Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

APPLYING U. S. CAREER DEVELOPMENT LESSONS IN RURAL EGYPT: A Case Study

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

APPLYING U. S. CAREER DEVELOPMENT LESSONS IN RURAL EGYPT: A Case Study

Article excerpt

Since 2003, with funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID-Egypt), the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, Inc. (MUCIA) has provided Egyptian universities and Agricultural Technical secondary schools (ATSs) assistance for the purpose of enhancing student preparation, curriculum revision, experiential and interactive learning, and close collaboration between higher education, secondary schools, and the Egyptian agribusiness sector.

From the perspective of a majority of rural agricultural communities in Upper Egypt, there has been little understanding of the concept of career development education and training. Career development has been perceived as unimportant since employment opportunities beyond the family farm were typically not an option. Further, local cultures and values were generally not interested in encouraging young males and especially females to seek employment outside the local community.

Establishing an understanding of the role of career development has also been constrained by several factors. First, ATS schools experience high dropout rates, with irregular attendance. Parental and community attitudes toward the role of agricultural-technical training was somewhat mixed since job opportunities were limited, with or without an ATS education. Secondly, Egypt's secondary agricultural-technical schools do not have direct instructional responsibility for offering a basic general education; if its students had general education deficiencies, remediation typically did not occur. Thirdly, there were no structural methods to link what students were learning to the needs of the private sector. Significant numbers of students in Upper Egypt have literacy deficiencies, especially when compared to other regions of the country (Hopkins & Saad, 2004). Irrespective of the significant number of challenges associated with integrating effective career development activities into the secondary ATS programs, the work of MUCIA-USAID has had a positive influence on strategic approaches of relevant Egyptian ministries, governorates (political jurisdictions equivalent to a U.S. state), secondary administrators and teachers, the agribusiness private sector, and other stakeholders who have gained an appreciation for the benefits of integrating technical skill training and career development activities in preparing Egypt's future agricultural labor force for the demands of globally competitive agribusiness markets. Understanding the need for agricultural educators and agribusiness to strive to close the skill gap is especially important for Egypt since agriculture has and will continue to play a vital role in economic well being of Egypt.

Introduction

In 2008, MUCIA began implementation of a highly successful and innovative program called Agricultural Technical Schools - Value Chain Training Project. Two primary goals of the program are to (1) intensify the linkage of agricultural educational programs to the skill needs of the horticulture and livestock value-chains in Upper Egypt; and (2) improve the employability of agriculture graduates by preparing ATSs to meet the skill requirements of the agriculture industry in Egypt.

Although MUCIA is currently implementing a USAID funded project to introduce secondary education improvements in more than 100 ATSs in Upper Egypt, the Delta and Sinai, this paper will focus on project activities in Upper Egypt only. Over 100,000 students are currently enrolled in 50 ATSs in Upper Egypt, which follows the Nile River from Giza to Aswan. Students have the opportunity to attend for three years, although many students never finish. Supervised internships are available to students at the local and national level.

Prior to MUCIA, ATS education has focused on technical skill development. Career Development was not a mission of the ATS secondary system. Since 2008, with the assistance of MUCIA, career development has been introduced and implemented in ATSs in Upper Egypt. …

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