Processes and Products Influencing Extension in Universities
Jai Prakash Dubey     
« Back to Index      

“… Adult education is not something, which can deal with just ‘agriculture’ or health or literacy or mechanical skills etc. All the separate branches of education are related to the total life a man is living…This means that adult education will permeate changes in men, and in society. And it means that adult education (extension) should promote changes at the same time as it assists men to control both the changes which they induce, and that which is forced upon them by the decisions of other men or cataclysms of the nature… In that case, the first function of adult education is to inspire both a desire for changes, and an understanding that change is possible. It is for critical thinking.”

- Julius Nyerere

The universities in India responded positively to the enormous changes at work both in India as well as outside by initiating intervention programmes targeting the social, educational and economic needs of the community, thereby, creating a new role for them as it was consistently being questioned at places ( Planning Commission, India, 1951, Ashby 1971) and others. The question of such influences as far as introduction of literacy programme has been examined by several authors (Dubey 2006). But the general influences slowly working towards a definite direction towards Universities taking up extension function has not found the same favour. In this paper such incidents, thought, processes has been collected and collated for the purpose. As has been quoted above the Julious Nyere finds the scope of such intervention at the level of higher education as extension universities cater to needs of society which are not only mundane but also cultural, social, ethical and developmental

Before entering into such exercise an attempt has been made to contextualise the work by defining and categorising the extension system at a rudimentary level in order to help develop the work. Based on the nature and character of extension education, Dubey (2006) has categorised and defined extension as agricultural extension and other need specific extension services provided by the general universities which have few commonalities in intention and goal:

  1. Extension is no longer associated with the sporadic lectures by the university’s ‘low rank’ professors; other senior professors willingly associate with the extension endeavor. It includes multitude of activities ranging from adult basic literacy to provide necessary life skill and techniques to solve ones problem.
  2. Extension carries with it a developmental urge, suggesting an initiative on the part of those agencies, which has an obligation to the society. It advocates a formative action by the university, with its resources at its command in form of students, functionaries and its gamut of knowledge, for those who need such services in order to lead a better life.
  3. Extension is perceived as a mechanism for the university to reach out to the community and work for the common good of the people. Based on the insight gained out of the process, it introduces the dimension of “intension” of creating a force to bring changes within the formal system of knowledge, hopefully, extension of academic curricula. This can only be possible with the increased and sustained interaction between university and community.
  4. The extension can be defined in terms of its objectives with which it goes to the community; it broadens the socio-cultural perspectives of the students and teachers through an immediate exposure to the conditions in real life, which may not otherwise be available to them in traditional form of education system; it provides a functional opportunity for both the participants to gain knowledge simultaneously while exchanging education and service. Based on the context it can be multidisciplinary and may adopt multiple approaches.
  5. It’s a two way process where community gets its service and university gets an insight into the real life situation of the people.

Agricultural Extension as the precursor

Extension as a movement has had its roots in the societal concern for transfer of technology, processes and practices - from those who have access to such knowledge and skills to those who could gainfully use the same in their daily lives - with a view to improving the quality of their livelihoods on the one hand and development of the society in general on the other.

It is, basically, interacting with the people in such a manner that new knowledge and skills become a part of their lives. A Chinese proverb exemplifies the phenomenon in the following words:

“… Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand.”

Such initiatives were usually planned for people, who were not enrolled in a university or any other educational establishment on a full-time basis; it also referred to the addition to one’s own work or courses of study at a University or any other educational establishment.

In its original meaning, Extension as a practice focused on dissemination of messages relating to Agriculture and Health; it has, over a period of time found roots in Home Science or Community Resource Management Colleges and Institutes, and, in the teaching and practice of Social Work. Indian Universities and Colleges providing General Education Programmes through processes that included Teaching and Research added Extension as their “Third, yet equally significant or important function” in the second half of the twentieth century.


Agricultural Extension has been a precursor to extension of knowledge and practices in all other disciplines. It grew from cajoling the farmers to adopt new knowledge and farming practices (with the specific aim of enhancing productivity levels) that became available to society through a process of initial documentation of best practices to problem-specific research studies. The new knowledge and practices so obtained were mediated through communication processes utilised to bring the new knowledge and practices within the grasp of the farmers and their families. It has finally graduated to recognising the farmers and their families as powerful storehouses of knowledge and practices in their own right.

Both technology transfer and transfer of skills, along with other services, are now chosen by the farmers and their families; the communication process has thus tended to become farmer-led as against the earlier top-down practice of information and skills transfer.

The Extension System in India is essentially driven by the State Governments through departments such as Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Sericulture. The structures created for agricultural extension have been in response to the kind of emphasis accorded either to the government-led extension activities or to the farmer-led agricultural extension activity. However, both the structures created – for the government-driven extension system, and, the farmer-driven extension system – have tended to somewhat ignore the contribution of women in farm production. Farm production by women is estimated to about 55-65%, with higher percentage in certain regions and farming systems. The extension systems have not done much to understand their roles and the challenges that they face in the process. All that the systems have so far done is to allocate 30 percent of funds for extension activities exclusively for women.

