New e-learning institution to help create Africa’s next generation of farmers

  • 01st June 2017
  • by secretary
29 May 2017. Agricolleges International is a new, modern, cloud-based e-learning institution that is using Desire2Learn’s (D2L) Brightspace learning management system (LMS) to provide students with affordable, accessible and industry-relevant agricultural course content. Brightspace is a digital learning platform that helps schools and institutions deliver personalised learning experiences in a classroom or online to people anywhere in the world. The platform makes it easy to design courses, create content, and grade assignments, giving instructors more time to focus on what’s most important – greater teaching and learning.

Speaking at the press launch in Johannesburg, Howard Blight (picture), chairperson and founder of Agricolleges International says, “We will offer students from all walks of life, starting in South Africa, the opportunity to access or continue their education in the Agri-Sciences. Agricolleges International has established a cloud-based e-learning platform, where students can study on computers and mobile devices from anywhere in the world with internet access, providing a dynamic learning environment without the added costs of being ‘on campus’. From 2018, we will venture north into the sub-continent, offering the same programmes to students from other African countries.”

“There is a dire need for quality and affordable, tertiary, agri-education in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the developing world. While some universities throughout the country are turning away thousands of student applicants each year, due to a lack of facilities for students looking for some form of tertiary education, it is equally true that our universities are being asked to accommodate more and more poorly prepared and poorly resourced students with fewer and fewer resources to do so. Diploma level courses studied through Agricolleges International, will meet both the needs of the industry to gain young, skilled agricultural talent, but also at a price-point that is affordable – under R29,000 per year,” says Blight.

Courses will not only focus on comprehensive diplomas but also on building skills through production short-courses, aimed at all professions along the agricultural value chain. Learners will be trained to become, amongst others, section managers, assistant farm managers, farm managers, field officers, sales and marketing assistants and managers, for the many agri-related businesses within the economy. Certain agri-related trades will also be made available to learners.

By transferring modern technologies and skills to the younger generations, it is possible to help develop the agricultural sector, enabling best practices to be adopted by future generations and improving productivity, food security, and poverty along the way.

Colleges, universities, farming industry needs to work together to address the skills shortage

  • Agricolleges International has forged a strategic alliance, through a formal Collaboration Agreement, with Stellenbosch University that will serve as a portal for the establishment of an e-learning curriculum at Diploma level. 
  • Agricolleges International has signed with the Mumbai-based Innovations Consultancy, Consilience, who will design and build the courses on-line. 
  • Consilience has created academies that offer courses accredited by the State University of New York in the USA. The Consilience team has decades of experience in higher education and strategic innovation.

“Colleges, universities and the farming industry need to work together to address the skills shortage in agriculture. Agriculture training and education in South Africa appears unbalanced with significant outputs on higher compared to lower tiers, whilst practical experienced agricultural job candidates are also lacking. The lack of training among unskilled and semi-skilled workers is also preventing the sector from building from the bottom up. Incubators in the form of agricultural colleges and schools are not meeting the demands of the growing agricultural sector. Agricolleges International, therefore, fills a much-needed gap in agriculture education.” Professor Danie Brink, dean of the Agri-Sciences Faculty at the University of Stellenbosch