Autorité Palestinienne : Education and Training Prospect



The Palestinian Agricultural Education and Training Prospect

Prepared from Dr. Hajjeh Hajaj Ramadan, Director of Al-aroub Secondary Agricultural Coeducational School, General Directorate of TVET, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Palestine

  Agriculture in Palestine is one of the pillars of the national economy. The agricultural sector in Palestine contributes about 20% of the national income and employs 17% of the labor force and accounts for 30% of export. However, agricultural education is still suffering from lack of number of student enrolled and limited to a certain segment of students. The percentage of student applied to the higher school exams (Tawjehy) in the agricultural stream is about 0.004 in the academic year 2007 - 2008. There is still a negative attitude of the student who believes that agricultural education is not useful and that the future work is not granted or other beliefs that this type of education is for students with low educational achievement.

Accordingly, education and agricultural training in Palestine needs a great improvement in the image and the quality to keep pace with the needs of the Palestinian market of skilled labor in the agricultural field.

During the previous period and due to the political situation in Palestine, the Palestinian education system remains vulnerable to change and challenge, in terms of increasing the enrollment capacity of institutions of education and higher education (schools, institutes, universities) and the development of the infrastructure of these institutions and the training of national staff and curriculum development 

 Education institutions and agricultural training in Palestine:

I. Formal education and training:

Currently, formal agricultural education is provided by two secondary schools and four university colleges of Agriculture Sciences in Palestine. As for the agricultural training at the official level is carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and its testing stations.

Herein we give a simplified overview of these institutions:

  1. Al-Arroub Agricultural Secondary Coeducational School is situated in the southern part of West Bank, where the new Palestinian agricultural curriculum is implemented, the annual capacity of the school is 80-120 students, and the duration of the study is two years leading to obtainment of high school certificate in agriculture.
  2. Beit Hanoun Agricultural School is located in the northern part of  Gaza Strip, where the new Palestinian agricultural curriculum is taught, of an annual capacity of about 100 students, the duration of the study is two years leading to the obtainment of high school certificate in agriculture.
  3. Faculty of Agriculture in the University of Hebron is located in the southern part of West Bank with four departments leading to Bachelor degree in Plant Production and Protection, Animal Production and Protection, Soil and Irrigation Science and Food Processing. Plant Protection and Sustainable Agriculture at Master level.
  4. Faculty of Agriculture at Al-najah National University in the northern part of the West Bank with two departments leading to Bachelor degree in Plant Production and Protection and Animal Production and Protection, in addition to the College of Veterinary Medicine, Horticulture and Plant Protection at Master level.
  5. Faculty of Agriculture at Al-Quds Open University of Jerusalem, it has study centers in all Palestinian cities. Students graduates with Bachelor degree in agriculture (Plant and Animal production and Protection.
  6. Faculty of Agriculture at Al-Azhar University, is located at the northern part of Gaza Strip with three departments leading to Bachelor and Master degree in, Plant Production and Protection, Animal Production and Protection, and Food Processing.
  7. Faculty of Science at Al-Quds University, is situated at the periphery of Jerusalem, with the Department of Food Processing at Bachelor level and Environmental Studies at Master level.

II. Informal Education and training

There are many non-governmental organizations in Palestine dealing with agricultural training and not with agricultural education. They provide services in the agricultural area since several years ago, before the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, Herein we give a simplified overview of these nongovernmental organization:

  1. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC): Provides training programs and projects in its various centers and branches mainly concentrated on rural development, land reclamation, management, environmental awareness and leadership. This is in addition to specialized courses in organic farming and integrated pest management.
  2. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). It has two branches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition to agricultural and land development projects, rural development and agricultural marketing programs. The union held orientation sessions and training for farmers of both sexes on food processing, uses of pesticides and agricultural machinery.
  3. Ma'an Development Center (Ma'an): The center provides a specialized courses in the area of integrated pest management, composting recycling of wastewater and food processing
  4. Union of Cooperative Societies: The Union offers training courses in the field of agriculture for its members.

Problems and obstacles facing the agricultural education and training in Palestine

In general, the Palestinian agricultural education suffers from the absence of a national coordination between the relevant ministries (education and higher education, agriculture, labor) for the combined efforts of these ministries for the advancement of agricultural education and training forward. And also lack of coordination and cooperation between the agricultural information systems (education, research, extension). This is in addition to the absence of a link between formal informal educations. Agricultural education suffers from several problems at both formal and informal levels:

The formal level

I. Schools:

1. In terms of absorptive capacity:

  • Capacity of two existing schools is 150 -200 students a year.
  • Lack of agricultural schools in all parts of Palestine, such as the southern part of Gaza strip and central and northern part of West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
  • Limited agricultural education for females.

2. In terms of human resources: the human staff in the agricultural education sector needs training.

3. In terms of equipment: the existing educational institutions in need of modernization and development to keep pace with the rapid development in the agricultural field.

4. Curricula:

  • Enrich the- assessment of the new Palestinian curriculum.
  • Lack of specialization.

5. Labor market:

  • variable and not fixed, the result of several factors, such as the Israeli occupation, and the small size of land possession, water shortages and the inability of Palestinian agriculture competitive as a result of Israeli harassment, and the absence of a clear policy of distribution, marketing and processing.
  • Lack of information on market needs and quality of labor.

