FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR STUDENTS POOR ENROLMENT AND PARTICIPATION IN YOUNG FARMERS CLUB IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ONICHA L.G.A
Background of the Study.
Agricultural science is one of the vocational subjects offered in secondary schools in Onicha Local Government in particular and Ebonyi State in general. In the Junior Secondary Schools, Agriculture is a pre-vocational elective with emphasis on practical while at the senior secondary school level it is a vocational elective.
Ndomi (2000), noted that agriculture was the main stay of the Nigerian economy before the advent of the oil industry particularly the oil boom of the 1972. He alleged that since the oil boom, the agricultural sector has suffered neglect and therefore witnessed a decline in the number of youths engaging in it, a situation he described as a Generation Gap in agricultural productivity.
For agriculture to regain its past glory, it is necessary to develop agricultural programmes for the rural young ones because they are the future progressive farmers. It is better to train them in farming through vocational agriculture while in schools so that they will be able to farm on their own, join the community young farmers club in their area, be more responsive to the agricultural extensive programmes, and participate actively in agricultural technology transfer during and after the secondary education (Ajayi, 1995, & Ogunlade, 1998).
According to Ogunbameru & Ajayi, (1997), a young farmers club is an organization in which young people (Usually between 9 and 20 years of age) are engaged to learn about better farming and home making technologies. The members are under the guidance of the agricultural extension personnel; the local club leader and the agricultural teacher. Members are allowed to elect their officers, plan and execute their own programmes, hold meetings regularly at least once in a month. They carry out worthwhile projects in farming, home making, community development and other related areas.
If young farmers club is effectively organized in Onicha local Government area. It helps in the transfer of technological knowledge (Maunder, 1992). It could also play an important role in diffusing information related to the new strategy of agricultural production (Singh and Kheide, 1991). Besides, young farmers clubs have been identified by Ajayi, (1988) as nurseries for the youths to develop to future progressive farmers.
The need to encourage and promote young farmers club programmes in secondary schools as a means of boosting agricultural productivity and all round development of the students socially and morally is further buttressed in the objectives of the objectives of the young farmers club. Ovwigbo, (2004) highlighted the objectives of the young farmers club as follows: it acts as a conduct for the transfer of new technologies to other farmers within the community; it makes young school leavers take up farming as a lucrative occupation. Young farmers club equips youths with leadership and vocational skills. It also fosters citizenship training. Moreover, it helps to maximize profit by employing new technological method of agricultural productivity or production. It further helps to encourage initiatives and entrepreneurial skills.
These objectives and many more of the young farmers club form the bedrock of the various programmes of young farmers club. Lioyd (1985), in his view remarked that young farmers club programmes should be based on the primary and contributory needs for objectives of the association and it should contribute to the instructional phase of the young farmers club programmes. In selecting the major grouping activities, the following criteria’s must be considered. They include attainability within the year educational value, profitability and national development.
To guide a challenging programme of work, much thought and planning should be done by the club officers, members, organizers and supervisors. The programme must serve the individual members, the chapter, the school and the community as a whole, based on their needs (Foster, 1981). Specifically, we have the following programmes of young farmers club. Supervised farming, educational activities, leadership activities, community service activities and recreational activities.
Supervising farming is a programme of selected activities in farming, a farm which students of vocational agriculture undergo so as to develop the right attitude and be proficient in the necessary skills and abilities in the type of farming they are likely to engage in. educational activities include the provision of both methods and result demonstrations related to the course of instruction (Ugbomeh, 1994 and Ajayi, 2002).
The ultimate purpose of leadership activities is to help members to develop leadership by providing opportunities for participating in worthwhile activities. Similarly, community service activities provides opportunities for members to render selfless services to the community such as painting trees, beautifying the environment, conducting crop demonstration and farm safety Campaigns (Ugbomeh, 1994). Further more, a good young farmers organization must include social and recreational activities. Lioyd (1995) enumerated social and recreational activities to include Ludo, table tennis, classical music, class dances, conducting meeting with neighbouring associations, election of officers and provision of refreshment for members.
