Mainstreaming Agricultural Curriculum in School Education (MACE)

Agriculture is one of the mainstays of the Indian economy due to its significant role in livelihood, employment and national food security. It is the source of livelihood for about 70 per cent of rural households in India. Agriculture sector has a major role to play in making India 'Aatmanirbhar' (self-reliant), making farmers both producers and entrepreneurs. There is an utmost need to promote agro-entrepreneurship in the country for which the agricultural education system in India will have to evolve in sync with the fast-changing international scenario. This presses the need to revive the agricultural education system to increase agricultural productivity through the development of a generation of students with active interest in agriculture & allied disciplines, driving cutting-edge research and innovation in addition to developing agricultural skills as life skills. To cater to the need of the professionally driven agriculture industry, there is a need to strengthen agricultural education by improving both capacity and quality of agriculture and allied disciplines.

Brainstorming Session on Mainstreaming Agricultural Curriculum in School Education (MACE) held on 14th June 2022



Unparallel growth in the agriculture secton is key to fulfilling India’s aspirations of becoming a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2025 and achieving the ambitious target set by Government of India to double the income of farmers by 2022-23.

The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 focuses on re-designing the agricultural education system with a greater push towards developing professionals with the ability to understand and use local knowledge, traditional knowledge, and emerging technologies while being cognizant of critical issues such as declining land productivity, climate change, food sufficiency for our growing population, etc. In line with the objectives of the National Education Policy, 2020, the new paradigm of agricultural education should take knowledge related to agriculture and its practical application to primary & secondary levels, and vocational courses at higher secondary level. There is a lot of literature on the positive effects of education on agricultural productivity wherein education increases productivity by improving the decision-making ability and capability of the farmer to make informed choices and decisions concerning the selection and the combination of input for better output. Many studies also found that as educational level increases, output increases with secondary school education having the highest returns on agricultural productivity 2 . There is a mounting of evidence suggesting that returns of education on agricultural productivity vary for different educational levels (primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education) with the returns on primary education being the highest

Agricultural Education Sector Challenge

Presently, although Agricultural Universities comprise approximately 9 per cent of all universities in the country, enrolment in agriculture and allied sciences is less than 1 per cent of all enrolment in higher education 4 . The combined enrolment in agriculture, veterinary and animal sciences, and fisheries sciences are much lesser than other popular disciplines such as medical sciences (4.18 per cent for UG, 4.01 per cent for PG) and social sciences (3.17 per cent for UG, 18 per cent for PG). 5 As per the National Education Policy 2020, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is expected to achieve the figure of 50 per cent by 2035. This necessitates the need to make the agricultural education more vibrant and attractive by addressing the existing challenges that the Indian agricultural education faces viz. of low access, lack of required quality standards, lack of adequate financial support, gender inequality, academic inbreeding, lack of faculty competence in niche areas, etc.

  • Low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for Agricultural Education: enrolments at UG & PG levels in agriculture, veterinary & animal sciences, and fisheries sciences are 0.96% and 0.82% respectively of the total enrolments across disciplines, nationally (AISHE 2019-20)

  • Low access of agricultural education to rural students: non-contemporary course curricula and delivery methods, inadequate state funding, unplanned proliferation of SAUs & colleges, regional imbalances in agricultural education facilities, disconnect between the requirements of industry and the education being imparted, etc.

  • Inadequate and low quality of education imparted through > 400 private colleges: gender inequality, mismatch of infrastructure for quality education, research & extension, extensive academic inbreeding in faculty recruitment, poor faculty strength, poor governance, lack of environment for nurturing and retaining talent, lack of faculty-competence in cutting edge technologies, low priority to agricultural education as career option & declining quality of students admitted, etc.

  • Low awareness about need for entrepreneurship skills in agriculture & allied sciences

Objectives of the Brainstorming Session

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and entrepreneurship curriculums have seen a push in many schools worldwide, but should agricultural education be given more prominence? While agricultural programmes are widely available at the tertiary level, they are even less common at the primary and secondary level of education. In the US, the National Association of Agricultural Educators notes: “Agricultural education teaches students about agriculture, food and natural resources. Through these subjects, agricultural educators teach students a wide variety of skills, including science, math, communications, leadership, management and technology.” Agricultural schools are available in various countries, including in the US, Australia, South Korea, and the UK.

