Pre-service competence of agricultural officers (extension) in the Punjab, pakistan: policy implications for eligibility criteria
Agriculture Officers working in Agriculture Department (Extension) are perceived lacking in professional competencies. One of the root causes of this problem lies in the mismatched eligibility criteria for the post of Agriculture Officer (Extension). The purpose of this paper was to discuss the relevancy of the Extension Agents’ competencies with their job responsibilities for policy implications. The universe of the study was Punjab Province of Pakistan. The cross-sectional design was used for the study. All Agriculture Officers (public extension agents) work in the Agriculture Department (Extension), Government of Punjab were the population of the study. Multistage simple random sampling technique was used for drawing the sample. A sample of 60 respondents was drawn from sampling frame by using simple random sampling technique. A desktop study was also conducted to analyze the contents offered to the currently eligible agricultural graduates during their pre-service training at the university level. Results showed that only 3.3% of the respondents had relevant pre-service training. About 58% of the Agriculture Officers (Extension) were not satisfied with their jobs and most of them were thinking to change their jobs. This study has practical implications for Punjab Public Service Commission, Lahore and Agriculture Department (Extension) Government of Punjab, Pakistan in particular. The research theorized that the duties of extension work should only be entrusted to the professionals having per-service training in agricultural extension. Otherwise, the efficiency of the agricultural extension system would be compromised. This is the first study of its kind in which the eligibility criteria of the Agriculture Officers (Extension) have been questioned in the Punjab, Pakistan. The finding and discourse of the study would initiate the debate among stakeholders to place right person for the right job. The materialization of study findings would enhance the efficiency of Agricultural Extension system.
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