Monthly Archives: May 2022

The Pros And Cons Of Three, Four And Five School Term Systems

Schools are increasingly starting to look at alternatives to the conventional three-term school year as the long summer holiday is now considered a barrier to effective learning. As such, four and five-term systems are being examined to see if they could deliver better results for teachers, students and parents.

But what are the pros and cons of the three systems, and can it be said that one is more clearly effective than the other two? Some of the positives and negatives are outlined below:

Three-Term System

Traditional system with long summer break. Half-term holidays help break up the wearying effect of long school terms.

Pros

  • A proven system – The current timetable balances concentrated teaching periods with significant time to relax and recharge. Also, teaching during summer is less effective because the heat makes pupils drowsy and distracted.
  • Long summer breaks allow plenty of time for children to pursue their own interests, social activities and self-development.

Cons

  • A ‘medieval system’ – Critics argue that long summer holidays were originally designed so kids could help out with agricultural work, and that the system is a relic of older times. Also argue that the system leaves kids ill-prepared for the year-round rigours of employment.
  • Resentment of teachers’ holidays – Some people criticise teachers for their long summer break, damaging their public image. A shorter break would help to alleviate this criticism.

Five-Term System

Typically consisting of five eight-week terms, with a two-week break between them and a four-week summer holiday.

Pros

  • Shorter summer holidays – Four-week holiday relieves pressure on parents who need to make sure their children are looked after over an extended period. Also goes some way to solving the phenomenon of ‘summer learning loss’, where a substantial part of the next school year is taken up relearning things forgotten over the long summer break.
  • More flexibility in the school curriculum – More teaching time means that more time can be given over to subjects like art, design, music or computing. These ‘fun’ subjects are a good fit for the summer months when kids are looking to relax, while still ensuring that they are learning useful skills.

Cons

  • Greater pressure on teachers – Shorter holidays and more teaching time will lead to a testing schedule for teachers. This could decrease the attractiveness of the profession and impact on recruitment.
  • Greater pressure on pupils – Long summer holidays offer an important time for kids to recharge, enjoy time with family and explore their own interests. A four-week holiday might not seem like much of a holiday at all.

Four-Term System

A compromise between the three and five-term systems, striking a balance between term and holiday length.

Pros

  • Tailored for exams – With more time for exam preparation than three-term systems and longer breaks as a ‘reward’ for completing exams than the five-term system, the system seems tailored towards greater exam performance.
  • Combats the problems of both ‘learning loss’ and short holidays which don’t allow enough time for self-development.

Cons

  • More terms mean that teaching is more frequently interrupted, whereas three-term systems allow the syllabus to be taught with more focus and in greater depth.
  • Extending teaching further into the summer could lead to distracted, irritable students who would rather be outside.

Conclusion

Clearly, each system has both benefits and drawbacks which make it difficult to pick a clear winner. However, the compromise approach of the four-term system means it may offer a solution to the problems of the other systems. The five-term system could lead to too much pressure being put on teachers and students, while the long holidays in the three-term system mean that too much revision of old topics needs to be done at the start of the next school year. While the four-term model isn’t perfect, it goes some way to alleviating these other challenges while leaving students better prepared for their examinations.

What is an Agricultural Inspector?

People who find satisfaction and pleasure in dealing with nature particularly animals, livestock and the like would definitely discover that being an agricultural inspector is a career suited for them. This is generally considered a green job because of its direct interaction and care for animals, plants and other forms of natural resources. Most important and relevant in agricultural countries or states, this job is definitely something that requires a lot of dedication, knowledge and passion for this particular craft.

The career outlook for an agricultural inspector should be plentiful. They make on average $31-$49 thousand a year.

What is an agricultural inspector?

This job is potentially endorsed and provided mainly by the Department of Agriculture as part of the agency’s advocacy for health and proper stewardship of the natural resources. In line with the nature of their work, inspectors are responsible for making sure that agri-businesses and companies strictly comply with the different regulations and laws provided by the state and federal government. These would generally be covering the safety of meat and its processes, poultry, egg, vegetable and fruits productions must likewise follow and adhere with certain standards before they would be marketed to the general public or consumers. In short agricultural inspectors are the main figures that protect the public’s welfare and health from any food-related illnesses and diseases.

Depending on the level of the inspector, there job description would differently vary from mere inspection, testing and sampling of the different agricultural products to giving of necessary supervision, training and guidance which are often delegated to senior inspectors or high level agricultural inspectors. Some of the manual works that these professionals may also do are lifting of different weights up to 100 pounds which they need to perform their tasks and obligations.

For senior agricultural inspectors, they are obliged to ensure that businesses are complying with the standards set by the department thus regular visitation and inspections must be done on these companies in an actual or ocular basis. One concrete example is when inspector would go to the actual plant where livestock products are processed and get samples for testing and quality assurance. This likewise applies to the grains and vegetable products which are also tested for quality and chemical levels.

