1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture is the art and science of growing plants and other crops and the raising of animals for food, other human needs, or economic gain (Ogieva, 2003). Agriculture contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), exports, generation of employment with high potentials to reduce poverty being the engine room for economic growth and improved livelihoods. According to FMARD (2011), protein requirement of 53gm per head per day is a World health Organization (WHO) recommendation for healthy growth which can largely be obtained from poultry products such as meat and egg. The 2008 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) data puts the total Nigerian poultry population at 175 million. In view of the importance of agriculture, the Nigeria government adopted the teaching and learning of the subject at all levels of education (FME, 2008). Agricultural science is therefore made one of the core vocational subjects taught at both junior and senior secondary schools.
Poultry farming is the raising of domesticated birds such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, quails and geese, for the purpose of producing meat or eggs for food ( Smith, 2007) . Poultry are produced in great numbers with chickens being the most numerous. Chickens raised for eggs are usually called layers while chickens raised for meat are called broilers. Nigeria’s poultry industry is made up of local unimproved breeds and the high performing commercial breeds for poultry products as food and market purposes which can be practically possible for classroom instruction and commercial production in secondary schools. The school farm is a laboratory, specifically designed and operated, for the purpose of carrying out practical in agricultural science in order to impart knowledge and managerial skills to students through practice (Olaitan and Mama, 2002). It is an area specifically earmarked for agricultural activities, usually sited in the school or at a walking distance to the school environment. The school farm has sections such as crop production section, forestry section, fish farming section, irrigation section, and livestock production section. The teacher guides the students and allows them to participate fully on practical aspect of the experiences gained in the classroom on the school farm. The teacher makes use of different methods and technologies, such as demonstration, observation, imitation, and supervised practice to explain techniques and complement the different learning experience required to teach the practical very effectively. Students are made to use their heads, hands and hearts (3Hs) during management activities on the school poultry farm to produce poultry products, keep records and participate in managerial activities. Students from different background, especially those from farming families with some learning experience in agricultural activities, through management of the school poultry farm will ensure the acquisition of productive skills through prescribed 3 activities and projects which are inherent aspects of the applied technology called agriculture. The school poultry farm is a sub section of the livestock production section of the school farm. The school poultry farm provides a place where experiential learning takes place. The term “experiential learning,” may generally be expressed as “learning by doing” or “participatory learning” (Olaitan and Mama, 2002).
Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria today, with the prosperity and diversity of job opportunities provided by agriculture in the country, youths from all parts of the country are leaving agriculture for trading and other businesses. One of the major problems facing Nigeria today is unemployment which is attributed to unfavourable disposition of the youth to agriculture. The primary aim of agricultural education according to Phipps (2008) is to train present and prospective farmers for proficiency in farming. The national curriculum for secondary school recommended that all secondary schools must keep a standard school farm where crops and at least one species of livestock from either pigs, rabbits, poultry, goats, sheep, cattle and fish production (FME,2008). It also emphasized the use of practical note books, weed albums, insect box, and record books to be used by individual students. The syllabus provides that the school farm should be used for training students in skill development through demonstration, observation and practice. There is need for a well-planned and comprehensive practical training in agriculture. The realization of the national objective of career oriented agriculture will depend on how school farm (poultry farm) is managed and maintained by agricultural teachers and students. The inability to manifest agricultural science practical skills and indication of interest in choosing agriculture as career appear to be due to inadequate learning of the expected skills
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