The Role of Young professionals in Shaping Agricultural Education

Date: 2015-10-27 Visted:

By Marina Cherbonnier


How can we shape education so that it matches young people’s needs if we don’t involve them in curricula development discussions? This has been an overly repeated question in conferences but with no concrete answer to it. But The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences, fondly referred to as GCHERA is on a mission to change that.

GCHERA is a global confederation of associations of universities that discusses and voices, on a global level, the way(s) forward to make and maintain universities’ work relevant.

YPARD was invited to take part in GCHERA Assembly and World Dialogue,  from 19th -21st September, in Nanjing, China, to not only discuss and concretise plans for building a shared vision with GCHERA, but also to strengthen collaboration between the two parties especially at this time when GCHERA is determining its action plan for the year 2016-2020.

We believe that young professionals, strong of their own experiences and as beneficiaries, need to be fully involved in the processes towards defining and implementing GCHERA’s action plan 2016 -2020. This will greatly help in ensuring curricula developments  focus on those skills and competencies that young professionals need to tackle global social and environmental challenges of the 21st Century and in return ensure viable paths for themselves.The young people present at the assembly particularly expressed and stressed on  the need for more:

Youth targeted research on their aspirations, challenges, opportunities and specific needs

 Inter-generational exchanges and mentorship, such as stronger university-professional market bridges – both with seniors and among young professionals

A stronger youth representation and voice among GCHERA’s strategic planning and programming

As young professionals, we see the added value of GCHERA as a catalyst for stronger benchmarking and research on current educational programs and job market’s needs. This could be in terms of disciplines (notably soft skills) and the ways of teaching - maybe by providing some research and monitoring tool kits for universities. In addition, GCHERA could also be an online platform pillar upon which, sharing of best practices among universities is enhanced.

For this to successfully happen, we believe that young people need to be involved in board decisions especially now that GCHERA is charting a way forward. This will help them bring their own perspectives to the table while gaining leadership skills and experience from senior professionals. And this is something Paul Singh the winner of the 3rd GCHERA World Agriculture Prize competition organized by GCHERA and Nanjing University concured with. Engaging young people in GCHERA’s core work will foster inter-generational exchanges and two-way learning among senior and junior professionals.

For us this is an important milestone as it's a first phase for strong collaboration between YPARD and GCHERA in 2016-2020. GCHERA committed to carry on the discussions in order to identify concrete ways to work together. Board members also expressed interest in YPARD work and currently, connections are being made with YPARD national representatives.

Besides that, It was also the occasion to meet the YPARD local representative in Nanjing,Wuyi Lu, as we believe it is important to stay connected to our members to fully respond to their needs and aspirations. And as this blogpost comes to a close, Wuyi's words ring so true to our ears:

“YPARD is useful to share information among young people, but also, YPARD is crucial to educate young people and seed in their mind that there is alternative achievement to very personal success. It is not about money; young people have to realize that there are people around, who suffer from poverty in China and globally. We have a role to play. YPARD is crucial to raise awareness about this and make young people dream, beyond their personal achievements.”

Perhaps this is what universities should lead young people to: dreaming, thinking and creating. What do you think?

Picture credit:News Agency of NJAU