The State-level Departments of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Sericulture have their own Training & Visit (T & V) Systems that specialise in specific crops. These T & V Systems undertake the following activities:

Transfer of improved varieties (technology dissemination for production agriculture),
Transfer of proven management practices, and
Input distribution in terms of quotas and deadlines, sometimes free or subsidised input, services and/or other incentives.

A World Bank paper (2005) points out that the strategy suffers from many limitations:

“—. The top-down approach and limited participation of farmers in shaping the extension services delivered have limited their accountability in view of the Government of India’s pre-occupation with food self-sufficiency since independence, the State-level Department of agriculture (DOA) extension systems generally concentrated on cereals, particularly rice and wheat, with an emphasis on the transfer of improved varieties and management practices. The weak coordination between the state DOAs and the other line departments and the limited staff capacity beyond the Department of Agriculture also often translated to limited extension activities beyond cereals. The weak coordination with research at the central level further increased the difficulty of ensuring effective research-extension-farmer linkages at the state level. The main focus of extension continues to be technology dissemination for production agriculture, although marketing; post-harvest handling, and enhancing livelihoods are emerging as key concerns of the rural communities. In many states, tight fiscal constraints contributed to the breakdown of the state extension (Hanumantha Rao 2003)

A New Policy Framework for Agricultural Extension, formulated by the Government of India in 2002, advocated a shift from the earlier primary focus on “increasing the productivity of staple food crops” to “a new farming system-approach that concentrates on increasing the farm household income through agricultural diversification”.

The New Approach is said to have made Extension “more market- or opportunity-driven”; its primary aim is to make farmers “more competitive in both domestic and international markets”. It has encouraged greater “public-private partnership” that ushers in a “multi-agency extension system” with Private Sector institutions taking over responsibility for some research in some areas and corresponding services.

The farmers and other residents in the villages are encouraged to participate directly in the tasks of assessing local needs, setting extension priorities, evaluating system performance, and in improving the accountability and transparency of public extension. This approach is known as the farmer-driven approach working through the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), a registered Society of all stakeholders involved in agricultural activities and a governing board at the district level, farmer advisory committees and block technology teams at the block level, and producer/self-help groups at the village level. These are quasi-government registered legal entities working with more flexibility than the line Departments in the State governments.

Their funding sources are diverse, including those accessible from the government. They have the freedom to “enter into contracts, maintain revolving accounts, charge for services, and, recover costs from farmers or other service recipients”.

This mechanism helps to institutionalise “bottom-up planning” with a view to laying down their own priorities in terms of needs of the farmers; the mechanism of formulating, through participative processes, Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP). Such Plans are approved by the District Governing Boards. Grassroots democracy is built into the process with the Block Technology Teams preparing Block Action Plans within the framework of the SREP and approved by Farmer Advisory Committees. The District Plan thus comprises the aggregation of the Block Plans. They have the freedom to enter into contracts with NGOs to provide extension services in selected blocks/areas.

The ATMA appeared to have brought the focus back on the farmers, their traditional knowledge systems, acquisition of new knowledge being absorbed and assimilated by the farmers, and, adopted by the farmers if it appealed to them. The NGOs have the freedom to use Farmer-to-Farmer Extension Services through individuals or through farmer organisations; in some cases, partnership is sought with input providers for demonstrations and farmer training.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) launched the Agriclinic Scheme in 2002 to make “available new, commercial sources of inputs, services and technical advisory services to farmers”. The Agriclinics attract a 25 percent investment grant from the Central Government with the balance of 75 percent financed through Bank loans. The Agriclinics are expected to provide testing facilities, diagnostic, control services and other consultancies on a fee-for-service basis.

The Scheme of Agriclinics has made it possible to provide extension services to farmers through technically skilled graduates at the village level. They supply inputs (including seed, fertilizers, agrochemicals, feed and medications), technical services (including artificial insemination, vaccinations, and soil testing), and advisory services. The costs of such services are “bundled with the sale of farm inputs and/or other technical services, and made available to farmers on a commercial basis.”

Agriclinics have the potential of growing, over a period of time, into a mechanism that can provide specialised services in crop production/protection, animal husbandry/veterinary services, and/or agricultural marketing and farm management services. This structure provides the Graduates in Agricultural Sciences a chance to share their knowledge and skills with the farmers in the village and become an important human resource for the village economy. They could even develop the capability of providing/linking to services such as

Access through internet connection to specialised technical or marketing information,
Crop insurance,
Information on sanitary and/or phytosanitary regulations that farmers may need to know in successfully marketing their products in niche or international markets,
Promote high-value commodities (e.g. banana, pineapple and papaya, via tissue culture procedures, seed or feed processing units, and
Plants to produce bio-fertilizers (e.g. vermiculture or composting) or bio-pesticides.

