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Cross-cultural diffusion of adult education : the role of agricultural extension staff in ECS Nigeria Uwakah, Chuku Timothy


In Nigeria, agriculture is the primary industry employing about 75% of the total population. However, traditional farming methods and small farm units prevail throughout the country. Many people have been concerned that after nearly forty years of operation, the Agricultural Extension Service has made very little or no educational impact on the average Nigerian farmer in terms of improving his skills and making him more receptive to technological change. The purpose of this study was to find out how well agricultural extension staff in the East Central State of Nigeria performed their role as adult educators. The investigation was limited to agent-related variables such as attitudes, beliefs, role perception and training which are crucial in determining individual levels of staff performance and consequently the over-all effectiveness of the extension programme. Verner's model of cross-cultural diffusion of adult education provided the theoretical framework for analysing the activities of the field staff, and findings were compared with North American standards. The subjects included 51 senior and 165 junior extension staff representing a 32% proportionate random sample of the population. An interview schedule, a Likert-type attitude-measuring scale and a multiple choice knowledge test were constructed, validated and used to collect information relevant to the objectives of the study. Statistical treatment of the data involved the preparation of multivariate contingency tables, determination of group means and standard deviations, the use of t-tests and other correlational techniques. Ninety per cent of the senior and junior extension staff in the state were dissatisfied with the conditions of service in the ministry. Most of the respondents had a poor to moderately favourable attitude towards extension work and towards the farmers. They also had a low level of knowledge of extension principles. These findings suggest, that generally, the extension staff in East Central State of Nigeria performed poorly as adult educators. Staff attitudes towards extension and the client system were positively related to rank in the service, formal education and level of agricultural training received. Less than one-half of the field staff perceived adult education as their most important function. The major responsibility for extension was that of junior staff who spent about two-thirds of their time in the field. Individual and group instructional methods and techniques were used more often than mass communication devices which were limitedly available in the rural areas. Extension workers in the state needed additional training in adult education processes, related social sciences and technical agriculture. The major problems of extension in the state include organizational and administrative bottlenecks, shortage, of trained personnel, staff incompetency, lack of field and office facilities, and poor inter-agency cooperation. By adopting the comparative approach, and by focussing the elements of an emerging theory of cross-cultural diffusion of adult education upon the activities of the extension services, the study provided a global perspective of the diffusion process as it relates to agricultural extension, and developed a set of criteria for judging its educational effectiveness. It has also provided some insight into agent-related causes of failure of rural adult education programmes in a developing country. In addition to identifying specific areas of needed inservice training, the study has provided useful information about the problems of extension in the state, and has suggested guidelines for improving the effectiveness of the service.

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