Instructional Media Development for Nonformal Distance Learning: Factors Affecting the Adoption of Farming Messages by Poor Rural Men and Women Farmers

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // The constructive and transformative schools of learning have suggested that behaviour change is due to among other factors situated learning. A distance learning course team tested this idea over a long period of time from 1989 to 2004. The membership of the course team consisted of a radio broadcaster (the main researcher) crop and animal researchers, radio listening groups (RLG), poor women and men farmers, village chiefs and local extension officers. // This study aimed at assessing and identifying factors that may affect farmers’ adoption of agricultural and health knowledge and skills. To be able to do that, poor women and men farmers were organised in radio listening groups. The farmers groups conducted situational analysis: and documented in audiocassettes their knowledge, skills and issues; with crop growing and keeping animals, health and nutrition; that they were experiencing and which new knowledge could help to solve. // This documentation was transcribed, and disseminated to research scientists who were conducting research in agriculture, animal production, health and nutrition. The scientists answered farmers by writing papers on each issue that was raised. The knowledge papers were used to script radio programmes which were recorded and transmitted by the national broadcasting corporation at a time chosen by farmers which was synchronous distance education. // Radio Listening Groups received and discussed information contained in radio broadcasts, audiocassettes, booklets (written in local languages), and themselves. During group discussions, each individual farmer decided which messages to adapt, adopt and reject. This decision was recoded, transcribed and discussed by scientists and a few farmers groups. The farmers listening groups and radio forums had been tested in Canada, Ghana, India and many other countries and had succeeded as forums for information dissemination. This study extended the idea by testing information sources and their viability. // The hypothesis was that if the information in the radio programme was useful to the farmer, he or she shall adopt and implement the idea and skill. The second hypothesis was that if one group member adopted an idea, and the innovation worked, then other members would also adopt that successful idea and innovation. // Thus after the broadcast, the radio producer, research scientists and group members visited members who adopted the ideas from the radio and listening groups. The purpose was to observe the adoption and change in farming method. During the visit, the member was asked to describe the idea he or she had adopted and to explain the reasons for the adoption. The members who had not adopted the idea gave reasons for rejecting the idea. Group members and the research team recorded the group conversation in local language in audio and videocassettes. The recordings were transcribed by the research team; organised in script form and in book form by the radio producer. The radio script and booklet were reviewed by the content experts for accuracy of the information and radio listening groups for simplicity of language and cultural relevance. The radio programmes and booklets were pre-tested before broadcasting and printing. The radio programmes were evaluated using a second by second time scaling method by Professor Jon Baggerly, of Concordia University. // From the regular field observations and voices of poor rural women and men farmers, factors that determined adoption and rejection of farming and health messages were noted. This paper shall explain this natural non-formal distance learning study whose media materials and knowledge output are still currently being used and influencing farming practices in East Africa and other countries. // Paper ID 422