Forests

Graduates in forest education ill-equipped to handle sector’s emerging demands: Report

African forest education needs transformation as it is currently based on traditional European education, which focuses more on industrial wood production

 
By Susan Chacko
Published: Friday 07 October 2022
Students in secondary schools receive little or no exposure to forests, which makes them less enthusiastic about pursuing further studies in forestry. Photo: A screen grab from the report.
Students in secondary schools receive little or no exposure to forests, which makes them less enthusiastic about pursuing further studies in forestry. Photo: A screen grab from the report. Students in secondary schools receive little or no exposure to forests, which makes them less enthusiastic about pursuing further studies in forestry. Photo: A screen grab from the report.

Graduates in forest education and training programmes are all too frequently ill-equipped to handle the demands of the sector’s changing workplace, according to a new report.

A concerted global response to address these gaps is yet to emerge, highlighted the report released at the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) 26th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 26).

Knowledgeable and well-trained forest sector workers, entrepreneurs, practitioners, researchers, professionals and policymakers are essential for the future of forests, it added.

The report titled ‘Global Assessment of Forest Education’ examined the status of forest education around the globe and identified much-needed actions.

There is an urgent need to rekindle interest in forest education and tap into emerging opportunities offered by modern digital information and communication technologies, the report stated.

We should provide better opportunities for outdoor learning and work experience. We need to get the students out into the field, it added.

This needs to be accompanied by greater appreciation and use of indigenous and traditional forest-related knowledge education systems.

“We hope this report will initiate future actions to strengthen forest education to benefit forests and trees and contribute to the well-being of forest-dependent people, global society and the planet,” said Gerardo Segura Warnholtz, senior forestry officer, FAO.

COFO 26 will focus on the contributions of forests to the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals. It expressed concerns about the scarcity and underfunding of forest-related education during the past 20 years.

High-quality and widely available forest education is essential for climate action, ecological restoration, biodiversity conservation, sustainable economic development, green cities and human health.

The report identified locally relevant inclusive solutions to forest education that consider — the digital divide, language barriers and gender and racial disparities.

Rural and forestry jobs often have a poor reputation. Efforts to improve forest education should go hand in hand with more comprehensive efforts to educate society informally.

The report looked at forest education in six regions — Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Near East and North Africa.

Availability of forest education resources and learning materials are absent or available to only a limited extent in many primary schools.

Further, the lack of awareness among primary school students on nature or environmental studies has contributed to low interest in forest education.

Students in secondary schools receive little or no exposure to forests, which makes them less enthusiastic about pursuing further studies in forestry.

African forest education needs transformation as it is currently based on traditional European education, which focuses more on industrial wood production.

In Asia and the Pacific, children at primary and secondary schools have limited exposure to forests, forest-related education and the kinds of jobs the forest sector can offer. In many countries in the region, formal post-school forest education has its roots in colonial forest management and research.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.