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Education for Rural People 6 Years Later. David Acker Professor and Associate Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Iowa State University, USA November 28, 2007 Rome. Purpose. Present a global synthesis of lessons learned since the launch of Education for Rural People in 2002.

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education for rural people 6 years later

Education for Rural People6 Years Later

David Acker

Professor and Associate Dean

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Iowa State University, USA

November 28, 2007



Present a global synthesis of lessons learned since the launch of Education for Rural People in 2002


Education for Rural People:

What have we learned?

Acker & Gasperini

Journal of International Agricultural

and Extension Education

Spring 2008

what is education for rural people
What is Education for Rural People?
  • ERP: dedicated to bringing about transformation of rural communities through capacity building of rural people.
  • Worldwide call to action focusing on education for rural-based children, youth, and adults through formal and non-formal education.
erp objectives
ERP Objectives
  • Improving:
    • access to basic education for rural people
    • quality of basic education in rural areas
    • national capacity to implement education programs to address learning needs of rural people
  • Overcoming the urban/rural education gap
erp a rich resource collection
ERP: A Rich Resource Collection
  • 33 books and conference proceedings
  • 57 virtual publications
  • 7 published articles
  • 8 newsletters
  • 3 theses
  • 93 featured activities
  • ERP Toolkits

1990: Education For All Declaration and Plan of Action led by UNESCO in Jomtien, Thailand

  • 2000: World Education Forum, Dakar, Senegal
    • early childhood development
    • literacy education
    • girls education
    • education in emergency situations
    • school health
    • aids, schools and health
    • teachers and quality of education
    • education and disability
    • education for rural people
  • 2002: ERP launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, Johannesburg
  • The majority of poor, food insecure, illiterate adults, and out of school children live in rural areas and suffer from inequitable access to schools, health care, roads, technology, institutional support and markets.
  • Addressing the educational needs of this "neglected majority" directly contributes to achieving the MDGs

Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO

erp contributes to mdgs
ERP Contributes to MDGs:
  • 1: Eradicating extreme poverty & hunger
  • 2: Achieving universal primary education
  • 3: Promoting gender equity, empowering women
  • 7: Ensuring environmental sustainability
erp implementation
ERP Implementation
  • Policy formation through informed dialogue
  • Participatory processes to involve stakeholders
  • Decentralization of educational services
  • Multi-sectoral approaches to rural development
  • Opportunities for donor support
  • Educational management


(including IIEP, etc)










NGOs and

civil society

12 Challenges

12 Lessons


12 Examples

access to education
Access to Education

Challenge # 1

  • Senior level government representatives from 11 African countries reiterated the need to address the gross inequalities that marginalize rural people
  • Fees and other costs
  • Distance to schools
access to education15
Access to Education

Lesson # 1

  • School attendance in rural areas has improved significantly since 1999 primarily due to:
    • Removal or reduction of school fees
    • Free access to learning materials
    • School construction
  • 1999 to 2004: primary school enrolments
    • 27% increase in Sub-Saharan Africa
    • 19% increase in South and West Asia

UNESCO, 2007


Example # 1

Access to Education

  • Education for Rural Adults
    • Farmer Field Schools
      • Farmers play an active role in determining training content and in managing training events
quality of education
Quality of education available in rural areas lags behind urban areas

Quality remains a critical foundational aspect of any advance in ERP

Atchoarena and Gasperini, 2003

Quality depends on







links to community

Quality of Education

Challenge # 2

quality of education18
Critically important link between quality and relevance, vital to increasing the appeal and utility of education for rural people.

Contextualized learning allows students to study and solve real-life problems and to acquire life skills

Quality of Education

Lesson # 2


Example # 2

Quality of Education

  • Relevance of learning through school gardening programs
flexibility local autonomy
Flexibility & Local Autonomy

Challenge # 3

  • Centralized curriculum development
  • Rigid implementation of curriculum
  • Lack of community involvement leads to disenfranchisement
flexibility local autonomy21
Flexibility & Local Autonomy

Lesson # 3

  • Systems that combine national curricular standards with some local content determined through community input processes have proven successful.
  • Flexibility in academic schedules to accommodate weather, cropping patterns and the movement of nomadic people.
flexibility local autonomy22
Flexibility & Local Autonomy

Example # 3

  • In Thailand, for example, as much as 40% of the curriculum was permitted to be based on community and local needs


parent community involvement
Parent & Community Involvement

Challenge # 4

  • Schools are often viewed as impenetrable institutions belonging to the central government
parent community involvement24
Parent & Community Involvement

Lesson # 4

  • Parental and community involvement are key to successful and sustainable schools
  • Participatory and community-based approaches have helped to increase educational access and to increase community ownership of schools (FAO/UNESCO/IIEP, 2006).
  • Rural families need to see that the education their children receive is relevant.
parent community involvement25
Parent–teacher organizations has a significant impact on resources available to the school

Improved monitoring of quality, relevance

School lunch programs

Parent & Community Involvement

Example # 4

g ender responsive environments
Gender Responsive Environments

Lesson # 5

  • Flexible timetables to accommodate peak labor demand for girls and adult women
  • Well-supervised boarding facilities safeguard female children
  • School meals for all children
  • Take-home rations for female children to compensate for the labor lost when they attend school


gender responsive environments28
Gender Responsive Environments

Example # 5

  • Half-day long farmer training short courses geared toward women that have responsibilities at home.
organizational efficiency
Organizational Efficiency

