Ninety six animal production practitioners in the Eastern Cape have registered for the new animal health diploma offered at the state-run Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute, the rural development department said on Sunday.
"The diploma will equip all provincial animal health practitioners with professional knowledge to help curb livestock parasites, control state controlled diseases, provide veterinary extension and advisory services to communities," MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said in a statement.
"Owing to the prevalent cases of rabies and other animal diseases in their areas, the first group of students hails from Alfred Nzo, Amathole, Chris Hani, Joe Gqabi and OR Tambo district municipalities."
Quality animal healthcare was critically important to the economy of the province because agriculture was one of its main economic features, and a major contributor to its domestic product.
The first group of students have been accredited by the SA Veterinary Council (SAVC) to study a bridge course for 18 months, considering their accredited diploma in animal production.
"The department made a special request to SAVC to accredit animal production practitioners for a special diploma course, as they could not practice as animal health practitioners without [SAVC] accreditation," the MEC said.
The animal health diploma was registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
From January 2015, the institute would offer a fully accredited three-year diploma in animal health for matric pupils.
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