Table of Contents

 1. Overview

The challenges facing the country include low literacy levels, which hinder the development of agricultural and other basic vocational skills.

The skills needed for agricultural production, food security and sustainable rural development include:

  • literacy and numeracy skills
  • basic decision-making and problem-solving
  • technical and vocational skills in agriculture, and land and water management
  • leadership, planning and management skills
  • social, interpersonal and communication skills
  • negotiation and facilitation skills
  • the critical thinking that is necessary for fostering innovation and change
  • food preservation and processing skills
  • marketing skills
  • business, income-generating and entrepreneurial skills
  • the awareness of social, political and legal institutions that is necessary for effective participation in civil society

Many of these skills could be considered the building blocks for success in the modern world and should be gained through primary and secondary education. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as the education system has failed many youngsters, especially in rural areas.

The provision of Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) is a cornerstone in the work of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). Certainly generating literacy amongst farm workers remains one of the greatest challenges to our investment in people.
Along with the provision of skills and the capacity to perform, the spin-offs of education and training go beyond the workplace and staff morale: people become agents of change and positive participators in the development of their communities.


2. National strategy and government contact

The National Development Plan (NDP) places agriculture firmly on the agenda for the next 15 years (NPC, 2011). Specifically, and in relation to Agricultural Education and Training (AET), the NDP calls for:

  • The creation of an additional one million jobs in the agriculture, agro-processing, and related sectors.
  • Increased investment in agricultural technologies, research, and the development of adaptation strategies.
  • Expanding the college system with a focus on improving quality.
  • Improved skills development and training in the agricultural sector, including entrepreneurship training. This should include the training of a new cadre of extension officers.
  • Investigation into whether extension and agricultural services are appropriately located at provincial level.
  • Innovative means for agricultural extension and training by the state in partnership with industries.

Additional targets of indirect relevance to AET include increasing enrolment at universities and increasing the percentage of PhD-qualified staff in the higher education sector.

Source: from the executive summary of Revitalising Agricultural Education and Training in South Africa. Find the details of the document under heading 12.

Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) are part of the Infrastructure Plan developed by Government to support economic development and address service delivery in the poorest provinces. Each SIP comprises of specific infrastructure components and programmes. SIP 11 is Agri-logistics and rural infrastructure, and includes the expansion of agricultural colleges (see heading 6).

The post-school education and training White Paper plans to expand the capacity of, access to, and the quality of South Africa’s higher education institutions. Find it at

Government departments involved

Government departments of relevance to this chapter are the Department of Basic Education, and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and of course the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Find contact details for all departments at

Find the Agricultural Education and Training strategy (AET Strategy) on – take the “Branches” menu options. The AET Strategy is concerned with the provision and maintenance of sound education and training to support an environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture. Two contacts at DAFF are:

  • Directorate: Sector Education & Training Tel: 012 319 6628
  • Directorate: Sectoral Colleges Tel: 012 319 6957