| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The first of its kind, Agricultural Partnership for Rural Youth Development Project is creating a skills pipeline with possibilities for rural youth, especially farm worker children to reach unimaginable heights, becoming the future professionals, masters and doctorate students in the agricultural sector!
Agricultural Partnership for Rural Youth Development Project (APFRYD), an conceptualised initiative, forged through relationship building with Farmers, Farm Workers, Municipalities and Educators whereby rural youth, especially children of Farm Workers are receiving various opportunities of development.
The Agricultural Partnership for Rural Youth Development Project (APFRYD) promises to continue to provide a skills pipeline for previously disadvantaged youth, especially rural youth from High School to Higher Education in the scarce and critical fields of agriculture, thus nurturing the future scientists, specialist and farmers to accelerate the research, technology, knowledge, growth and conservation of agriculture. Transforming the face of the agricultural sector and allowing the most vulnerable and marginalised to actively determine the future of agriculture in the Western Cape.
• A quality high school education with mathematics and sciences and boarding school accommodation fully paid by the Department through a scholarship,
• Learnerships and further education bursaries awarded to Farm Worker Children,
• Ann internship whereby Farm Worker Children are being placed on the farms where they reside.
• Farmers assume the role of External Host Employers to this Western Cape Department of Agriculture Interns
• Farm Workers have greatly benefitted by the mentorship training and the opportunity, to share their knowledge with the youth and watch with pride as their children soar to unbelievable heights.
A post-graduate opportunity on the Young Professional Person’s Programme affording our rural youth, academic and financial support, personal development and national and international exposure.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The project was implemented by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. It has a long term focus to address skills deficit in the agricultural sector and the huge youth unemployment rate, focussing rural youth, specifically children of Farm Workers. Funding for the project is committed for five (5) years from 2013 to 2017.
The project has sound financial systems and controls in place to account for all expenditure. The project has provided employment opportunities for three contact workers consisting of:
1. Assistant Director (project coordinator)
2. Administrative Officer
3. Administrative Clerk.
The core function of the employees is to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the project. Mainly rural youth from impoverish communities benefitted from the project.
64 rural children benefited through internship from 2014 until now. 85 bursaries have been awarded and 12 farm worker children have been awarded scholarships benefitted from the initiative.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The Department is committed to the promotion transforming of the sector. It has been a white male dominated sector for many years. In order to bring about these changes and developing the skills of the marginalised groupings it is necessary to set about systematically to bring previously disadvantaged skilled individuals into the agricultural labour market.
Based on the high unemployment youth rate within our Province and the reluctance displayed by our youth to pursue a career in Agriculture, the project focusses on promoting the agricultural opportunities through a one-year internship with placement at an external Host Employer within the Agricultural Sector, to experience and gain exposure to Agriculture and the career opportunities it offers. The appointment of these young matriculants, students and graduates will be in line with national and provincial policies and strategies aimed at eradicating poverty through skills development and economic growth.
The strategy details the approach towards human capital development for the Department and the sector with the following main activities:
Transforming the agricultural sector (Bursaries)
Improving access to training opportunities (summer and winter schools, Grade 9 and 11 learners)
Another constraint is that the majority of the marginalised youth from the rural areas do not have access to tertiary education because of their poor academic performance in mathematics and sciences, or the unavailability of these subjects at high school level, and poor study methods. In light of the above, it is necessary to provide a bridging programme that will allow these marginalised persons to improve on their existing mathematics, science and life skills so that they can access higher education more readily, be more successful in their studies, and reduce the drop-out rate.
Annually the Department arranges winter and summer schools for prospective students at
External Internship Programme
The desire to be skilled, and be ensured of a job is fast diminishing. Government, together with all relevant stakeholders must make every attempt to promote access to the workplace. Workplace experience remains one of the main criteria for successful employment. Academic programmes must therefore incorporate exposure in the practical field as part of the study programme or immediately thereafter. An external internship programme can offer this opportunity.
Long-term changes to the school curriculum and development in rural areas
One way in mitigating the future problem of rural economic development opportunities, is to look at education at a technical level based on skills enhancement and development. In this regard, the possibility of Technical Schools within Rural Districts must be investigated and evaluated. This again requires a transversal approach and the need for strong coordination is underlined. It is clear that there are structural problems in the employment framework within the agricultural sector.
On site monitoring was conducted on a bi-monthly basis to ensure the success of the project after the peak season. Separate and joint meetings were conducted with External Host Employers and interns. Best practices were shared and challenges addressed with solutions before the officials depart from the farms. External Host Employers submits monthly attendance registers and quarterly reports on the intern’s performance.
A midterm review and career exhibition was held in June 2015 for the interns, Mentors and External Host Employers. Interns, Mentors and External Host Employers gave feedback on their experiences. The interns reported on the hands on learning and work experience they were exposed to in packing and grading table grapes for the export market. The mentors reported on the interns’ willingness to learn and work in a team. The External Host Employers reported on the high standard of commitment, willingness and excellent work ethics their experienced with the group. The External Host Employers praised the programme as a “changing the lives of youth in De Doorns”. A commitment was given by the External Host Employers to continue to support the project.
