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Developing a context-focused curriculum

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This project targeted the poorest regions in Ethiopia. Three TVET colleges were involved with the project. It was a challenge for these colleges to adapt the existing curriculum to the context and needs of the trainees. Several topics were missing, such as the skills required for self-employment, poultry health, and how to prepare compost. Neither had the local climate conditions where the trainees lived (weather, soil, etc.) been taken sufficiently into account.

Key words:

  • Poultry
  • Vegetable production
  • Apiculture

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A context-focused curriculum

As a curriculum provides a framework for training, it guides all of the training activities. In this case, however, key topics were missing from the curriculum: for example, it is difficult to teach poultry production without paying due attention to health issues. Likewise, compost is important for many reasons: it is made up of locally available materials, it is cost effective, and it increases the productivity of organic products.

Being aware of this, Woord en Daad and its partners added poultry health and the preparation and utilization of compost to the curriculum. Woord en Daad also considered the context of the trainees and took two sets of measures. First, it agreed with its partners and training institutions that topics should be included that were relevant to the trainees. For example, environmental factors such as weather, soil and humidity determine which crops grow best in certain areas, and thus what should be taught in a particular context.

Second, it arranged for the training to be conducted in farmers’ fields, without removing the trainees from their local areas. This helped to make the training more useful, cost-effective, context-based and needs-based, which in turn motivated the young people to take part.

As a result, young people have been able to develop comprehensive knowledge and skills in the sectors in which they have been trained. It is expected that we will be able to train more trainees because the cost of training has fallen, and the training is now organized in trainees’ villages and agro-ecological contexts.

After the training, those trainees that do not own their own farms have contracted land from others and have started producing vegetables and farming poultry. Others have applied to the government to get working sites and have been fortunate enough to acquire working spaces for their groups. They have abandoned traditional farming, which has a poor rate of productivity, and have started to apply the skills they have learned in their training.


Woord en Daad and its partners gathered comments and feedback from trainers and trainees on the relevance and comprehensiveness of the curriculum. The experience of the trainers was crucial here. The trainers identified the gaps in the curriculum, such as poultry health issues and compost preparation. They then discussed these with the TVET colleges, so that the necessary improvements could be made to the curriculum. Based on the outcomes of the discussion, curricula were improved to meet the needs and contexts of the participants. Points for improvement included poultry health, compost preparation, and where and how to conduct the training for farmers. These topics were important, because they play such a fundamental role in training for the selected sectors.

The improved curricula were shared with the training institutions, trainers and trainees. They were also added to the libraries of the TVET colleges, so that they could be accessed by all.


  • Woord en Daad
  • Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
  • Agricultural bureau offices in Debre Zeit, Gambella, Jeldu and Bako
  • Holland African Poultry Partners (HAPP)
  • Aeres Groep – Groenhorst Barneveld
  • Learn4Work project staff
  • TVET colleges
  • TVET trainers
  • Trainees


  • Human resources: experts from educational institutions, technical skills trainers and project staff who have expertise in skills training
  • Financial resources: used to pay to the experts who were involved in the activity
  • Time
  • Material resources (curriculum, stationery, computers, etc.)


The main output is the new, improved curriculum, which includes the most relevant context-based and needs-based training content. As a result of this, trainees are more motivated to take part in the technical skills and BTEC training, the drop-out rate has fallen, and the training has become more relevant. The BTEC training is based on international standards, with a focus on practical assignments. This has been an additional improvement by the EIAR institute and trainees, because BTEC training has enhanced the practical aspects of the training and goes into much more detail on nutritional, health and management issues. After being trained, the trainees have become self-employed and have started to see real improvements in their livelihoods. Above all, most participants in the training reported a change of attitude, although this was not solely due to the improvements to the curriculum.

Lessons learned

Improving curricula enabled young people to participate in skills-training with renewed interest and commitment, which would eventually enable them to get remunerative jobs.
The initial plan was to send trainees to TVET colleges located in different agro-ecological conditions and geographical settings from the trainees’ home settings. The trainees moved from their homes to live at the colleges, which were situated 245 km and 180 km from the two project sites. This resulted in problems such as high costs, inefficient input utilization, farmers’ time management problems and problems relating to the agro-ecological context. In addition, it resulted in problems relating to designing context-based and needs-based training content.


