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Doctoral thesis, 2013

Farmer Field Schools as a transformative learning space in the rural African setting

Duveskog, Deborah


The aims of this research was to understand how education in the rural African faming setting can contribute to development and well-being in a way that is empowering for the poor. The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach, provided an empirical frame for the research. By reflecting on experiences of FFS participants in East Africa, the research tried to answer how the FFS learning experience play out in the daily lives of participants and their families and the role that FFS play in assisting participants to take control over their own development and enhanced well-being. Conceptually the research was framed by constructivist line of thoughts, adult education and transformative learning theories. The research applied a mixed methods approach with a variety of qualitative and quantitative tools including participatory identification of indicators of empowerment, large scale household surveys with a total of 2000 farmers and in-depth interviews. Data analysis from the quantitative survey work indicated a relationship between farmer participation in FFS, empowerment and increased wellbeing in all three countries studied. The study thus argue for an empowerment route to well-being, triggered by group based learning. The research further indicate significant impact of FFS in terms of building the capacity of people to make choices and decisions that ultimately lead to increased uptake of agricultural innovations, access to services and markets as well as collective action. Qualitative data revealed significant social impacts of FFS in terms of changes in everyday life of participants, transformation of self-concept, change in gender roles and relations, customs and traditions, community relations and an increase in household economic development. A number of pedagogical tools applied in the FFS was found to be instrumental in facilitating transformative learning and empowerment. Major conclusions of the study are the need for investment in human capacity and the importance of an appropriate mix of technological and social advancement for development. The implications of the research are relevant within the fields of rural development, gender studies and for transformative learning and adult education theory. Further, the study contributes knowledge on how to measure empowerment in the poverty setting.


Farmer Field Schools; East Africa; Transformative learning; experiential learning; agricultural extension; empowerment

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2013, number: 2013:47
ISBN: 978-91-576-7832-4
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Gender Studies
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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