26 Nov 2014

A Detailed Overview on Need of Reforms in Agriculture Education for Entrepreneurship Development !

“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already existing in man”

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Education in present context largely aims at meeting global standard and making the student competent enough to face the challenges of global market. Education system in India has witnessed a substantial change in due course of time. In this era of globalization education is viewed as an instrument to develop cognitive qualities, tolerance and understanding of people, it should prepare younger generation to understand and face the realities of globalization. (Kulshestra, A.K. and Pandey, K. 2013)



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Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for over 80% rural poor in India. It employs about 52% of the labour force and contributes 14.4% to GDP and 10.23% of all exports. India achieved a spectacular growth rate in agriculture sector since 1966. Today India is self sufficient in most of the food grain despite of the population increase. The food grain production increased from 51 million tons in 1950 to about 245 million tons in 2011-12. All these revolutions have brought prosperity for many farmers. Many factors are responsible for this achievement and one of them is agriculture universities. Researches that were carried out by these universities, Agriculture graduates and scientists of the universities contributed significantly in bringing green revolution in the country. G.B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology was the first Agricultural University, in our country, established in the year 1960 and it is called harbinger of green revolution. It was set up with the vision where agriculture could be studied in a scientific way.
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At present there are 56 SAUs, five Deemed agriculture universities, one central agricultural university and four central universities with agriculture faculty. All these educational institutions are funded by ICAR, New Delhi. These institutions were established to produce confident and self motivated professionals that could generate employment not only for themselves but also for rural masses in field of agriculture. Agriculture universities impart education in various disciplines viz: agriculture, agriculture engineering, horticulture, forestry, veterinary and animal husbandry, dairy science, food tech, fisheries science, agribusiness management etc.

Recent data shows that over 11,900 graduates from agriculture and allied sector pass out every year. However only 2000 are able to find job in public and private sector, thus a reservoir of around 9,900 students are available for supporting the agriculture production process if viable business opportunities are available to them. But almost every graduate looks for a white-collar job preferably in public sector. Job opportunities in government sector are shrinking faster than the number of graduates coming out of educational institutions. According to an estimate (IAMR, 2001), 43% of the graduates and 23% of postgraduates (M.Sc.) find difficulty in accessing gainful employment.

One of the reasons for graduates’ unemployment seems to be lack of adaptability between graduates abilities and skills needed by labor and productive units (Shahbazi and Alibeigi, 2007). Lack of entrepreneurship skills among the agricultural students and graduates is another reason for unemployment in developing countries (Sabouhi, 2000). According to Zamani (2001), poor practical abilities of agricultural graduates, irrelevancy of university subjects and curricula with labor market needs, governmental limitations about providing opportunities of employment for agriculture graduates are some of the reason behind the deterioration of quality of agricultural education. As a result; it is becoming increasingly difficult for agricultural graduates to find jobs in the public sector. Consequently, graduates need to find employment in the private sector or be self-employed (Movahedi et al., 2011).
The future of agriculture relies on agriculture graduates. There is immediate need to assure the quality of agriculture education. Addressing the 11th Agriculture Science Congress at Bhubaneswar, Dr. S. Ayappan, Director General of ICAR, had emphasized on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture that has potential to make agriculture more attractive as career option to agriculture graduates. But the question arises here is that how these students can be made competent and skillful. So, that they can take entrepreneurship as their career option. These qualities can be inculcated in the students through the sincere efforts of the educators and by changing the curriculum and pattern of agricultural education.
Entrepreneurship as a solution
The development of any nation depends primarily on the important role played by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship on small scale is the only solution to the problems of unemployment, proper utilization of both human and non-human resources and improving the living conditions of the poor masses. During the last three decades, many countries of the world have experienced the need for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship development has been accepted as a strategy to achieve the twin objectives of promotion of entrepreneurship, particularly among the educated unemployed youth and also for rapid industrialization of the economy (Mali, 2000).

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If young people cannot secure employment and fall into long-term unemployment, they can suffer from a range of problems such as low self-esteem, diminished levels of wellbeing and isolation from peers. Entrepreneurship is seen as powerful tool to overcome the psychological impacts of long-term unemployment among youth. (Macaulay 2007).

