Ongoing learning at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute
Following the suspension of formal classes on 18 March 2020 and the closure of hostels on 20 March 2020 at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute (EATI), management has engaged students and parents to clarify the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the 2020 academic year.
Management and academic staff have implemented alternative interventions to ensure the continuation of the educational programme for its Higher Education and Training and Agricultural Skills Development streams.
A particular focus is placed on the final year candidates registered for the Bachelor of Agriculture (B Agric) offered in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch (SU), the new three-year Diploma programme and the Learnership with its focus on Work-Integrated-Learning.
The B Agric students and lecturers have access to the support provided by the University of Stellenbosch’s SUNLearn, a Student Management System where all training material can be accessed, and feedback to lecturers can take place.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is developing a similar Moodle platform to SUNLearn for the other programmes offered by EATI.
Lecturers and staff are also involved in ongoing planning, design and facilitation of on-line distance learning and teaching through email, WhatsApp and conference calls.
EATI provides data to students who have limited means to obtain data. The courier of learning material augments this to about ninety students with little or no access to the network nor hardware such as computers or appropriate smart cellular phones.
The year planner was adjusted to accommodate the lack of contact teaching and practical engagements. At the same time, an alternative framework for assessments that maintains the integrity and quality of the course has been implemented, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that the current final year candidates can complete the year successfully.
The success of all our initiatives requires multiple efforts that include the student, parents, guardians and other family members who have been passing on information to students who have no other means of communicating with their lecturers.
I am thankful to the management and academic staff for their efforts and encourage our students to continue to work hard at their studies during the lockdown.
While our shared goal is completing the academic year successfully, doing so safely is non-negotiable. I, therefore, encourage everyone to adhere to the golden rules – wash hands with soap, practise social distancing, sanitise, wear cloth masks and stay indoors.
MEC Dr Ivan Meyer, Provincial Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape