Students from African Universities Visit Earth University and Learn the Earth Model
Development of relevant research for sustainable agricultural systems is the ultimate goal of many development programs in Africa and other developing countries. As a learning point, the Earth University in Costa Rica has the “The Earth Model” which shapes its students as agents of change in agricultural research and development as they are trained to;
– Have ethical values in research and development
– Undertake entrepreneurship
– Have social commitment (passion in their work)
– Environmental consciousness.
– More practical than theory based change agents
These traits are also desirable in African universities and young professionals, if Africa is to move a step ahead in agricultural development. Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) made a bold step by letting 11 students from Makerere, Moi University, Chepkoilel College and Bunda College universities learn the Earth model in Costa Rica for 10 days (27th August – 8th September, 2012).
It was worth letting the students learn the Earth education model since they are all working and learning together with farmers in a Community Action Research Program (CARP) in their respective countries. In the CARP Fish Project (Malawi), its 4 students (Priscilla Nsandu, Lisungu Banda, Dalo Njera and Chimwemwe German) have improved their skills on how to learn together with fish farmers in Dowa and Mchinji. Students and fish farmers together are; testing best bet technologies (clear plastic sheeting of ponds, formulated feed, feeding trays, and improved fish strains), market analysis and organizational development for increased fish production and income.
If this model is applied in many African universities where learning is usually based on theory, it can help African universities to have competent graduates trained to support farmers and establish sustainable Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the agri-food value chains. The impacts of using the Earth Model are evident in Costa rica and other countries too by Earth students e.g. Margareth Divers brought solutions to sustainable horticulture production systems in her community in Haiti even before graduating. Its time for Africa and other developing countries to eliminate the production of theory biased graduands who are less relevant to the industry and communities. Who can wish to work with an all theory graduand?