Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has introduced a new curriculum for agriculture colleges to ensure enhanced agricultural production and do away with the rigid education system.
Speaking last Wednesday during the virtual launch of the Agriculture Education for Development Curricula (AE4D 5.0), Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka said a new education system was crucial for the fulfilment of the National Development Strategy 1 and attainment of Vision 2030.
He said farmers that benefitted under the land reform programme need extensive training to ensure productivity.
The new curriculum is expected to provide a practical, relevant, market-oriented and farmer-centred education system that provides hands-on experience and exposes students to modern farming practices and technologies. It also responds to emerging global trends in agriculture.
“Zimbabwe’s journey to 2030 is guided by the National Development Strategy 1. The Agriculture and Food System Transformation Strategy is an important component of NDS1. It seeks to transform lives and livelihoods. This must be propelled by a new education system.
“This is a historic day for our agricultural education transformation. Zimbabwe undertook a transformative land reform programme over 20 years ago and this ushered in 20 000 A2 farmers and 360 000 A1 farmers. Perhaps more than 90 percent of these categories of farmers needed and still need skills in this newly found occupation. Erratic rainfall driven by climate change, poor access to finance, logistic and storage problems, dislocated markets, a changing rural demography among other factors have led to perennially low productivity,” said Dr Masuka.
He said this has been compounded by a rigid education system that has not responded to the versatile requirements of the new breed of farmers from small holder, A1 small scale, A2 to large scale farmers. Agriculture colleges have continued to produce graduates ill-suited for this need. The transformation of Zimbabwe’s agricultural college education system is long overdue.”
Dr Masuku said in order to attain Vision 2030 there was need for a new education paradigm as agriculture was at the core of rural development and rural transformation to improve livelihoods.
He said the pre-occupation of agricultural colleges has been Agricultural Education 2.0 whose outputs were trainers and extensionists as it focused on honing training and extension skills.
Dr Masuka said the new Agricultural Education for Development (AE4D 5.0) focuses on five objectives which are training, business advisory, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
“I very much look forward to the new crop of our agriculture graduates as agents of transformation. Government is also seized with in service training of the existing cadre of extensionists so that they too can be sufficiently motorised for this exciting agricultural transformation,” he said.
The development of the new curriculum for Agricultural Education for Development was jointly spearheaded by the Government and the European Union-funded projects, Transforming Zimbabwe’s Animal Health and Food Safety Systems for the Future (SAFE) and Zimbabwe Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems (ZAKIS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement.
The implementation of the new curriculum is expected to transform the way agriculture colleges train students and in turn the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.
In an interview the Director of the Community Technology Development Organisation (CTDO) which is a member of the ZAKIS consortium Mr Andrew Muchita said they were in charge of coordinating the curriculum review process.
“As CTDO operating under the ZAKIS consortium we were responsible for the curriculum review process. We engaged consultants and looked into the existing curriculum to see what was lacking. We brought in a number of stakeholders that comprised various departments to look into the curriculum to see whether it was addressing needs of the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe. We also engaged experts such as lecturers who also gave us their input. After an extensive consultative process with various stakeholders we then compiled the curriculum.
We were constantly going back to stakeholders to get their input up until we came up with the draft which we then presented,” he said.
Speaking during the same launch European Union representative, Mr Martin Zhou said the curriculum responds to Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP’s) overarching objective to contribute to the development of a diversified and efficient agriculture sector that promotes inclusive green economic growth. He said its focus was on increasing profitability, building the capacity of farmers, service institutions and the private sector through increased investment, institutional reforms and policy alignment.
“This is part of the programme’s work to address the weaknesses and gaps in livestock value chains that have prevented the sector from increasing production and incomes to their potential. Focus will be on building the capacity of farmers, service institutions and private sector through increased investment, institutional reforms and policy alignment,” he said.
Mr Zhou said the roll-out of the curriculum will need to be supported with relevant capacitation of agricultural colleges, the teaching personnel and students in a manner that will ensure effective delivery of the new curriculum. — @DubeMatutu