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TOPIC: Using Holst??™s perspectives, write an essay in which you analyse critically global and local developments which shaped a government??™s responses to adult education in a society of your choice under conditions of globalization. Make some comparisions with government??™s responses to adult education in post -1994 South Africa under conditions of globalization.
Draw on the literature, in particular Holst??™s analysis of a longer version of globalisation/Marxist political economy perspective of adult education or a strong version of globalisation/civil societarian perspective on adult education, and ideas which you have developed during this part of the course.
Holst??™s critique of both perspectives in adult education raises weaknesses for analyses of adult education under conditions of globalisation and calls for ???a new conceptualisation of the politics of radical adult education that goes beyond the two broad perspectives of civil societarian and Marxist orientations ……….??™ (Holst, 2007: 7). With reference to the latter, discuss the academic challenges which may be required to develop a new conceptualisation of the politics of radical adult education.
The aim of this paper is to analyse and critically discuss the global and local developments which impacted on the way South Africa responded to Adult Education. I will use Holst??™s perspectives and discussions that we had in this course, as well as existing academic literature and hence adopt a critical stance on the relevant theoretical perspectives. I will furthermore elaborate on the ???calls for a new conceptualization of the politics of radical adult education that goes beyond the two broad perspectives of civil societarian and Marxist orientations.???
Section 1 will present the broad understanding of global and local socio-economic and political developments that shaped the developments in adult education in South Africa under conditions of globalization.
Section 2 will introduce the theoretical perspectives affecting South African education policies by using Holst??™s longer version of globalization/civil societarian perspective on adult education.
Section 3 will provide comparisons between my analysis of Namibia and South African government??™s initiatives in respect of redressing inequalities in adult basic education under conditions of globalization. I will give specific reference to the similarity between these two countries as both of them are situated in the Global South.
Section 4 will discuss the academic exploration to develop a new conceptualization of the politics of radical adult education.
1.1 Contextual Background
The post-apartheid government of 1994 inherited one of the most unequal societies in the world. Before 1994, all movements, including the ANC fought for social justice and against the neo-liberal thoughts of the Apartheid state. Black South Africans have been exposed to an unequal and divided education system before 1994. After 1994 special attention had been given to the needs of the majority disadvantaged people by addressing the education policies earmarking reconstruction and development for education and training. The state had to create a unified system across diverse racial and economic conditions in order to produce an equity financing model for education. ???Access and quality, for example, are seen as twin imperatives within a broader framework for the achievement of equity, redress and democratization???. (Kruss,G.& Jacklin, H, 1994, p.20) The state had good intentions, but unfortunately inherited the debt of the Apartheid state, had no money for reconstruction and development and was forced to borrow money by the World Bank and IMF.
Illiteracy amongst adults in South Africa remained a deeply-rooted social issue and is inescapably implicated in the political and economic forces of the country. ???Marxist theory explains the production of social relations that resulted in the division of society into classes and the struggle of these classes against one another??? (Youngman, 1986). The distribution of economic power in SA is reflected by an economy in which a white minority has ownership of the means of production while the majority black people are dependent for their subsistence on wage labour. The political power is in the hands of the black majority and the economic power in the hands of the white minority.
1.2 The global/local socio-economic and political developments
Globalization has affected educational policy in nation-states globally. The overwhelming impact of global economic processes meant the rise of neoliberalism as a hegemonic policy discourse. Globalization forced state policy makers to inspire support for and suppress opposition to changes because “greater forces” (global competition, responses to IMF or World Bank demands, obligations to regional alliances, and so on) leave the nation-state “no choice” but to play by a set of global rules not of its own making. ???In this new economy, the nation-state is nearly powerless??? (Holst, p.174).
The Reagan and Thatcher era( TINA-There is no alternative to neoliberalism) in the 1980??™s in particular, saw neoliberalism pushed to most parts of the globe, almost demonizing anything that was publicly owned, encouraging the privatization of anything it could, using military interventions if needed. Structural Adjustment policies (the major cause for poverty) were used to open up economies of poorer countries so that big businesses from the rich countries could own or access many resources cheaply. States played a more facilitating and coordinating role within the economy. In 2008, powerful Northern governments actively intervened during the global financial crisis. Thus, contrary to some dominant views, states are relevant and do participate actively in steering the global economies, however, the role states play are relative to their power position within the globe. States within the South are frequently powerless to act autonomously if Northern states took a contrary position.
South Africa was forced to impose structural adjustment policies designed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in order to secure loans to support our weak economy especially after 1994. The White Paper, 1994 on Reconstruction and Development reflects the government??™s attempts to promote neo-liberalism and social transformation. The effect of these policies has been dramatic cutbacks on government spending on education, health services and welfare. Money has been invested in skills training for the specific aim to meet the needs of a neo-liberal economy.
