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Perspectives from Students and Teachers in four African Countries

It is unclear to what extent environmental and social sustainability goals have been included into agricultural education systems, which have traditionally been focused on increasing agricultural productivity. In sub-Saharan Africa, the urgent need to increase productivity while also ensuring environmental and social sustainability has led to significant calls for developing a skill set among the next generation of professionals to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This exploratory study assesses the perceptions of students and teachers from various universities and vocational agricultural schools regarding the integration of sustainability topics into course curricula based on a survey comprising over 400 students and 300 teachers from four countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria).Using a set of sustainability indicators, this research aimed to uncover the current state and perceptions of sustainability education in agriculture, and whether the necessary conditions are in place for the integration of sustainability into course curricula. The findings revealed that agricultural education in sub-Saharan Africa covers a broad range of topics across environmental, social, and economic dimensions. Additionally, teachers hold advanced degrees on a range of sustainability topics, giving a pool of expertise within agricultural institutions. Nevertheless, the results highlight the need for training to facilitate the mainstreaming of sustainability in course curricula. Challenges hindering the integration of sustainability in course curricula include structural issues such as limited access to relevant course materials, and poor linkages between agricultural education institutions and other stakeholders within the agricultural innovation systems. These barriers highlight the need for an adjustment of the syllabus and the mainstreaming of innovative methods and technologies to better incorporate sustainability into agricultural education. The findings call for policies that apply an innovation systems approach to curriculum design and implementation. This includes fostering stronger connections between educational institutions and the other stakeholders within the agricultural innovation system to enhance the sustainability and impact of agricultural education.

Published as Hohenheim Working Papers on Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development Nr. 023-2024.