Agriculture plays an important role as the basis of economic development of many countries. One of the ingredients for accelerating agricultural development is the provision of adequate knowledge through education. Schools where agricultural science is taught play an important role, but the problem that gave rise to this study is the lacking interest and poor performance in agricultural science. The main aim of this study was to investigate factors that may influence the choice of agricultural science as a school subject. In order to attain this aim, six high schools in the Temba District were sampled to represent urban, semi-urban and rural schools. All agricultural science pupils and, for purposes of comparison, forty five pupils doing physical science and twenty seven from home economics were interviewed. The overall image of agriculture appeared quite positive in that 62 percent of the students rated it as high or very high, and only the medical practitioner received a higher average status rating than the agricultural professional. The findings indicated that non-agriculture students had the most intensive association with a farming background, which seems to indicate that a close association with agriculture is a deterrent rather than an incentive to choose agriculture as a school subject. Exposure to agricultural science as a school subject appeared to increase the interest in the study of agriculture at tertiary level, although the possibility that the interest in tertiary studies in agriculture stimulated the choice of agriculture science as a school subject, cannot be ruled out. Amongst agricultural science pupils there is general agreement that agriculture provides good access to tertiary education, although physical science was rated much higher. The assessment of teachers does not favour agricultural science. Agricultural science teachers were assessed significantly lower as far as personality, teaching quality, accessibility and knowledge is concerned. However, the less the influence and assessment of the teacher, the bigger the influence of parents appeared to be. Somewhat alarming is the finding that about 20 percent of respondents claimed to have been forced to study agricultural science at school. Those that received counselling did not have a better image of agriculture, which seems to indicate that agriculture is not a field of study recommended by teachers during counselling.
Dissertation (M Inst Agrar (Extension))--University of Pretoria, 2006.