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KBOS a beacon of excellence in the Koue Bokkeveld

 By Louise Brodie

From small beginnings and through hard work, the Koue Bokkeveld Training Centre, better known as KBOS, has established itself as an invaluable resource for skills and personal training and development in the larger Ceres area. So much so that they recently received a Service Excellence Award from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

Situated in the small, remote town of Op-die-Berg in the Koue Bokkeveld, the ongoing successes of this remarkable facility have improved the lives of countless people in the area and it has established a sphere of influence well beyond its location.

KBOS was established in 2000 by Joy van Biljon to continue providing farmers in the area with their training and development needs after the Rural Foundation was disbanded. The centre is run as a closed corporation and senior staff members are shareholders in the business and the level of commitment from the team of trainers and administrative staff is remarkable. “It is an expressed goal of the centre to employ local people and most of the permanent staff grew up as farm children on local farms,” explains Joy. “As the trainers are local,they can relate directly to the farm workers and their circumstances, which really help them to relate to the people who attend our training and development courses”. 

Meet some of the committed Kbos staff:

KBOS staff — in the back row (FLTR): Ayanda Jack (agri department officer and translations), Edna Nigrini (social worker and head of the community development section), Danelle Titus (admin), Jacob Coetzee (head of the agri department), Landi Kahlmeyer (community development), Luyolo (Tshoks) Tshokotsha (agri department officer), and Joy van Biljon (CEO). In the front row (FLTR): Samantha Gibb (marketing and PR), Yolanda Erasmus (admin), Winnie van Zyl (head of finance), and Carmen Roberts (head of admin).


Jacob Coetzee

Jacob Coetzee grew up on Kromfontein in the Koue Bokkeveld, where his family has worked for generations. After attending Kromme Rhee Agricultural College, working as a production manager and a lecturer at Kromme Rhee, he joined KBOS in 2003. “When I joined KBOS there were only three of us here. Looking back, I could not have made a better decision,” says Jacob.

Jacob’s main focus is to offer Agricultural Learnerships to farm workers from the area.

“The course material provides workers with relevant information for their jobs. For instance, the farm production cycle information is presented at the same time as the various growth stages are happening on the farms, so in effect, the theory and practical parts of the learning run simultaneously.”

Ayanda Jack

Ayanda Jack and Luyolo Tshokotsha are the Xhosa Learnership trainers. Ayanda has been with KBOS since 2004. He grew up in the Lady Grey region of the Eastern Cape and came to the Western Cape because his father worked here. He completed his tertiary education at Ichala College in Queenstown. “My father told me that he had seen an advertisement for a translator at KBOS. I applied for the job and was accepted. While I worked as a translator, I also completed the NQF level 1 Learnership as I did not have an agricultural background. As time went by, I found that working here and being involved in training was my calling and I have grown a great deal as a person through this process”.

The centre also presents Ubuntu camps to welcome the seasonal workers, most of whom are young Xhosa-speaking people who have just arrived in the area from the Eastern Cape. The camps are orientation camps and the presentations are about life skills, focussing on life choices and responsibilities. The camps are organised over a weekend and the centre offers 9 of these annually. “The largest-growing group of seasonal workers is men under the age of 35,” explains Ayanda. “They arrive here in a part of the country that is strange to them and often need counselling and we can assist them. I have been involved with running these camps for 10 years and am very proud of what we are doing. One of the results of our initiatives is that we are finding that more and more Xhosa people are approaching us on their own initiative to attend courses at KBOS”.

“We have recently started a new programme (the Wamkelekile programme) to welcome the seasonal workers to our area. This is usually a day event with soccer matches and to launch the day, we invite representatives from the local police services and health care services to deliver an orientation address outlining the security and health challenges we face in the area.”

Carmen Roberts

Carmen Roberts grew up on Kromfontein Farm and, after completing her National Certificate in Human Resource Management at Boland College in Paarl, saw an advertisement for a post at KBOS and applied. “This was in 2001 and when I joined KBOS, the staff complement was just Joy and I. We have certainly come a long way since then,” says Carmen. “I was involved in computer training previously, but now I am responsible for administration co-ordination for the centre, which includes the admin for the short courses we offer and the AgriSETA administration. There are three of us that work in the admin department and we also receive assistance from the Public Relations department.”

“Working at KBOS for the past 16 years has been an incredible journey in personal growth. It has also helped that I am from the area and can relate to the people we train. Though our training we have made a remarkable difference to the lives of many people, both in their workplace skills levels and in their personal development.” Carmen is currently completing a B Comm degree through Unisa and has been chosen by the KBOS shareholders to take over the management of the centre when Joy van Biljon retires in 2020.

Edna Nigrini

Edna Nigrini is originally from Villiersdorp and obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Stellenbosch. When her husband got a job in Ceres, she applied for a job at KBOS and has been with the centre since 2014. Edna is responsible for the social, community and youth projects. “We have an annual community development programme which includes recreational activities and incorporates elements of all these focus areas and a large part of this is youth development,” explains Edna. “Our youth development programme involves the children who live on the farms and the project grows with them throughout their preschool and school years, with the aim of helping them with their life and career choices. Our involvement with the schools starts with a music programme, wherein primary school children are trained to play the recorder and high school pupils are trained to play the guitar. We receive funding for this project from the Department of Sports and Culture and the National Lottery, and the pupils have the opportunity to show off their skills in our ‘Plaas kom Dorp Toe’ concerts.”

The centre also offers the PACE programme, which assists pupils with online aptitude tests to assist them with career choices. “Seeing that we make a difference to the lives of individuals provides us with the inspiration to continue with our initiatives.”

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