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Agroecology Course for Journalists and Communicators

BACKGROUND
 

Agriculture is intricately linked to critical issues such as food security, livelihoods—especially for the rural poor—ecosystems, climate change, and health, making it a pivotal sector for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Uganda, with its predominantly agrarian economy, sees a vast majority of its population dependent on agriculture for sustenance and income. This sector's performance directly impacts the nation's food security and economic stability, particularly in rural areas where poverty is most prevalent.

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach close to 10 billion, significantly increasing the demand for food. To meet this challenge, it is essential to transform agricultural and food systems to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Agroecology, which integrates ecological principles into agricultural production systems, presents a promising approach. This method promotes efficient resource use, reduces reliance on harmful external inputs, and enhances soil health. For Uganda, where small-scale farmers are the backbone of the agricultural sector, agroecology offers a viable path to addressing food sovereignty challenges. By adopting agroecological practices, these farmers can improve their productivity and resilience, thereby contributing to reducing hunger and malnutrition.

However, the transition to agroecology in Uganda faces significant challenges, with communication being one of the most impactful hurdles. Effective communication is crucial for transforming societal policies and practices, yet there has been a lack of preparedness among journalists and communicators to advocate for agroecology. This gap in communication has resulted in missed opportunities to shape public opinion and influence policy in favor of agroecological practices.

Despite the commitment of small-scale farmers in Uganda to scaling up agroecology through changes in practices and policy advocacy, the media has not been as active in promoting these efforts. If the media were to actively support and promote agroecology, it could lead to a broader public understanding of its benefits. This could encourage a shift towards consuming healthier foods produced through sustainable practices, thereby exposing the negative impacts of conventional agriculture on the environment and public health. Moreover, increased media attention on agroecology could improve public health and boost the incomes of small-scale farmers, as a growing number of consumers would transition to healthier, sustainably produced foods.

For Uganda to achieve its SDGs and address the impending food security challenges, it is imperative to transform its agricultural systems. Agroecology offers a sustainable solution, but its success heavily depends on effective communication and media involvement to raise awareness and drive societal change.

COURSE MODULES


These modules are designed to empower you into becoming the best Agroecology -focused journalist and communicator. At the end of each of these modules, an assessment will be conducted to measure your understanding of the module.

Module zero: Introduction to the course

In this introductory module, you will gain a comprehensive overview of the course's background and objectives. It sets the stage for you to fully engage with and understand the material, ensuring you get the most out of your learning experience.

Module zero will be in-person and a knowledge assessment will be conducted for each participant in the cohort. This session is the Agroecology Introductory Workshop.

Module One: Introduction to the Concept of Agroecology

This module provides a foundational understanding of Agroecology, covering its definition as a science, practice, and movement. You'll explore the historical context of Agroecology, its key elements and principles, and the concept of Food Sovereignty. Additionally, you'll learn about the actions small-scale farmers take to uphold these principles.

 

Module one will be conducted online and an end-of-module test will be conducted to measure the level of understanding for all participants in the cohort.


Module Two: Agroecology in Practice

In this module, you'll delve into Agroecological farming practices as implemented by small-scale farmers. You'll learn about the benefits of Agroecology from their perspective and gain insight into the challenges faced when scaling up Agroecology in Uganda and Africa.

Additionally, before the end of this cohort, all participants will take part in the Agroecology Learning Workshop where you will be exposed to different practices and actions by small-scale farmers.

Module two will be conducted online and an end-of-module test will be conducted to measure the level of understanding for all participants in the cohort. 

Module Three: Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

This module aims to deepen your understanding of how Agroecology intersects with agricultural policies. You'll explore how Agroecology can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other national and continental objectives. The module emphasizes the importance of integrating Agroecology into policies, strategies, and laws, particularly those focused on food systems. Additionally, you'll examine the necessity of protecting small-scale farmers' rights to land, seeds, natural resources, and markets to build resilient and sustainable food systems.

Module three will be conducted online and an end-of-module test will be conducted to measure the level of understanding for all participants in the cohort. 

