A comparative review of programs for adult education in Lesotho and the lessons that South Africa can learn from them
The dissertation is a review and comparison of the programmes for adult education (AE) in South Africa and Lesotho. The two countries share some historical affinities and are geographically contiguous. Thus much can be learnt from a comparative analysis of the two. An extensive description of the two countries' strategies of AE is made and how these have evolved over the years. Much library-based research was carried out with respect to the position of AE in South Africa. In addition, some field work was also undertaken. This focussed mainly on the valuable role played by the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED). Interviews with the Director: Kwazulu Natal - South Africa (lan Mkize), shed light on the work done by SACHED in the past and the direction it would be following in the future. It is a fact that this body is the foremost Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in South Africa in the field of AE. SACHED has also played an important role by making submissions which assisted with the drawing up of the Government White Paper on Education and Training. One of the important programs that SACHED is engaged in currently with is ASECA (A Secondary Education Curriculum for Adults). In conversations with the then ASECA Regional Co-ordinator, Dhaya Sewduth, the success of the implementation of ASECA was already evident. It seems clear that since the program has been so well received, the number of students enrolled is set to exceed all expectations. The researcher obtained a great deal of information from the NEPI Reports - especially those concerning Adult Education and Adult Basic Education. These Reports have been the result of great debate and research by some of the best academics and practitioners in the field. All the resources, whether primary or secondary, enable one to make a few generalised conclusions: - black education has suffered from centuries of neglect by the government of the day - as a result, huge backlogs exist in schools, equipment and personnel - although there is some disagreement as to the exact figure, the illiteracy rate among the adult population (i.e. in the age group 20 years or older) is very high - 31% according to the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) (1993; 6). - present provision is grossly insufficient - greater funding is urgently required from state, the corporate sector and NGO’s - the current poor state of education with the resultant high drop out rate means that AE will remain a priority for some years to come - AE can be a valuable way of affirming the previously disadvantaged communities enabling them to take their rightful places in mainstream society The AE experience in Lesotho was examined from a different perspective. Much time was physically spent in Lesotho and information was obtained from a wide spectrum of service providers and role players. The Institute of Extra Mural Studies (IEMS) of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is one of the main role players in AE. Thus much time was spent here collecting information and interviewing the key personnel. It became clear from these interactions that IEMS has direction and foresight and is clearly focussed on its central task - it sees itself not only as a trainer of AE but it also trains the trainers. One of the main drawbacks is the lack of funds. A most encouraging feature is that the rural areas are not neglected and receive their fair share of attention. The situation in South Africa is opposite to that in Lesotho and rural areas suffer from abject neglect. The Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC) is mainly concerned with preparing students to pass exams on a part-time basis (Std 6, Std 8 and Cambridge Overseas School Certificate - COSC). However, it is also involved in AE and literacy work. Although the Centre clearly does sterling work in its chosen field, it does suffer from certain handicaps - the chief of these being insufficient funds to carry out all its desired projects and a very high staff turnover (mainly because of poor salaries). As a result, staff use the Centre as a starting point to obtain better paying portions in other departments of the public service. The Lesotho Association for Non Formal Education (LANFE) has a large number of affiliates from different parts of the country. The Organisation survives completely on funding provided by DVV (German Adult Education Association). Although LANFE does provide some training and a window for goods produced by members, it is completely at the mercy of donor funding and is unable to find ways of generating funds on its own in any other way. A matter of immediate concern is that DVV is currently to end its funding in 1996. A characteristic feature of Lesotho is the large variety of NGO's operating in Lesotho because of the great poverty of the country. Greater co-ordination is necessary to prevent duplication of infrastructure and services. Such resources are sadly wasted in a country where this should not be allowed to happen. The poor state of full time schooling, especially primary education, is such that there will be high drop out rates for some time to come. Thus the provision of AE will be a continuing necessity. Lesotho has a wide diversity of service providers in the NGO sector. A strong point in favour of positive results from AE is the hemogenous nature of the population who speak a common language. South Africa on the hand has a wide diversity of people of different tribes, languages and cultural persuasions. Some of the main lessons that South Africa can learn from Lesotho are : - greater commitment from government regarding AE. - greater amount of improvement attached to AE so that it features more permanently in the agendas and budgets. - greater penetration of AE programs in the rural areas. - increased funding. - AE should be given greater prominence in the RDP budget. - AE could become an important tool to affirm the previously disadvantaged and correct some its worst excesses. Lesotho can also benefit from the South African experience. One way could be by the establishment of Departments of Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET). The AE experience in South Africa up to date has been a sad saga of grossly insufficient provision on a small scale for a potential number running into many millions. Finally, greater commitment and resources are necessary from the state and the donor communities. However, there must be better co-ordination to prevent duplication and to allow for economies of scale.