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Matrics, hurry up if you want to study further in 2021!

Colleges worry that covid-19 is going to keep students from starting or completing their agriculture studies

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Gr. 12 learners who still have not applied for further studies in 2021 due to uncertainty because of the covid-19 pandemic have to hurry. Applications start closing in just 10 days, and the harsh reality is that you might waste a year if you don’t step on it.

Education experts tell Food For Mzansi that they are worried about the class of 2020 who have been holding back varsity and college applications because they are in a race against time to catch-up on schoolwork.

Dr Celeste Nel, head of admissions and residence placement at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, says, however, that the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown has not stopped matriculants from applying. Those that want to study further in 2021 therefore have to adhere to all the application deadlines, as places are filling up fast.

Nel does anticipate a problematic enrolment and registration process early in 2021, though. “There have (also) been some research articles stating that there will be countrywide decreases in registration rates in higher education based on the economic impact of covid-19.”

WE ARE worried about matriculants who are using the pandemic as an excuse to not make decisions about FURTHER STUDIES. – DAWN NOEMDOE

Noemdoe, the editor of Food For Mzansi, adds, “We’ve received many notes from parents as well as teachers who say learners somehow believe that application deadlines for further studies have also been delayed because of the lockdown. It’s not the case, though, and if you miss the application deadline you risk becoming another sad statistic.”

According to Statistics South Africa less than 29% of grade 12 learners qualify for university studies. Despite TVET colleges also presenting accredited study opportunities for the rest, many do not apply in time and do not know that there are bursary and other funding opportunities within their reach. Up to 51% of youth aged 18 to 24 cite a lack of money as their reason for not studying further.

“We are not going to waste 2020,” says Laurika du Bois, the head of marketing and recruitment at Agricolleges International, a nationwide e-learning college. “Let us get out there and do our best to encourage one another to do better and to embrace our opportunities. Let us inspire one another to be good. And let us not forget that agriculture is the one determining factor of any nation wanting to move forward. The sector provides food security and alleviates poverty for our community, our nation and our country.

”Educational institutions who focus on agriculture are therefore encouraging new and returning students to do their best to not let the covid-19 pandemic derail or even postpone their education.” 

Andile Ngoco (26) manages the operations of Tusokuhle Farming in Pietermaritzburg.
Andile Ngoco (26) manages the operations of Tusokuhle Farming in Pietermaritzburg. He studied at Cedara College of Agriculture. Photo: Supplied

According to Johan Van Veenendaal, senior lecturer at the Cedara College of Agriculture in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal the pandemic turned the education system “on its head”. He believes grade 12 learners will have a difficult time being accepted at top performing agri-colleges in the next academic year.

“Cedara has a strict application process which closes on 31 August each year. Applicants who meet the requirements need to provide their trial exam results for grade 11 and their end-of-year result for matric. With the whole school programme being turned on its head, the paperwork needed to apply would be challenging to attain, which would restrict some from applying,” he says. 

The college only accepts 60 students every academic year and it is already under pressure to teach third-year students whose studies were interrupted by the national lockdown.

Du Bois adds that Agricolleges International has been inundated with queries from grade 12 learners who are considering accredited e-learning in the wake of coronavirus fears and restrictions. “Many students now consider online as an option. It is a more cost-effective option because they won’t need to pay for accommodation, and they also don’t have to travel.

Meanwhile Noemdoe says that matriculants should remember that the agri-sector literally offers an A to Z of study and career opportunities, and does not require everyone to farm. As an example, she cites available options at both the Stellenbosch University and Agricolleges International.

How to study agri at Stellenbosch University

At Stellenbosch you can choose Bachelor’s degree studies in many fields, such as agricultural economics, agronomy, animal sciences, conservation ecology, food science, forest and wood science, genetics, horticultural studies, plant pathology, soil science and viticulture and oenology.

Grade 12’s have to take note that applications strictly close on 30 June 2020. To qualify for varsity application, you have to ensure that you meet the following minimum requirements:

  • A National Senior Certificate with admission to bachelor’s (which requires that you obtain a mark of at least 4 (50-59%) in each of four designated university admission subjects).
  • In addition to this, admission requirements for the programmes BScAgric, BScFor, BScConsEcol, BSc Food Sc and BAgricAdmin also require an average performance level of 60% in the NSC (excluding Life Orientation), or other school qualification: English or Afrikaans (Home Language or First Additional Language) – 4 (50%); Mathematics – 5 (60%); and Physical Sciences (Physics and Chemistry) – 4 (50%).
Click here to apply online by 30 June 2020.

How to study agri at Agricolleges International

The admission requirements at Agricolleges International are less stringent, and you can also study from the comfort of your own home. You just need basic internet access. Study options include a one-year National Certificate in General Agriculture, which is AgriSETA-accredited and equivalent to a matric-level qualification. The minimum requirement is a grade 10 qualification.

You can also choose a 12-week course in the fundamentals of agribusiness, or 9-week courses in the fundamentals of avocado production, maize production and/or macadamia production. If you only want to study for 7 weeks, you can choose an introduction to plant and/or animal production.

Click here to apply online for the next intakes. 
Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom is an audience engagement journalist at Food for Mzansi. Before joining the team, she worked in financial and business news at Media24. She has an appetite for news reporting and has written articles for Business Insider, Fin24 and Parent 24. If you could describe Sinesipho in a sentence you would say that she is a small-town girl with big, big dreams.
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