L3F Wins "Making a Difference" Award
At a gala event held in London at the end of June – far away from the developing rural communities it serves – COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers programme, and specifically its work with learning through mobile phones, won a 2013 Nexus Commonwealth Award for “Making a Difference. more...(bottom of the page)
Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3 Farmers) demonstrates COL's ability to partner with communities and organisations, and make effective use of ICTs to facilitate learning for development. COL's L3 Farmers programme helps rural communities find appropriate technology-based open and distance education to improve their livelihoods.
The programme is a response to a critical need: the wealth of information resulting from agricultural research and development often fails to travel the last mile to the villages of the developing world where it is most needed. While governments face challenges in funding adequate agricultural extension, globalisation is creating increasing competition for poor rural farmers.
Lifelong Learning for Farmers addresses these issues by empowering vulnerable rural women and their families to:
- gain knowledge,
- create their own self-directed learning process,
- organise themselves to solve problems of marketing their products and food security,
- improve their living conditions, and
- increase their freedoms and independence from government support.
The programme involves four key partners:
1) Farmers. Rural farmers form an association and create their own vision of development for their village.
2) Learning institutions. A consortium of learning institutions brings together expertise in agriculture, veterinary science, open learning and technology, serving as an information resource for farmers.
3) Information and communications technologies (ICT) kiosks. These commercial ICT kiosks link the farmers to this consortium and also provide other useful information such as weather forecasts. The centres facilitate the transfer of information from scientific and research institutions to rural farmers.
4) Banks. Commercial banks are encouraged to provide loans to farmers who have increased their knowledge, capacity and productivity thanks to information from the consortium and ICT kiosks.
Lifelong Learning for Farmers was introduced as a pilot project in four villages in southern India in 2004. The success of this initiative led to the launch of Lifelong Learning for Farmers in Sri Lanka in 2007. The programme is also being adapted and introduced in Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea.
L3F Wins "Making a Difference" Award
Lord David Steel of Aikwood presenting the Nexus Award for Making a Difference to COL with Ms. Alison Mead Richardson, Education Specialist, Technical & Vocational Skills Development, accepting on behalf of COL.
At a gala event held in London at the end of June – far away from the developing rural communities it serves – COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers programme, and specifically its work with learning through mobile phones, won a 2013 Nexus Commonwealth Award for “Making a Difference, for a project that has delivered particular impact over the past year, and has the potential to be replicated across the Commonwealth.”
From the citation:
More than 500 million farm families across the Commonwealth’s developing countries suffer due to inadequate human resource development. Declining resources for agricultural extension, didactic modes of training and gender bias have prevented farm families from acquiring the skills and knowledge to face globalisation, new technologies and challenges. COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) initiative focuses on strengthening the self-directed learning process among women, using information and communication technology and open and distance learning. In this paradigm shift, the farmer is not seen merely as a passive recipient of information, but as an active partner in knowledge management.
There are over 60 accredited Commonwealth organisations working in developing countries to engage individual and organisational stakeholders of all types – from young people through to women entrepreneurs, universities and government officials – and deliver projects in every conceivable area of development, diversity and democracy. While resource limitations usually restrict the scope and reach of these projects, many of them could be replicated across other countries and groups, if there was sufficient awareness of them. The Nexus Making a Difference Award recognises efforts to change the lives of Commonwealth citizens, transform communities or strengthen institutions.
COL thanks it partners and farmers, and especially the women, who helped COL to learn about lifelong learning and who showed that such learning can have impact on income, food security and empowerment.