Agricolleges International, a cloud-based e-learning institution which launched last week, wants to provide students with affordable, accessible and industry-relevant agricultural course content.
Agricolleges uses the Desire2Learn’s (D2L) Brightspace learning management system (LMS). 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, 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. (via Bizcommunity)
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While South Africa’s agriculture sector looks to be heading for recovery following a devastating drought, the recent downgrades are likely to have implications that may dampen the recovery of the sector, reports FNB in a press release.
According to FNB, the downgrades are also at a time when agricultural debt has risen exponentially over the last decade and worsened further over the past two years. The country’s economy is struggling with the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections showing growth below 1% in 2017. Farmers and agri-businesses alike have had to look at new ways of rescheduling some of their debt.
Paul Makube, senior agricultural economist at FNB Business outlines the impact of these economic challenges on the sector:
Impact on the rand – Longer term, the rand might weaken which may cause inflation to increase and subsequently force the Reserve Bank to either delay interest rate cuts or even raise them.
Increased input costs – While a weaker rand might boost exports, it will increase the cost of input in agriculture, particularly fertiliser, chemicals and fuel as well as technology e.g. tractors and combine harvesters which are largely imported.
Increase in consumer inflation – Given that grain prices are based on import parity, which is derived from international prices, a sustained rand weakness will increase local prices which may fuel consumer inflation thereby eroding the purchasing power of the man on the street.
Decreased investment levels – Lower investment and confidence in the country will lead to job losses and a further contraction in the overall economy. Government revenues will eventually be negatively impacted as the tax pool declines in the longer term.
“Nonetheless, even in the face of rising economic pressures, the improved confidence in the sector with readings of the recent AgBiz/ IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index trending above 50 index points for three consecutive quarters indicate resilience in the sector. We therefore still expect a modest rebound in agricultural growth in 2017,” concludes Makube.