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.

We need to retain our skills, invest in education, and create and implement robust agrarian reform in order to help small-scale farmers. Innovative public-private partnerships must be forged to support the green economy, build on conservation efforts and develop a robust skills and training regime – especially in terms of developing entrepreneurship and innovation.

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

Education is covered in chapter 9 of the National Development Plan (NDP).

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 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