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Professional competencies of agricultural extension agents in Kenya: implications for curriculum development

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Lopokoiyit, Mary

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Professional competencies of agricultural extension agents in Kenya: implications for curriculum development

  1. 1. Professional Competencies of Agricultural Extension Agents in Kenya; Implications for Curriculum Development Mary C. Lopokoiyit Department of Agricultural Education and Extension, Egerton University Kenya
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION <ul><li>Agriculture, the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, currently contributes 26 per cent of the GDP directly and another 25 per cent indirectly (GoK, 2010). </li></ul><ul><li>Vision 2030 has identified agriculture as one of the key sectors to deliver the 10 per cent annual economic growth rate envisaged under the economic pillar. </li></ul><ul><li>To achieve this growth, transforming smallholder agriculture from subsistence to an innovative, commercially oriented and modern agricultural sector is critical (GOK, 2010). </li></ul>
  3. 3. PREMISE OF THE STUDY <ul><li>To achieve this, extension personnel need to develop a new philosophy and a paradigm shift where their role is to empower farmers and rural communities </li></ul><ul><li>Develop convergent points or platforms for solving local problems and mobilizing human and financial resources for sustainable development </li></ul><ul><li>E xtension professional competencies are non-technical competencies required of extension agents to effectively carry out extension work and increase personal effectiveness such as communication, interpersonal skills, leadership and management . </li></ul>
  4. 4. OBJECTIVE <ul><li>This study was designed to identify extension professional training needs of agricultural extension personnel in Kenya in light of changing trends in agriculture production, extension strategies and environmental concerns that have implications on the way extension workers are trained. </li></ul>
  5. 5. HYPOTHESIS <ul><li>There is no statistically significant difference in the professional training needs of extension agents in the public and private extension service. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no statistically significant difference in the professional training needs of Frontline Extension Workers (FEW) and Subject Matter Specialists (SMS). </li></ul>
  6. 6. POPULATION AND SAMPLING <ul><li>The study involved multistage sampling, first through purposive sampling of nine districts and private extension organizations and secondly, of 5,100 staff in the districts under the ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of Livestock Development (MoLDF) and private extension organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>A total of 440 extension agents were sampled, 325 from the public sector and 115 from the private extension service. </li></ul>
  7. 8. RESEARCH MODEL <ul><li>The study used Borich’s Needs Discrepancy Model (1980) that effectively lends itself to the standard survey questionnaire . </li></ul><ul><li>According to Joerger (2002), Borich’s model can be used to compare training needs within and between different groups by subjecting the MWDS to further analyses. </li></ul><ul><li>Educational Need = ( I - K  I ) + ( ( I - O )  I) / 2 </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Where; </li></ul><ul><li>I, is the importance score, </li></ul><ul><li>K, the knowledge score and </li></ul><ul><li>O, the opportunity of use score. </li></ul>
  8. 9. FINDINGS <ul><li>The majority of extension staff were in their mid career stage </li></ul><ul><li>Mean age: 42.21 years ( σ = 8.124). </li></ul><ul><li>The number of years worked: less than one year to 34 years with a mean of 16.13 years ( σ = 9.289). </li></ul><ul><li>The respondents had hardly changed employment </li></ul><ul><li>Mean = 0.62; ( σ = 1.268) and could be attributed to depressed employment opportunities in the agricultural sector and loyalty to their respective employers. </li></ul>
  9. 10. FEW : Frontline Extension Worker SMS : Subject Matter Specialists Category of respondent and Qualification Category Qualification f % FEW Diploma 271 61.6 SMS 169 38.4 Degree 128 29.1 Masters 37 8.4 PhD 4 0.9 Total 440 100.0
  10. 11. Extension Professional Competencies MWDS Management Skills 5.15 Communication and information technology courses 5.02 Instructional Skills 4.79 Cross-cutting issues 4.45 Leadership competencies 4.23 Overall mean score 4.73
  11. 12. Training Needs in Communication and Information Technology <ul><li>The MWDS for the Public sector were higher than for the Private sector indicating higher ranked training needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant differences: Using internet, email and electronic communication, Computer literacy and Data/information management. </li></ul><ul><li>The MWDS were lower for SMS as opposed to FEWs. Significant differences: Using internet, email and electronic communication and Computer literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Grant proposals was also rated highly for both the Public and Private sector but the differences were not significant </li></ul>
  12. 13. Training Needs in Leadership Skills <ul><li>There were no significant differences between the MWDS ratings of Leadership competencies for both the Public and Private sector and between FEW and SMS. </li></ul><ul><li>The relatively high MWDS ratings imply that training in these competencies should be prioritized </li></ul>
  13. 14. Training Needs in Management skills <ul><li>The mean MWDS ratings for the Public sector were higher than that of the Private sector. </li></ul><ul><li>The high MWDS obtained indicated a high training need across all the management competencies. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant difference: Strategic planning </li></ul><ul><li>FEW had greater training needs expressed across most management competencies and there were no significant differences between FEW and SMS. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Training Needs in Instructional skills <ul><li>The training needs were higher for the Public sector than for the Private sector. </li></ul><ul><li>Significantly different; Preparing TV/radio educational programs , Questioning/feedback skills, Group dynamics/psychology , Teaching methods, Determine learning objectives , and Evaluating learning. </li></ul><ul><li>FEWs expressed higher training needs than SMS except in Facilitation skills although it was not significant. </li></ul><ul><li>Significantly different: Preparing audio/visual materials </li></ul>
  15. 16. Training Needs in Cross-cutting Issues <ul><li>The Public sector expressed higher training need than the Private sector as indicated by the Mean MWDS. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant differences: Home/cottage industry, Micro-finance, Appropriate technology , and Human rights </li></ul><ul><li>No significant differences in MWDS of FEW and SMS on Cross-cutting issues. </li></ul><ul><li>The similar MWDS means show that the both groups of respondents considered cross-cutting issues of equal importance and ought to incorporated in the curricula. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Respondents’ Suggestions Competency Frequency Percentage of 440 Project proposal writing 385 87.5 Gender and economic empowerment 363 82.5 Presentation and communication skills 344 78.2 Sustainable agriculture 307 69.8 Disaster management 298 67.7 HIV/AIDS 294 66.8 Gender issues 287 65.2
  17. 18. CONCLUSIONS <ul><li>The extension agent is no longer restricted to technical agricultural competencies but also to the wider context of agriculture. </li></ul><ul><li>All the professional competencies had positive MWDS indicating that they were all relevant and required for effective extension work. </li></ul><ul><li>The training needs expressed points to a need for further analysis in terms of content depth, scope, teaching methodology </li></ul><ul><li>These competencies cannot be acquired in a single course but requires that they be developed through continued use of the skill throughout undergraduate agriculture curricula. </li></ul><ul><li>The differences in training needs between FEW and SMS should be used to design appropriate in-service training programs </li></ul>
  18. 19. RECOMMENDATIONS <ul><li>The following courses ought to be emphasized, integrated and prioritised in the undergraduate agricultural curricula and in the design of in-service staff development courses. </li></ul><ul><li>Communication and ICT </li></ul><ul><li>Extension education </li></ul><ul><li>Extension management </li></ul><ul><li>Agricultural Economics and </li></ul><ul><li>Agricultural Engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-cutting issues </li></ul>
  19. 20. THANK YOU!

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