By Mohlaodi Mphuthi –
The eastern Free State community is set to benefit from a variety of skills and programmes to be offered by the Agricultural School Hub which was recently launched by the Minister of Higher Education, Naledi Pandor, at Kgotso Uxolo Secondary School in Reitz.
Over 300 students are set to4 enroll at the school which is being run from the Tjheseho Community Centre. The agricultural school hub came about when the minister, during her political oversight visit, realized the need to uplift the community of Nketoane Local Municipality by empowering them with knowledge.
The hub will offer such programmes as carpentry, motor mechanics, plumbing and ITC, among others that may be necessary in farming. The main intention of the hub is to attract youth who are not at school, TVET or university to help equip them with skills and programmes.
“What we are trying to achieve with this hub is to bring education to those youths in farms like in Reitz because most of the time we focus more on big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town forgetting that there are youths in Reitz who need to be equipped with skills. Our main intention as government is to pave a brighter future for the youth especially from the rural communities” said Pandor.
Nketoane Local Municipality has four towns; Reitz, Lindley, Arlington and Petrus Steyn and is surrounded by 47 farms making the area ideal for the running of such an agriculture hub. The municipality provided the land for the construction of the hub that is expected to commerce early next year.
In the mean time, the hub is conducting its business from Kgotso Uxolo Secondary School.
According to Keneilwe Motaung, a resident of Lindley and a student set to benefit from the agricultural school hub, the launch is something they have been waiting for as youths to turn their fortunes and carve a future for themselves in agriculture. She added that the opportunity offered her and her peers a chance to put bread on the table for their families when they complete their studies.
Nketoane Local Municipality is home to agricultural giants, VKB Group, which has backed the launching of the hub. According to Koos Janse van Rensburg, the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for VKB his company needs people with skills and that farming these days is driven by technology, hence the need for skills.
Other stakeholders who supported the launching of the hub included SETA, AgriSeta, Maluti TVET, among others. Some of the roles of the stakeholders will be to train lecturers who will in turn train the students.