Hence, with an aim to attract young talent towards agricultural higher education and improve retention within the sector, there is a need to create greater sensitization among school goers at primary, secondary & higher secondary levels about the importance and scope of agriculture & allied sectors in promoting economic growth and human development. This requires mainstreaming of agriculture as a core subject in school curriculum by combining theoretical and practical approaches, to expose students to the basic principles of agriculture and explain the various components of agro-based industry. This would give students an insight into the various farming activities and techniques and give a better understanding on exploring a career in each area of agriculture.

In view of this, the Session primarily aims at deliberating on the need for scaling up of agriculture as a core subject with K-12 curriculum to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of agricultural enterprises and the practices and skills required in producing plant and animal products. The Session includes the following objectives:

  • To deliberate on the need to mainstream agriculture as a core subject at school level

  • To study the various modes and mechanisms of scaling up of agriculture as a subject at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels

  • To study the desired policy support required to promote agri education through State and Central boards

  • To discuss the framework of developing and exploring agricultural vocational pedagogy certificate courses at school level for mainstreaming young people’s voices in the search for solutions to improve agricultural education practice.

  • To explore and analyse students’ experiences and perceptions about agricultural programmes at primary & secondary levels, and vocational courses at higher secondary level.

Brainstorming Session Topics

The topics have been designed in a way to develop and align agriculture education programs with K-12 curriculum. The sessions would aim to capture the perspectives, key developments, challenges, and the opportunities for mainstreaming agricultural programmes at the primary, secondary, and tertiary level of education. The Session will deliberate on the following sessions.

Topic 1: ICAR Vision on Mainstreaming and Aligning Agriculture as a core subject with K-12 Curriculum

ICAR vision is in line with the New Education Policy 2020 for taking knowledge related to agriculture and its practical application to primary & secondary levels, and vocational courses at higher secondary level. There is immense literature, where agricultural educators have suggested that the integration of agriculture into the general curriculum would help students learn based upon the arguments of experiential learning (Dewey, 1938; Mabie & Baker, 1996), a community-based curriculum (Fasheh, 1990), and authentic or applied learning in real- life situations (Wehlage, Newmann, & Secada, 1996). This session would deliberate on ICAR’s vision of scaling up of agriculture as a core subject with K-12 curriculum and will also discuss on the joint role of ICAR and State school boards on revisiting the existing curriculum and upgrading it to present day needs.

  • What is the need for mainstreaming Agriculture as a core subject with K-12 Curriculum?

  • How to develop and enhance competence of students at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in agriculture?

  • Can we have a Joint Working Group of ICAR educators and school educators to revisit the existing curriculum and upgrading it to present day needs?
Topic 2: Dialogue with school administrators, and teachers, on whether ‘Agriculture should be taught in schools?’, highlighting the challenges and way forward

Increasingly studies claim that building young people’s vocational interest in agriculture, serves as a potential and distinct sector of career opportunities for young people. This session would seek to explore and analyse students’ experiences and perceptions about agricultural programmes at primary & secondary levels, and vocational courses at higher secondary level. This session would also deliberate on the coherence of school curriculum with higher agricultural education entrance examination syllabus.

  • Deliberate on the perceptions of agricultural vocational pedagogy certificate/diploma courses to optimise students’ achievement.

  • Level of coherence of school curriculum with higher agricultural education entrance examination syllabus.
Topic 3: Desired policy shift required to promote agri education through State and Central boards

Policy should seek to promote institutional structural change in agricultural education practices wherein there is an alignment between the State and Central boards to bring about uniformity in the curriculum, infrastructure facilities, teacher-student ratio, etc. thereby reducing the structural gaps in implementation and upscaling agriculture as a core subject at school level. This session would deliberate on the policy level changes required at both State and Central level for popularizing agriculture as a subject and working towards its uptake as a core subject.

  • What are the policy level interventions required at State and Central level?

  • Creation of Vision Groups for ensuring formulation and implementation of policy level initiatives at respective board level.

  • The need for monitoring policy implementation at functional level.
Topic 4: Revisiting the Agri Curriculum to develop Agri study modules and vocational courses at school level in the current perspective

Developing agri study modules and vocational courses for schools requires rebranding agriculture & allied subjects as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) and management subjects – thereby building a pipeline of students wanting to specialize in these disciplines at the higher education level. This session would deliberate on the curriculum level changes required in the current curriculum offered at State and Central level and the modes and mechanisms of how to mainstream agriculture as a core subject at school level.

  • What are the curriculum level changes required to augment subject knowledge, teaching skills and new teaching techniques to impart agri theoretical and practical education in schools?

  • What are the ways and means to mainstream agriculture as a core subject at school level?

  • Is there a need to make studying agriculture as a subject mandatory at school level? And if so, until what grade?


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