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You may be confused when you hear that a pulp and paper company conducts a training program for students to learn how to grow vegetables and rear cattle – far removed from the paper production business.

But this is exactly what APRIL does for students in Kerinci and surrounding areas in Indonesia – all in a bid to help create more qualified human resources overall in the country, supporting several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals along the way.

By running its ‘On the Job’ Training Program, APRIL gives students the opportunity to hone their farming knowledge at APRIL’s Integrated Training and Business Development Centre over a period of three months.

“Students are taught to run and analyze their businesses – in agriculture or livestock – including selling their harvests at the end,” said Gading, APRIL’s Community Development Coordinator.

“For example, if they want to farm corn, our agricultural training programs will help them to learn how much capital they will need to prepare, and how much profit they can expect to get (by participating in our program),” he said.

When APRIL’s On the Job training program first started in 2013, only secondary school students participated. Over time, APRIL has expanded the program to include vocational school students, and it now even receives interest from schools which come directly to APRIL to enroll their students in the program.

“We now have students from vocational schools in Pekanbaru and Siak Kecil,” Gading said.

Prospective schools which are interested in joining the program are asked about the number of students who will be participating, as well as for proposals on the type of lessons or facilities they will need for their students, he said.

“This is because we have many types of farming here - we can provide lessons in horticulture, animal husbandry, and also fish farming,” Gading explained.

According to Gading, all participating students will have to present reports on what they have learned throughout as well as at the end of the program.

“It is hoped that in they will have better skills than other students after being trained here. In the future, they will be able to apply their knowledge directly in the working world, after graduating from school,” Gading said.

Sonia, a student who participated in the program, had positive feedback about her experiences, saying that she had not only learnt technical agricultural skills, but have also gained teamwork skills by having to work with her fellow students.

“We were randomly put into groups and required to work together as a team,” Sonia explained.

APRIL’s On the Job training program can accommodate up to 50 students annually.

“At the moment, there are 47 students from three schools who are participating in the program at the Integrated Training and Business Development Centre,” Gading said.

Besides supporting students to better learn about agricultural activities, APRIL also aids small-scale farmers in Indonesia through its Community Development Program.

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