KZN agricultural schools learn about on-the-job training in Paraguay

2010-07-22 00:00

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation based in Paraguay, called Teach a Man to Fish, met students of the Midlands Community College in Nottingham Road yesterday to discuss the possibility of a partnership.

Martin Burt, executive director of Teach a Man to Fish, spoke to about 60 students before showing them a short film about the work that the NGO has done in Paraguay.

Burt has begun a movement in Paraguay that has seen him work successfully with agricultural schools to help make them self-sufficient.

He has been in South Africa for the past five days promoting the idea to local institutions, and has spoken to students at Zakhe and Weston agricultural colleges.

“The idea is to introduce the concept of education that pays for itself and at the same time equips Africa’s future farmers with the necessary skills,” Burt explained. “The students will learn by physically doing things that will earn money and provide resources for the school.”

Burt painted a picture of some of the self-sufficient agricultural schools that the NGO is working with in Paraguay.

“In the mornings, half of the students spend time in the classrooms while the other half are involved in practical exercises like milking cows, working in the cheese factory, farming crops and cleaning.

“The best way for children to learn how to become self-sufficient is to actually do things for themselves, make the mistakes and gain real experience,” he said.

Burt said the NGO also places an emphasis on life skills such as sex education. “In Paraguay, teachers and parents are afraid to talk about sex to their children so it’s something that we make sure we do for both the boys and girls,” he said.

Teach a Man to Fish has a four-year working relationship with the Saville Foundation, which is involved in education programmes across Africa.

Gary Shearer, director of the Saville Foundation, is confident that the partnership will be beneficial to education in the midlands.

“We will certainly be supporting this project in the future.”

“There are plans for Martin to come back and for us to start implementing our strategies at the schools and colleges that he has spoken to,” Shearer added.

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