Farmers’ Life School Manual

The aim of those who developed the idea of the Farmers’ Life School (FLS) was to find ways to help farming communities not only to perceive that they could have a better future, but also that they could take control of their own development. An FLS is a school that is created for a by villagers. The participants are people from the village. The facilitators are usually graduates from FLSs. The objective of a FLS is:

  • To provide a free forum for discussion
  • To provide the tools for community empowerment by developing skills which help one to identify and analyse problems that exist in the village
  • To place prime importance on local knowledge and resources to initiate changes
  • To understand the vulnerability that each individual and family member has to common community problems
  • To build the social capacity of the community through critical decision-making, thus alleviating the stresses of development and creating community resilience

This manual is intended primarily for use by facilitators of the FLS who have graduated from a Farmers’ Field School and a FLS, by adult educators or NGOs and community-based organisations with experience in participatory learning and people interested in introducing the FLS course into their own programmes. The FLS can be used in either community-based programmes or it can be adapted for formal educational settings.

The aim of the manual is to provide a framework to confront local concerns that face a community. The FLS is aimed at building on the risk assessment knowledge that farmers already have through a holistic approach. Proactive change is implemented through emphasising the importance of local resources and networks. Ultimately, the goal is to enable farmers to become effective decision-makers in their own lives, the lives of their families and in their community.

The manual begins with background information on FLSs and sets out general guidelines and preparation notes for starting a FLS. The main part of the training manual covers the actual curriculum. This is broken down into 16 sessions. The beginning of each section notes the objectives for that particular part of the programme and describes any material required. The key activities are then detailed in a number of easy to follow steps. The sessions covered are:

  1. Introducing the Farmers’ Life School
  2. Problem identification
  3. Agro-ecological system, human-ecological system and problem-solving
  4. Agro Eco-System Analysis
  5. Field observation
  6. Needs and daily practices of villagers
  7. Community networks
  8. Resource mobilisation
  9. Village Walk
  10. Presenting the results of the Village Walk
  11. Human Eco-System Analysis
  12. Conducting a successful interview ethically
  13. Conducting Human Eco-System Analysis
  14. Presenting Human Eco-System Analysis
  15. Developing an action plan for post-Farmers’ Life School activities
  16. Presenting the findings to the village

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