Why is a large broad-based adult basic education programme not part of government’s ‘New Growth Path’? Are we content to merely provide pensions and grants to millions of adult South Africans who should be learning productive skills, entrepreneurship, basic health – and also about democracy?
Project Literacy, the largest provider of adult basic education and training (ABET) in South Africa, has been forced to shut down its provincial offices and retrench more than half its staff after the government withdrew a major contract.
Project Literacy chief executive, Andrew Miller, points out that the former director-general of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mary Metcalfe, had awarded the contract, on behalf of the National Skills Fund (NSF), in September but that it had been withdrawn three weeks later.
It is now commonly accepted that there is a deep crisis regarding the ‘culture of reading” in South Africa. Only a very small section of the public reads and buys books, there is a virtual collapse of library services, and publishing in black languages continues to struggle 16 years after the end of apartheid.
The indices of this crisis are equally well-known:
- Only a very small section of the public reads and buys books – both for leisure (fiction) and self-education or self-advancement (non-fiction)
The Uganda National NGO Forum will this month start assessing children’s learning skills.
The forum’s country coordinator, Richard Ssewakiryanga, points out that the assessment will determine children’s competencies in reading and numerical skills.
Ssewakiryanga argues that the project, codenamed Uwezo Uganda, assessment will also enable parents, leaders and the public to participate and promote children’s learning.
More than 10 000 learners have gathered in Cape Town's Grand Parade on Human Rights Day to demand that the government provides libraries for every school in the country.
Equal Education (EE) spokesperson, Yoliswa Dwane, whose organisation spearheaded the school library campaign nationally and coordinated the march, points out that Grand Parade was filled to capacity, adding that, "You couldn't even see a bare patch of ground -- the place was covered with learners in their school uniforms."
'Writing the Wrongs: International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy' argues that governments are not investing in programmes sufficiently to achieve the UN goal of reducing illiteracy by 50 percent by 2015. Published by the Global Campaign for Education, the study attempts to systematise experiences of what works in adult literacy by analysing 67 successful literacy programmes in 35 countries.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
SADTU welcomes Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech presented in Parliament this afternoon. We welcome the fact that education continues to be our government’s number one priority. The R165 billion given to education attests to this.
We note the following on matters of education:
Wow, another R2,7 billion for basic education. The more one watches the depressing matric results, the more one thinks that money is not our problem. Poor rural schools often out perform urban schools with better facilities. We need to refocus on the basics such as teaching and learning in a stable well managed environment.
No real mention was made in the budget of ABET, the adult literacy campaign Gha Re Kude or the difficult work of the FET colleges in producing skilled people for the labour market.
On Friday, 5th February 2010, sixteen schools from Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and North West will receive training and educational content to help improve education at their communities. The participating schools have been nominated by Mindset Network’ staff members, who come from under-privileged communities and want to plough back to their schools. The content, called digital library contains curriculum aligned videos and interactive lessons of Grades 09 to 12 Physical Sciences, Mathematics, English, Mathematical Literacy, Information Technology and Financial Literacy.