Funding for the project was committed for five (5) years from 2013/2014 to 2017/2018 and has since been included in the Departmental Voted Funds.
The project has sound financial systems and controls in place to account for all expenditure. Monthly and quarterly expenditure monitoring reports are available. The Project is reflected in the Departmental Annual Performance Plan. The Agricultural Partnership for Rural Youth Development Project forms part of the Departmental External Development Initiatives and compliments the Human Capital Development Strategy and is monitored by the Departmental Human Capital Development Strategy Committee which meeting bi-monthly.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The stakeholders involved in the design and initiative was the Head of Department, Director Operational Support Services and the External Development Initiatives team. From the inception stage the Project was supported from Top to bottom.
A project implementation plan was drafted outlining the time frames and milestones of the project. The Western Cape Provincial Treasury committed and approved R 6 225 000 for the implantation of the project.
Meetings were conducted with farmers to explain and sell the concept. Farmers agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to act as External Host Employers for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Indirectly assistance has also been secured in “kind” through the external partnership with farmers as External Host Employers who made available their farms, time, mentors and expertise. Training for the mentors ensured uniformity and equality were maintained on all participating farms. Monthly monitoring and evaluation visits were conducted by the External Development Initiatives team to ensure the milestones of the project are achieved and uniform standards are integrated on al farms.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Bursaries and Scholarships
Bursaries were awarded to rural youth affording them the opportunity to further their studies the Agricultural field. A close relationship was developed between the bursary holders and the Department, with regular monitoring visits being conducted and timeous updates on the Students’ progress was obtained. Bursaries cover all tuition, accommodation and meals for students. These bursaries were awarded from pre to post
Farm Worker children in Grade 8 were identified by School Principals or Farm Management as strong ‘potential candidates’ for further studies in Agriculture were awarded full scholarships. This ensured access to quality education with close liaison with the High School Administrative staff and Educators with extra tuition paid for where needed.
Both bursaries and scholarships include three annual payments of R1 500 (pocket money) directly to the bursar/scholar personal needs.
Internships and learnerships
The internship programme places participants with external host employers, i.e. farmers act as mentors, to gain workplace experience. A memorandum of understanding was entered into with Farmers while the Department retained all administrative responsibilities and funded the stipends. Rural youth, previously reluctant to pursue careers in agriculture have now embraced these opportunities.
Special Agricultural Learnerships are being offered at Elsenburg College for rural youth which includes accommodation, meals and monthly stipends. Students return to the farms to do their practical work integrated learning.
Beneficiaries of the Project have become role models to other youth in the communities, encouraging a greater interest in further studies and agriculture of a career of choice. The active involvement in Internships and Learnerships has reduced the unemployment, social ills and poverty within the Communities. Candidates used their stipends to supplement their household incomes. Expending income benefit to the entire family and the broader community. Beneficiaries become positive role models in their respective communities.
The project touched on 8 of the SDGs:
• No poverty – providing interns with stipends of R3500 per month.
• Zero hunger – expanding the sector by increasing and addressing the inequalities in through training and further studies.
• Good health and well-being – Wellness and awareness sessions on HIV/Aids, std’s and life skills training
• Quality education – target farmworker children by offering them scholarships to attend schools with mathematics and science.
• Gender equality – ensure more women are appointed on internships in the agriculture sector.
• Decent work and economic growth – all interns attend entrepreneurial training as part of the exit strategy of project. Interns are appointed as government officials and the department administers the appointment process and internship.
• Reduced inequalities – economic inclusion of persons with disabilities and females.
• Peace, justice and strong institutions - the project restored the peace and trust amongst farmers and farmworkers.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
One of the major challenges was that the intern’s stipend was higher than the minimum wage paid to the farm workers and potential for serious conflict. Extensive engagements with External Host Employers and Farm Workers took place prior to the appointment of departmental interns on any of the farms. This was to ensure that all workers understood that the interns were appointed as employees of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, despite serving their internship on the respective farms. The Interns attended a one week orientation programme. They were issued with a set of branded protective clothing; consisting of 2 sets of overalls, gumboots, safety shoes, T-shirts and a polar fleece top with the instruction to at all times wear their T-shirts displaying the corporate identity of our Department. It was with a sound understanding that the interns knew that, as employees of the Department, they were ambassadors, representing the Western Cape Government in their workplace.
Extensive liaison with the local farmers in the De Doorns area and the Breede Valley Municipality led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department and the Commercial Farmers. Twenty seven(27) farmers have signed the MOU’s to come on board and act as External Host Employers for the Project, to allow rural youth and children of Farm Workers with matric, to serve a 12 month internship with the Department. Each of the participating farms now have billboards erected on their farms indicating their partnership and promoting their commitment to youth development. (This sends a proudly ‘Better Together’ message to all passer-by’s) This has further encouraged other Farmers to come on board. Economically Government can achieve more through partnerships.
The contracts that the interns signed with the Department states they will work a 40 hours per week. However the farm operations required the interns to start earlier and work overtime during peak seasons. Each farmer agreed to give the interns time off or pay them over time for the hours worked.