Panel description: ODL for Agricultural Development and Rural Poverty Reduction - a presentation from the Commonwealth

Scott McLean, Faculty of Continuing Education, Univeristy of Calgary

Education and learning are widely recognized as essential to processes of development and poverty reduction in rural areas. In many developing countries, issues of educational access, equity, and quality have been identified as prerequisites to the achievement of development goals. Given the inadequacies of conventional systems of education, training, and agricultural extension, many developing countries have introduced innovative approaches to open and distance learning (ODL).

In 2000 and 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) surveyed the experiences of ODL for agriculture and rural development in low-income countries []. From this survey, the FAO argued that, to be effective in developing countries, ODL should:

Be undertaken for the right reasons;
Be sensitive to the context in which it is being applied;
Make use of existing infrastructure, with sustainable cost structures;
Engage stakeholders in participatory processes; and
Use sound pedagogical and administrative models.

In recent years, there have been numerous examples of institutions in developing countries using ODL strategies to address the challenges of agricultural development and rural poverty reduction. The purpose of this panel presentation at the Fourth Pan Commonwealth Forum is to compare lessons learned and recommendations derived from institutions across the Commonwealth, and to identify best practices suited to countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

This session involves between four and six papers based on the experiences of Commonwealth countries in different regions.

Names of the Members of the Panel:

Dr. Rajangam Durai, Director, TNAU in place of VC, TNAU, INDIA

Dr. Ralph von Kaufmann, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and International Livestock Research Institute, KENYA

Professor Uma Coomaraswamy, Consultant for Asian Development Bank for their projects on ODL initiatives in Sri Lanka and Coordinator for Life long learning programme – SRI LANKA (a joint initiative with COL)

Dr. Nowshad Khan, Allama Iqbal Open University, PAKISTAN

Mr. Jethro Greene, Chairman & Chief Coordinator, the Eastern Caribbean Trading Agriculture and Development Organisation (ECTAD)

Dr. Wale Adekunle, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), NIGERIA

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