German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Sectorproject Knowledge Systems in Rural Areas, Germany
Formal and non-formal qualification concepts broaden the development potentials of rural communities. The expanded access to quality basic education and qualification for all contributes therefore substantially to poverty reduction. In order to address the complex requirements of rural areas, education and training concepts (organisation and contents) need to be adapted to the local context. Non-formal qualification training in particular needs to offer opportunities for life-long learning in all aspects of the rural livelihood. Recent changes in the political and economic framework are affecting rural areas (i.e. decentralisation, deconcentration, market orientation, privatisation) and the livelihoods of the rural population. They demand a lot more self initiative, participation as well as organisational, cooperation and communication skills that have to be acquired. Comprehensive skills development strategies need to enable people to become technically competent, self conscious and active citizens. The necessary qualifications include primarily technical and micro-economic skills, as well as the ability to innovate agricultural production. These are the basis to overcome subsistence production towards market orientation and to develop non"=agricultural job opportunities. Parallel to these ``hard skills'', also ``soft skills'' such as self"=organisation on village level, collective conflict management and democratic development need to be integrated in qualification programmes. Hard skills in the sense of technical production information have been transferred for a long time by agricultural extension (public and private). Farm"=economic topics on market orientation and the concept of value chains were added more recently. Due to insufficiently formulated demand by the rural population, most extension topics though are still supply side oriented. Innovative training approaches attempt to develop both hard and soft skills for rural people. This promises sustainable changes in attitudes and behaviour on individual, organisational, society and political levels. Examples are projects of the German development cooperation in the Cote d´Ivoire, ``Rural Training Networks'', and in Cameroon, ``Self Help Promotion''. Public and private training and qualification service providers still have enormous deficiencies in skills for organisational development, process management and participatory approaches. These service providers need first to be qualified before they can implement skills development strategies for the rural population effectively.
Keywords: Education, rural development