Full and effective Implementation of these programmes demand a lot of motivational initiative from the various stakeholders in secondary school agricultural education, particularly the agricultural science teachers, the school Administrators and the government. According to Adedoyin (2005), motivation to Adedoyin (2005), motivation is a process of initiating conscious and purposeful action. He further stressed that motives means an urge or combination of urges to induce conscious or purposeful action.
Hence, motivational factors are goals directed and needs satisfying behaviour. They are those factors, which tend to organize the field of the individual in regard to certain incentives or goals and to execute activity directed towards their attainments.
Specifically, the Agricultural teachers has been described as important agent in the task of re-orienting the youths for agriculture (Post-primary school management Board Ebonyi State, 2001). A good agricultural science teacher according to Stewart (1983), should assist members of the young farmers’ club in developing a programme of activities, provide systematic instruction for young farmers club regardless of their previous attitudes towards agriculture. He should serve as a catalyst agent for a young farmers club. The school administrators have the overall responsibility of providing a conducive environment for school clubs to thrive they are also responsible for providing financial and logistic support for all the school clubs in general and young farmers club in particular. Besides, they are supposed to encourage the agricultural teachers and give them all the necessary moral support towards enhancing the functional efficiency of the club. (Okeke, 1996).
However, the local club leaders are chosen from among the agricultural students. They must have shown keen interest in the programmes of young farmers club. Their duties include inter-alia, topilot the affairs of the club in the school.
Regrettably, YFC organization in secondary schools in Onicha Local Government are in a pitiable state. Investigations carried out by the researcher revealed that students participation in YFC programmes in the council is rather dwindling and retrogressive. This results from students preference to other school clubs like debating society, choral groups, JETS club etc.
Other factors for the dwindling nature of the YFC in secondary schools in the council include unhealthy attitude to farming among youths, lack of support from the government and the school authorities; insufficient number of well trained Agric teachers in the school and time factor. This study therefore seeks to identify the factors responsible for student poor enrolment and participation in YFC programmes in secondary schools in Onicha local government with a view to helping the students to acquire saleable skills that will boost agricultural productivity. The young farmers club is one of the voluntary organizations, organized in secondary schools with the general purpose of disseminating latest scientific knowledge and techniques for increasing agricultural production. The specific objectives of young farmers club as stated by Ajayi (1998), include to help boys & girls to develop ideals for better farming, home making and rural community development. Secondly, it gives informal training in agriculture.
The Young farmers club provides social and recreational activities as well as citizenship education or training it provides the practice of thrift and teamwork among students. Moreover, it encourages boys and girls to sue their leisure prudently, promotes patriotism and reduces juvenile delinquency (Onyemaechi, 2001). He noted other objectives of the club to include improving the living standard of the members, provision of opportunity for self –expression and the development of good and competent leadership. In pursuance of these objectives, the Ebonyi State Ministry of Education through the secondary schools management Board directed Secondary schools to establish and organize young farmers club.
However, these objectives have not been realized in most secondary schools in Onicha local Government Area of Ebonyi State for obvious reasons. According to Onyemaechi (2001), the young farmers club suffers peculiar handicap in the scramble for student’s membership because of the cultural bias against agricultural practices.
Moreso, funds, farm inputs and farm implements and machines are not adequately provided to enhance the club programmes. Again, the schools especially those in urban centers lack land for farming. (Ovnigbo, 2004).
The dwindling nature and performance of young farmers club in secondary schools in Onicha Local government area of Ebonyi State could also be traced to such factors as insecurity of farm assets, inadequate Agricultural Science teachers in schools and time factors. In fact there is no time allotted to club programmes in the school timetable.
