Educational institutions all over the globe are known as a platform basically used directly or indirectly to influence the total life of an individual.
The government, through the schools, plans and guides learning experiences and promotes individuals’ continuous growth through a systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experience.
As a dynamic and functional element, knowledge needs to be continuously reconstructed, especially as dictated by the changing times. In various spheres of life, stakeholders always opt for the instrument of educational platform to address issues that border on the public’s orientation and mindset.
Harry Smorenberg, founder and Chairman of the World’s Pension Summit, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board of Banking and Finance in Europe, said teaching financial literacy as a subject in schools has helped other countries to widen access to financial products and services.
Considering Financial Literacy as an important adjunct for promoting financial inclusion, consumer protection and financial stability, he advised Nigeria to teach financial literacy in schools. His reasons are supposedly to enable students have a better “understanding of financial planning, the importance of preparing household budget, cash-flow management and asset allocation to meet financial goals.”
Smorenberg is not alone in his thought. Tanner and Tanner (1980) in their Curriculum Development: “Theory into Practice” also recognised the role of the school in the systematic construction of knowledge and experience unlike the role played by other agencies.
Going by the usefulness of the educational institutions to the society, there is every need for Nigerian leaders to ramp up efforts aimed at driving agricultural literacy, especially at the base levels if the country is sincerely interested in the development of agriculture for the good of its economy.
Agricultural literacy is a phrase used to describe programmes to promote the understanding and knowledge necessary to synthesise, analyse and communicate basic information about agriculture with students, producers, consumers and the public at large.
Such programmes focus on assisting educators and others to effectively incorporate information about agriculture into subjects being taught or examined in public and private fora in order to better understand the impact of agriculture on society.
However, my interest is in tackling agricultural literacy from the classroom where the learner would be exposed to the knowledge and understanding of not just the concept of health and environment, but their history, current economic and social significance to the people of Nigeria.
It is expected that the knowledge of food and fibre production, processing and domesticating as well as international marketing, through the instrument of the school, will eventually produce informed citizens of Nigeria who will be instrumental to the formulation and implementation of policies that would support competitive agro-business ventures.
The youth with knowledge and understanding of food and fibre system would naturally be able to synthesize, analyse and communicate basic information about agriculture such as the production of plants and animal products, its processing, the economic impact of agriculture, its societal significance, the marketing/distribution of agricultural products etc.
Making agricultural literacy mandatory from primary educational level through secondary education, irrespective of choice of course of study, no doubt, will have significant impact in the restoration and development of Nigeria’s ailing economy. This is why Gbamanja (2000) noted that the school curriculum planner in selecting contents should survey and interprete the nature of the society – its basic stable values and the areas in which it is changing to.
Gbamanja views the school as a miniature society, thus what the school teaches depends a lot on the needs and aspirations of the society.
Nigeria at the moment, is talking, preaching and dreaming agriculture, while individuals are encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the prevailing economic meltdown in the country to launch into agriculture.
I am of the opinion that all the talks about reverting to agriculture as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy would amount to naught if no concrete effort is made to have every child that passes through primary and secondary education in Nigeria, know about agriculture.
Nigeria’s recovery from the impact of the fall of price of crude oil that had for decades, boosted its foreign reserve, will definitely not be sudden. It will really call for an orderly arrangement of series of courses and supporting activities designed to help young Nigerians rediscover themselves.