Investigating an agricultural extension training program from an adult education perspective in Oromia Region, Ethiopia : an exploratory case study.
The agricultural extension package program is initiated by the government of Ethiopia. It is initiated to reduce poverty and bring development in the country. The basic underpinning principle of this program is that, if the productivity of the farmer is increased, on the one hand it is possible to bring sustainable development in Ethiopia and on the other hand it will help to get the raw material for the industry and reduce the migration of the work force from rural to urban areas. Agriculture is the source of livelihood for over 80% of the population and the majority of the poor live in rural areas. About 59.5% of the population is illiterate. The government gives overriding primacy to the welfare of rural populace. Agriculture is also believed to be a potential source to generate primary surplus to fuel the growth of other sectors of the economy. The main feature of the target group is that majority of them are illiterate and their mode of production is subsistence. Of the many kinds of intervention to bring development; educating the society is the major one. Indeed the government offers training to the subsistence farmers with the intention of enhancing their productivity via development agents. DAs are there to facilitate empowerment of the farmers, lead the process of technology transfer and change the attitude of farmers. DAs work with subsistence farmers to introduce the modern system of farm and farm related activities. To do so a series of teaching - learning processes are evident in the program. The purpose of the study is to see the kind of teaching - learning processes that are evident in the program and to see how the principles and theories of adult education relate to the program. Thus, the research tries to explore the learning approaches and practices evident in the extension package program, the perception of DAs and farmers about the training and the actual and potential role of literacy in an agricultural extension program. The research adopts an interpretivist paradigm and some aspects of critical paradigm to understand the data and the context. It is qualitative in nature. The study is conducted on a sample of 18 participants (15 farmers and 3 extension package workers). Semi structured interviews were conducted with three DAs, focus group discussions with twelve farmers, observation while the training was taking place in the field and document analysis to get factual information. The research results are reported in the form of discussion and findings. Indeed it is revealed that farmers are divided into two as the leader and follower farmers. Accordingly the types of training are divided into two as general and special training. Literacy ability of the farmers is one of the criteria to be eligible for special training. That resulted in the exclusion of the majority of farmers from the special training program.