Adult basic education is a constitutional right in South Africa. Adult education is seen as the vehicle for social change. Literacy alone was not adequate to support real social transformation and ABET was meant to offer an adult route to a general education: formal and informal training. There are 4 ABET levels and level 4 gives access to the first qualification on the National Qualifications Framework.
There are a high number of adults with less than 8 years of schooling (about 6 – 7 million). In urban areas the percentage of men are the highest, but in the rural areas it is the women.
State provision of adult education commenced in the mid 1970’s. Night schools were gradually established in schools in all parts of the country. The curriculum strongly reflected the school curriculum. In the 1980’s literacy courses and materials for adults were developed. Examinations were offered at grades 7, 10 and 12.
The separate national education systems in education and training are a challenge. Students move with difficulty between the systems: vocational training, academic education and occupational training. My personal opinion is that it is specifically a challenge to move from occupational training (NQF) to academic education.
A student that completed her Level 5 Higher Certificate: Early Childhood Development at an accredited correspondence private FET college was informed by the Department of Education (not the Western Cape) that they do not recognize her qualification for the reception year (grade R). She needs to enroll for the BEd Degree: Foundation Phase. In the Western Cape this level 5-qualification only provided access to the degree up to April this year. It is now no longer recognized by Higher Education.
Ps. Examples I gave do not fit in on ABET-levels, but I mentioned it to proof my point – a challenge, if not impossible, to move between the different education systems.