Brian Isaacs writes that all schools should consider introducing Agricultural Sciences as it opens various careers in agriculture. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Brian Isaacs writes that all schools should consider introducing Agricultural Sciences as it opens various careers in agriculture. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

For land reform to be a success, lets teach Agricultural Sciences in schools

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

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by Brian Isaacs

I believe that as a teacher one has to dream. Dream small and the bigger dreams with follow. It is like evolution. I am a biologist and took many lessons from Charles Darwin the evolutionist.

An ex-South Peninsula High School student and brilliant scholar Cecil Leonard who became an anatomy scientist professor using evolution as his basis at the University of the Western Cape during the apartheid years at the university reserved for “anderkleuriges “taught me many lessons about life.

Also, an ex-student of SP Professor Merlin Mehl who was a brilliant Physics professor at UWC himself a well- known person in religious circles must have had wonderful debates with Prof Leonard. Professor Jan Skinner a zoologist at UWC, when he was dissecting a rabbit, said: “Can you see there is no soul in this rabbit!” Challenging our religious beliefs. These are individuals when I was at UWC in the 1970s taught me to dream. I am thankful to them moulded me.

In 2012 at South Peninsula High School we introduced the subject Agricultural Sciences. I am interested in the history of families and while researching in the early 2000s I discovered that my grandfather Arend Isaacs was a sheep farmer in the Abbotsdale region in the early 1900s.

I remember as a young boy of 9, we visited Abbotsdale regularly on a Sunday afternoon. I remember the family house which was occupied by my grandfather’s sister.

The house was situated on the embankment of the river that ran through the village, My four young brothers and I spent many hours in the river.

This is where we learnt to swim. I was amazed at the tranquillity of the area. The Group Areas Act changed all that. We were just one family affected. How many other tranquil communities were not affected by the dreaded Group Areas Act?

I suppose this is where my interest in Agriculture was stimulated and why I felt a need to introduce Agricultural Sciences into the school’s curriculum. I remember a deputy-principal of the school saying that the school is moving beyond its capacity. We have many such shortsighted teachers in the educational system at present in South Africa.

Never-the-less the progressive parents and teachers allowed the school to introduce Agricultural Sciences in 2012 and I must say without opposition. The two Agricultural Sciences’ subject advisers were very useful and knowledgeable about the subject. They must forgive me I forget their names but you know who you are and I thank you. The school’s first graduate Sameera Ebrahim in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch qualified in 2018.

I remember her as a petite person but packed with ATP energy molecules. I would recommend to all schools to introduce Agricultural Sciences. It opens various careers in agriculture.

It is an exciting time for students in the country to take over the land and to produce food for our country.

Never again must we be held to ransom by farmers who for their selfish gain do not want to be the breadbasket of South Africa at reasonable prices.

If students are interested in the land question this is a way in which they can become actively involved in the distribution of land and the production of food for all the inhabitants of South Africa.

My advice to schools is that they agitate to have Agricultural Sciences introduced into our schools.

The students and the country will benefit enormously.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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