Emergence of Traditional Women Goat Rearers to a Corporate Company: The Role of Open and Distance Learning and Life Long Learning Programme

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Fostering Lifelong Learning // Learning needs of the farming community is massive but the opportunities available to address the needs are limited. Farming practices are changing very fast due to multiple reasons like climate crisis, globalization, and demands from the markets, technology advancements etc., hence the farmers learning needs are changing fast. Increasing use of mobile phones, higher penetration rate in rural India and advantages of Mobile Learning made mobile phones an effective learning tool particularly among the women farmers whose mobility and opportunities for learning is restricted due to various socio economic and cultural factors. In the year 2009 around 300 women goat rearers who are members of Self Help Groups received credit from a commercial bank for buying goats, the trust and credibility strengthened the bond and helped the women to receive continuous credit support. For better management of goat rearing and to ensure profit these women showed interest to learn about improved management practices. To meet the demands of the women goat rarers Vidiyal an NGO and Vidivelli a Community Based Organization together introduced mobile based Life long learning for Farmers (L3F) programme with the support of Commonwealth of Learning. The lessons were disseminated through simple button phones as voice messages on daily basis. With the support of the National Bank for Agriculture and Development around 2500 women goat rearers came together in 2014 and registered a Farmers Producer Organization (FPO) called ‘Theni Women Goat rearers Producer Company’. Now the company is managed by a set of women goat rearers, it has provided dividend to its shareholders for the last four years. The company is emerging as a model in the region, other 12 such FPOs in the region are now joined with this and created a consortium of FPOs for mutual learning and to leverage the scale in the business. // The paper will discuss in detail about the characteristics of the learners, learning needs of the farmers, pedagogical approach adopted, learning outcomes, access and experiences of mobile phones for learning, gender constrains etc. It will also discuss about the FPOs management, how the women farmers become corporate literates and managing the company successfully. // Paper ID 5619

Gender,Agriculture,Mobile Learning (mLearning),ICT in Agriculture,Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Lifelong Learning