LMI programme > Publications

Reconfiguring the post-schooling sector: A critical review of Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) provision in South Africa

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Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP)

Person/s author/s:

McKay, Veronica


working paper



This paper hopes to provide a backdrop for understanding the nature and context of the 'basic education' subsector of post-schooling in relation to the issues and challenges it faces. The paper thus examines the system of basic education within the legislative and the international landscapes identifying a range of challenges faced by the post-schooling subsector with particular attention to the failure of the ABET system in terms of enrolments, throughput and the career pathing for learners. It considers the restricted numbers of learners emerging from ABET and those entering FET colleges. Also considered is the promise of coherence and articulation from as far back as the Education Act of 1997, which is re-emphasised in the GP (DHET 2011a:8). The sector has failed the vulnerable namely those adults and young people who are neither in formal workplaces nor in educational institutions who are unable to access first- or second-chance learning opportunities, let alone lifelong learning. In the latter part of this paper, consideration is given to the problem of data impoverishment in the sector. The lack of data makes it difficult for the sector to plan since without sufficient data, policy is inevitably made 'in the dark'. The paper makes a plea for improved data including data on literacy rates. The current methods of data collection via household and national census methods rely on self-reporting or proxies which gives rise to data that is insufficient to guide policy and provision. The paper thus recommends the methods of direct testing of adults in line with approaches used elsewhere in the world.

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