Extension is essentially a knowledge-intensive activity; it generates knowledge, packages it in the language of the farmers, and, disseminates it.


It could also be described as an activity in “knowledge management”. The model of extension adopted in India is one that comprises the following stages:

Knowledge generation through research in agricultural systems,
Simplification and documentation of insights generated from research,
Planned communication and interface among a chain of stakeholders – researchers, extension workers, farmers cropping for specific crops in their respective farming systems-based agro-ecosystems, and
Identification of new research issues that surface during the planned communication and interface with the various stakeholders.

The planned communication involves problem-specific engagement with the farmer in his/her field; it has so far been

Commodity-centric (with emphasis on rice and wheat, for example),
Community-development-centric (with attention to a whole range of social, cultural and economic problems),
Technical innovation-centric (carrying the new knowledge from Lab to Land), and
Farmer-centric, though so far in a somewhat weak form.

The communication model would continue to hold its ground insofar it places central emphasis on the farmers:

“The most important challenge for the future extension managers would be the Management of Knowledge. The success of a farmer in theyears to come is going to be primarily dependent upon his level of knowledge. The real prices of agricultural products are falling, because knowledge makes it possible to produce products with less land, labour and other resources. In many countries, farmers, who are farming at a knowledge level a good farmer had 10 years ago, have to go out of business because they can no longer compete with more competent farmers.”

The diverse models utilised in agricultural extension over a period of time have involved communication between various stakeholders; the number of stakeholders and the status that they occupied would depend on the process of that communication and the criticality of communication.

The process of communication, right from the period of the experimental stations to the phase of Training & Visit System, involved “senders” of messages and “receivers” of messages. This communication model – the transmission model of communication - represented an authority-led communication process with the senders standing for government planners, researchers, and the field level extension workers; the receivers were the farmers on the ground. The kingpin of this communication was the Extension Worker since she/he carried the messages (designed by the researchers) to the receivers (farmers).

Some scholars have preferred to call the “transmission model of communication” as “paternalistic”, or, “top-down”. The “participatory model of communication” is beginning to gradually replace the “transmission model of communication”; the farmers in this later model have the freedom to add their “knowledge”, even “opinions” with the provision that based on “information-sharing” initiated by them they will have the right to participate in “decision-making”.

This has resulted in not only of increasing agricultural productivity through transfer of technology and improved agricultural practices but also making provisions of human resources development of those involved in agriculture and encourage them to participate in upgradation and modernisation of their knowledge and skills as well. In India, the initial demands made on the Agricultural Research and Extension Systems has also grown from the concern of food grains shortage to the New Approach of making agriculture and extension “more market- or opportunity-driven”. It has also encouraged greater “public-private partnership” that ushers in a “multi-agency extension system” with Private Sector institutions taking over responsibility for some research in some areas and corresponding services as has been elaborated in the preceeding pages.

University-based Extension

The Policy Frame on Development of Higher Education (1977) provided the necessary impetus for the UGC to formulate Guidelines for operationalisation of extension in 1983 and 1985. The resolve of the UGC is reflected in the paragraph stated below:

“University system has a responsibility to the society as a whole. All universities and colleges should develop close relationships of mutual services and support with their local communities, and all students and teachers must be involved in such programmes as an integral part of their education. The National Service Scheme (NSS) programme should be expanded and improved. Ultimately to cover all student programmes should be to implement a spirit of co-operation and social commitment inter-related to moral development. It should be the obligation of the teaching community to give extension lectures to interpret recent trends in their fields to community, to create scientific awareness, to participate in adult education and workers’ education programme etc. Universities can also help in the preparation of development project for the community around them, including the rural community. Such involvement will also help in bringing relevance into the courses at the under graduate and the postgraduate level and into the research programme”.

For the institutions of Professional Education, where teaching-learning-examination system is not like general education, it was clearly stated in the UGC guidelines of 1983 that these should be asked to contribute in special ways.

The UGC policy led to the massive expansion of university extension at a very rapid pace during 1980s when these agencies grew in terms of number, programme content and personnel and a huge involvement of the universities and colleges in the National Adult Education Programme. This generated renewed interest in the nature of relationship between not only the university/college and its surrounding community, but, also between the agencies directly responsible for this programme as well as others in the university.

In pursuance of this decision, the UGC gradually introduced several extension programmes including the

1. National Adult Education Programme (1978),

2. Removal of Adult Illiteracy under point No. 16 of the new 20 Point Programme of the Government of India (1982),

3. Continuing Education Programme(1982),

4. Population Education Programme (1984),

5. Population Education Resource Centers (1985) and

6. Area Development Approach to Extension (1988).

The universities developed other programmes like National Integration, Science for the People, Rural Development, Remedial Teaching/Coaching for the Weaker Sections, Legal Literacy, Environmental Education, and Development Advocacy with support from other agencies.