Challenge # 6

  • No single institution can provide all educational services for rural people
  • ERP must be approached systemically
organizational efficiency30
Organizational Efficiency

Lesson # 6

  • Coordination among extension, schools, non-governmental organizations and the private sector is essential for optimal efficiency
organizational efficiency31
Organizational Efficiency

Example # 6

  • Rural-based agricultural extension officers are a valuable resource:
    • presentations in their subject area at schools
    • conducting adult education classes
    • organizing farmer field schools with both technical and basic education
  • Rural-based teachers, if trained in the specific technical subjects, can support extension programs during off hours
non traditional learners
Non-traditional Learners

Challenge # 7

  • refugees and displaced persons
  • people in inaccessible and remote areas
  • nomadic and pastoral communities
  • out-of-school youth
  • disabled persons
  • ethnic minorities
  • retired child soldiers
  • working children
non traditional learners33
Non-traditional Learners

Lesson # 7

  • Need for multiple educational safety nets to ensure higher participation rates
  • Functional adult literacy and alternative basic education programs for those who did not have the opportunity to pursue education earlier in life
non traditional learners34
Integrated Intergenerational Literacy Project in Northwest Uganda

Emphasis on both formal literacy and the development of survival skills across all age groups.

Non-traditional Learners

Example # 7

UNESCO Institute of Life Long Learning

skills training for rural people36
Skills Training for Rural People

Lesson # 8

  • Life skills
  • Food production skills
  • Self-employment skills
  • Appropriate non-formal skills training for adults and school drop-outs can permit rural people to diversify their skills for a more secure livelihood and greater resiliency during times of stress


skills training for rural people37
Skills Training for Rural People

Example # 8

  • Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools in Mozambique that deal with agricultural as well as life skills development among young rural citizens


redefining agricultural education
Redefining Agricultural Education

Challenge # 9

  • Agricultural education: sharply focused on the preparation of people for on-farm employment and public sector positions
redefining agricultural education39
Redefining Agricultural Education

Lesson # 9

  • Crowder, Lindley, Bruening and Doron (1999) redefined traditional agricultural education
  • Agricultural education must reflect changes taking place in rural areas:
    • technology changes
    • global supply chains
    • health challenges
    • on- and off-farm employment
    • global environmental changes
    • entrepreneurship and small enterprise development
redefining agricultural education40
Redefining Agricultural Education

Example # 9

  • EARTH University in Costa Rica
  • Four pillars:
    • Social Commitment
    • Environmental Awareness
    • Entrepreneurial Mentality
    • Development of Human Values
teachers and extension staff
Teachers and Extension Staff

Challenge # 10

  • Recruitment and retention of rural teachers and extension staff present significant challenges
teachers and extension staff42
Teachers and Extension Staff

Lesson # 10

  • Recruitment practices
    • by attracting prospective teachers and extension workers who are originally from rural areas
  • More attractive deployment policies:
    • bonuses and higher salaries
    • loan forgiveness
    • provision of subsidized housing
    • access to better health care
    • posting newly qualified staff in pairs
    • establishment of career progression options
teachers and extension staff43
Teachers and Extension Staff

Example # 10

  • Malaysia: a package of incentives including a piece of land and training in agriculture was used to encourage teachers to stay in rural areas.
  • Lao PDR: profit sharing in school-based income-generating activities is allowed
    • both students and teachers benefit financially



Challenge # 11

  • School facilities represent a significant public investment in rural areas

Lesson # 11

  • School building use optimized through double shift classes and for after-hours adult education
  • Satellite schools for the youngest children from remote areas
  • ICT has potential for us in rural areas

Example # 11

XO Computer

effective pro rural policies
Effective Pro-rural Policies

Challenge # 12

  • Motivating major changes in policy and resource allocation to favor rural citizens is difficult to achieve due to the absence of powerful political forces that advocate for rural people.
effective pro rural policies48
Effective Pro-rural Policies

Lesson # 12

  • National policies and strategies that effectively address ERP recognize the diversity of needs of rural people
    • agro-ecological and geographic differences
    • socio-economic and cultural differences


effective pro rural policies49
Effective Pro-rural Policies

Example # 12

  • A strategy for Education for Rural People in Kosovo: 2004 - 2009
what will success look like
What Will Success Look Like?
  • A systemic needs-based approach that fosters education (including extension) by expanding access and improving quality for all children, youth and adults.
  • Rural people engaged in knowledge-based economies
  • Rural people prepared to learn in order to adapt to globalization, climate change, and other forces
action at the national level
National people-centered and rights-based and justice-oriented strategies and sustainable rural livelihoods approaches

Given an unequivocal association between primary education for rural people and food security, strong multi-sectoral cooperation is required.

Action at the National Level

Burchi and De Muro, 2007

action at the international level
Action at the International Level
  • ERP needs to become a commitment of all UN agencies and plans, bilateral donors, NGOs, private sector and others.
  • ERP is a complement to programs in food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable natural resources management and could be combined with such programs to increase efficiency.
action role of donors
Action: Role of Donors
  • Investments in the educational aspects of agriculture and rural development are needed.
  • Donor coordination at the national level can be improved by agreeing on an overall vision with governments, by coordinating separate funding streams and through regular monitoring and dialog.
  • Leadership from regional and international granting and lending organizations will be essential for those countries committed to elevating the education levels of their rural citizens.