United Exports Runs Literacy Courses for OZblu® Employees

Perth, 21 December 2023 – United Exports, an international vertically integrated agricultural company known for the leading OZblu® blueberry brand, is changing the lives of rural farmworkers in South Africa. The OZblu® Academy, the learning and development arm of United Exports, has started an adult literacy programme on OZblu® farms.

Although adult illiteracy rates in South Africa have reduced in recent years, there are currently over 3.5 million adults who remain illiterate. Illiteracy levels are highest for black South Africans and, in rural areas where OZblu® farms are based, the illiteracy rate is even higher due to poverty, lack of educational resources, poor infrastructure and more factors. Illiteracy means that people are unable to participate fully in the economy and society at large.[1]

To empower farm workers to engage more effectively in the workplace and beyond, the OZblu® Academy partnered with Triple E Training, an adult education and training provider in South Africa, to facilitate an adult literacy programme on OZblu® farms.

In 2023, 38 workers at two farms participated in the training. At both farms, a 100% pass rate was achieved by the participants who completed 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).

The impact of the programme on the employees’ work lives has been profound. Johanna Matshane, a scout who monitors for 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. 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.

In addition to work performance, the adult literacy programme has had a significant effect on employees’ personal lives. For example, two employees described how they no longer need to ask a security guard to help them use an ATM. Employees are also able to help their children with homework. Jimmy Mmelesi told us that his children love to see his workbooks, and conversations at supper cover what everyone has learnt that day. Employees also feel a greater sense of unity with their co-workers as they travelled this learning journey together.

Roger Horak, Founder of United Exports, says, “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.”

[1] Source: (Khuluvhe, M. (2022) Adult Illiteracy in South Africa, Department of Higher Education and Training, Pretoria.)