Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Descriptive Study of High School Agriculture Teachers Competencies in Swaziland

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Descriptive Study of High School Agriculture Teachers Competencies in Swaziland

Article excerpt


Education is viewed as a primary means of solving social problems (Worthen and Sanders, 1987; Freire, 1973). Burrow and Farmer (1988) further stated that education is one of the primary resources for social and economic changes and improvement. The Swaziland National Development Plan (1973 - 1977) recognized the efficiency in the school system was limited by its inherent academic orientation. This underscores the need for reorienting the curricula at primary and senior secondary schools, to counteract prevailing non technological bias and enable students who graduated to move more naturally into available employment opportunities.

The introduction of agriculture in schools was one attempt to address the inadequacies of the school system in relation to the future prospects of students who graduated. Agriculture is the most important economic sector followed by manufacturing in Swaziland (Dlamini, 1986). Introducing agricultural curriculum into African schools was generally hailed as a panacea for agricultural development. The introduction of the Schools Agriculture Program is regarded as the most educational innovation in Swaziland (Gooday, 1974). The Schools Agriculture Program was launched in 1973, as an initiative to introduce practical subjects in the school system. It represents one strategy for implementing the objectives of the Second National Development Plan, to reorient the senior secondary school curriculum away from its non-tech nolog ical bias (Sullivan, 1981). Rivera and Zijip (2002) presented evidence that radically different institutional arrangement in agricultural education and extension is in an increasingly large number of countries.

The Government of Swaziland underscores the fact that the country is currently faced with socio-economic challenges such as: poverty, high unemployment rate, HIV/AIDS, increased competition in Direct Foreign Investments and global competition in products and market conditions. In response, educational reforms were made through the inception and subsequent implementation of the Swaziland General Certificate of Secondary Education (SGCSE) agriculture syllabus, replacing the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) agriculture syllabus in 2010 (Ministry of Education, 2009).

Curriculum changes are basically responsive to political and socio-economic challenges. There was a significant challenge in place with the agriculture curriculum relevant to keep paces with changes new curriculum content. Such curriculum modification in the modern era of technology more often than not, demands changes in pedagogy, hence teacher competence is consistently challenged (Wallance, 1996; Ottevager, 2001; and Taylor, 2000). However, due to demographic changes in the society and fast-changing fields of agriculture and rural development, there is a significant challenge in keeping the agriculture curriculum relevant, more often than not to keep pace with the technological advancements and the ever-changing yet very volatile socio-economic challenges.

Since the inception and subsequent implementation of the SGCSE agriculture syllabus, teacher professional competencies has neither been developed nor assessed. There were new additional objectives and new topic contents incorporated and the question was, how are high school agriculture teachers coping with the implementation of the syllabus? What knowledge gaps, if any, existed in as far as the teaching and learning of agriculture was concerned. There was a need to investigate teacher competence levels in teaching the SGCSE agriculture syllabus. Currently, there is no systematic documentation in Swaziland on professional competencies of the SGCSE agriculture teachers. Hence, a gap in the literature existed and this investigation was conducted to begin a process of assessing the competence of high school agriculture teachers in Swaziland.

Theoretical Framework

Findlay and Drake (1989) suggested that competence in one's professional role is important in the overall learning process, while Ready (1967) described competence as a motivational factor that is responsible for individual achievement. …

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