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Strengths and weaknesses

The following strengths and weaknesses are perceptions of the professionalisation of RAS scoping study respondents.

Strengths of professionalising

  • Setting high standards to improve performance and deliver relevant services.
  • Job satisfaction (pride, recognition, practising without fear/interference, remuneration/awards, support from colleagues).

Weaknesses of professionalising

  • Disconnection from reality, advisors’ work too theoretical.
  • Work environment becomes discouraging, administrative burden, inability to practise with confidence.
  • Poor fit with diverse work and business environment of advisors, better suited to larger groups and service providers
  • Cost to beneficiaries (who are expected to pay for services rendered).

Best-fit considerations

When defining the preconditions for professionalisation of RAS, it is important to define the levels of professional membership and registration. There are no standard regulations on these, but each country needs to define these levels taking the specific context into consideration. The minimum qualifications required for extension and RAS professionalisation will differ. In South Africa, for example, the extension landscape recognises different levels of professional registration in agriculture (as a natural scientist) and in extension (as a professional extension scientist). These levels are necessary to redress the imbalances of the past: during apartheid, the majority of extensionists in South Africa were only able to enrol for a diploma qualification.

Some examples of membership levels in professionalised RAS of different countries are presented in Table 1.

Category  Membership level   
  1 2 3 4 5
Australia Ordinary member Student member Retired professional Life member Corporate member 
Ireland  Teagasc (all staff with degrees) Private consultant associations (all with degrees) Other advisors (some with degrees)    
Philippines Individual member Institutional members      
South Africa  Natural science: Prof. Nat. Sci. Cand. Nat. Sci. Cert. Nat. Sci.    
Extension science: Prof. Ext. Sci. Cand. Nat. Sci. Cert. Ext Tech Level A/B Cand. Ext. Tech. Level A/B Assoc. Ext. Tech.
USA Active member Student member