MEd (EE), Rhodes University
Dissertation title: Investigating transformative cross-boundary and expansive social learning in Agricultural Education and Farmer Innovations in South Africa and Zimbabwe
The relevance of agricultural education and farmer training is under question considering that farmers are facing new challenges that are not being addressed by extension services. This PhD research seeks to understand the structural and cultural mechanisms that generate this status quo, in order to open up spaces for expanding learning of sustainability learning in Agricultural Colleges and University Faculties.
The two case studies in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Zimbabwe’s Midlands Provinces (including agricultural education systems) are exploring the place of improved and relevant agricultural water and locally adapted seed as expressions of self-sufficiency, reclamation of seed sovereignty and responses climate change and variability.
Agricultural education curricula are reviewed regularly in both countries. Despite the government’s 2008 review of agricultural education and training recommending integration of rainwater harvesting in South African agricultural colleges the process has not happened adequately. In Zimbabwe, despite the primary school curriculum explicitly including rainwater harvesting the agricultural colleges still mainly focus on irrigation which are out of reach for small-scale farmers, although they have adopted conservation farming. The colleges’ leadership and rainwater harvesting praxis can bring major transformations.
While the knowledge of rainwater harvesting exists among innovative farmers and in several books, agricultural educators still lack the practical knowledge, skills and experience. The approach of this research is to use cultural-historical activity theory and post-colonial thinking to uncover the contradictions in farming and extension education, in farmer innovation knowledge and the scientific knowledge of the colleges. It then uses this to support the agricultural educators, extension agents and farmers to collaboratively seek solutions across their boundaries to improving relevance of agricultural education, farmer training and extension. Critical realist analysis is helping to make sense of the absences and generative mechanisms at play.
This study will contribute to national agricultural education policy, agricultural education and environment & sustainability education. The support of the South African Water Research Commission and the Southern Africa-Netherlands Partnership for Academic Development is acknowledged.
Keywords: sustainable farmer innovations; agricultural education; postcolonial curriculum; expansive social learning; praxis
Supervisor: Prof. Heila Sisitka
Co-supervisors: Prof Rob O’Donoghue; Prof Arjen Wals
Last Modified: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 15:16:05 SAST