What are the requirements for the job?

Several of the positions required for this job would look for bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges mostly leaning towards biology or agricultural science. Depending on the type of job, some are requiring four-year courses while others do not necessarily need graduates with these credentials to qualify. Furthermore, potential inspectors must undergo intensive trainings and skill development to improve their craft and knowledge about their work. This would not only include sufficient knowledge on the biological and agricultural area but also with laws and regulations regarding agriculture. Most importantly, candidates must have actual field experiences in order to support their other credentials thus working on a meat-processing plant or farm would be great additional incentives in order to get a slot in the agricultural inspection industry.

Green jobs are indeed timely and noble careers that are potentially growing in demand and are now widely recognized. Being an agricultural inspector is one remarkable career that encompasses every passion and care for nature and protection to the consuming public.

Why Sustainable Agriculture Remains Relevant in the New Economy

Allan Savory and Bren Smith, who spoke in the 35th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures that was entitled Cattle & Kelp: Agriculture in a New Economy, suggested that a new approach should be taken towards agriculture.

This was in view of the fact that the current approach is not sustainable in the long run due to the prevalent issues of declining soil fertility, soil erosion, drought and super pests.

Many innovative companies have also been using agricultural technology to make agriculture sustainable, and have acknowledged the fact that this sector plays a crucial role in the new economy.

Agriculture remains relevant today for several reasons. It is widely perceived as the key to feeding the estimated nine billion individuals in the world by 2050, and will also help to increase the number of jobs.

1. Sustainable agriculture may be the solution to prevent a looming food crisis.

Price volatility and high food prices will result in a food crisis, which places food production issues and agricultural growth back on the development agenda.

Both Savory and Smith have developed agricultural models that are based on natural systems. Smith pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming; this farming model was designed with the aim of mitigating climate change, restoring ocean ecosystems and creating jobs for fishermen while also ensuring that communities were supplied with healthy, local food.

There are also several companies who are using agricultural technology to prevent a food crisis. According to The Economist, the products and services that these firms are developing will significantly contribute to increasing food yields and quality, which is needed to feed the nine billion individuals living on this planet by 2050.

2. Sustainable agriculture will be able to create jobs in the new economy

According to Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, the agricultural sector has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty in Africa as compared to other sectors.

Essentially, agriculture can help countries to diversify their economies, be less dependent on food imports, increase jobs, and revive rural areas.
In the United States, despite the fact that agricultural revenue and export opportunities have been high, rural areas have been losing their population. If this were to continue, these areas will lose their economic stability and many of its national assets.

However, if the trend is reversed successfully, the economy as a whole can benefit from long-term growth. Rural areas will also prosper. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is therefore investing in the perceived areas of opportunity for agricultural growth; these include supporting new and beginning ranchers and farmers, local and regional food systems, as well as the economy.

In conclusion, it is crucial that countries place greater importance on their agricultural sector. Africa, which is currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has more than 70 percent of its farmers utilising information and communications technology. Additionally, its agricultural and agribusiness industry is projected to hit a net worth of US$1 trillion by 2030.

This highlights the need for other countries to improve their agricultural sector, as it can help to decrease food imports and increase job opportunities for their citizens, as well as improve the state of its economy overall.

Organic Food As a Fast-Growing Segment of US Agriculture

Lately organic food is gaining popularity, the trend being stable for at least five years. The recent research conducted by the Food Marketing Institute provides proof that majority of American citizens buy organic food at least once a month.

This segment of US agriculture shows rapid growth. Only in 2007 organic food retailers earned more than 20 billion dollars. The annual growth of organic dairy industry is estimated to be 18 percent by the year 2010.

Let us have a look at the main idea beneath organic food production, i.e. using materials and practices that could improve the ecological balance of natural systems. We cannot be absolutely sure that organic products are free of residues yet there are best practices involved in production that are directed at minimizing pollution from air, soil and water. And organic food production is controlled y strict state and federal standards, too.

Thus mostly people tend to treat organic food as that which is devoid of fertilizers or pesticides. Nonetheless the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labelled food as organic if it is 95 percent pure.

Sometimes products contain only 70 percent of organic materials or even less. This kind of food cannot be called organic but it can be labelled “made with organic ingredients”. Thus you should differentiate between these forms of products at the supermarket.

De facto non-organic practices in the USA release more than one billion pounds of pesticides. The USDA’s tests prove that organic products contain three or four times less pesticide residues than in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

And conventional practices in agriculture can result in water contamination. According to Environmental Working Group’s research that was conducted back in 1955 across the Corn Belt, in Louisiana and Maryland, scientists concluded that tap water pesticide contamination was at health risk levels. The solution was in organic farming methods, as well as developing the soil.