Module Four: Agroecology Movement
As you become part of the growing movement advocating for Agroecology in Uganda and Africa, this module will provide a comprehensive overview of the Agroecology movement. You'll learn about the key influencers and drivers of this movement, along with the challenges and opportunities it faces in Africa. Furthermore, you'll discover your role as a journalist or communicator in strengthening and advancing the Agroecology movement in the region.

Module four will be conducted online and an end-of-module test will be conducted to measure the level of understanding for all participants in the cohort. 

Module Five: Communicating Agroecology

This specialized module focuses on the techniques and skills required to effectively communicate about Agroecology. You'll learn how to identify, write, document, and publish compelling stories on Agroecology. The module also addresses the challenges of reporting on Agroecology and offers strategies to overcome them. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to be inspired by guest journalists or communicators who will share their experiences. As part of this course, you will be required to write, document, or report on at least one Agroecology-related story.

Module five will be conducted online and an end-of-module test will be conducted to measure the level of understanding for all participants in the cohort. At this level, all participants should be able to present their selected agroecology stories for assessment.

After Module five, the Agroecology Experience Sharing Workshop is organised where participants are awarded and agroecology stories are celebrated. This is an in-person event.

PARTICIPANTS


This course is open to all Journalists and Communicators. Journalists and Communicators get exclusive access to an interactive platform, stories that promote Agroecology, and other materials developed by different partners like publications and videos to build awareness of Agroecology and contribute to transitioning to Agroecology in the country.

 

COURSE DURATION AND LEARNING APPROACH

This course is designed to be completed in 12 weeks. The course offers a unique blended-learning approach, combining an in-person workshops with individual online study, practical field-based activities, and the chance to apply what you’re learning in your job.

The course begins with the Agroecology Introductory Workshop where journalists and communicators start their journey of learning about Agroecology and the latest techniques of reporting and communicating Agroecology . To ensure learning continues outside of workshops, participants will participate in bi-monthly webinars, carry out their writing projects, and have access to the online learning modules and materials. 

 

The journalists and communicators also get exposed to the different Agroecological farming practices by small-scale farmers through the Agroecology Learning Journey. At the conclusion of the 12 weeks, the journalists and communicators participate in an in-person workshop in Kampala to share their experience and showcase their work and how they’ve advanced their knowledge.

 

KEY BENEFITS

During the 12 weeks course, journalists and communicators in the cohort will:

  1. Receive a full scholarship for the course valued at USD 2,244.

  2. Learn, Interact, and network with journalists and communicators from all over the country.

  3. Get unlimited access to 50+ learning modules and support materials.

  4. Interact with expert trainers who have facilitated high-level Agroecology training in Africa.

  5. Earn a Certificate from the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators.

 

ELIGIBILITY


All applicants must be working with a registered media organization/company in Uganda. Applicants must be able to communicate in the English language because the course is conducted in English.
All selected participants will receive a full scholarship from the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators and Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda. The scholarship covers travel and lodging costs, field visit costs, internet, and course materials.


Participants who do not complete all course activities in the 12 weeks will not attend the Grand Finale and will not receive a certificate of completion.

SELECTION CRITERIA


Applications are assessed on the applicant’s eligibility as outlined above and an applicant’s relevance to the course objectives. You must show that:

  1. You’re working for a registered media organization/company in Uganda.

  2. You have a recommendation from your organization to participate in this course.

  3. You’re committed to personal and professional growth and learning.

  4. You are passionate and committed to learning about Agroecology.

  5. You have evidence of stories in the agriculture sectors published in the media house that is recommending you.

 

HOW TO APPLY

This cohort of the course is only open to journalists and communicators in Uganda. Before you apply please read the terms and criteria to understand whether you are eligible for this course.

To apply, please fill out this Application Form

DEADLINE AND TIMELINES

Please note that the deadline for receiving all applications from journalists and communicators in Uganda is 28th July 2024 at 11:59 PM EAT. 

All applicants will receive the first level of feedback by 13th August 2024.

The final participants in the 4th cohort will be informed by 30th August 2024.

The first session of the 4th cohort at the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators will begin on 8th September 2024.

For any inquiries, please write to the Course Coordinator at study@agroecology-school.org.

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