Eradication of illiteracy should probably be viewed as the first step towards this intervention strategy not only as a welfare activity for the deprived social groups but also as an important means for making higher education relevant to the needs of the society as a whole and in increasing its effectiveness in solving existing societal problems.


The University Grants Commission as the Apex body of Higher Education, charged with the responsibility of laying down and maintenance of standards, formally acknowledged the significance of Extension in its Policy paper titled Development of Higher Education (1977) by describing extension as an instrumental mechanism responding to the societal concern for people’s right to enhancement of their knowledge and skills through the technocratic resources available in the Indian Universities.

Extension “is Universities’ out-reach to the community”. It is an educational process (Esminger 1967) “to change the attitude, knowledge and skills of the people”. It is basically working with men & women themselves as an enabling exercise. It is also ‘learning by doing’ and practicing the concept of ‘seeing is believing’. Extension is for development, welfare and happiness, and harmony with the culture. Extension is: to allow access and have access to and to open the university to the community and community to the university, to interact with the people in order to learn and generate new knowledge and to effect changes in curriculum and instruction.

Bhatia (1980) viewed ‘extension’ as a learning modality that refers to “a range of terms or concepts as measured by the objects, which it denotes or contains as opposed to its internal content often contrasted with intension. “…It means reaching fruits of knowledge, research and new skills to millions of people. It also means the choice of ‘appropriate technology for a people oriented development’”.

Extension is for creation of ‘consciousness and knowledge’ for the ‘liberation of people’, which cannot be by, means other than their own (Bonda 1991). But consciousness in itself is not sufficient to warrant liberation as the communication process and theory building has been arrogated by a small group of four percent, which is termed (Das Gupta 1979) as ‘Grand-coalition’; such groups often conveniently blame the victims and find fault with them and work for social action designed to change not the society but rather the victims.

Extension performs the role of education, rather than the role of transfer. But extension, in practice, conducts both education and service and links it with the selected practices and technologies. This is done in a participatory manner with the understanding of it not as a fringe benefit that authorities grant as a concession, but every human being’s birth right that no authority may deny or prevent.

However, Friere (1973) felt that ‘extension’ tended to work contrary to ‘communication’; it tended to enslave and domesticate the learners in the package that it had created for itself as ‘the only solution” to the development constraints that people faced in their day-to-day lives. It involved transplanting of pre-packaged knowledge; in that sense, it appeared to be in direct contradiction to a truly humanist outlook. Such pre-packaged knowledge is often “static”; meaningful education is neither static nor absolute. He argued that when communication imposed some pre-packaged knowledge, it often became the substance of extension. Extension is also anti-dialogical. To him education is not permanent; at best it is a permanent process working towards a constant process of liberation He assumed that both the educator and the learner would prefer to enter into a dialogue as a learner.

Some Extension Programme Initiatives

The National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) comprised of three constituent elements – Literacy, Functionality, and Social Awareness. This Extension Education initiative by the Universities usually involved a survey of the tribal clusters, rural periphery areas, or urban slums largely with a view to identifying the adult illiterates; the process included the creation of a database on the adult learners and their families, their socio-economic background, and, the extent of access to education enjoyed by their families.

The survey process of identifying adult illiterates gave the students an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the living conditions and the nature of learning environment that existed in the community where they were expected to work.

The University-based Department of Adult, Continuing Education & Extension organised training programmes that acquainted the student-instructors with the learning environment in the community, the reasons why many adults had remained illiterate, the learning materials that they could use, and the instructional methodologies they could follow in the process of facilitating teaching-learning.

This process of facilitation of acquisition of literacy skills entailed a great deal of reliance on Oracy, or the oral skills that the adult learners already possessed. The emphasis laid in such situations related to the use of communication skills whereby the student-instructors could seek the wisdom that the adult learners possessed in plenty.

In many such situations, the student-instructors recognised that their own teachers in the University or in the Colleges did not encourage them to share their own perceptions of life in the classroom interaction. The activities under the Extension Education process were thus giving rise to learning situations wherein the student-instructors were beginning to recognise the limitations of use of the Lecture Method in the classroom. They were, in a way, beginning to internalise the shortcomings of the instructional strategies of their own teachers.

The problem-solving techniques of encouraging oral interaction were encouraging the student-instructors to build up their store of folk culture of the tribe, village or the urban slum. The learning content thus drawn from the local contexts appeared to be generating tremendous interest among the learners. This could be directly seen in terms of gains in social awareness on the one hand and the resolve to effect social change on the other.

University youth participation in the NAEP created opportunities among the adult learners of recognising the commonality of their problems or constraints or handicaps in achieving some vertical mobility in their lives. The adult learners appeared to be shifting from the state of being alone to the status of being a group with shared characteristics. This change in status – from an individual to a collective identity – combined with the capability of putting their aspirations in writing – appeared to be bringing them closer to negotiating with the governance systems their right to be heard, their right to be given the resources planned for them, and, their place within the democratic governance systems.

There appeared to be widespread recognition of the fact that the National Adult Education Programme may not have generated earth-shaking results in acquisition of literacy skills, it did however, enhance levels of social awareness to a point that the extent of their participation, as against the earlier exclusion, in the process of governance appeared to have gone up. Adult learners in the Dindigul District in Tamil Nadu, for example, registered a much larger participation in the electoral process than what was the practice earlier. The polling percentage recorded a 20-percentage points rise at the time of the General Elections.

Similarly, the adult female learners in Andhra Pradesh collectively recognised that the local of Toddy shops outside the village had the effect of depriving them of the share of income of their male family members for the maintenance of the household needs. They realised that the toddy shops were swallowing a large part of their husbands’ weekly wages by encouraging them to be addicted to alcoholism. The story in the Literacy Primers had drawn their attention to this possibility; the drowning of some of their drunken family members in the Village Lake or water body had converted this possibility into a reality. This awareness gave rise to the Anti-Arrack movement in Andhra Pradesh that virtually rocked the stability of the elected government in the State.

The NAEP had given rise to levels of awareness among both the adult learners and the student-instructors to a point that had become embarrassing to the unjust governance processes based on inequity, bias against the poor and the backward, and siphoning of public resources by the vested interests.

The embarrassment of the governance processes grew to a point that the government of the day had to withdraw from the modality of an Adult Education Centre and switch to an Each One, Teach One modality of literacy instruction. Letting the poor to acquire a group identity appeared to be triggering very frightening prospects for the governance systems that tend to thrive on, among others, the lack of awareness among the people.

This programme, funded by UGC, was not merely intended to be a literacy programme but a programme of linking universities and colleges more closely with the community; the community was a kind of an Experimental Station where both the university and the community found opportunities to learn to understand better the problems of inequity and injustice being experienced by the people.

Prof. Satish Chandra, and Dr. (Mrs.) Madhuri R. Shah, two former Chairpersons of the UGC, provided very meaningful leadership to laying solid foundations of extension activities in the general university system. The Policy Frame provided not only the ideas and concepts but also the much-needed mechanisms of bringing the university and community closer. Such endeavor was needed not only in the area of literacy and other social development issues but also in other sectors like industry (community) as well as economy.

The NAEP triggered situations among the illiterate groups where women learners appeared to be more eager to seek literacy, functionality and awareness skills than men; it was probably the large gap in female literacy that enhanced the level of literacy among women learners. Women appeared to respond to the need of adopting the scheme of house-based or community-based toilets in a more enthusiastic manner; they would even be willing to provide the required labour for constructing a toilet as a matching contribution to the resources provided by the local governance processes in the form of a toilet seats, bricks and some cement. The male members in such situations wanted the local governance processes to build the toilets for their families.

The Universalisation of Immunisation initiatives again found more willing leaders among the women than the men; women saw the far-reaching effects of not having their infant children immunised so far. The same responses were elicited by the scheme that facilitated access to clean drinking water.

The NAEP thus created multiple opportunities for the youth to share with the adult learners the manner in which such life-coping skills could help build an environment of security and assured growth in the lives of their family members. Student-instructors with good communication skills, knowledge of the local idiom, and, constraints that the residents encountered in their day-to-day lives seemed to enjoy the challenge of interaction with the adult learners and the opportunity to transfer effective communication skills that included skills in negotiation between two unequal partners.

The repeated visits of the University youth to urban slums, rural periphery areas and the tribal clusters acquainted them with the spate of disruptions that dislocated the lives of the poor through such phenomena as anti-encroachment drives by the local Municipal Authorities, fire in the neighbourhood, floods, and storms. Such situations called for formulation and implementation of Life Skills Programmes.

The youth realised that the poor did not have any stable shelter system, access to clean drinking water, access to reliable sanitation systems, and access to some modicum of security in the neighbourhood for the female members of their families. The governance processes evoked for them bitter memories of the high-handedness of the Police Force, the Municipal Administration, and, the empathyless bureaucracy that dealt with the poor through the middlemen in the form of local goons and mafia dons. Access to development information had not yet become a right of the citizen; the bureaucracy enjoyed oppressive power by virtue of exclusive control over development resources in the name of the poor.

The local Municipal or Panchayat level governance processes had provision for resources meant for rehabilitation and resettlement of the poor in the context of such dislocations. However, such resources did not seem to flow to those who genuinely needed them.

The student-instructors/volunteers or the community programme managers from the Department of Adult, Continuing Education & Extension including the teachers from other Department of the university acquainted the affected people in the community with the methods of generating information concerning the local governance programmes for relief and rehabilitation, the kind of documentation support (e.g. ration card, names in the local area voters’ list, etc.) required for obtaining such relief and rehabilitation, and the extent of relief required. Women usually appeared to emerge as natural leaders among the dislocated groups.

The student-instructors that went to the community realised that mere learning of literacy skills did not appear to motivate the adult learners. The adult learners wanted the literacy skills in a manner that enabled them to make literacy a way of their lives; they wanted literacy skills linked with development concerns. The Primers and Supplementary Readers that the State Resource Centres in Adult Education prepared appeared to be “sermonizing” in nature in regard to the values of good citizenship. There was clearly a high demand for Knowledge- and Skills-based Courses.

The universities stepped in and responded to the aspirations of the adult learners in tribal clusters, rural areas and urban slums by introducing Continuing Education Programmes in the form of Short-Term Courses for the Adult Learners alongside the literacy skills acquisition initiatives. The following three types of Continuing Education proogrammes are an illustrative list:


(a) Community-based Programme

Awareness and Population Education activities are intended to generate awareness and motivate people on issues of developmental concerns like education, health, political processes, and, economic endeavors. The courses offered in this category are for that group of people for whom these organisations were mandated initially and continue to work for those even today. The organisations have been active in Population education programme by organising lectures, health awareness programmes, advocacy on delayed marriage, prohibition of child marriage, immunisation, HIV/AIDS awareness, general health check-up, etc in both colleges and communities through Population Education Clubs (PECs).

The programmes under these two categories include the following:

Health, Hygiene,
Micro-credit and Self Help Groups,
Celebration of important Days and Events,
Extension Lectures,
AIDS Prevention,
Inculcation of Scientific Temper,
Child Labour,
Pollution Control,
Environmental Conservation,
Poverty Alleviation,
Adolescence Education,
Leadership Development,
Women Empowerment,
Human Rights,
Negotiation Skills for Development Rights,
Celebration of International Literacy Day, No Tobacco Day, Health Week, World Population Day, Consumer Day, etc.
Yoga & Living,
Legal literacy for women,
Environmental Conservation & Enrichment,
National Integration,
Legal Literacy,
National Integration,
Drug Addiction,
Meditation & Learning’, and
Religion and Tolerance.

(b) Adult Continuing Education for university groups:

From 1997 onwards the organisations have engaged themselves in organisation of multiple types of courses for that group of people, which can be categorised, as student group. The activities are-

Certificate Course in Fashion designing,
Computer Applications,
Computer hardware,
Training in Panchayati raj,
English Communication,
Entrepreneurship Development for youth,
Computerised office management,
Office Procedures and Computer Usage,
Research Methodology in Adult Extension Education, Population Education,
Reproductive Health,
Fundamentals of Computer and Basic Programming,
Women and Law,
Micro-enterprise Development,
Refresher Courses for Science Teachers,
Refresher Courses for Teachers Working for Handicapped Children,
Legal literacy for Field Workers,
Training in Accounts Management,
Office Management for University Employees,
Orientation in Population Education, and
Refresher Courses for Professionals and Para-professionals in Population Education.

(c) Adult Education for those not eligible for university based courses:


The organisations have focused on skill-training and knowledge-based courses with a view to improve the productivity of that category of beneficiaries, which are not eligible for regular university-based courses. These are organised either at the institution or in the community; such courses include the following:

Sewing & Cutting,
Candle making,
Jams & Pickles making,
Screen Printing,
Apparel Designing,
Interior decoration,
Jute Craft,
Bamboo craft,
Vegetable and fruit preservation,
Book binding,
Remedial coaching for 5th, 8th and 10th classes,,
Chalk making,
Agarbatti Preparation,
Papad Preparation,
Food Preservation,
Tie and Dye,
Mosquito Coil making,
Hand Pump/Bore well repairing,
Wireman course,
Motor winding,
First aid,
Advanced Carpentry,
Operation and maintenance of 16 mm projector,
Doll making,
T.V repairing,
Repair of electrical appliances,
Legal literacy,
Home nursing,
Fabric painting, and
Inverter making, etc.

However, the University-based extension initiatives continue to suffer from the same top-down process of communication that initial attempts at agricultural extension suffered from. Rarely has there been an attempt on the part of the Universities to undertake a Needs Assessment initiative prior to planning their Educational Extension enterprise. The confidence of having knowledge or technocratic resources within its campuses has tended to blind the Extension Managers within the Universities to the priorities that people in the community cherish despite not having had the privilege of going to these institutions of higher education.

