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South Africa

Nonformal Education


A policy and legislative framework for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) is being developed via a White Paper for ABET and a new Bill of Law. During 1999 provincial education departments provided services to an estimated 300,000 adult learners. Between the 1995-1996 and 1998-1999 school years, expenditures on ABET increased from R160 million to R343 million. The need for upgrading adult education in South Africa and for addressing the undereducated masses of South Africans of adult age who require basic and secondary level training before going on to higher education and training opportunities is clearly apparent and the subject of new government initiatives for the twenty-first century.

In terms of the inclusion of educational technology in school programming and the level of development of technology in the country, South Africa resembles developed Western countries in some respects much more than it does other sub-Saharan African states. For example, the telephone system in South Africa is more advanced than in some Western European states. By 1999 South Africa had 33 Internet hosts for every 10,000 persons, 58 Internet service providers operating in the country, and 55 personal computers for every 1,000 persons. Televisions and radios are in widespread use and have been incorporated in attempts to provide greater access to education to South Africa's population throughout the country. In 1998 there were 14 AM radio stations operating in South Africa, 347 FM radio stations (plus 243 repeaters), and 1 short-wave radio station. The previous year 556 television broadcast stations (plus 144 network repeaters) transmitted television programming in South Africa. In 1997 about 5.2 million televisions and 13.8 million radios existed in South Africa. Innovative educational programming using radio transmissions has been developed in South Africa and put to good use for a number of years through the Open Learning Systems Education Trust (OLSET), founded in 1990 to facilitate the application of educational technology for the benefit of impoverished South Africans. The main activity of OLSET is the Radio Learning Project, which is used to provide education to primary level pupils and to train teachers through a combination of radio broadcasts, printed materials, and face to face instruction.

Correspondence courses leading to formally recognized degrees and post-graduate qualifications are also widely available in South Africa, where about 35 percent of the students enrolled at the tertiary level in the late 1990s were taking courses of this type. The University of South Africa provides such coursework in English and Afrikaans through a modular education system that can yield degrees as high as the doctorate. Qualifications earned through this method are considered equivalent to those earned in more traditional tertiary settings and arrangements. The Technikon South Africa provides distance education via English or Afrikaans that leads to degrees at the Bachelor's and post-graduate level, as long as the Bachelor's program includes a component of inservice training.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSouth Africa - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education