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Padayachee: Mpumalanga Adult Learner Week & International Literacy Day (07/09/2003)

7th September 2003


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Date: 07/09/2003
Source: Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Title: Padayachee: Mpumalanga Adult Learner Week & International Literacy Day


Programme Directors
Head of Department: Dr T M Mashinini
Departmental Officials
MABET Forum members
Invited guests
Ladies and gentlemen

According to the ABET Calendar, Adult Learners' Week and International Literacy Day are key events and activities in our calendar. These are activities that seek to empower our people, thereby helping in pushing back the frontiers of poverty. It is therefore an honour for me to be part of the ABET constituency in celebrating this august occasion. It has come to my attention that this is the eleventh joint literacy campaign and advocacy strategy between the Department of Education and ABET stakeholders. Let me seize this opportunity and congratulate the MABET Forum for remaining committed to the spirit of Tirisano and unreservedly championing the plight of the previously disadvantaged.

Ladies and gentlemen, Adult Basic Education is one of the great challenges that faced the new dispensation in 1994. This challenge was posed by alarming illiteracy levels. This condition was further compounded by the fragmented ABET sector characterised by the following:
- a sector with service providers that could not relate to one another in order to agree on the quality of education
- a sector that did not have systems and structures
- a sector that did not have a legal framework
- a sector with a profile that was at the lowest ebb and relegated to a status of a stepchild.

Speaking to you on the eve of the tenth anniversary of our democracy, I have the obligation to review what has been achieved by the present government in redressing the imbalances that I have alluded to. The Constitution as the supreme law of the country in chapter 2 under the Bill of Rights subsection 3, states;

"Every citizen of the country has a right to education including Adult Basic Education".

Right from the onset, the government of the day committed itself to the betterment of the lives of many of our communities. The government in its mission to transform the lives of our people undertook to create an enabling environment for us to work as a collective. The Department of Education has coordinated eleven campaigns over the past 5 years which served to bring together the role-players in ABET and harness the existing resources. These campaigns have played a major role in recruiting adult learners from various angles of our province as well as raising the profile of ABET. The impact of these campaigns is portrayed by the steadily growing numbers of learners accessing ABET programmes in our centres.

In these programmes our learners are empowered with reading and writing skills which are equipping them for a meaningful participation in building and shaping the economy of this country.

Also very important for the government is the scourge of poverty. I am happy to announce that the plight of poverty is being tackled head-on by implementing Agricultural and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises projects in the Presidential Nodal Points.

In the year 2000, the ABET Act Number 52/2000 was promulgated to provide a legal framework on which to bargain for the sector and regulate the operation of adult education centres, unlike in the past when ABET was at the mercy of individuals who did not have the welfare of our communities at heart. According to the ABET Act, our adult learners are expected to enjoy the support of the communities through Centre Governing Bodies.

Today Adult Education has national standards that ensure quality programmes from all service providers in order to benefit our learners and facilitate the portability of their qualifications. This is possible because as the Department of Education we have succeeded in putting assessment systems in place. From the year 2001 our adult learners have participated in the National Qualifications Framework Level One assessment. I am happy to announce that on the 2nd of September 2003 the first General Education and Training Certificate was issued by the National Minister Professor Kader Asmal to our fellow adult learners in Pollsmoor prison. It is worth noting that ABET has been the pioneer of the GET certificate. This is indeed a milestone for a sector that was totally neglected in the past. This gesture has ushered in a new era in the history of ABET Qualifications and bear testimony to the Freedom Charter educational clause which says:


The year 2003 gave birth to an ABET Provincial Calendar different from the mainstream as a means to extend tuition time for adult learners. The achievements that have been registered could be attributed to the Multi Year Implementation Plan that was endorsed by HEDCOM in 1998 as an implementation policy over four years for the ABET sector. One of the objectives of the Multi Year Implementation Plan was to accelerate access to ABET programmes. From 1998 to 2001, the statistics are as follows:

1998 enrolled 18 708
1999 enrolled 22 414 ( 4% increase)
2000 enrolled 23 213 (1,2% increase)
2001 enrolled 24 597 ( 1,4% increase)

For the duration of the plan, a total of 88 933 learners have participated in ABET programmes offered in our Adult Public Centres. Reporting beyond the plan, this department has provided education to 135 216 adult learners since its inception.

Programme Directors; let me take this opportunity to allay the fears of our educators with regards to their conditions of service. There are discussions currently underway with the Education and Labour Relations Council that seek to improve the conditions of service. We are expecting a positive outcome from this interaction as the continued absence of these conditions of service renders the sector unstable.

The importance of adult education cannot be over emphasized if we are to succeed socially, politically and economically as a nation.

This will assist our people in becoming active participants in our democracy.

The HIV/AIDS plan which is the product of the HIV/AIDS conference for the ABET sector will vigorously unfold in due course. I want to urge all parties concerned to show patriotism by supporting this initiative.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the ABET Sector for having reached such heights with a makeshift staff. May this sector succeed in its quest to eradicate illiteracy and poverty.

I thank you.

Issued by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, 7 September 2003


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