Cooperative member training, workshop and conference in an essential part of any cooperative society to ensure the sustainability and development of such society in a more competitive economy like ours.
Onoh F.A (2007), the importance of cooperative education cannot over emphasize. He wrote “a Swedish cooperative expert Mr. Sterner said, if we are given a choice between two alternatives, that is, a cooperative society wit a large amount of capital and no education and a cooperative society with a small amount of capital, but with knowledgeable members, our experience inclined us to choose the later.
The more cooperative education the members possess, the easier it will be for the cooperative assistance to guide and assist them. A cooperative society with ignorant members is a very heavy burden on the inspector and the community at large and the time devoted to its supervision is out of proportion, yet much success is not achieved.
Cooperative education is not the study of physical or social science like politics; it simply means knowledge of the meaning, objectives and running of the cooperative society, the duties of the members and the committee, the knowledge of the society’s bye laws and the relevant sections of the cooperative law.
Cooperative managers finding themselves in a completely new context must be trained to acquire appropriate skills enabling them to manage, rather than simply execute orders handed down from above and to take initiatives aimed at strengthening the cooperative. Training should cover investment capital from internal and members rather than counting on external (usual government) sources.
Training programmes could be more effective if it places more emphasis on improving business efficiency and members service and also if the trainers have a say in determining the content of the programmes.
Unfortunately, the needed crop of trainers and educators are simply not available in ECOFED.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is obvious that illiteracy, ignorance and poor leadership impede the growth of any movement and cooperative societies are no exemption.
Over the years, excessive emphasis has been laid on legislation rather than the many other aspects of cooperative (education) which would better prepare members for democratic and participatory management in cooperative business enterprise.
Considering the premature winding up of most cooperatives in Enugu state, it is obvious that most cooperative members and management are not been exposed to adequate cooperative education which could have enabled them contribute positively to the cooperative business development.
To this end, this research work is intended to find out the impact of seminars, workshops, and conferences in the promotion of cooperative societies business, the factors that have hindered its practice in Enugu state.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Cooperative training has not been as successful in Africa generally, and particularly in Nigeria, as in Europe where cooperative education began in local cooperative societies and preceded the actual incorporation of such cooperative societies
By 1935 when cooperative activities were introduced in Nigeria emphasis was not placed on training of cooperative members but on government cooperative staff who were under instructions to register as many cooperative societies as possible to enhance the collection of agricultural raw materials for factories in metropolitan Europe (Nweze, 2002).
Onuoha, (2002) After political independence cooperative activities in Nigeria followed the pattern laid down by the colonial administration with respect to government’s domineering influence over cooperative training and other critical inputs of cooperative development.
Cooperative training, however, received a big boost in Nigeria during her Third Development Plan (1975-1980) due to the government’s desire to use cooperatives more consciously as instruments for achieving increased agricultural productivity and rural transformation. Consequently, the Federal Government established three Federal Cooperative Colleges at Oji-River, Ibadan and Kaduna, respectively to provide cooperative education in Nigeria. Apart from the three Federal Cooperative Colleges, several state owned cooperative colleges have also been established.
Unfortunately, the Cooperative Movement in Nigeria has neither her own cooperative training institutions nor a controlling influence on any of the existing cooperative colleges. Over the years, cooperative training has as a result been directed, mainly, to government personnel with very limited opportunity for cooperative members and staff. This situation has left the management of cooperatives largely in the hands of illiterate officers and members leading to the poor performance of the cooperative sector of the economy (Berko, 2002).
Okoye, (2002) Cooperative activities in Nigeria have grown in size and complexity thereby creating the need for professionally trained managers and other technically competent personnel. Provision of relevant cooperative training or recruitment of managers who have acquired the relevant competence for the management of cooperative businesses has become very necessary. Because of lack of sufficiently trained officers and members of cooperative societies government staff are in some cases seconded to state cooperative apex bodies thereby compromising the autonomy of such bodies.
Oladeji, (1994)The weak financial base of most cooperative societies in Nigeria and their small membership sizes make it difficult for them to sponsor members, officers and staff to training programmes of cooperative training institutions.
Agbo, (2001) this problem is accentuated by the fact that the cooperative movement itself is so impoverished that it cannot subsidize member education.
Other obstacles facing cooperative training in Nigeria include the fact that cooperative training in the country is not based on a clear analysis of needs and therefore has not addressed the needs of the cooperative movement. Lack of awareness by cooperative members of opportunities for training existing in the cooperative training institutions is another major problem.
Bottomley (2001) believes that for cooperative societies to have access to cooperative training some socio-economic variables like the type and size of cooperative membership, the sector of the economy that needs intervention, the levels of functional education and the level of assistance cooperative gets from the state must be fully addressed.
Ambusher (2001) adds that the system of delivery and cost of cooperative training and mode of selection of those to benefit from training affect access to cooperative training very seriously.
Akinwumi, (1991) it was established that cooperative members and cooperative staff put together constitute less than 2% of the overall intake of the Cooperative Colleges in Nigeria. It is important to find out whether this trend has changed.
The impact of economic and political changes on cooperatives has been varied with some positive and some negative effects. A positive effect is that cooperatives often benefit from the withdrawal of parastatals through achieving a more sustainable relationship between members and their environment. Cooperatives can also contribute to society more as “schools for democracy” without the state subsidy and support.
The growing trend is for privatization, decentralization and participation, in which people have far more responsibility for their own development. This will include a much stronger emphasis on mutual self-help and reliance on own resources, and a reduced expectation that governments will intervene with assistance. Many governments have come to accept this approach.
However, putting this into practice is a long term process requiring training and organizational growth to develop the business skills needed for a market economy.
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