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Agronomy demonstrates practicals to Khayamandi High School learners

Kayamandi High School attracts learners from as far as Franschhoek, Jonkershoek, and Pniel. However, the majority of learners are fed through the two local primary schools. The School offers all three recognised agricultural subjects, namely Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Technology, and Agricultural Management Practices, and is a true gem as far as high school agricultural education is concerned. Moreover, the School is privileged to have dedicated teachers who have previously gone to great lengths to maximise learner exposure to postschool agricultural education by organising trips to higher education institutions in the Eastern Cape. Collaboration between the School and additional higher education institutions such as the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute and Stellenbosch University is a prospective opportunity that can develop agricultural study and career paths and aid in learner success.

To this end, Stellenbosch University’s Department of Agronomy hosted 31 learners from Kayamandi High School for a Practical Demonstration Day on the 11 November. The learners are all in Grade 11 and study Agricultural Management Practices. The day started with a water and carbon cycle presentation in class, which highlighted the importance of these two resources in crop production. This was followed by various demonstrations covering soil organic matter estimation, water quality determination and crop management evaluation. This is the first of other similar demonstrations to be offered to Kayamandi and other high schools in 2023 through the Agricultural Sustainability Education Lab. This first offering was a resounding success following the invaluable role of Dr Estelle Kempen and a dedicated team of senior and postgraduate students from Agronomy, including Beatrix Alweendo, Princess Dolly Tuaandi, Nellah Mabasa, Louise Bestbier, Hanneke Augustyn and Chantal Ndhlovu, who accepted to participate in and contribute to the proposed programme of the Agricultural Sustainability Education Lab (AgSus EduLab).

Through the Practical Demonstrations programme, the AgSus EduLab takes on an approach of experiential agricultural education at secondary education level. As a suitable alternative to traditional learning, experiential learning directly capitalises skills and attitudes related to critical thinking and problem solving, being less anchored in mechanical learning and memorising, while accelerating collaboration between schools and the AgriSciences Faculty, particularly towards aligning to STEAMAC (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Agriculture and Coding).

We look forward to what 2023 presents and the various proposed programmes. This includes a similar practical demonstration hosted in collaboration with the Faculty’s Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB).

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