What is the Agricultural and Rural Training Network ?
The Agricultural and Rural Training (ART) Network (Réseau Formation Agricole et Rurale) was initiated by training professionals during an international meeting on « Mass education in rural areas » in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2006. The Network has presently a membership of 13 pays (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Tchad, Togo, Tunisia), with the Central Africa Republic, Niger and Mauritania due to join in soon. Since 2012, the Network has created a formal Association -Association Réseau International FAR- so as to be able to enter into formal partnerships with regional, national and international organisations engaged in development activities in its member countries. The development of the Network has benefitted from funding by the French Development Agency (AFD) through two projects, Adex FAR 1 (2011-2014) and Adex FAR 2 (2016-2019).
The Network brings together more than 1350 professionals involved in the design, management, implementation and evaluation of professional and technical, public and private training systems. All 13 member countries contribute to the validation the Network’s orientations and activities, through their representation in the General Assembly. The Network has set up a Committee comprised of three elected members, a management assistant and an Executive Secretariat in charge of facilitating the implementation of the Association’s activities.
What are the achievements ?
The FAR Network organizes seminars, training and conferences to encourage exchange of experiences, capitalization of knowledge and production of references.
Between 2005 and 2014, the Network has organized 10 international conferences and seminars on subjects pertaining to agricultural and rural training. Together, these events totalled 800 persons from over 40 countries. Some examples :
- Economics of professional ART systems » (Dakar, 2006) ;
- Food crisis : the training of rural people under question » (organised jointly with FAO, Rome, 2009) ;
- Professional and technical ART systems : Design and implementation methodologies » ; (Yaoundé, 2012) ;
- The role of ART in answering the diversity of agriculture » (Rabat, 2014).
- Anchoring ART and professional integration systems in territories » (Montpellier 2016).
The Network has also funded 17 thematic studies conducted by international experts and over 20 student research dissertations.
The studies and expert work initiated by the ART Network aim at meeting the requests of member countries on specific issues (renovation of ART systems, economics of training, analysis of social and economic training demand, etc.), or at exploring sub-regional or panafrican training issues. These studies help strengthening national dynamics in ART in member countries and the continent at large, creating expertise in the South on training issues, and support networking between experts.
Finally, the Network initiated and supported the creation of national ART platforms in its member countries which resulted in national networks in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon and Madagascar, (others are underway).
What are its orientations and strategy ?
The FAR International Network’s mission is to support its member countries’ efforts to renovate their training systems. This mission is embodied in a Strategic Plan available on its website: http://www.reseau-far.com/association-internationale-reseau-far.html).
Its strategy is articulated in 4 broad orientations :
- Support to the structuring and governance of national ART networks to enable them to strengthen their own capacity to strengthen the capacity of their members, by mobilizing national and international expertise.
- Capacity building by providing training services to support emerging initiatives from national platforms, aiming specifically trainers and managers of training organisations. A priority will be curriculum development, to strengthen schools’ capacity to develop innovative programmes adapted to the needs of the employment markets and to environmental constraints.
- Communication and advocacy to provide ART professionals and political decision makers with quality information, to give the Network greater visibility et enable it to influence public decision pertaining to ART.
- Production of knowledge on ART, on ART systems, employment market needs, job descriptions, new training methodologies, funding and management of training, and any subject relevant to ART.
The Network still faces significant challenges in order to build and strengthen partnerships, most notably at the Regional and continental levels, by federating more actors in national platforms and by building the Association’s autonomy :
- Strengthen the Network’s operational part by consolidating its organisation and functioning (governance structure, improvement of its technical and financial autonomy, setting up of an operational component at all levels, development of partnerships) ;
- Greater engagement in policy making with regard to agricultural policies and ART systems renovation;
- Continue to initiate actions in the member countries themselves (knowledge sharing, organise local expertise, strengthen shareholders’ capacities, support local advocacy and reform dynamics) ;
- Continue to organise regional and international events (seminars, training), to facilitate reflection and joint learning around common issues ;
- Strengthen strategy to support member countries (production of technical information on ART, training on diagnostic analysis of ART, production of knowledge, methodologies, tools, advocacy, contribution to the formulation of ART projects / programmes). Calls for proposals for research, studies and training will be issued in early 2017;
- Open the Network to other countries.