Enhancing the Role of Management in Extension

Article excerpt


AS universities slowly but steadily realize the growing importance of extension in providing a practical aspect to theories, they must continue to explore new areas of service as much as find ways on how to sustain the program and utilize it to the fullest towards the end of providing a holistic perspective of education.

It has only been recently that educational institutions have taken a genuinely serious look into the need to touch base with communities and evolve a framework of partnership for development.

While the establishment of extension programs could be done at a rapid pace, the underlying philosophy for its establishment must be sustained. This can only come about with an appropriate sense of extension service administration and management.

This presentation shall proceed with a discussion of such concepts and components of management in extension as:

* Extension Management defined

* Human Resource Development: The Roots of Extension in Education

* Pragmatic Framework for Extension Programs

* Extension Programs and Development

* Stakeholders and Extension Program.

Human Resources Development: The Root of Extension in Education

It has become increasingly difficult to drive a wedge between a dynamic social system and a relevant educational agenda. A gelling philosophy in current educational trends is to provide individuals with a perspective of a "life-long education" that continually builds from the constant interaction between schools and the social milieu.

For centuries, the idea of formal education, built upon a "monastic image," has somehow insulated it from the practical conditions where the same theories taught in classrooms emanate. It was an irony that the very conditions that continually give rise to new knowledge perspectives were literally isolated from the formal education framework.

Universities and colleges have always vaunted their roles in human resource development. Both the areas of formal and informal education clinch to this same philosophy. In the process, educational institutions find it inherent in their mandates to continually explore new avenues towards the enhancement of human potentials. But the goal can only come about within the context of a changing social and economic environment.

Eventually, extension has become "a non-formal educational resource for the development of individuals and communities in a democratic society." It embraces both the formal and informal spheres of learning into a holistic educational perspective. It is a concrete approach to the idea that total education does not take place in a vacuum. While learning is accepted as a life-long process towards personal and communal change, creating a paradigm to sustain it becomes an inevitable demand for educational institutions.

Developing a pragmatic framework for extension programs

Extension programs, which trace their roots in many American universities, are perceived to be "essentially a process of education with the aim of developing knowledge, skills, and will-power of people to solve problems by themselves." Essentially, the many extension programs launched by American higher education institutions were agriculture-based and focused on the peoples increased productivity for self-sustenance. At the same time, the innovation of creating a community-based reference to education somehow broadened its definition to include a more pragmatic perspective that people can better appreciate.

As education is increasingly perceived to be an instrument of change and extension programs are considered as tools towards that end, higher education institutions must constantly re-examine their directions in extension and ensure compatibility with communal needs and demands.

As evaluated by the Ohio State Extension Program, any institution with an aggressive extension agenda must formulate strategic extension programs strategic plans; design the programs organization structure; select people to form a high performing team to match with the tasks performed; and, ascertain the best ways to help extension professionals attain the goals set by them as a team. …