This is a Finalist in the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
e-Learning for Agriculture and Fisheries: Enhancing Access to Agricultural Knowledge Products and Services in the Philippines
Agricultural Training Institute (ATI)
Best practice Focus Area(s)
Customer and citizen focus, Knowledge management and information technology
In 2007, the Department of Agriculture mandated ATI through Department Order No.3 to lead in the provision of electronic extension services in collaboration with various government agencies to maximize the use of ICT. Intending to provide services along the value chain, ATI started with the e-learning component of the e-Extension Program for Agriculture and Fisheries. It now offers diverse online courses on agricultural production technologies as well as special courses on agricultural marketing, quality product standards, good agricultural practices, and social technologies. The e-learning courses are developed in collaboration with other government agencies, state universities and colleges, and non-government organizations.
Background and Problem
To enhance the extension delivery services, ATI developed programs to reach out to more clients through effective channels and media. The e-Extension Program through e-learning aims to address the following problems:
- Lack of learning opportunities and inaccessibility of information particularly on production technologies as well as market-related information for the farmers and fishers.
- Fragmented ICT-based programs and services of various agencies of the DA.
- Aging farmers and fishers while the youth are lured in the cities since they don’t see farming as a profitable enterprise.
- Reduce cost in terms of education and training through the use of online and distance learning
Moreover, advances in ICT, specifically in terms of speed and quality of information, gave rise to the idea to develop an online service that contains various knowledge products and services on agriculture and fisheries technologies.
Solution and Impact
Before the introduction of ICT-based services, access to information on farming and fishing technologies has been limited to traditional forms of IECs (i.e., print and radio) disseminated through the various agencies of the Department of Agriculture. With the meager resources allocated to the government agencies, the cost of production and timely delivery of information greatly affected the implementation of programs and services designed for the farmers and fishers in the country. To address these problems, ATI came up with an extension program maximizing the available information and communication technologies which were also popular among the clientele and at the same time, harmonizing the programs and services of the various institutions for a pluralistic delivery of agricultural extension services.
With the advent of ICT becoming popular among the clientele, the ATI initiated e-learning course development initially for the technical staff and interested partner agencies by setting the standards on instructional design and on the manner of delivery – from designating technical support for online users to collaborating with other institutions as well as state universities and colleges to make the e-learning courses part of their curricula.
From five courses offered when it was launched in 2007, the Institute started with 336 enrollees. At present, the ATI now has 65 e-learning courses on various production technologies developed in collaboration with other government institutions and state universities and colleges. As of August 2019, the number of enrollees now reached 82,862 individuals, which also signifies that there is an increased awareness and interest to learn among agriculture and fisheries enthusiasts.
To date, the ATI, through its network of training centers, has partnered with 36 state universities and colleges nationwide, with 52,270 students who completed the courses out of 63,249 students who took up some e-learning courses as part of their school requirements. Not only the ATI Training Centers, but some partner schools even designed blended courses for the students to have hands-on experience as part of their practical skills. This mode has been consistently done in Batangas State University where the high school students took up online courses on goat production before their field activities at the farm. Aside from the students, members of the faculty, teachers and non-teaching staff also took up some online courses and joined their students during the graduation ceremony
- An estimated savings of Php78 million in training costs compared to costs incurred in face-to-face training.
- Established networks of experts, practitioners, and subject matter specialists from various agencies and educational institutions.
- Inclusion of the e-learning in the curriculum of the secondary and tertiary education system.
The e-learning component of the e-Extension Program has been nominated as the best and most innovative digital solution from the Philippines at the World Summit Awards last 2018. The “World Summit Awards” is a global initiative selecting digital innovations from 180 member countries making a positive impact on society. Likewise, the ATI’s e-learning initiatives have been presented in various national and international conferences including the United Nations – Commission on Sustainable Development in Washington DC, USA, World Bank’s Regional Inclusive Innovation Forum held in China, International Congress on e-Learning 2019 in Bohol, Philippines, among others.