March 6, 2024

Minister Ivan Meyer’s Vision for Education and Training is Reshaping Agriculture in the Western Cape

Photo credit: GroundUp, Maryatta Wegerif

When Dr Ivan Meyer was appointed the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture in 2019 he stressed that the future of a sustainable agricultural sector is dependent on new information, technological advancement, and a generation of agri-workers and youth with appropriate skills and qualifications to engage within an inclusive agricultural economy.

Speaking at the recent SA Agricultural Teaching Association National Conference on the West Coast, Minister Meyer said that education, training and research should provide the skills, knowledge and experience to secure the future of agriculture.

Minister Meyer continued, “ It is for this reason that I have advocated for an increase in training opportunities for youth and women and an increase in the number of schools with a focus on agriculture in the Western Cape. Structured education, training and research is one of my priorities. I have therefore been advocating for establishing more agricultural schools and the introduction of agricultural subjects at existing schools in the Western Cape.”

While the Western Cape currently has only three agricultural schools, the number of schools offering a curriculum that includes at least one agricultural subject has increased from 31 to 55 over the past five years.

“The 77%  increase in the number of schools offering at least one agricultural subject is good news. I appreciate how the Western Cape Education Department has responded by increasing the number of schools offering agriculture subjects and making the sector more accessible to the youth. One such school is Pelican Park High in Lotus River. The school is ideally located close to the Philippi Horticultural Area, often described as the “breadbasket” of the Metro,” added the Minister.

“The agriculture sector is a star performer in the Western Cape economy. Therefore, it makes sense for our youth to equip themselves with the skills needed to participate in a well-performing sector that plays a vital role in securing food security”, said the Minister.

Speaking about the Elsenberg Agricultural Training Institute (EATI), Minister Meyer highlighted, “The EATI remains central to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s work of equipping our next generation to become a skilled workforce. Over the past five years, more than 2 448 students have graduated from the EATI. In 2019, the Diploma in Agriculture, on National Qualification Framework Level 6 (NQF6), was registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and implemented in January 2020.”

“A further 17,098 individuals also benefited from the short skill courses offered by EATI. The EATI obtaining accreditation from the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) in 2022, for the following qualifications: Livestock Farmer (Supervisor) (NQF 4) and Orchard and Vineyard Foreman (NQF 3) was certainly a further confirmation of the quality of training on offer at the EATI.”

“Growing the Western Cape economy requires a skilled workforce. With the support of the WCED we will continue to invest in agricultural schools and advocate for the introduction of more agricultural subjects in existing schools”, concluded Minister Meyer.