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In recent times, students show little or no interest in practical agriculture while in the school and lacked the skills and technical knowledge in agriculture after leaving the school as a result of poor management of the school farm. The poor management of the school farm also has been identified as one of the factors that have been threatening the successful achievement of the aims and objectives of agricultural education at the secondary schools. Hence this study was designed to determine strategies that could be adopted to improve the management of the school farm to enhance productivity and develop in the students the required skills and technical knowledge in agriculture for entry into agricultural occupation. Six research questions were used in this study and four null hypotheses postulated to guide the study. A survey rcsearcli design was uscd for the study. A structilrcd questionnaire was used to collect data from the population of two hundred and eighty four (284) Agricultural Science teachers and principals in the government secondary schools in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory. Abuja was used for the study because it has vast fertile land favourable for arable crop production. The data collected were analysed using the mean and standard deviation (SD) for answering the research questions, while t-test statistics was used in the testing of the hypotheses at .05 level of significance. The findings of the study showed that all the 34 items on the planning, organizing and controlling activities of the school farm were agreed to be effective by the respondents, 13 out of the 21 items on the possible sources of funds for the operation of the school farm were agreed by the respondents to be capable of being used to generate funds for the operation of the
school farm, while the respondents disagreed on 4 items on their possibilities in being utilized to generate funds. Ten out of 1 1 items on the profitable ways of improving the marketing of the school farm products were rated agreed by the respondents as possible wCjki.' '6'f"'im$ro~ing the marketing of the school farm products, while only one item was disagreed as not possible way of improving the marketing of the school farm products. All the 24 items on motivational factors that could increase the students' interest to participate actively in the school farm activities were rated agreed by the respondents as the factors capable of motivating the students'. interests. Also all the 8 ,items.each in the possible ways of utilizing the School-Community Relationship and the parent teacher association for improving the management of the school farm were all rated agreed by the respondents as the possible ways of utilizing the School-Community relationship and the parent teacher association for improving the management of the school farm.
Background of the Study
The economy of Nigeria for many years has mainly been sustained by agriculture prior to the oil (petroleum) boom. The Agricultural sector accounted for more than 60% of the gross domestic products of the country (Ngoddy, 2000). It is common knowledge that the nation's revenue was derived from palm oil and kernel from the East, cocoa and kolanut from the West and cotton, groundnut, hides and skin horn lhc N o r h
Realizing the importance of agriculture in the nation's development, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the auspices of the Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Committee (CESAC 1985) developed the national curriculum for agricultural education for the secondary school. The curriculum spelt out a number of objectives, among which are as follows:
i. to enable students acquire basic knowledge and practical skills in
11. to stimulate and sustain students' interest in agriculture;
iii .to prepare students for future studies in agriculture and
iv. to prepare students,Xog o ~ ~ u p a t i oinn agriculture.
To realize the stated objectives, the curriculum recommended that each school should have a farm space called "school farm" (FME, 1 985).
According to Ogbazi (1985), the school farm is a land laboratory, and an educational facility which helps studen'ts to coordinate classroo~ntheory and practice. Also, in his opinion, it is an industrial laboratory for Agricultural Science classes where principles and theoretical aspects of Agricultural Science learnt in the classroom are demonstrated. Osinem (1996) similarly defined the school farm as a selected area of land on the school premises where students could be taught the art of farming such as crop production and animal husbandry. Olaitan and Mama (200 1)
conceptualized school farm as an area specially earmarked for agricultural activities by the school. This area usually possesses the potentials required for agricultural productivity. I t may be in the school or at a fairly walking distance to the school. In the context of this study, therefore, a school farm is an area of land specifically mapped out in the school premises or outside the school premises where practical agriculture is carried out by the students for acquisition of agricultural production skills in preparation for entry into agricultural occupations. It is an area of land where not only the students acquire practical skills in agriculture, but also carry out effective cultivation of crops and rearing of animals for profit. The school farm is aimed at imparting farm management skills to the Agricultural Science students and promoting socially desirable attitudes, habits and understanding concerning agriculture. I t provides opportunities for the demonstration of agricultural innovations and opportunities for coordinating theory taught in the classroom and practical experience. It promotes creative activities of the students and helps to generate income for the school with the ingenuity of the Agricultural Science teacher (Ogbazi, 1985 and Agusiobo, 1988).
