Testing effectiveness of educational approaches in facilitating learning among cattle farmers in north central Namibia
Nekongo-Nielsen, Haaveshe Ndeutalala
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This is a doctoral thesis in which the effectiveness of selected educational approaches in facilitating adult learning, using cattle farmers in the Onamhinda village was tested. In this study I tested three educational approaches of content centred, learner centred and situation centred for their ability to facilitate learning, which could bring about change in society. I used cattle farmers as a target group because the livelihood of farmers in north central Namibia depends on agriculture, mainly millet and beef production. The study began by discussing the selected approaches in relation to the relevant learning theories as a basis for the theoretical framework of facilitating adult learning and to support the hypothesis that certain educational approaches, if used under the right conditions, will facilitate significant learning among the target audience. The research design used in testing this hypothesis followed an action and qualitative design. It followed an action research design in order to get participants involved in their own learning, to put into practice what has been learned and be able to evaluate and discuss their progress. Through a qualitative design the study explored a much broader phenomenon of facilitating adult learning on a large scale and enabled reliable data collection to be undertaken for a study conducted in an environment where there were no tight controls over the learning process. An educational programme for cattle farmers was developed and used as a tool in testing the educational approaches. The educational programme utilised a combination of learning techniques to provide a means of learning for cattle farmers, which included a radio course of 12 lessons, self help facilitated study groups, printed materials and demonstrations by experts. In addition, a feedback system was built into the educational programme to enable participants to ask questions and experts to respond to such questions. The educational programme materials were written in the local language of Oshiwambo, and the research study was organised around a study group of 17 participants and two facilitators as well as a participant observer. A participant observation research method was used to observe and collect data during all learning sessions of the educational campaign. Furthermore, four months after the educational campaign a summative evaluation was conducted to assess the impact of the educational programme on the target audience and to learn more about how these types of approaches facilitated learning among farmers. The analysis of data explored whether such learning was significant enough to bring about social change and sustainable development. The study assisted in creating an opportunity for rural people to learn collectively and influence each other for positive change and to enable them to participate fully in their own development. It proved that using a combination of educational approaches and incorporating well developed communication strategies adult educators will be able to provide enhanced learning opportunities and reach even the remotest human being alive. Recommendations are given for successful implementation and replicating the educational approaches at a large scale and for other vital adult learning opportunities in the country and elsewhere.