It is important to notice that the term organic has another meaning than organic. Sometimes food producers seeking higher sales and good reputation make tricks by labelling their food as natural as it does not comply to organic food standards.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows using the term natural for food that does not contain any added colourings, artificial ingredients or synthetic substances.

That is why more and more non-organic producers try to present their products as good for health and thus, in 2008, about one third of all new US food and beverage products were labelled with the word “natural”.

Signs of Global Sanity? Sharing of Innovative Agricultural Solutions to Help Farmers and Consumers

Agriculture is the direct or indirect livelihood of three quarters of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas.

The 2008 food crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis, showed the extreme vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuations in food prices and supplies.

But the impact was not only on developing world farmers – it affected consumers world-wide in food scarcities, eg rice in Thailand, and higher prices.

In Nov 2008 Egypt – UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) sponsored the first ever international conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions – From Farms to Markets: Providing Know-how and Finance.

If the conference activities can be sustained it’s an initiative that would potentially benefit small farmers in developing world, consumers everywhere and the planet as a whole.

“Our vision is sustainable development”

In his opening speech Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder of SEKEM said that Sustainable development could satisfy our needs and aspirations without decreasing the chances for future generations……but that we need to learn the basic principals of ecology.

“….. Being ecologically literate means understanding the principles of organisations of ecological communities including our educational comĀ¬munities, political and business communities. So that principles of education, management and politics include the principles of ecology.”

A little about SEKEM

In 1977 the economic and social hardship of his countrymen galvanised Social Entrepreneur and medical doctor Dr Abouleish into buying 70 hectares of desert scrubland, 60 km north-east of Cairo and close to the River Nile.

He called the new experimental farm there SEKEM – from Ancient Egyptian: “vitality from the sun”.

SEKEM was able to transform the desert into a showcase example of sustainable agriculture and a healthy ecosystem through biodynamic farming methods.

Its efforts in organic cultivation led to the conversion of the entire Egyptian cotton industry to organic methods.

Starting off with a dairy and crop farm, SEKEM soon began to produce herbal teas and to market its biodynamic produce in Europe. This initiative helped other farms in Egypt to switch to biodynamic farming. A part of its mix of activities the farm uses bio-fertilizers.

The 2008 Cairo conference brought together over 400 agribusiness stakeholders from more than 65 countries, including representatives of private and public institutions (technical and financial), international organizations, donor countries, civil society, universities and research institutions to share innovative agribusiness solutions

Topics covered supply/value chains, market access and linkages, Compliance with standards and conformity assessment, Technology and value addition and Innovative forms of financing

Participants were enthusiastic about working together to achieve change. central to the debate were “Innovation and opportunity”, “partnerships based on trust” and “the need for commitment”, also the need for a holistic approach to agriculture taking into account the needs of specific groups, and avoiding the mistake of thinking that “one size fits all”.

Four key issues were identified:

1. Financial: small producers need finance to bridge the gap between initial costs and eventual benefits to help them enhance their productivity and agricultural product distribution.

2. Up to date information: small farmers and SMEs need access to up-to-date market information to enable them to compete effectively in local, regional and international markets.

One example cited was an Indian project, an e-Choupal (“choupal” means gathering place in Hindi) programme that places computers with internet access in rural farming villages; e-Choupals acted as both a social gathering place for exchange of information and an e-commerce hub.

3. Investment in supply-chain infrastructure: Governments, the food industry, agribusiness and consumer goods retailers need to invesr in supply-chain infrstructures, which have a long economic life.

e-Choupal had a role here too: Out of an initial effort to re-engineer the procurement process for soy, tobacco, wheat, shrimp and other cropping systems in rural India grew a highly profitable distribution and product design channel for the company – an e-commerce platform and also a low-cost fulfilment system focused on the specific needs of rural India

4. Use of technology: using technological know-howfor improving yields, includingbio-fertilizers applied as soil or seed inoculants and foliar spray, reduction of post-harvest losses through better product preservation techniques, quality preservation processes and innovative ingredients to reduce microbial and toxin contamination, increased cost-efficiency related to local production, collective brands and quality criteria enhancement to strengthen small-scale producers, packaging technology and efficient logistics.

A range of follow-up activities was reportedly initiated, including a new project (supported by the Italian Development Cooperation) to extend ETRACE(UNIDO’s Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports) activities and help other developing countries to establish similar centres.

Further follow-up initiatives will focus on promotional and outreach activities such as the development of an interactive networking and matchmaking platform for agribusiness practitioners, which will allow continuous sharing of more innovative solutions and best practices with more participants and thus foster more business and development partnerships

If the momentum from this conference can be sustained the future could be brighter for all of us, consumers and farmers alike.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers