In ASE context CoLA is defined as a process of discovering/ generating, accessing, sharing and utilizing knowledge in a collective learning mode, with a purpose of improving livelihood, competence and, local capacity for development. The term “community” is mentioned here to give more emphasis to the grass root community; otherwise all actors (researchers, extensionist, private sector, etc) are important. On the other hand the term “learning” also signifies the fact that knowledge acquisition is not a one-way process but multidirectional and complex one. In other words, the source of knowledge is assumed to be diverse, which may include formal research and extension institutions, NGOs, farmers, farmer organizations, policy makers, the private sector, etc. Most importantly the term “action” has significant importance in this concept. Whatever type of knowledge that may be produced or accessed in this process would mean nothing unless the knowledge is translated in to action. Translating knowledge in to action is again not a straight forward process because it is affected by several factors such us change of attitude, incentives, resources such us finance, land, water etc, policy supports, confidence (risk aversion mechanism), market linkages etc. The main goal of ASE is therefore not to generate or access knowledge but to create enabling environment where the resource poor farmers may apply the knowledge acquired in to action, there by make new economic and social value that sustains.
This strategy is designed to help ASE develop human and social capital in the programme areas. It will also significantly contribute to ASE’s efforts to become a centre of excellence in community learning and action in the target areas. The main strategic direction under CoLA include:
- Establishment and facilitation of Community Learning Forums (CoLFs) – (a key guiding strategy in facilitating community training/ learning, action research and extension activities at grass root level);
- Initiating and supporting community of practices (CoP) in community Learning – creating a platform for sharing & learning;
and scaling up of good practices of ASE.