Many research institutions and universities are bringing forth new ideologies and restructuring their agriculture curriculum to ensure that agricultural activities continue be successful in the midst of the impact of climate change and other factors threatening farming and other aspects of human life.
In Liberia, the William R. Tolbert, Jr. Agriculture and Forestry College of the University of Liberia is one of the five colleges (Stella Maris Polytechnic, United Methodist University, AME Zion and the Cuttington University) in the country whose adaptation to modern agriculture curriculum has been moving at a snail’s pace since the civil crisis ended in Liberia.
To date the WRT. Agriculture and Forestry college has more than 2000 students studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry, Agronomy, and General Agriculture. However, large classes, limited practical equipment, part time lecturers, limited resource centers, outdated textbooks and laboratory equipment pose serious challenges to learning agriculture in the modern day context at the college.
Graduates of the college, even some that are now lecturers, but preferred not to be named, admitted to the need to revise the curriculum so that the college can match-up to the changes in modern agriculture education.
The college adequately caters to traditional agriculture courses that include Crop Science, Soil Science, Animal Science, Agriculture Economics, Agriculture Engineering, but the new sub-fields of study in agriculture that are responsive to the dynamic changes in the sector are yet to be taught at the college. These courses include Agriculture Economics and Risk Management, Agribusiness Management, Aquaculture and Fisheries, and Family and Consumer Science.
Despite these challenges, the new Dean of the college and former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Moses Zinnah, believes that the college can regain its status prior to the country’s civil crisis. In a recent exclusive interview with this newspaper at the University of Liberia’s Fendall Campus, Dr.Zinnah reaffirmed the need for curriculum reform at the college. He said the reforms would help the college respond to the dynamic changes in the country’s agriculture sector.
“We don’t need to discard the entire curriculum but it is time that we review, revise, and modify the curriculum with a holistic approach to make the college more responsive to the changing needs of the agriculture workforce and emerging jobs in the sector,” explained Dr. Zinnah
The new Dean said the college under his leadership will network with other agriculture universities that he has worked with to help modify the current curriculum.
“We can network with colleges and adapt what they are doing that we have not been doing, but ideas that we will borrow will be fitted into the Liberian context, and this would be our comparative advantage” said Dr. Zinnah
He noted further that the college will soon embark on its strategic planning to address and serve as an operational road map to respond to the college’s infrastructure and human capacity challenges.