The Agricultural Science teacher decides on the type of crops and animals to
be produced on the farm. He determines on the type of cropping systems to be
adopted, when to plant the crops and to keep animals. I-le chooses the method of weed
control to be adopted,. the method pf pest and disease control and soil conservation
,. 4 - t . 91 ,
technique to be used. The Agricultural Science teacher also organizes various activities on the scliool farm such as arrangement of the use of productive resources available for effective use, grouping students to execute specific farm activities,
procuring farm inputs, farm calendar for varying farming events and
assigning specific tasks on the farm to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. Similarly, the Agricultural Science teacher controls the use of inputs and supervises the students on the farm during practical work 011 the farm. He also carries out layout of the farm, follows the calendar of the farm activities, carries out breeding of crops and livestock, formulates and prepares livestock feeds, adopts current farming practices, applies fertilizer to the crops, stores crops in the right places, culls out and sells farm animals
at maturity and keeps farm records (Olaitan and Mama, 2001). This implies that the Agricultural Science teacher plays the greatest role in the day-to-day management of the school farm.
Management as explained by Osuala (2000), Koontz and Weihrich (200 1 ) is an active process of decision making, so that the available human and material resources of an organization are effectively utilized through the coordinated performance of the primary functions of management, planning, organizing and controlling i n order to accomplish the aims and the ob-jectives ol' the organization. 'I'hey further explaincd that planning is the foundation of management which involves establishing the objectives necessary for all group efforts. At the planning stage, the Agricdtural Science teacher decides what to produce, how to produce and when to produce and the techniques to be used. It is through planning that the use of the limited resources
A of the school farm is effectively considered. The planning stage of the school farm is followed by organizing activities of the farm. Therefore organizing as one of the elements of management involves proper arrangement of the human and material resources in a systematic order such that when they are put into use, there would be no interference. Organizing in the school farm activities by the Agricultural Science teacher involves, grouping students accordingly for a particular operation on the
school farm, assigning plots to each student, arranging for the crops to be planted and the livestock to be kept on .th,e.$~l~opl,,farm,assembling the tools and equipment for specific operation, arrangement for the planting of crops, weeding, fertilizer application, harvesting and marketing of the sphool farm products. After the organizing the human and material resources of the school farm, the next thing is to control their uses. Controlling activity of the school farm, therefore, involves systematic monitoring and regulation of the activities and programmes of the school farm to ensure that events conform to the plan.
In the context of this study, management is conceptualized as the process by which the Agricultural Science teacher directs the affairs of the school farm activities by making use of the available resources of the farm through planning, organizing, controlling and supervision in ordcr to attain to tlic goals of the school farm.
Management is needed in any enterprise involving series of activities and people such as the school farm operation. The operation of the school farm involves several activities and people over a period of time. It is not the sole responsibility of the Agricultural Science teacher alone, it involves the co-operation of the school principal, the students and other members of the staff in the school. The Agricultural Science teachers and the principals are the major actors in the school farm management. Therefore, their views although may differ on the best strategy to be adopted to improve the management of the school farm will be most reliable. On the other hand, the school-community relationship and the parent teacher association are part and parcel of the school. They play significant role in all the facets of the development of the school. Therefore, it may be necessary if the school-community and parent teacher association are utilized as some of the strategies for improving the management of the school farm.
Strategy according to Williams (1 999) and Koontz and Weihrich (2001) is a military term derived from the Greek word "Strategos" meaning planned and calculated action which has been experimented upon, tested and certified for action. They further explained that it means also purpose, mission, goals, objectives and means of achieving them. It also refers to the determination of the mission and the
basic long-term objectives of an enterprise and adoption of course of action and
allocation of resources necessary,tg. acJjieve these aims.
With reference to this study, strategy means various methods that can be used by the Agricultural Science teacher to improve the management of the school farm in order to achieve success. This implies that the Agricultural Science teacher should plan, organize and control the available tiu'man and material resources of the school farm skillfully in order to increase the benefits of the school farm as much as possible in terms of acquisition of required practical skills and technical knowledge in agricultural production by the students as well as income generation for the school. Students require practical skills and technical knowledge in agricultural production for entry into agricultural occupation. In the past, the school farm provided the skills and tecliiiical knowledge in various areas of agriculture for the students and generated
income for the school. Students participated actively in the school farm operation and showed interest in practical agriculture; but today, students do not show sufficient interest in the school farm operation, they see practical agriculture in the school farm as a wastc of time. Students leave schools aflcr graduation and lackcd thc practical skills i n agricultural production for entry into agricultural occupation.
It appears that the lack of required skills and technical knowledge i n agricultural production and insufficient interest and negative attitude towards practical agricultural production is as a result of poor management of the school farm and under funding of the schools by the government. Many educationists and experts have reported a great decline in the productivity of the sc
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