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World's top teacher roots for teaching practical agriculture

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 9th March 2020 11:41 PM

Currently, the agriculture sector contributes 24% of the national GDP, employs over 60% of the population and contributes 52% of the total exports earnings.

World's top teacher roots for teaching practical agriculture

Peter Tabichi talking to students of Gayaza High School. (Photo by Joseph Senyondo)

Currently, the agriculture sector contributes 24% of the national GDP, employs over 60% of the population and contributes 52% of the total exports earnings.

The world's top teacher for 2019 Peter Tabichi from Kenya has applauded Gayaza Girl's High School for the efforts to promote the teaching of practical agriculture which he says has the capacity to produce enough food and create more jobs for the youth.

Currently, the agriculture sector contributes 24% of the national GDP, employs over 60% of the population and contributes 52% of the total exports earnings.

Speaking to teachers and students about the importance of agricultural education and training, and how to ensure its quality Tabichi encouraged the student members of the Gayaza Youth Future Farmers Africa Club to acquire as many agricultural skills as possible while still in school.

"This will make you better leaders in the future and will enable you to ensure food security and income generation for your communities," Tabichi says.

Tabichi who is the winner of the $1m Global Teacher Prize asked teachers to dedicate as much time as possible to their students and to take their education much further than what is strictly required of them by the curriculum. 

Agricultural teachers need to go about their job in a practical manner, if they want to deliver quality work," Tabichi says.

  eter abichi harvesting atooke at ayaza igh chool hoto by oseph enyondo                     Peter Tabichi harvesting Matooke at Gayaza High School. (Photo by Joseph Senyondo)

An outspoken advocate of quality agricultural education, Tabichi recognizes the great potential the agriculture sector has for both work opportunities and food security.

The 38-year-old teaches sciences at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Kenya, and trains his students - and the school's community - on how to grow a wide range of crops, and plants trees in fighting climate change.

"Being a good teacher also means you have to engage students to the fullest, give them reasons to do something and do it well. Then, they can apply what they learnt in collaboration with, and to the benefit of, their communities." Tabichi says.

At Gayaza High School Tabichi was flanked by Maina Gioko the Global Teacher Prize finalist and staff from VVOB education for development.  They visited the school farm and took lessons in crop production and enhanced nutrition for dairy animals experiencing the practical skilling that the girls at the school receive.

"We need to bring that real world of work into the classroom, and the classroom into the real world. This will give students hope for their future", Tabichi says.

The two teachers were introduced to milking cows for the first time using both hand and machine milking. 

Peter Tabichi is an inspiration and example of a teacher who managed to unlock the potential of his pupils, pushing them to achieve things they never thought possible.

In Uganda delivering agricultural lessons practically is still a challenge in many schools due to lack facilities like enough land and equipment, and in some schools with land, the farms are lying idle.

Currently, a few schools like Gayaza High School have made a mark in promoting agriculture among young people by offering on the farm skilling practical lessons to all its students.

At Gayaza, each student is involved in agriculture with an emphasis on value addition and agribusiness.

 abichi was introduced to milking cows for the first time using both hand and machine milking hoto by oseph enyondo Tabichi was introduced to milking cows for the first time using both hand and machine milking. (Photo by Joseph Senyondo)

Gayaza has made this possible with funding from Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD), under the VVOB programme: From Classroom to Land: Teaching Agriculture Practically (TAP) program. 

"Moving the teaching of agriculture from the classroom to the farm and strengthening the competencies and 21st-century skills are building blocks of the programme, well-aligned with the priorities for the new curriculum," says Ronald Ddungu, education advisor for VVOB.

The program aims at strengthening education systems globally, and the Skilling Sector in Uganda in particular. 

"This is an example of the practical engagement in agricultural skilling that VVOB would like to extend to teacher trainers and teacher practitioners in Uganda," says Ronald Ddungu, education advisor for VVOB.

According to VVOB's Programme Manager Toon De Bruyn, young people in Uganda rarely complete lower secondary-level agricultural or certificate-level agricultural business, technical and vocational education and training (BTVET) with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to succeed. 

A three-year program worth €2.5m is being implemented in the National Instructors' College Abilonino in Lira and the National Teachers Colleges of Mubende and Unyama.

"We invest in developing teachers that are ready to lead the move from subsistence farming towards entrepreneurial and innovative farming. The education sector has a critical role in this, and teachers hold the keys to unlock this potential," De Bruyn says.

Under the program, Agricultural lecturers from these colleges are being equipped with entrepreneurial skills, continuous school practice, and development of farm crop and farm livestock. 

 The colleges' farmland is developed into productive units that will help generate income, where entrepreneurial skills are demonstrated.

"These colleges are set on delivering new teachers that teach agriculture to secondary students in a way that upholds the three principles of TAP, practice, internship and entrepreneurship," De Bruyn says.

 abichi and aina ioka posing for a photo with  and  lecturershoto by oseph enyondo Tabichi and Maina Gioka posing for a photo with NTC and NICA lecturers. (Photo by Joseph Senyondo)

In the spirit of ‘practice what you preach', lecturers at the NTCs and NICA student agriculture teachers are deeply involved in the maintenance of their institutions' school farms or build their competences at industrial training sites across the agribusiness ecosystem.

Also, student agriculture teachers at these partner colleges are also required to dedicate a valuable amount of time to teaching at practice schools, under support-supervision by their lecturers. 

Agricultural Education and Training (AET) is an important pillar in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing individuals with the mindsets and skills needed to participate and succeed in entrepreneurial activities.

According to experts the long-term growth and development of the agricultural sector is secure once its human resource takes farming as a vocation and business.

The former Minister of Agriculture, Victoria Sekitoleko says schools should be centers of excellence for agriculture since Uganda is an agrarian economy.

"Children need to be educated about agriculture. School children must have skills to transform this sector and develop this country," Sekitoleko says.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) agricultural courses usually are and should be the most meaningful and interesting courses in the public schools for many, and perhaps most, rural schools.

This can only be done if lessons are made practical than theoretical. 

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