The culture of sharing pre-packaged ideas with the poor and the disadvantaged, with the youth hoping to gain greater educational capabilities through non-Degree programmes, and, initiatives that boast of supporting the nationally-cherished values (e.g. the small family norm, scientific temper, environmental protection and enrichment, etc.) continues unabated. This is done without any attempt at finding the traditional sources of knowledge that tribal and rural community, and now the urban slum communities, have utilised to articulate their solidarity with the same nationally cherished values.

Discussion and Conclusions

Has an early “academicisation” of Educational Extension done damage to the knowledge-based engagement of the University with the Community? Has it tended to dilute the commitment and vitality of the Extension movement based on transfer of knowledge and provision of other services to the community? One would like to think that the jury is still out on the subject; universities are often led by leaders and merely survive as systems. There is a good chance that leaders with a vision would once again become allies with those academicians who continue to work towards “socialising” the university as an ally of the community.

The socio-economic development planning in India has tended to play to the gallery of “resource-plus” citizens; it goes through the routing of paying lip service to the development needs, if not rights of the “resource-less” citizens in the last year of the term of governance of the ruling elites. One would have thought that the Universities would undertake rigorous social audit of the widespread perpetuation of inequality and injustice that the poor face in their day-to-day lives.

A part of the blame for such distortions must be assigned to the leadership in higher education, i.e. the University Grants Commission. The various Guidelines formulated by this Apex Body in Higher Education from 1979 onwards did pay attention to the task of university-based technocratic resources developing an outreach to the communities; however, they did not both visualise and operationalise the process of such outreach generating advantageous insights for the traditional work of the university at the levels of teaching and research.

ne of the critical questions that need to be explored lies in the nature of impact that the Extension Education Programme has so far been able to make in the institutions of higher education in terms of facilitating social change in three geographies – tribal areas, rural areas and urban areas including urban slums. The next question that remains to be analysed is as to whether the three decades of Extension Education initiatives and practices beginning from the eradication of illiteracy to the short term human resources development programmes, for people in the community as well as others, organised by he extension services providers have generated sufficient documentation to provide for independent assessment for development of insight into the real life situation and programme intervention or a set of best practice(s) that can be transferred to the large number of Extension Education Departments in the Universities in India as an outcome of knowledge driven extension programmes.

The first positive impact that the institutionalisation of Extension Education achieved could easily be seen in terms of a formal university–community linkage through a process of focus of work in a given community or set of communities, or through adoption of communities, i.e. tribal clusters, villages, and semi-urban dwellings or slums for their social mobilisation or transfer of knowledge activities.

Of the three different types of activities organised by the organisations (community-based, university-based for university groups, and, university-based for non- university groups), community based programmes appeared to have received greater attention. The following criteria were put to use while identifying or adopting the communities:

Geographic proximity to the university campuses,
Presence of affiliated colleges and their willingness to participate in the programmes formulated by the universities, and
Interest among the local population to provide space and other resources for the location of the programmes.

The Adult Learners in the identified or adopted communities were keen to establish their association with the institutions insofar demand for certification of the learning initiatives completed was preferred from the University or College working in the area. The Adult Learners were keen to acquire such certification since it appeared to be carrying significant social value both in their peer groups and in dealing with the local governance systems.

The knowledge- or skills transferred through this linkage has been accorded a significant value both by the Adult Learners and by the community members. The most significant advantage of the University-Community Linkage could be seen in such terms as the following:

Enhanced participation in the political process by members of the community as reflected in higher voting percentage in the Elections to the Local Bodies, State Assemblies, or the national Parliament;
Articulation, representation and assertion in the matter of access to the entitled rights and privileges, resources from the planned development programmes, and, a growing desire to undertake social audit of the implementation process of the planned development programmes through mechanisms like Jan Sunwai, Lok Adalats, etc.
Emergence of new leadership from among the women Adult Learners for enhanced access to learning opportunities at the level of the community;
Enhanced mobility among the Adult Learners to institutions of learning, institutions of governance, and, institutions that promoted advocacy initiatives in support of the right of the poor to resources that could enhance their life with dignity; and
Better understanding of the market forces and the manner in which they could equip themselves to more profitable levels of negotiation with the market forces.

The second major national initiative that the institutions of higher education moved towards operationalising could be seen in the introduction of short-term knowledge- or skills-based Continuing Education programmes. These were attempts in moving towards a state of knowledge management that supported generation, codification, documentation, and dissemination of knowledge relating to education of and communication with the rural and other disadvantaged sections of the community in the country.

It has been suggested that each University-based Extension Education initiative would need “to find its moorings in this regard in terms of the evolving priorities in higher education as part of national development.” These institutions could, of course, see some guidance in this regard in the creation of the National Knowledge Mission by the government as a response to the national need for having a reservoir of skilled and trained manpower to sustain a high level of economic growth. It was equally important to pay some heed to the advice given by the Union Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2007-08; he sounded the nation in regard to a “Faster and More Inclusive Growth” as a critical goal for the Eleventh Five Year Plan.