The framework guides the training, so its relevance and comprehensiveness plays a key role. As the goal is to improve the incomes of marginalized young people, the compatibility of the training topics with the trainees’ contexts, interests and needs is critical. Since the labour market is dynamic, it is essential to keep revising and improving the curriculum. This certainly helps all of the parties involved – the trainees, implementing partners, private sector actors and training institutions – in terms of improving their livelihoods, project success, project replication and getting capable graduates who can make a difference. From a commercial perspective, this enables training institutes to offer training in skills that are in demand and to improve their income by attracting more trainees. Institutes can therefore sustain their position in the market by expanding their activities and the number of trainees they can reach.

Project sheet Woord en Daad


Improving food security for the poorest in Ethiopia. That is the aim of this project. To do so, the project offers a chance to landless youth to start an agricultural business. At the same time poultry farms in the region are scaled up.

Short facts
Sector: Agriculture
Lead partner: Woord en Daad
Overall budget for the project: € 593.622
Learn4Work contribution: € 202.500
Partner contribution: € 391.122
Implementation period: July 2013- December 2016

Buying Food

Women from poor households in Jeldu, Bako, Ada’a and Gambella district in Ethiopia must be nervous when they go to the market to buy food. They never know what will be available. But most importantly, they never know how much it will cost today. Since the areas where they live produce not enough food they are depending on import from other districts. Prices can fluctuate without clear reasons. Nevertheless there is hope: the districts could potentially produce far more food locally.

Training Youth and Farm Groups

This project has two major goals. Firstly to provide decent work for young marginalised people in the agricultural sector in Jeldu, Bako, Ada’a and Gambella. 450 young people will be trained and groups of farmers will be coached to increase their agricultural production and therefore their income. Trainees are selected from poor families, who own no land at all or only have a small plot. Each trainee shares the newly acquired knowledge and skills on vegetable production, poultry and apiculture with another 5-10 people. These are the members of their farmer group. Through this local training in their own villages 4500 additional farmers are trained. Some of these members have lower education levels or are illiterate. Nonetheless they still get access to practical agricultural skills. By collecting feedback from ex-trainees, the teachers adjust the curriculum of the trainings to ensure what is taught is practical in the day-to-day work of the vegetable and poultry farmers and bee-keepers.

Poultry Farming

The second component of the project deals with poultry farms. 100 poultry entrepreneurs will be trained to scale up their farm. Poultry production in Ethiopia as a whole is quite low, but more and more people want to buy chicken, so the demand is steadily growing. Poultry farmers with better production and management skills are needed to meet the demand. The targeted poultry farms have the potential to grow up to 1000 chickens.

Job and Business Services

Trainees in the various agricultural vocational courses will be coached and supported to find suitable work. One option is through matching with possible employers. Alternatively the Job and Business Services centre supports the trainees and farmer groups by access to microcredit so they can start their own business. This Job and Business Service centre is a successful concept that has been developed in an earlier project. Its success rate in getting young people propelled into the job market has caused it to be sustained and replicated in other projects.

Public Private Partnership

A diverse group of partners collaborate in this project. By pooling together their joint expertise and efforts a lot more is possible than if they were on their own. Hope Enterprises and MKC-RDA are responsible for the development of the training courses. Holland-Africa Poultry Partners (HAPP) offers advanced training to 100 interested poultry entrepreneurs. HAPP offers this training with the technical support of the Dutch Groenhorst College. Dutch entrepreneurs willing to invest in the Ethiopian poultry sector were involved in research to identify the business opportunities. Lead partner Woord en Daad has a coordinating role and is responsible for reporting to donors and measuring results together with all partners.

Other Contributing Partners:

Genesis Farm, Beze Mar

Woord en Daad Foundation

PO Box 560
4200 AN Gorinchem
Email: info[at]
Contact: Mrs Fieneke van den Bosch, Mr Pascal Ooms

Groenhorst Internationaal

Website: –
Email: international[at]
Contact: Mr Jan Gundelach

De Heus Animal Feed (HAPP)

Email: info[at]
Contact: Mr Jan Kampschöer

Beza Mar Agro Industry PLC

Website: –
Email: bezamar[at]
Contact: Mr Haile Giorgis Demissie

Alema Koudijs Feed PLC

Email: alemakoudijs[at]
Contact: Mr Jan Couzijnsen

Genesis Farms Ethiopia PLC

Email: info[at]
Contact: Mr Pim Marijs

Meserete Kristos Church Relief and Development Association – MKC-RDA

Email: mkcrda[at]
Contact: Belissa Mathewos

Hope Enterprises

Email: hopeaa[at]
Contact: Mr Zenebe Ayele