6. Funding: high- cost for this type of education.

7. Absence of the private sector.

 

III. Diploma

Agricultural education between schools and universities (diploma two years) does not exist in Palestine.

 

IV. Universities

1.Capacity:

University system is fragmented with four faculties.

Lack of coordination and cooperation between these colleges.

Number of college graduates with traditional disciplines (animal and crop production) is exceeding demand, leading to unemployment.

2. In terms of human resources:

Limited in the number of teaching staff and faculties.

Shortage of specialized staff.

3. In terms of equipment:

Very basic laboratories and research with limited research capacity.

4. Curricula:

Relation with job market demands.

The absence of precise disciplines covering all areas of modern agriculture.

Limited- postgraduate programs at the Master level, and the absence of Ph.D. programs.

5. Labor market:

  The lack of information on market needs of graduates.

6. Funding:

Dependence on aid, not only for development but for the operation of these institutions.

Universities cannot cover its costs.

Reliance on fees to cover expenses.

Informal level:

1. The total dependence on foreign aids.

2. There is no system for informal agricultural education programs to provide basic training, periodically.

3. Limited capacity of these institutions.

4. The selection of beneficiaries.

5. Lack of follow-up to the non-formal training programs by private institutions in the countryside.

6. Lack of training equipment in the countryside.

7. Lack of sustainability of funding.

National strategy for education and vocational and technical training:

The sector of technical and vocational education and training with its four streams; industrial, commercial, agricultural and hotel management, plays a key role in strengthening the Palestinian national economy and raising living standards, in addition to the fight against poverty. Palestine faces an excess in the number of academics who are facing great difficulty in obtaining suitable jobs. Even so, still the number of students joining each year in all branches of vocational education in schools is not exceeding 5%.

Since the Palestinian Authority is convinced of the importance of this sector in education and its role in the national economy. It creates an advanced and modern national strategy for education and vocational training system with the following concepts:

Based mainly on considerations of demand for skills in the labor market.

Aimed at the local market, without neglecting other labor markets.

A unified, flexible and open.

Relies on greater participation of workers and employers.

Reliable system use output and competencies for planning and evaluation.

Efficient use of the various resources available.

Focuses on producing high quality students.

Fair system aimed at young, old and the marginalized.

Depends on the number of multiple sources of funding.

Economically feasible.

Sustainable.

 

The new strategy identified several strategic objectives of the system and formulated at two levels:

1. at the level of society: to provide the community with qualified manpower, to increase the productivity of these forces, and to keep pace with scientific and technological developments.

2. at the individual level: the preparation of individual to life, with the knowledge and skills required for professional competence, in accordance with accepted principles and standards in the labor market.

Palestinian proposed model:

Ongoing works for the development and implementation of a new system of technical education and vocational training in Palestine, (Figure 1). By applying this system there will be a hope to overcome and resolve all the problems and constraints that inhibit the development of the system, to reach an integration between agricultural education and training in both formal and informal sectors, many international organizations and donor countries cooperate with Palestinian institutions in the development and implementation of the new strategy .

The objectives of the new system:

1. The establishment of vocational training system (agriculture in this case)  uniforms and closes to allow for mobility between education and formal training and semi-formal and is highly recognized with the rehabilitation, so as to provide an attractive alternative to academic education.

2. Provides vocational training to meet the needs of the labor market.

3. Offers flexible training modules on the basis of "Modules" consistent with individual needs

4. Provides a high level of quality permanently through the training of teachers permanently and continuously together with the development of curricula.

The rapid developments in technology makes access to the profession through training in one time without returning to training again is not acceptable, as the retraining of workers to training in various professions and at different levels is necessary through education and continuous training, bringing vocational training and vocational education closer, This leads to standardization of sub-systems in a unified system of vocational and technical education and training.

The new system features:

1. The removal of scattering in the current system by integrating sub-systems (vocational education and vocational training) and creating a strong link with community colleges (technical education) currently, this makes it a uniform system of education and vocational and technical training includes all functions performed by each of the vocational education, vocational training and technical education.

2. provide opportunities for students wishing to access to higher education after graduation from existing training centers (skilled workers) to complete their education at community colleges to obtain a certificate of profession (technician).

3. Provide an opportunity for those with a professional certificate (technician) to higher education without the obtainment of high school certificate (Tawjehy).

Conclusion

The amount of agricultural progress measured by the numbers of skilled scientific and professional talent the system contains. This progress depends on the investment of all the possibilities and conditions, to select the most appropriate patterns in the circumstances of basic food needs of the region, this requires the need to provide agricultural technical personnel at different levels of specialization. In addition to, the preparation of  intensive training programs for all workers in the agricultural field. Access must therefore provide a means to improve the system of education and agricultural training in Palestine as follows:

  •  
    •  The development of training programs and education of various agricultural fields and multiple levels.
    • Raise the efficiency of trained workers.
    • The development of existing buildings, and the addition of new structures to achieve the objectives of expansion.
    • The upgrading of equipment.
    • To provide all the required material resources.
    • Diversification of funding sources to achieve sustainability of the system.
    • The development of training curricula, so as to achieve maximum flexibility and efficiency, and link the needs of the local labor market.
    • Develop a relationship with the local labor market.
    • Develop a framework of- legislation and regulations.

Fig. 1: The new Palestinian TVET system, B: bridging courses




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