The Eleventh Five Year Plan has laid down the following objectives:

Growth of 4 percent in the agricultural sector,
Faster employment creation,
Reducing disparities across regions, and
Ensuring access to basic physical infrastructure as well as health and education services to all.

The ideas generated towards introspection are many and some of the had a direct connection to the current state of affairs in extension in Higher Education as has been noted by Bhatia (2007):

“There is a strong case for every University in the country and the Colleges as well, to find a great deal of relevance in these objectives for their own agenda. Like the nation, each University has to evolve strategies that would enable it and its Colleges to create an enabling environment for the youth on their campuses and those in the surrounding communities towards making speedy progress towards attainment of these objectives.”

It appears from the above details that acceptance of Extension as the third function of institutions of higher education has helped these institutions to begin to understand the educational needs of the communities within their surroundings. The evolved understanding has been utilised more in terms of formulating responses to the nation-wide problems like illiteracy, containing population explosion, women’s empowerment, and empowering the poor to search for sustainable livelihoods. However, it has not pushed these institutions to develop an area development approach to the extent of formulating area-specific socio-economic profiles and identification of needs that could be addressed to achieve measurable changes in the socio-economic conditions of the people in the area.

Has University-based Extension Education become a mere poor copy of the Agricultural Extension processes? Thirty years of the University-based Extension is too short a period to make any decisive statement in this regard. One can at best claim that it goes to the credit of the Indian Universities that these woke up to the need of accepting Extension as the third function of higher education, equal in importance to the other two functions – teaching and research. Having done that, they did go through the motion of setting up some kind of a “community station”, quite akin to what the Agricultural Extension processes did in the early phases in the form of “Experimental Stations”, or the “Demonstration Farms”.

However, unlike Agricultural Extension which went through a process of introspection of the distortions that had crept into the process – e.g., setback to sustainable agriculture through an excessive reliance on commercial crops, dominant bias in favour of the male agriculturist, neglect of the female agriculturist, neglect of the small farmer who could not afford the new technologies, discounting of the farm family’s capacity to sustain itself, and, neglect of other rural livelihoods – University-based Extension Education has not had the time so far to counter the distortions that have plagued it and kept it at substantially higher levels of instability within the institutions of higher education.

Institutions of higher education have tended to play for safety in a preferential opting for Education Extension as an academic discipline as against as a communication practice that provided services to the community. The University-based Extension Managers probably could not stand with erect shoulders next to the dominating presence of teaching personnel within their own system; they opted for the easy option of the popular Western saying: if you can’t beat them (in the sense of attaining excellence on their own turf!), join them. They did not realise that traditional knowledge areas that went in for teaching had behind them a substantial phase of knowledge-generation and knowledge-codification.

There appears, however, greater enthusiasm among these institutions to concretize Extension as an academic discipline with Post-graduate Diploma level courses or even MA level course in Extension. The greater enthusiasm for teaching programmes is understandable insofar it places the Departments of Adult, Continuing Education & Extension at par with the other teaching Departments at the post-graduate level.

The promise that the incorporation of Extension in the general education providing universities held in terms of its being an ally of the poor and the disadvantaged, or in terms of its support for the people’s right to lifelong education is yet to be fulfilled. These are some of the areas in which an added emphasis in research, reflection and action needs to be initiated in order to let one of the best experiments at the level of Higher Education not allowed to slide into oblivion.



  1. Bhatia S.C. (1980) Linking Extension with Curriculum, Some Critical Considerations in Adult Education, pp45. University Of Delhi, New Delhi 1980.
  2. Bhatia S.C. (2007) higher education Institution in dissemination of Knowledge in Reddy Adinarain (ed.) , 2007.
  3. Chris Duke (1995) Adult Education researches – Current trends and Issues, Adult Education & Development DVV vol.45 pp.29-30 Bonn.
  4. Dubey J.P, (2006) A Study of Extension services Organised by the University Department/Centers of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension, Ph. D thesis, University of Delhi.
  5. Dubey J.P, (2009) University Extension in India A Historical Perspective, Associated Press, Ambala, India.
  6. Dubey J.P, (2010) University Extension services: Structural and Functional Perspectives, LAP Lambart Academic Publishing, Germany.
  7. Kundu C.L. (1994) Adult Education Programme in the University System pp3-4, Nirmal Book Agency, Kurukshetra, India.
  8. Lauzon A.C. Extension Education Reconsidered: Implication of the idea of sustainability ISSN 0835-4626 No.12, 1997.
  9. Narang R, (2005) a Review Study of Adult Continuing Education and Extension (2001-2004) University of Mumbai.
  10. Planning Commission, Government of India, New Delhi, 1985.
  11. University System and Extension as the Third Dimension, Repot of the Review Committee appointed by the University Grants Commission, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg (1987).