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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


AITCHISON, John  and  LAND, Sandra Jane. Secured, not connected: South Africa's Adult Education system. Journal of Education [online]. 2019, n.77, pp.138-155. ISSN 2520-9868.

In this paper we address an area that has been largely neglected by researchers-state provision of adult education in South Africa. We argue that there have been decades of neglect, or, at best, token support for our country's adult education system, and we look at how the system could be revitalised, both in terms of minimal requirements for immediate basic improvement as well as for a more radical and forward looking transformation of the system. South Africa has a history of attempts to provide school equivalent education to black adults through night schools. Suppressed in the 1950s and 1960s, they resurfaced after the 1976 Soweto revolt, and in 1996 the Constitution secured adult basic education as a right. State night schools were renamed Public Adult Learning Centres (PALCs), and seemed poised to become a powerful delivery mechanism, but continued as inadequate night schools. In 2015 the PALC system was ostensibly transformed into a community college one, but this transformation was based on the weak foundation of inadequate PALCs. A new 2019 plan for the Community Education and Training College System includes long needed major overhauls that must be made if adults' right to effective and relevant education is to be finally realised.

Keywords : adult education; community education; community colleges; Public Adult Learning Centres.

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