The State of Institutionalization of Field Schools in Eastern Africa
The Farmer Field Schools have been implemented in Eastern Africa for over two decades. This is a participatory approach to extension, which gives the farmer an opportunity to make a choice in methods of production through discovery-based learning. The method borrows heavily from the age-old dictum that people usually remember 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they see and 80% of what they discover for themselves. The FFS is best described as the “Schools without walls”. The focus of FFS is the field. One farmer (the host) in the group usually offers land for use as the school, in some cases; the group hires a piece of land for the same.
Originally applied among farmers thus labelled Farmer Field Schools (FFS) the approach has lately been applied in a large variety of contexts and among various target groups thus a number of adaptations of the approach. These include the Pastoralist Field Schools (PFS), Farm Forestry Field Schools (FFS), Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS), Fisheries Field Schools (FFS), Agrobiodiversity Field Schools (Agbd-FS), Climate Field Schools (CFS) etc. The general term adopted in reference to these methodologies is Field Schools.
FAO Resilience team in Eastern Africa has been implementing the project “Institutionalization of Field Schools in Eastern Africa”. The project goal is to contribute to increased capacity of vulnerable farmers and agro pastoralists to enhance their livelihoods and productive capacity. The project had two intended outcomes namely a) Knowledge sharing and peer networking and b) Enhanced levels of institutionalization of FS particularly in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Two years down the line, the project achieved the following outcomes.
- A fully functional Eastern Africa Field School knowledge hub has been established and a long term strategy developed in readiness for the post-project phase set-up.
- Guidelines and training tools development collaboration with FAO HQ have led to progress on development of Field School (FS) training materials on agro-biodiversity, Livestock and good practices.
- Mapping of FS interventions undergoing in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Tanzania
- Successfully held FS national sharing events held in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.
- Formation of the Kenya Field School coordination unit (KFSCU) in Kenya the National Field school coordination task force Ethiopia.
- The FS coordination platforms initiated in Ethiopia and Kenya are multi-sectoral and anchored within the relevant line ministries.
- Support in the development of FS Master Training learning material in conjunction with the IGAD-Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (ISTVS) in Somaliland
- Sensitization of the FS methodology has been undertaken in Makerere, Busitema, Kyambogo, Uganda Christian Universities and Bukalasa Agricultural college in Uganda and Hawasa University in Ethiopia with positive response and need to institutionalize.
- In Kenya, Pwani University has fully institutionalized the methodology in its degree, diploma and certificate courses. The programme will be rolled out to new undergraduates as from the year 2018.
- Core reference material for learning institutions was developed by FS Master trainers in collaboration with IIRR and this is completed and about to be published soon.
The beneficiaries of this project have been:
Governments: Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan have benefitted directly through the various consultations and meetings.
- FS actors: local and international implementing actors such as JICA, CABI, CARE, NRC, DIG and ACTED have benefitted from the abundant FS materials
- Institutions: ISTVS in Somaliland, Pwani University in Kenya. Other universities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda have also been supported with the basics for designing FS extension programmes
- The global FFS website – supported by the project and online since June 2016, a broad range of International and national private development partners and stakeholders. Refer to http://www.fao.org/farmer-field-schools/en/
A key milestone for this project was the hosting of a regional sharing event for all Field school practitioners and governments within Eastern Africa in Kigali, Rwanda on the 29-30th November 2017. This event culminated in the roll-out of a regional platform dubbed the Field School Community of Practice. This was later renamed to the Eastern Africa Field Schools Hub. The Eastern Africa Field Schools Hub is “a centre of excellence for Field Schools implementation and quality control.” It was launched on 30th May 2018 in Entebbe, Uganda. Currently the hub is hosted by the Africa Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) www.afaas-africa.org , and is implemented in 11 countries namely Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The overall goal is to contribute to increased capacity of vulnerable farmers and agro pastoralists to enhance their livelihoods and productive capacity.
The specific mandates are –
- Institutionalization of the FS methodology
- Incubation of FS best practices
- Policy dialogue and advocacy
- Quality control of the FS learning process
- Knowledge sharing and dissemination
- Accreditation and validation of trainers
- Partnerships and resource mobilization
- Monitoring and evaluation
The Field Schools hub web repository can be accessed at www.eafieldschools.net . The Field Schools Hub conducts Field Schools webinars via Zoom, every Wednesday from 10 -11 am East African time. The following social media links are available:
For more information on the Eastern Africa Field Schools Hub, please contact:
Mr. Max Olupot
Partnerships, Planning and Learning Specialist & EA Field Schools Hub, Coordinator
African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services
House No 26, Kigobe Road, Ntinda, Ministers’ Village. P.O Box 34624, Kampala
Tel. +256 782- 848225/ +256-758-848225