><li>Education is the key to unlocking Ethiopia’s development potential. </li></ul><ul><li>Public higher education institutions are a major source for providing highly skilled professionals to staff GOs, NGOs, and private sector. </li></ul><ul><li>Higher education has a significant pay-off both for individuals and society. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Premises cont’d… <ul><li>The public sector will continue to be the major provider of agricultural education/research/extension services in the foreseeable future. </li></ul><ul><li>The public agricultural higher education system can be overhauled to become more efficient and relevant to development. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Current Situation in the Ethiopian AIHE <ul><li>Most university teaching consists of didactic lecturing/exclusive use of rote memory and procedural mimicry (remote from practical needs of society). </li></ul><ul><li>Serious lack of problem-solving skills (practical training acquired by graduates of AIHE is inadequate and cannot prepare them for the responsibilities they would assume after graduation). </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching programmes with little reference to the Ethiopian conditions (curricula not relevant to local needs). </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Current Situation cont’d… <ul><li>Insufficient number of qualified and experienced academics which is compounded by high staff turnover. </li></ul><ul><li>The current staffing situation in all AIHE raises serious concerns related to the quality of research work and teaching. </li></ul><ul><li>Insufficient attention given to research/knowledge creation. </li></ul><ul><li>Many staff members have no formal training in pedagogy. </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Current Situation cont’d… <ul><li>Fragmentation of curricula based on disciplines (difficult to build holistic view). </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of Communication with key Stakeholders. </li></ul><ul><li>Weak Inter-institutional Linkage. </li></ul><ul><li>Strict input control, inadequate internal quality assurance mechanisms, and absence of external quality controls / quality of output ?/. </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusive or near-exclusive reliance of public AIHE on government funding. </li></ul><ul><li>Little or no entrepreneurial drive. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Current Situation cont’d… <ul><ul><li>Research projects in AIHE have often addressed topics of personal interest (with the goal of publishing results) and have been found to be less relevant to the basic and urgent needs of poor farmers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quite often farmers have not been encouraged to take part in the identification of research problems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Researchers have paid little regard to the farmers’ opinions, attitudes, customs, practices and priorities. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. The Current Situation cont’d… <ul><li>L imited interactions between AIHE and the different components of the NARS. </li></ul><ul><li>In most of the institutions of higher learning in the country research undertaking is not considered as a mandatory activity. </li></ul><ul><li>There is little/no recognition for research undertaking in institutions of higher learning. </li></ul><ul><li>In almost all the emerging Universities, the research wing exists in name only. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Current Situation cont’d… <ul><li>Weak Connection with other parts of the Agricultural Education System </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The agricultural education system in the country consists of disconnected training tracks leading towards different diplomas and professional careers . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The institutions that offer these programs are under the control of different ministries and there is no or only little co-operation and communication among themselves. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Achievements <ul><li>Graduates of the AIHE have been serving the country as extension agents, development workers, subject matter specialists, teachers, researchers, experts, heads of different organizations, consultants, Ministers etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Given the fact that there has been no tracer study in the country, it is very difficult to quantify the real contribution of graduates in agriculture and related fields to economic development. </li></ul><ul><li>However, one can safely say that AIHE have been contributing positively to the national development efforts because in their absence there wouldn’t have been the progress achieved so far. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Achievements Cont’d… <ul><li>For instance, over the 1960-2009 period, 8 of the 18 Ministers and 13 of the 20 Vice Ministers of the Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development were graduates from Haramaya University. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, in the 1966-2009 period, 9 of the 11 General Managers/Director Generals and 7 of the 8 Deputy General Managers/Deputy Director Generals of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (former IAR), were graduates from Haramaya University. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Achievements Cont’d… <ul><li>A closer look into the research performance of the AIHE reveals that, thus far, they have developed and released 130 crop varieties and 16 different technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>Of the 130 crop varieties and 16 technologies produced and released by the AIHE, 125 crop varieties and all of the 16 technologies were accounted for by Harmaya University and the remaining 5 crop varieties by the Hwassa University. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Opportunities <ul><li>The existence of strong government commitment to support the agricultural sector. </li></ul><ul><li>The need to build and strengthen human resource development capacity of AIHE to meet the ever-increasing demand for agricultural professionals has been given high priority and support by the current government. </li></ul><ul><li>The demand for agricultural professionals has been showing an increasing trend mainly due to the expansion of commercial farms in different parts of the country (flower industry, horticulture industry, bio fuel production, etc. ). </li></ul>
  16. 16. Requirements for AIHE to become Relevant to Development <ul><li>IHE are required to be open, flexible and capable of efficiently adapting to changes in the wider external environment (in terms of producing graduates in response to the changing needs of the society /ensuring the marketability of skills/). </li></ul><ul><li>Making the curricula more relevant and responsive to the country’s trained manpower needs both in quality and quantity (with due emphasis on practical training and ethical values and principles). </li></ul><ul><li>AIHE should be proactive and must respond quickly enough to the demands expressed by the ever-diversifying clientele. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Requirements cont’d… <ul><li>AIHE need to rationalize their programs of study based on the demand for graduates in the labour market, if they are to survive in the increasingly competitive environment. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a need to move away from the traditional “chalk and talk” approach to a pragmatic and student-centered approach to education. </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging students in active analytical thinking, brainstorming, creative activity or the defence of their opinion and thereby enabling them become active knowledge workers rather than passive knowledge recipients </li></ul>
  18. 18. Requirements cont’d… <ul><li>In recent years, public IHE are required to reduce their dependency on government funding and become entrepreneurial. </li></ul><ul><li>The integration of entrepreneurial culture in the AIHE, through, among others, revenue diversification, rationalizing programs, commercializing intellectual property, cost recovery, and removing inefficiencies. </li></ul><ul><li>The integration of entrepreneurial culture in AIHE would provide undeniable benefits, to the AIHE themselves, to students, to agriculture, industry and commerce, and to society as a whole. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Requirements cont’d… <ul><li>AIHE must go beyond the traditional ways of imparting too much theoretical knowledge and produce competent and confident graduates with entrepreneurial skills and abilities to deal with the wider problems of rural development. </li></ul><ul><li>The need to give adequate attention to research/knowledge creation must be high in the agenda of IHE. </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining strong and firm linkages with key stakeholders should be pursued as a strategy to keep the curricula up to date and improve the quality and relevance of the training programs. </li></ul><ul><li>Embracing the idea of “ brain circulation ” to overcome the shortage of highly qualified and experienced professionals. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Conclusions <ul><li>Empirical evidence from other parts of the world indicates that higher education contributes significantly to a reduction in poverty. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopian public AIHE must transform themselves to be more innovative and relevant to development. </li></ul><ul><li>Systemic thinking that allows integration of disciplines and knowledge is the order of the day. </li></ul><ul><li>Existing (“old”) universities must take the lead in embedding a research culture in their system. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a need to provide strong support to research work by AIHE. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Conclusions contd… <ul><li>IHE must develop partnerships and forge closer ties with key stakeholders if they are to survive in the increasingly competitive environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing strong and firm linkages with other components of the NARS and the agricultural education system should be pursued as a strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>Concerted efforts must be made to lure young and outstanding professionals into the higher education system and retain experienced teaching and research staff. </li></ul>
  22. 22. THANK YOU