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EDUCATION & RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE
17 September 2002
PROJECT LITERACY: BRIEFING
ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training) Presentation
Project Literacy Annual Report 2002-09-19
Conference Report on the Role of Adult Education in Sustainable Development
[ABET website: http://www.projectliteracy.org.za]
Chairperson: Mr D Kgware(ANC)
The Chief Executive Officer of Project Literacy briefed the committee on Adult Basic Education and Training then showed a relevant video. An adult learner was introduced to the committee.
Mr Miller defined the term ABET, which means Adult Basic Education and Training. He emphasised that the term was uniquely South African as the 'T' had been added to introduce training into basic education. He said that the original drivers of education and training were the church,the state and non-governmental organisations.The aim of ABET was to offer an appropriate adult general education making significant improvement in the quality of life of the learners.
Only in the year 2000 was a link actually made between literacy and poverty. In South Africa, he stated, between three and four million adults could scarcely write their names and addresses. These were generally older women in rural areas. He recognised that the state today was one of the leading fund providers of ABET having established night schools and seeing to the regular change of curriculum requirements. Businesses, commerce and industries (mines) have continue to be providers of adult education and training. Civil society including NGOs and churches used to be important donors of funds but have re-directed the funds elsewhere.
Mr Miller introduced Mr.Schrooder, an adult learner from Western Technical college in the Western Cape. Mr Schrooder was among a group of eight to have gone through three years of education and training. He passed his certificates around to the committee, stressing that one was never too old to learn. The government needed to put in more money in adult education and training.
Mr Miller showed a video to the committee. It featured a project by the name "Ikhwelo".It was a programme of the Department of Education in Eastern Cape to alleviate poverty.
The video depicted the poor infrastructure of rural areas such as lack of electricity and water which were among the constraints in implementing sustainable development. Forty-four centres had nevertheless been established in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo province where learners acquired knowledge and skills in agriculture and small, medium and micro-enterprise.
A special delegate from KwaZulu-Natal was concerned about the poor infrastructure which made it difficult and in some areas impossible to reach the people on the ground and provide the help required.
Mr Miller felt this was largely because of lack of co-operation between different government departments and offices. Education and training not only called for the involvement of the department of education but also in most rural areas, water, electricity, agriculture, commerce came hand in hand with education, and thus the need to involve these respective departments.
He stated that the North West province was the worst province as far as reaching people was concerned, followed by the Free State.
Kwa Zulu Natal had the third highest level of illiteracy and the material supplied to adult learners was outdated.
Mr Raju (DP) inquired if there was any collaboration between the labour and the education department regarding this issue.
Mr Miller said that there was tension between the two departments about the resources available. More money seemed to be poured into labour than education. Both needed to work together as a team to determine what projects to implement in order to benefit poor rural people. He suggested that the committee invited a representative of Labour to obtain more information. South Africa was drowning in funds poured into different institutions but the problem was in the method of distribution.
The chairperson stressed the importance of self-reliance, which is to be the primary aim of adult education and training.
Meeting was adjourned.
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