What is SBAE?

What is SBAE?

School-based agricultural education (SBAE) is a 100-year-old, cost-effective system of delivering agricultural innovations, guided by an experiential learning model, in non-dormitory, post-primary schools.  SBAE encompasses the theoretical foundations of four different bodies of knowledge – diffusion of innovations, experiential learning, positive youth development (PYD) and behavioral economics. Drawing from these disciplines, SBAE reaches youth where they live and learn to achieve two core objectives:

  • Contribute to the academic, vocational and life skills development of youth through experiential learning methods.
  • Improve rural livelihoods by transferring skills and agricultural innovations into the home and community through schools.

The SBAE system is built around the four components of the agricultural education model:  classroom instruction, school demonstration farm, home entrepreneurship projects and leadership development. A graphic illustration (Figure 1) of the system shows the inputs and outputs necessary to achieve the short-term (youth) and long-term (community transformation) outcomes of SBAE. Owing to a collaboration of institutions, pedagogy and agricultural innovations are imparted to agriculture teachers through a series of trainings. Teachers diffuse these ideas to students, who practice them on school and home farms. Through the framework of an agricultural student organization, such as 4-H or Young Farmer Organizations, SBAE gives students the opportunity to build leadership, entrepreneurship and core life skills. As parents and other farmers in the community witness the confidence, increased agricultural production and income generated as youth employ their newly learned innovations, they begin to ask questions and slowly adopt the same innovations until a tipping point of diffusion occurs, leading to community transformation.

Innovations often elicit feelings of uncertainty within any social system (Rogers, 2003). This is especially true from the reference point of a smallholder farmer. An effective way to frame the efficacy of agricultural innovations is to shift a farmer’s reference point, or perspective, through empowering youth as early adopters and change agents. Young people are the ideal entry point into a rural community because they are more easily influenced than adults, especially within a school setting. This is not the standard school garden program often seen across the African continent. It is a twenty first century behavioral economics approach to an early twentieth century experiential learning model.

By identifying youth as early adopters of agricultural innovations and empowering them to be change agents for the diffusion of those innovations, SBAE becomes an economic incubator for the entire rural community – amplifying existing agriculture and education initiatives.

The following links examine each of the five elements of the system – institutions, agriculture teacher training, agricultural education model, youth outcomes and community transformation – individually and in detail.

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The foundation of the framework connects existing agricultural and educational institutions into a replicable SBAE system. These collaborating institutions can be public, private, formal and informal.

  1. Ministry of Agriculture
    The Ministry of Agriculture provides agricultural research, knowledge and extension of the best agronomic practices and available technologies suitable for local farmers.
    This may also include other ministries or affiliate and autonomous government agencies engaged in agriculture, depending on how a country’s ministries are organized.
  2. Ministry of Education
    The Ministry of Education oversees schools, teachers, and the curricula and assessment tools fundamental for the SBAE system.
  3. Universities and colleges
    Colleges of education and agriculture educate and certify future agriculture teachers in improved agricultural innovations and the experiential learning methodology of the model.
  4. Private sector
    Private agribusinesses develop agricultural technologies that improve crop yields, while also linking graduates of agricultural education to labor markets.
  5. Agricultural student organizations
    Agricultural student organizations, often called 4-H, Future Farmers or Young Farmer Clubs, can be government, non-government or public-private partnerships. They administer programs and utilize field officers to coordinate agriculture teacher trainings, student leadership camps, competitions, and agriculture fairs and exhibitions.

Agriculture Teacher Trainings

To diffuse innovations, teachers are equipped as change agents through a continuum of three agriculture teacher trainings coupled with continuous accountability and follow up.

  1. Experiential learning methodology
    Teachers connect the agricultural science curriculum to experiential learning pedagogy. They use the school demonstration farm and other tools to improve teacher and student performance.
  2. Agricultural education model
    Teachers learn the problem-solving methodology in the four components of the agricultural education model: classroom instruction, school demonstration farm, home entrepreneurship projects and leadership development.
  3. Agricultural innovations
    Agriculture teachers and PTA members attend in-depth trainings on research-based agricultural practices and technologies. When appropriate, government or university-led research farms should be utilized.
  4. Accountability & follow up
    Field officers, extension agents or agricultural education supervisors guide approximately 20 SBAE programs, ensuring innovation and pedagogy are correctly enacted. Additionally, teacher peer groups can hold each other accountable and share new ideas through regular meetings and social media.

Agricultural Education Model

Experiential learning that connects classroom content, school-based agricultural experiences, home projects and personal leadership skills frame the four-component agricultural education model.

  1. Classroom instruction
    Abstract agricultural knowledge is an essential element in developing a student’s ability to solve complex agricultural problems. It is critical that experiential learning includes a deep commitment to building students’ understanding of agricultural language, core agricultural science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles, agricultural economics and locally relevant governmental structures. The classroom provides a learning space to support students’ ability to correctly label and reflect upon their experiences.
  2. School demonstration farm
    The school demonstration farm connects science to practice on a student-led farm, introducing improved innovation to farmers in the community. Classroom instruction, purposefully partnered with concrete agricultural experiences, allows for valuable scaffolded knowledge as students develop sound agricultural practices.
  3. Home entrepreneurship project
    Home projects allow students to “learn and earn,” receive individualized instruction from their agriculture teacher in the school and spread knowledge to parents and farmers in the community. Agricultural education, from inception, made instruction relevant to students by connecting to their entrepreneurial interests.
  4. Leadership development
    Leadership development equips students with the core life skills and confidence necessary for success in civil society. Through agricultural student organizations, students participate in leadership activities, public speaking presentations, parliamentary procedure competitions, crop and livestock judging, agriculture fairs and leadership camps. These experiences also serve as a source of motivation, as students engage in a community of students with established recognition, awards, traditions and opportunities to lead.

Youth Outcomes

As adults witness youth outcomes, they also begin adopting agricultural innovations, creating a tipping point of adoption within the community.

  1. Competence
    Youth realize increased performance in their academic and vocational skills.
  2. Confidence
    Youth develop core life skills, such as public speaking and problem-solving, and become more confident, interacting effectively and harmoniously with peers and adults.
  3. Connection
    Youth meet and connect with like-minded peers from culturally diverse communities across the country and participate in collaborative relationships with adults.
  4. Crop & animal production
    Youth increase crop and animal production, improving personal food security and nutrition.
  5. Cash & investments
    Youth gain greater agency over their lives as a result of earning cash through home entrepreneurship projects and investing that cash towards their education or enterprise.

Community Transformation

As improved innovation moves to full adoption, youth contribute to the transformation of the local community at four different levels.

  1. Food security
    Increased agricultural production increases the quantity and nutritious quality of the local food supply.
  2. Economics
    Incomes improve through increased agricultural production and value-added agribusiness opportunities.
  3. Education
    Parents benefit economically from their children staying in school, teachers are better equipped to teach and student performance substantially improves. As more students stay in school, the education level of the community increases.
  4. Civil society
    The perception of youth, by adults, shifts into a more collaborative role within local society. Local institutions and participatory government are strengthened through leadership development taught through the school, and cultural diversity is celebrated through shared interests.