In a country like India with vast population directly dependent on agriculture as their primary occupation, agricultural entrepreneurship paves a way towards enormous opportunity of youth involvement in economically sustainable livelihood options. Moreover, agricultural development is an important foundation for the economic development of any country and the agricultural sector is undoubtedly the prime area of concentration for economic progress. Today, entrepreneurship programs have extended to the secondary and primary levels of education and it has become the focus of discussion among many scholars.  They believe that the introduction of entrepreneurship programs to the children should be at the lower level of education. It would enhance children’s attributes and further develop awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities and skills to form entrepreneurial venture.  It was also argued and discussed that the introduction of entrepreneurship program to preschool years is a crucial stage of the children cognitive and personality development imperative to entrepreneurial development.

The world needs graduates who are innovative, dynamic, smart, daring, efficient, determined, modern and employable or in one word, entrepreneurial. Making graduates more employable is a global challenge and universities around the world are putting more emphasis to generate entrepreneurial capabilities in students. But still a proper strategy and database lacks in context of employment generation through entrepreneurship.

Agriculture, agro-industry and agri-business are identified as prime sector to provide high employment to youth (Planning Commission, 2004). In the past years, there has been a growing interest in undertaking and intensifying actions promoting and supporting the idea of entrepreneurship as an attractive alternative to employment among students. So government and ICAR also took initiatives to make Agriculture education more competitive and promote agricultural graduates to take entrepreneurship as future venture. Hence, several efforts have been initiated to promote entrepreneurship among students. These are:
a) Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centers: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, in association with NABARD launched Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centers in the year 2002 for providing expert advice to farmers and employment to agriculture graduates. The multi-disciplinary expertise available within the group of young entrepreneurs was expected to help them to serve farm families in a holistic manner. Agri-clinics are envisaged to provide expert services and advice to farmers on cropping practices, technology, dissemination, crop protection from pests and diseases, market trends and prices of various crops in the market, etc. Agri-business centers provide input supply, farm equipments on hire and other services. Under the scheme, unemployed agricultural graduates are provided training at designated training centers and successful candidates can later apply for loans to start their agri-clinics and business centers in any specified venture. The loan repayment period can vary between five to ten years depending on the activities.

b) Agricultural Experiential Learning Programme (AELP): ICAR has recommended a new initiative called “Agricultural Experiential Learning Programme” in the recently revised curriculum for the B.Sc. (Ag.) degree programme, which came for implementation from the academic year 2007-08. The primary aim of this initiative is to remove the weaknesses in the earlier higher agricultural education system and to develop a cadre of skilled professionals who can create their own enterprises. ICAR has supported the establishment of 351 Experiential Learning units. The vast network of agricultural universities and colleges can play a leading role in cultivating self-confidence and capabilities in the students required for taking up agriculture as a profession.

c) Revision of Course Curriculum by IV Deans’ Committee: A major exercise was undertaken for the first time for post-graduate course curricula and syllabi in 95 subjects of agriculture and allied sciences and the revised curricula and syllabi implemented in all agricultural universities. A radical change in the existing course curricula by infusing more entrepreneurship development and agribusiness, management related courses and practice sessions to apply the knowledge. The revised under-graduate course curricula as recommended by the IV Deans’ Committee constituted by the ICAR has also been adopted from academic session 2007-08 by all the agricultural universities across the country. This is greatly helping in making higher agricultural education more utilitarian and relevant in tune with the scientific and technological advancements and the demands of the country’s growing economy.

d) Rural Entrepreneurship and Awareness Development Yojana (READY): Rural Entrepreneurship and Awareness Development Yojana (READY) has been proposed in the XII Five-Year Plan. This programme has three components i.e. experiential learning programme (ELP), Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) and in-plant training. Main objectives of this programme are to promote professional skills, entrepreneurship and marketing skills and knowledge through grass root experiences among the youth for development in rural and allied sectors. This programme will help them acquire management capabilities for development of project and its execution. Aim of this programme is to make students ready with grass root level experience and entrepreneurial skills.

