Participatory learning is an educational approach that is intended to facilitate an reciprocative process of knowledge gathering and analysis. The approach has been used in rural communities in the developing world and has been found to be effective in identifying the valuable perspectives of the rural poor, leading to more practical and sustainable solutions. It also empowers rural poor to share their knowledge with the larger community in an effort to preserve culture and local wisdom.
The first step of this approach is to identify the specific needs of the community. This assessment is through site visits to conduct community survey and interviews with farmers and community members, as well as consulting with local stakeholders and leaders, and collecting scientific data. Following this initial assessment, an action plan is formulated in direct cooperation with community members. If community members themselves formulate and develop the plan, they are more likely to realize and sustain its components into the future.
School as Centerpiece
The Field Alliance believes that schools act as community centerpieces. First and foremost, schools provide necessary and responsive educational materials and programs that feed the community knowledge to help them thrive. Schools should also provide opportunities for intergenerational and multicultural exchange of knowledge and experience- not only between parents, teachers, and students, but also among students, farmers, village elders, merchants, and other community members who can actively participate in an cooperative learning process.
By creating integrative agriculture-based curriculum frameworks in cooperation with local governing authorities and individual school administrators, The Field Alliance supports these avenues of learning and provides students with a cohesive and comprehensive learning experience.
The Field Alliance strongly supports connections between partner organizations and local schools. We consult and often play a central role in the development of localized curriculums that integrate agricultural subject matter and experiential learning, largely based on the 'farmer field school' approach.
By working on various levels- with policy makers, administrators, and teachers- we are able to see that these innovative approaches and valuable subject matter is integrated into school curriculums at the primary level and extends to secondary, tertiary, and non-formal educational extensions.