Should Agriculture Be a Required School Subject?
Despite the grumbling of many frustrated American school kids taking math tests, the broad subjects required in public schools each have firm arguments for their respective inclusion.
But that doesn’t mean there are no other worthy subjects, as the government of Kenya proposes. A recent story in the Capital News reveals that the Kenyan government is attempting to create a whole new subject, one that makes perfect sense: agriculture. After all, what could be more important than educating a country’s youth about the economics and realities of its food production?
The Kenyan cabinets of agriculture and education are teaming up to promote the concept of making agriculture a compulsory subject in both primary and secondary schools. Representatives of these departments note Kenya’s high average farmer age, which at 63 years old is even older than the US’s (58, not much better). The theory is that with required agriculture education—along with more advanced programs for students wishing to go into that industry—Kenya would be much better suited to put forward-thinking, young agriculture professionals into a field that desperately needs them.
Kenya is not alone in its desire to see agriculture textbooks in schools; Australia has debated the subject, as has Jamaica. But in the US, such efforts tend to be very small and local, as in a recent Illinois bill to help defray some of the costs in implementing an agriculture program. But certainly the situation in this country is no less in need of such a program than in Kenya: With the average age of the farmer rising, the number of farms dropping, and an overwhelmingly white and male workforce out of proportion to the actual demographics of the country, there’s plenty of need to hook youngsters on agriculture. If nothing else, agriculture field trips promise to taste even better than science field trips’ astronaut ice cream.