Our Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor has set up a new campaign to address adult illiteracy in South Africa, namely Kha Ri Gude. It has recently been implemented in Grahamstown and it is the first initiative to show potential success in this decade.
Previous adult education programmes such as the South African National Literacy (SANLI) have failed dismally. According to the National Adult Learning Network Conference (2002), this was mainly due to:”The vacuum that exists in the adult education and training sector as a result of the demise of previous networks;and the lack of co-ordination, synergy and unity of purpose which has resulted in a fragmented sector.” The resignation of adult-education expert John Aitchison in 2007 sparked rigorous debate about the future of adult education in South Africa.
Although Kha ri Gude is only in its initial stages, it has however seen local success. The project was implemented in Grahamstown in February and the one of the educators, Thembeka Seyzi says that she can already see a positive change in the eagerness of the learners. The difference between Kha ri Gude and previous projects is the extent of research on which it is based upon. The ministerial committee on literacy (MCL) visited adult education centres in New Zealand, Venezuela and Cuba. (Mail and Guardian Online article: an ABC plan to reach XYZ)
Nombeko Kepe, the Project Co-ordinator for the Grahamstown District predicts that the project will not only be a success in the field of creating employment opportunities, but will also help in combatting pension fraud. “Many pensioners struggle with using an ATM or opening a bank account. If they can read or write, they will no longer be dependent on family members to make sense of their finances.” Noxolo Modise, a consultant at First NAtional Bank, Grahamstown says: “With seven out of ten pensioners being illiterate in the Eastern Cape, we can sometimes spend up to two hours with a pensioner to help them collect their social pension grants.” The problem extends even further as Ms. Modise explains that they often get loan sharks who pretend to be family members of pensioners in order to gain signing rights on their accounts.
The project will run until 2010 and pensioners such as Vuyelwa Masi in Grahamstown feel very pleased with its progress: “I am happy that I have found this school because now I do not have to rely on my family to take me to the bank in order to collect my grant.”