This state of affairs has far reaching consequences for the students in particular and the society at large. There is high level of unemployment among secondary school graduates in Onicha local government Area of the state. There are also the problems of rural-urban drift, youths in Onicha local Government Area who could have gained saleable skills in Agriculture through young farmers club programmes for self-employment. Worse still most of these youths particularly the males now resort to commercial motorcycle riding popularly known as “OKADA” with its attendant high level of accidents and loss of lives. In addition there could be increased rate of hunger as a result of food scarcity.
There could be further damages if these urgly trend is not checked and young farmers club programmes in secondary schools in Onicha Area Council encouraged. The vision of food security in the area in particular and the state at large will remain a mirage as farming is left in the hands of the rural and aged people (Ndomi, 2003).
There is therefore, the obvious need to encourage young farmer club programmes in the various secondary schools. This can be in the form of motivational incentives that will boost the moral of students in enrolling in young farmers club organizations and participating in its programmes, hence this study.
Statement of the problem
The sustainability of agriculture as an initial step toward food production, supply of raw material and as a basic of development generally has been the problem of the government, agriculture productivity as reported by the federal department of agriculture (2004) has continuously been the problem of Nigeria nation as the is supposed to provide the succour for agricultural sustainability through agricultural club but research shows that the reverse is the case in most schools. The secondary schools in Onicha L.G.A of Ebonyi State is not an exception.
Olaitan; (2001) remarked that the future of any society depends on how well the educational system prepare her agriculture. This could be possible through the young farmers club. There has been the problem of definition and clarification of the role and responsibilities of the young farmers club in sustainable agriculture. Singhetal (2001) noted that young farmers club organized in community secondary school play important role in diffusing information related to new methods of agricultural production. But in the case of secondary schools in Onicha L.G.A of Ebonyi State, this impact of agricultural practices is yet to be felt due to perpetual shortage in food supply, high cost of the available ones. The youth roam the streets in search of white abundant. One therefore wonders if the schools through its agricultural clubs and societies are living up to the expectation as regards their responsibilities towards improving agricultural productivity.
The issue which therefore arise from this study would be the factors responsible for students’ poor enrollment and participation in young farmers club in secondary schools in Onicha L.G.A.
Purpose of the Study.
The main purpose of the study is to identify those factors responsible for poor students enrollment and participation in young farmers club. Specifically the study sought to identify;
- The functions of young farmers in the secondary schools.
- The roles of young farmer club in improving sustainable agricultural productivity.
- Strategies for improving students enrollment and participation in young farmers club.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of immense benefits to members of the young farmers club in the school, as it would make them fully aware of their role and work towards satisfying their schools. It would also serve as an encouragement to agricultural science students to actively participate in YFC programmes and other various activities such as project works and field trips which will bring into focus problems that hinders sustainable productivity in the school which when corrected will enable the student to acquire necessary skills, attitude and competencies in various agricultural operations.
It will also be of greater value to Educational policy makers as it would provide them with relevant information to make policies that will promote YFC programmes and boost the morale of the up coming once to fully participate in their programmes for sustainable agricultural productivity.
The findings of this study will also be a guide to the local club leaders in various secondary schools in their quest to enhance the efficiency of the club. It will also contribute in keeping Agricultural science teachers Abreast of the roles expected of them in improving the programmes of the YFC. As patrons and catalysts to the organization, it will enable them to direct the request of the club appropriately. Thus they could use the information generated from this study to activate the various programmes of YFC in their schools.
The following research questions were posed to guide the study:
- What are the functions of young farmers club in the secondary schools?
- What are the various roles of young farmers club in improving sustainable agricultural productivity?
- What are the strategies for improving students enrollment and participation in young farmers club?
Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to the factors responsible for student’s poor enrolment and participation in young farmers club in sustainable agriculture in secondary schools in Onicha local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
It extended to the identification of the roles of young farmers club in sustainable productivity, the benefit of the club to its members, the problems that hinder sustainable agricultural productivity and the ways in which young farmers in secondary schools could help solve the problems of sustainable agricultural productivity.