The GFRAS Consortium on Extension Education and Training started efforts to develop learning materials and/or reform curricula towards the new extensionist. The aim is develop the New Extensionist Learning Kit for self-directed learning. The draft introductory module to the new extensionist learning kit has been developed. In order to authenticate this module, GFRAS has embarked on journey to review it by involving some experts. Most importantly, by engaging some practitioners at the country level to test the module and solicit feedback from improving it. Ghana was selected as the first country to practically test the introductory module.
Championing the New Extensionist
Leveraging on the momentum of the Ghana Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services and Support (GFAASS), GFRAS, AFAAS and GFAASS with support from GIZ, convened a 4-day training (4-7 August) of some members of the CF on the concept of the New Extensionist. While the primary purpose was to test the introductory module, this training also served as a platform to expose the participants to the on-going global debate on the changing role of agricultural extension and advisory services, and how individuals, organisations, and systems could be better equipped to deal with the change. A total of 14 persons took part in the training, representing: Government national (6) and district assembly (2) levels; University (1), NGO and Farmer Organisation (2), Research Institute (1) as well as AFAAS (1) and GFRAS (1).
The course covered the following:
- Introduction to the New Vision for Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) within the Agricultural Innovation System (AIS)
- Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) Roles, Functions, and Reform Strategies in Agricultural Innovation Systems
- Capacity Development Levels in EAS based on FAO Framework for Capacity Development
- Range of Approaches to Support Capacity Development: Strengths and Challenges
The caliber of trainees, their commitment and quality of engagement
The majority of participants hold high positions on their organisations. For example, Directors, deputy directors (national and local assembly), Vice president FO Apex body, University head of department of Extension, NGO consultant (who has also been an interim chair for GFAASS), Senior Scientist, agricultural officers and program manager. The group brought with wealth of diverse real-life experiences and different viewpoints on the issues.
Given that the learning material was developed for self-directed learning, the training was very intense with participant required to do a lot of individual reading, individual activities, group activities and sharing of lessons learnt. With the level of commitment the participants exhibited, not only in their own learning; but also in providing quality feedback; one can say they are ‘true champions’.
The trainees have in one way another made individual commitments to be champions of the New Extensionist in their respective or activity areas. The picture above shows the trainees with the certificate of recognition they received at the end of the training.
By Hlamalani Ngwenya, Samson Echetu, and Gabriel Owusu