Experiences in Implementing the Strengthening Agricultural and Environmental Capacities through Distance Education (SAEC-DE) Project

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // The “Strengthening Agricultural and Environmental Capacities through Distance Education (SAEC-DE), is a pilot distance education program being implemented by a consortium of partners; Makerere University - Uganda, University of Nairobi Kenya, University of Florida and CIAT and funded by USAID. The program was developed after realizing that the face-to-face mode predominantly used in SSA for training has increasingly been found to be inept to meet the diverse needs of the prospective clients (e.g. working class and remotely living students). The objectives of the program are to: (i) develop long term collaboration among universities in the North and South and CGIAR for joint capacity strengthening and mentoring of students (ii) demonstrate an alternative and complementary model for ICT-based MSc. training, (iii) increase capacity of individuals and institutions in relevant program and distance education, and (iv) advance distance education in partner institutions. // The program was phased into three phases, namely; testing, piloting and full implementation. The testing was done in Fall (Sept-Dec) of 2005, using 12 guest students Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to generate experiences to inform the piloting process. The Pilot phase was started in the spring of 2006 with four candidates that were recruited from the Universities of Nairobi, Makerere and Columbia in Environmental Soil Science and Agricultural Entomology. The content delivery is largely electronic complemented by multi-media products (e.g. CDs, books, lab kits) delivered by courier. In terms of research work, the students are at various stages with some having started addressing locally relevant issues under joint supervision of the universities professors and CGIAR researchers. // Based on the implementation so far, it can be deduced that distance education offers a viable alternative for lowering education costs, increasing professional retention and keeping trainees within their professional and home environments. This proposal seeks to provide a platform for sharing with stakeholders our experiences in implementing the Web-based ICT-based postgraduate training in agricultural and environmental education in the region that enhances exposures and motivates learners in intercultural platform. The platform will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share relevant lessons and experiences on Policies and programmes that enhance student learning, development of course content that are internationally appealing and conduct of locally relevant research. It is hoped that we will come out with the answer the question –What distance learning programmes and policies are requisite to produce a graduate that is locally relevant yet can favourably compete for the job market globally in the relevant agricultural fields? // Paper ID 472

Africa,Caribbean and Americas