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Title: Factors influencing Young Peoples' Career Choice in Agriculture from the Educational Perspective: A Case Study of Kwara State, Nigeria
Authors: Tijani, Funmilola Omolara
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Agriculture is critical for poverty reduction, job creation, food security, and overall economic growth in Nigeria. The sector is the largest employer of labour, yet its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains low, while food insecurity and poverty remain high. However, in recent times, various agricultural transformation agenda have been structured to focus on youth and improved technology in agriculture. Nevertheless, little is being done regarding agricultural education. The agricultural education policy states the need to integrate the technical knowledge and skills necessary for agricultural, economic and industrial development. Yet, how effective is the implementation of these policies? In Nigeria, much quantitative research has been done on how young people perceive agriculture and agricultural careers but not comprehensively on educational factors. Therefore, this study adopts a multidisciplinary approach using a qualitative methodology to explore factors influencing career choices in agriculture from the educational perspective. Fifty-eight participants were selected, including secondary school agricultural students, agricultural teachers, agricultural undergraduates, lecturers, agricultural graduates, public and private agricultural enterprises and curriculum developers from the ministry of education. Data were collected using various qualitative data collection methods, comprising focus group discussions among students, telephone interviews with agricultural graduates, and one to-one interviews with teachers, lecturers and officials in agricultural enterprises and curriculum developers. Students were also observed on the field during their practical sessions. The results show that many participants perceive agriculture negatively and do not view it as an academic field of study but a vocational short course for skills acquisition. The secondary school students, with few exceptions, considered it not an option in their academic pursuit but an additional income source in later life. At the same time, the undergraduates and graduates perceived agriculture as a means for self-employment, hence, the motivation to pursue a career in agriculture. Although many view agriculture as farming, their perception was mainly formed by their societal view of farming, childhood agricultural experiences, influence from social actors and educational factors. However, perceptions are changing, especially among undergraduates and graduates with more orientation and a broader view of agriculture, mainly driven by an agri-business mindset and the opportunity for job creation in the face of limited white-collar jobs. Yet, their expectations remain unmet as the learning experiences are not tailored toward the skills acquisition needed for establishing a successful agricultural business. Entrance to agricultural courses is still characterised by blanket admission, mainly recruiting those who have failed to access "prestigious courses "such as medicine and engineering, reinforcing students' impression that agricultural courses are for low achievers. The long duration of agricultural courses (five years) with no associated professionalism or title and late specialisation in a chosen aspect of agriculture are discouraging factors. Furthermore, contrary to the curriculum content taught in class, limited and under-developed fieldwork affects students' learning, subjects them to exertion, makes them feel inferior and negatively impacts their academic performance and retention in agricultural careers. An innovative agricultural sector demands high achievers and motivated students. Also, the agricultural transformation plan should include reforming the agricultural education system. Therefore, increasing youth participation requires a holistic approach. Hence, addressing the problem from an educational perspective is more preventive than curative.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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