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It is expected that such efforts will bring professionalism and practical work experience in real life situations to students. In order to bring in high quality entrepreneurship skills and commercialization of technologies, Agri enterprises have to be established and run by the students But majority of agricultural graduates still don’t want to go for Agri entrepreneurship. So, the need of the hour is to equip agriculture graduates with confidence and potential to emerge as agricultural entrepreneurs. This is possible only if agriculture graduates realize agriculture as a potential profession and get skillful to take agriculture as a potential business opportunity. These qualities can be inculcated in the students through the sincere efforts of the educators.

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Educational Technology inculcating entrepreneurial and innovative behavior in University students through quality teaching

ICAR have initiated a project under which Educational Technology Cell are established in different SAUs. Although it is functional with different name in different agricultural universities but its main purpose is to modify instruction centric university to learner centric university. It is only possible when the faculty members are capable enough to address the requirement of the day ie; creating true learning situation in the classroom. The purpose behind Educational Technology Cell is to up-bring trained and committed educators in agriculture who have a vision of excellence in teaching with versatile pedagogical approaches that can produce more skillful and confident entrepreneurs.

Educational Technology Cell of GBPUA&T, Pantnagar: Functional units for quality education

The University has successfully initiated a dedicated unit to exclusively look into capacity building of university teachers and students around Educational Technology and Teaching Skills. The unit is running in the department of Agricultural Communication of College of Agriculture of the University, which is serving the University teachers nation-wide. Pantnagar has initiated short and long-term trainings of University Teachers to orient learning of students towards analysis and application of prevailing knowledge. Educational Technology Cell at Pantnagar brings stalwarts of Agricultural Education from across the country to mentor the participants of training programmes. These trainings have proved as an effective means for improving the capacity of university teachers in content management, inculcating versatile teaching methods in class room, integrating latest apps in classroom teaching, problem-based learning, project-based learning, self-assessment etc. Outcome of these efforts have been significant. Educational Technology Cell is also making continuous efforts for enhancement of employability and soft skills as well as learning behavior of University students. As a result the students are becoming capable enough to meet the global standards and competitive for the world market. ET Cell helps in cultivation of intelligence with dynamic equilibrium of scientific education and employability skills in students.

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Conclusion:

The future of agriculture relies on agriculture graduates and there is immense scope for them to be agriculture entrepreneur. These entrepreneurial qualities can be inculcated in the students through the sincere efforts of educators and by transforming agriculture curriculum according to current need. Educational Technology Cell has emerged as a platform that links agricultural education with entrepreneurship development.

What do you think about Indian agriculture educational and administrative systems? What reforms should happen for making it better and competent enough on the world level?

(Written by G.K. Arpana and Vibha Jantwal, pursuing M.Sc. at Department of Agricultural Communication, College of Agriculture GBPUA&T, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand)

References:

Kulshrestha, A.K and Pandey, K. (2013). Teachers training and professional competencies. Voice of Research, 1(4), 29-33.

Macaulay, F. 2007. Youth microenterprise and livelihoods: State of the field. In conference on Global Youth Microenterprise, Washington D. C. pp. 11-12.

Mali, D.D., 2000, Entrepreneurship through microfinance in North East India: A comprehensive review of existing literature. Information Management & Business Review. 4(4):168-184.

Movahedi R, Saadi H, Yaghoubi Farani A. 2011. Creating linkages between the labor market and agricultural higher education in Iran Strategies and mechanisms for partnership. Industry and higher education, 25(4): 307-317.

Sabouhi F. 2000. Surveying and analysis of unemployment reasons between graduates in Higher Education. Proceeding of need assessment projects on skilful human resources, institute of research and planning of higher education publishers, Tehran, Iran.

Shahbazi E, Ali-beigi A. 2006. The Required Competencies of Agricultural Graduates for Entering Job Market. Agricultural Extension and Education Science Journal, 2(1): 14-24.


Zamani GH. 2001. Knowledge and technology transfer, a case study: linkage between college and agriculture of Shiraz University and extension service in Fars province. Journal of Science and Technology of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4(4): 57-65.







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