(PHOTO CAPTION: CoE study tour participants at Adidome Farm Institute in Ghana looking at a greenhouse)
In partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE), the USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program has developed Liberia’s first market-based, integrated vocational training program in agriculture. USAID FED’s mandate is to develop the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) and the Community Colleges in Nimba (NCCC), Grand Bassa (GBCC) and Lofa (LCCC) counties into Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Vocational Agricultural Education. The MoE, with the support of USAID FED, has developed a National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA), curriculum which will be rolled out in March 2015.
The National Diploma for Agriculture (NDA) is an innovative, skills-focused two-year Vocational Diploma that prepares high school graduates to move directly into agricultural employment in the formal sector or through entrepreneurship. Students will graduate with marketable, in-demand skills that will give them expanded employment options tied to the country’s growing agricultural market and industry needs. USAID FED’s supported Centers of Excellence in Agriculture will lead the practical training program through campus base agri-enterprises and practicum in related industries. The NDA is the country’s first TVET curriculum that is harmonized with the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) vocational agriculture curriculum and represents an important step towards regional integration. As Liberia rebuilds its agriculture sector, ensuring the agriculture programs and its instructors are well equipped to teach and demonstrate best practices is paramount to revitalizing the sector.
USAID FED supported a study tour of key personnel of the Centers of Excellence from February 15-28, 2015 to vocational education institutions in Ghana . The purpose of the visit was for CoE staff to share the experiences of /get insights from more advanced vocational agricultural institutions on how to enhance program delivery and ensure sustainable operation of their institutions as Centers of Excellence in Agricultural Vocational Education. In total fourteen people participated in this trip, three from each CoE and two USAID FED staff members. The participants were instructors, agri-business staff and administrators of the institutions.
Some of the institutions that were visited were Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA), Kwadaso Agriculture College (KAC), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), and the Animal Health & Production College just to name a few.
Dr. Yar Gonway-Gono, President, Nimba County Community College in her presentation stated, “We want to thank USAID FED for this opportunity to travel to Ghana. We will now be the catalyst of change at our institutions with the new skills and ideas we have learned during our study tour to Ghana. All aspects of the CoE’s will be further enhanced based upon our new found knowledge especially in the areas of turning an institution into a profitable agribusiness enterprise based upon the Ghanaian experience.”
“Now that the CoE staff have participated in their study tour to Ghana, they can bring back the lessons learned from these Ghanaian institutions and further improve the NDA program at their respective institutions in Liberia. The NDA will improve overall capacity of future farmers; the added bonus is that Liberian youth will also acquire agro-business skills, such as business plan development, record keeping and financial management, needed to create a business,” says USAID FED Chief of Party, Agnes Luz. “These skills play a key role in addressing not only the immediate employment needs of graduates, but also the development and growth of the agricultural and food production sectors of the country.”
“The lessons plans being utilized at the Ghanaian Agriculture Vocational schools were comprehensive and modern. All of their laboratories used modern equipment and were accessible for students. We will take these lessons learned and implement similar measures at our CoE’s to further enrich the NDA program and lab space for our students, said Jeremiah M. Swinteh, Agricultural Instructor at Grand Basa Community College.
USAID FED has provided the CoE’s with computers and other ICT equipment, textbooks internet connectivity, training of instructors, textbooks, and laboratory equipment to support the NDA rollout. USAID FED is currently focusing on upgrading the library and laboratory facilities towards a conducive learning environment for students enrolled in the NDA Program.
The USAID FED Program for Liberia aims to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability across food based value chains, stimulating enterprise development and building the agriculture workforce. The program is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.
USAID FED is Africa’s largest project under President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.
The United States—Liberia’s largest donor and closest ally—supports the nation’s priorities to build sustainable, local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity. For more information please visit. www.usaid.gov.