SURAFCO is a project aiming to reform agricultural college education in Lao PDR, with a focus on upland agriculture. The project is working in the areas of organizational development & project coordination, human resources development by organizing training & workshops ensuring quality education; curriculum development; monitoring & evaluation; elaboration of students’ support schemes; setting up partnerships and infrastructure development.
The project’s second four-year phase started in December 2012 and focuses on four interlinked outcomes:
- Increased outreach through partnering
- Increased education quality and expanding lessons learnt
- Transparent, effective and gender sensitive management system
- Increased employment of graduates.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is committed to modernize agricultural college education, in order to contribute to achieving food security and better livelihoods for all Lao people.
Detailed steps are formulated in the “Strategy for Reform in the Agriculture and Forestry Colleges towards 2020 in Lao PDR”, which was released in January 2008. The reform focuses on all 5 agriculture colleges under MAF to improve their performance and better respond to the needs of the labor market and the objectives of the Government policy.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has opted to assist this reform process by establishing SURAFCO, a project on the “Support to the Reform of the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College”
SURAFCO’s second four-year phase is based on the interlinked approach of phase 1 with four main objectives. It will concentrate on strengthening NAFC, consolidating existing achievements, improving teaching and the relation to the upland context. It will furthermore focus on increased cooperation with other institutions, in particular with the 4 other agricultural colleges to implement MAF’s road map supporting the broader reform process.
An increased partner network will contribute to a better outreach in offering quality services for upland development.
Teachers Human Resources Development will increase the education quality and the revised curriculum will offer an optimized combination of theory, applied theory and practice to the students. The teaching methods will focus on student-centered learning, e.g. encouraging analytical skills and education offers will be broadened, including mid and short term courses for farmers and agricultural staffs working in the private and public sector.
Experiences in teaching, management and infrastructure development will be capitalized and spread to other educational institutions, especially the agricultural colleges, with MAF’s taskforce for the reform process having a leading role in the expansion process.
Improvement of the practical term and related partners shall provide an opportunity for students to prepare their future (self-) employment project and farmers shall benefit from the students’ practical term.
The establishment of a job counseling unit, a related strategy and better linkages to credit institutions will be important efforts for employment or self-employment preparations and job placements.