Global agricultural company launches literacy programme on South African farms for graduates to gain independence and autonomy
United Exports, the vertically integrated agricultural company known for leading blueberry brand Ozblu, has started an adult literacy programme on Ozblu farms in South Africa.
While adult illiteracy rates in South Africa have fallen in recent years, some 3.5m adults remain illiterate, according to analysis from the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) cited in a media release from United Exports.
The DHET reports that illiteracy levels are highest for black South Africans and in rural areas these rates are even higher due to poverty, lack of educational resources and poor infrastructure. Illiteracy means that people are unable to participate fully in the economy and society at large.
The Ozblu Academy, the learning and development arm of United Exports, partnered with Triple E Training, an adult education and training provider in South Africa, to facilitate an adult literacy programme with the aim of empowering farm workers to engage more effectively in the workplace and beyond.
In 2023, 38 workers at two Ozblu farms participated in the training. At both farms, all participants achieved a 100 per cent pass rate of the nationally accredited courses ranging from Level 1 Basic English Communication to Level 3 English Communication (equivalent to Grades 1 to 7 respectively in the South African schooling system), according to United Exports.
The company said the programme has had a profound impact on employees’ work lives. “Johanna Matshane, a scout who monitors pests and diseases in the orchard, has learnt to write the weekly scouting report and no longer needs to rely on the help of a colleague,” said United Exports in the release “Elizabeth Moropa, who works as a cleaner, can now complete the laundry inventory and write the measurements of the detergents and the dates of use.”
Roger Horak, founder of United Exports, said: “When we started the Ozblu Academy in 2019, we wanted to empower individuals and teams for the agricultural sector. It is awe-inspiring to witness how we have also been able to empower them in their daily lives.”