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Learn to Achieve. Creating opportunities for marginalised youth in rural South Africa

There are so many young people in South Africa that pass matric but do not know what to do next. Perhaps their results were such that they do not qualify to attend university, perhaps they do not know if they want to study any further or perhaps, they simply do not know where to turn next.

Unfortunately, this situation frequently leads to negative outcomes such as turning to drugs and alcohol, early unwanted pregnancies or criminal activity.

They are the NEETs of South Africa – not in employment, education or training. Year after year this pool of NEETs grows exponentially.

The Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum, with the financial support of the AgriSETA, piloted a programme that can change the future of marginalised youth. They implemented a programme called “Learn to Achieve” that has had astounding results.

The Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum (KBOS) is situated in the heart of the Witzenberg District with its head office in Op-die Berg about 50 kilometres from Ceres on the R303 to Citrusdal. KBOS has been in existence since 2000 and focuses on management, supervisory and technical farming-related training but is also deeply involved in community development and upliftment of farm workers and their families in the district. KBOS formally trains about ±7000 managers, supervisors and workers and reaches out to approximately 4300 community members annually.

The team at KBOS confronted the challenge of out-of-school youths in its rural farming community with very few job opportunities by coming up with a novel approach to better the lives of their youth. They combined their extensive knowledge of farming-related skills training with what they have learnt over the years through their engagement in community development and upliftment.

KBOS designed the programme “Learn to Achieve: 1,2,3 Work. The purpose of the programme is to offer unemployed matriculated students who did not enrol at a tertiary institution for 2021 the opportunity to obtain theoretical and practical agricultural knowledge and skills to prepare them for a possible career in agriculture. These students were placed on various farms from April to November 2021 and during this period, whilst they were working on the farms, attended a comprehensive skills programme consisting of plant production and other technical farming topics blended with a whole range of life skills topics.

Some of the topics covered during the programme were soil preparation, plant physiology orchard monitoring, manipulating plants, harvesting crops, collecting orchard data, selecting and caring for tools, first aid, managing water quality and others. These were blended with subjects such as exploring learning strategies, study methods, basic computer skills, First Aid, personal development and enterprise management skills.


Specialists presented all these subjects in their respective fields and every attempt was made to integrate the learning with on-job practical exposure. For this reason, students and the host farms were visited on a regular basis to monitor implementation and resolve any challenges that may have arisen.

When the programme kicked off in February 2021, a total of 20 students were enrolled and placed at 20 different farms. “We are very proud to announce that all 20 completed the 9-month programme. Seventeen are still working on the farms they were originally placed in, two decided to study further (one in agriculture) and one is now working on a different farm,” said Carmen Roberts, Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum’s CEO.

The programme would not have been the success it is if it were not for AgriSETA. AgriSETA approved a discretionary allocation of R265 700 that enabled KBOS to fund the training. The farms paid the learners a stipend for a period of 8 months whilst they were working on the farms. Based on the success of this programme KBOS have approached AgriSETA to collaborate and expand the programme to 2022 and beyond.

“This is a prime example of a public-private partnership benefitting so many people. In this initiative, we, KBOS, are the facilitators, the AgriSETA is the enabler, the farmers are the opportunity creators (and of course, they benefit from high-quality, young workers) and the students and their families are the beneficiaries. In this way, we can impact both job creation and creating more stable, self-sufficient communities and families,” Roberts summarise the success of the programme.



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