ABET – the answer to education? 5


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.

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5 thoughts on “ABET – the answer to education?

  • Des Squire

    Hi Wilma

    When I read something like this my shackles really go up. I think you should send a report to the minister and advise him of the real problems that exist. Here is his PA’s address makwetu.n@dhet.gov.za.

    ABET training has a place and I feel it is an essential for the forseeable future. I firmly believe the FET colleges should all be promoting ABET as a means of upskilling learners. I gave a talk recently to a group of FET college representative and I also advocated the need for ABET. So yes, I am with you 100%.

    I am still of the opinion we should have compulsory education to grade 9. Thereafter all learners should be given a choice of a technical education or an academic education. Technical would be via the  FET colleges and Universities of Technology (when they are marketed properly and made attractive) and Academic via the mainstream schools and universities. I also believe there needs to be transferability of credits from a technical university degree to an academic degree and vice versa.

    The skills shortage can be taken care of over the next 5 to 10 years if we encourage ABET, Technical and trade studies.   

  • Wilma de Villiers Post author

    Oops!  I always double check for grammar/ spelling errors and then … still slip through.

    Examples DOES!!!! apology.

    Anybody that maybe knows what the budget allocation for ABET is? At a stage it was less than 1% of the total education budget.