2020 in review: Strengthening skills of TVET staff and students for optimizing water usage & climate smart agriculture in South Africa


One year after the inception and launch of the Nuffic Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) in South Africa a number of activities commenced in order to provide a major skills boost for TVET Colleges with the launch of the international partnership to strengthen skills development and job creation in critically important fields such as horticulture and water governance. Since the launch of the project “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa”, some of the key milestones obtained include letters of endorsement from the Department of Water Sanitation and Human Settlements that act as support to the project from Water Boards from the provinces of Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free state, and Limpopo.

Furthermore, the engagement, involvement and participation of 42 horticulture producers and processors has been created Furthermore, the engagement, involvement and participation of 42 horticulture producers and processors has been created during the Labour Market Needs Assessment workshops. The establishment of the triple helix platform, which is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2021, will be based on partnerships with private and government actors established during the labour market needs assessment.

Upgrading training sessions and the effect of Covid-19 on the project
Assessments were completed to invest in upgrading practical training facilities for TVETs in the second and third quarter of 2020. Also training sessions of staff and students were conducted through on-line webinars with a number of TVET partners and Stellenbosch University (SU). Due to Covid-19, the mission which would focus on the online learning infrastructure was replaced by on-line webinars, and Maastricht School of Management (MSM) performed open interviews with the principle, ICT manager, and academic staff at each TVET.

The upgrading of online infrastructure activities started in the second quarter of 2020 and focussed on established satellite campuses located in rural settings. The improved online infrastructure activities will also provide an opportunity for TVET partners, at an institutional level, to better organize and optimize arrangements related to ICT technologies and deployment of accompanied online skill sets at these more remote campuses. The role of Stellenbosch University as central organizer in the ICT infrastructure is to provide content to TVETs. Meanwhile, the mission for Practical training facilities assessments was also replaced by on-line webinars. Dutch partner Q-Point performed similar open interviews with the campus manager, curriculum manager, and academic staff at each TVET. In doing so, also collaborations with commercial farms in the vicinity of TVETs was looked at, and input from technical managers of these farms was sometimes used as input for defining the skills needs (and thus training needs) of students from the TVETs.

Curriculum review
In the past year a number of TVET staff and managers were involved in the Curriculum review process, the labour market needs assessment, the assessment of ICT infrastructure, and the practical training facility assessment. These assessments helped with further developing the TVETs’ capacity through knowledge and understanding of how various components are linked into a modern, practical and sector-driven occupational program, delivered through partnership with private sector and relevant government agencies.

Robust curriculum review activities started during the first quarter of 2020 for two of the vocational and occupational horticulture related programs which include Horticulture Farm Supervisor and Plant Production respectively. The curriculum review and improvement activities included a number of lead experts both from the Netherlands and South Africa, and implementation is planned for the first quarter of 2021 which synchronizes with the recruitment and enrolment activities of various TVET colleges.

A new Tailor-Made-Training
In 2020 also a tailor-made training (TMT) grant was awarded by Nuffic to the Q-Point-MSM-SU consortium. This project will be linked to the South African OKP project, and MSM, Q-Point, SU, Boland TVET and Elsenburg TVET will be collaborating in the following three key areas: a) Review and improvement of the vocational/occupational standard; b) Matching with industry skills-needs; c) Introducing the dual system and apprenticeship approach, providing an inclusive gender, youth and marginalized groups focus and practice, as well as establishing practical PPP support structures. These elements will be institutionalized in and supported by a Dutch-South African Triple helix platform, with multiple stakeholders from the education, private, and public sectors. An important link will be made in terms of the value chain related agriculture and horticulture production as well as agro processing

The first two training workshops of this TMT were organized in 2020’s last quarter for TVET staff and was related to improving policies to encourage access to education of minorities and gender sensitivity, diversity in management and teaching staff. A follow-up training workshop took place in in December 2020. The training workshop was attended by more than 25 staff members for each workshop held and involved the TVET Colleges of Boland, Northern Cape Rural, Motheo, Nkangala, Vhembe, and Elsenburg.  The workshop was facilitated by Prof Peliwe Lolwana from South Africa and Olivia Ansenk from the organization Q-Point in the Netherlands.

One of the key decisions from the training workshops to date is the implementation of a skills program targeted at minorities with the focus on horticulture production involving water smart approaches.

The third training workshop for TVET staff was on conducting applied research and field studies. The working title of the training was “From research innovation: planning & conducting applied research and using data for write up of a proposal for action. The course is currently in progress and the second phase will commence in February 2021. More than 30 staff members confirmed participation across the TVET colleges and which is facilitated by Dr. Meine Pieter van Dijk from MSM. The focus of the course is to train and stimulate TVET staff to engage with Agri/horti producers & processors, understand their challenges, and select the most simple and feasible challenges that can be solved through joint Triple Helix ideas, and to dive deeper into the context of the challenges by doing additional data collection, and use these datasets to write a solid proposal for further action by the Triple Helix platform and others (e.g., donors).

Upcoming activities
Given the Covid-19 pandemic, the project is on track and multiple activities have already been planned for January 2021 such as; the establishment of the triple Helix platform; the establishment of the ICT platform through a joint MOU that was signed between MSM and SU – linking all 6 TVETs; piloting of the improved curriculum: Plant Production 4 qualification with accompanied training staff based on a revised curriculum, on-line model; and investment into ICT infrastructure on practical training facilities at the respective TVET clusters.

About the project
The project combines the promotion of agriculture growth and sustainable & equitable water use. It will concentrate on the educating young people in the field of optimizing water usage & climate smart agriculture. The consortium bases its focus on improving the skills and employability of TVET graduates, the TVET programs must be based on the needs in the agriculture and water labour market.

The project is managed by Maastricht School of Management in collaboration with Stellenbosch University. MSM and SU together with the consortium that exist out of Graafschap College, CINOP Global, Q-Point BV, Acacia Water BV, SaltFarm Texel, AgriColleges International (ACI) andAcademy for Environmental Leadership (AEL) capacitate Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, Boland College, Vhembe TVET College, Motheo TVET College, Nkangala TVET College and Northern Cape Rural TVET College.during the Labour Market Needs Assessment workshops. The establishment of the triple helix platform, which is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2021, will be based on partnerships with private and government actors established during the labour market needs assessment.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

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