Investigating adult learning centre performance in the General Education and Training Certificate in relation to district socio-economic profiles in KwaZulu-Natal.
Green, Levern Natasha.
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Adult education became one of the areas of priority targeted by the government in the democratic era. The many years of neglect and the lack of a comprehensive system for adult basic education and training during the apartheid years had far-reaching consequences for the newly elected democratic government in 1994. Following the political transition in 1994, the South African government has put in place a number of policies and legislative frameworks to support Adult Basic Education (ABE) and to affirm its role in the process of social change and development. Access to Adult Basic Education was seen as a critical strategy for the alleviation of poverty, the eradication of adult illiteracy and as a tool to redress discrimination and past inequalities caused by the apartheid government. Public Adult Learning Centres, in the post-apartheid era, were conceived of as institutions that offer general education to adults. At these centres, adults are offered the opportunity to register for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) qualifications, including the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC), and Senior Certificate programmes. The focus of this research is on the performance of adult learning centres in the General Education and Training Certificate: Adult Basic Education and Training (GETC: ABET) qualification in KwaZulu-Natal and the contextual factors informing this performance. Research paints a persuasive picture of the impact of the wider social context on students’ learning and hence their academic achievement. Numerous studies have found that students who live in communities with a low average household income, lower education levels, and low employment levels often perform worse academically than students who live in communities with improved socio-economic backgrounds. The study is a quantitative investigation and is underpinned by a critical realist paradigm which is a relatively new research paradigm in educational research. In order to address the key research questions, the study draws on data from Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) in the form of the GETC: ABET examination statistics for the Adult Learning Centres in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), as well as data extracted from the 2011 census pertaining to the socio-economic profiles of the eleven educational districts in KZN. The study found that the two districts with the best socio-economic profiles were always the top-performing districts. However, the converse did not hold, as some districts which were regarded as having a lower or disadvantaged socio-economic profile achieved relatively good results, and similarly there were districts with more favorable socio-economic indicators that did not perform well.