In a ceremony that was held atTyelimhlophe Agricultural School in Mount Frere, the MEC for Education Mandla Makupula handed over seven bakkies to seven agricultural high schools, with the host school also received farming tools including work suites and boots for the learners.
During his Policy and Budget Speech Breakfast held at the East London Golf Course earlier in the year, the MEC spoke of reviving and giving support to Agricultural Schools in the Province. According to the MEC, this hand over marks the beginning of many projects to come that will assist in developing these schools and ensuring that adequate teaching and learning material as well as proper infrastructure is available.
Speaking on the Infrastructure, Director of Infrastructure from Head Office, Mr. Tshepo. Pefole, highlighted that fencing for some of these schools has been procured and would be installed soon. He said that was done to secure the premises and avoid damage to property. The following are schools that benefited and are recipients of the vehicles: Palmerton, Moshesh, Arthur Mfebe, Tyelimhlophe, Frank Zibi, Moorosi and Phandulwazi High School.
Communications had an opportunity to speak to farm Managers and Principals of these schools and this is what they had to say:
Mr. X. Nomnqa, Farm Manager at Phandulwazi Agriculltural High School said that it was encouraging to see such development taking place in their school. ‘It gives us hope that the department is with us in whatever we are doing”.
Phandulwazi High School produces products such as eggs, broilers, piggery, milk and crop production. A portion of the produce is taken to the school for school nutrition purposes, they also supply five primary schools from surrounding areas with milk.
“Having these bakkies is a very big relief to be able to take our products from one point to another especially the communities we work with”, said Nomnqa.
In as much as schools are appreciative of this gesture, they did raise concerns that affect teaching and learning specifically in Agricultural Schools. These range from lack of skilled, experienced and qualified Agriculture teachers to learners doing the subject for the first time in high school and finding it difficult to grasp content and fully understand the concepts.
Mr. Kambi Vela, a principal from Arthur Mfebe Agricultural School suggested that, Agriculture should be introduced in the foundation and intermediate phases. “This will assist learners to adapt and establish themselves in the tune of the high schools”, said Vela.
Learners who encounter Agriculture for the first time in high school sometimes reach matric having no comprehension of the subject and this has an effect in producing quality matric results; this is a predicament that almost all farm managers raised as a challenged they are faced with in their schools. “Introducing Agriculture even in primary schools will give learners a solid foundation and this will eliminate these struggles”.
Mr. Gqada, said “We welcome and appreciate this initiative by the department as it has been a long time schools have been struggling”. He also highlighted the challenge of unavailability of water and acknowledged that water is a scarce resource butsometimes the absence thereof is due to old bore holes that need to be revived; Also the employment of teachers specializing in Agricultural Sciences who will possess the content needed to teach the subject.