The RDP??™s aim was to address the many social and economic problems in our country such as : violence, lack of housing, inadequate education and health care, lack of democracy and a failing economy. Terblanche (2008) refers to two versions of restructuring.(p.108) : the BEE policy(top down policy) and the policy of neo-liberalism. Even though BEE contributed to the eradication of inequality, it failed. Instead of redistributing wealth and positions to the black majority, it resulted in a few individuals benefiting a lot, the black masses have hardly gained. The neo-liberal policy (macro-economic policy) the government adopted was the Growth Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR). The neo-liberal trend had drastic consequences: increased unemployment, a fail in the average income of working class families and an increase in poverty. The strictly structured state-society government has created a divide between themselves and civil society. It failed to deliver the promises made to the people, resulting in the weakening of its bargaining power. The state needs to balance its commitment between global competiveness and redressing apartheid inequalities.
More study is needed about local responses to defend public education against the introduction of pure market mechanisms to regulate educational exchanges and other policies that seek to reduce state sponsorship and financing and to impose management and efficiency models borrowed from the business sector as a framework for educational decision-making. These educational responses are mostly carried out by teacher unions, new social movements, and critical intellectuals, often expressed as opposition to initiatives in education.
1.3 Government??™s responses to adult education
Based on its vision of providing a better life for all South Africans, the new government??™s Reconstruction and Development Policy (ANC, 1994) placed great emphasis on community development, in which adult literacy and community development were linked. ???Literacy was the only reconstruction and development program project that received no funding at all??? (Aitchison et al., 2000). In addition, the new constitutional and legislative framework states that adult basic education (ABE) is integral to South Africa??™s economic growth and development.
The figures from 1991 (National Educational Report on Adult Basic Education) are talking for themselves. 15 million people without basic schooling and out of this 15 million about 4,5 million were illiterate. (Rule, 2006, p116) Government statistics show that in 1996, 27% of adults had no schooling at all and that 41% of the adult population had completed primary school (i.e., the first 7 years of schooling) ( Statistics South Africa, 1996). The official data show that by 2002, 54% of the population had completed primary education (Presidency, 2003). This group appears to have increased in spite of policy changes and the introduction of compulsory education as is also mentioned in Holst(2007). South Africa still has large numbers of out-of-school youth, which will maintain the long-term need for ABE. There is gender difference in illiteracy: 41% of men and 58% women are considered illiterate. Illiteracy rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Groener (2000) came to the conclusion that ???the statistics between 1996 and 2001 show a decline in the inequalities due to a change in the age cohort, and not as a result of educational interventions.
The specific government acts or policy documents that promote or relate to adult education have included the following: Interim Guidelines for ABET (1995), South African Qualifications Act (1995); National Education Policy Act (1996); South African Constitution (1996); National Multi-Year Implementation Plan for adult education and training in the Department of Education (1997); Skills Development Act (1998) and Skills Development Levy Act (1999). ???Despite the state??™s political initiatives to address institutional barriers to participation in adult basic education, the response from adult learners has been disappointing.??? (Groener, 2000) Adult Learning centres in the community have to rely on private institutions for financial support. The references to ???lifelong learning??™ for example in the White paper on Education and Training in 1995 appeared only a few times. It was linked to human resource development. It suggests that it was largely to decorate a businesslike proposal to introduce a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) that will serve the needs of developing a productive workforce. There is a lack of shared understanding of adult learning which has led to a policy discourse divide between the North and the South, with the former concentrating on the operationalisation of the discourse of lifelong learning and the latter focusing on basic education for all.
Longer version of globalization/civil societarian perspective on adult education.
???Gramscian thoughts on organizing for people??™s power whilst dominant over more than the last decade, has reappeared as relevant and a necessary element for transformation.???(Amartya Sen, 1999 as cited in Holst).
The South African situation lends itself towards the ???longer version of globalization??? as is discussed by Holst (2007). This deals with the rise of anti-capitalist struggles. It is argued that adult basic education is an important vehicle in overcoming marginalisation and exclusion and that deliberate efforts are required to incorporate large numbers of individuals into active citizenship and the new knowledge-rich society. Marginalization is??¦ the silencing of lived experiences in discourses constructed through legislation and policies created by the dominant culture, which either ???commatizes or negates??™ the political, economic, historical and social realities of those living in the margins of society. (Sheared, V and Sissil, 2001, p. 4)
In the 2012 Budget Speech it was mentioned that the government has supported the recovery from the 2008 recession, but as they expand infrastructure investment over the period ahead they have to rely on business investing in the future of South Africa as well. In general ABET(Adult Basic Education and Training) centres are typically housed in community learning centres managed by local communities and supported by the Education Department. The Kha Ri Gude (Let us Learn) Literacy Campaign for example was developed in response to a call for a national campaign to end illiteracy amongst South African adults. As a programme of government, and one of the Apex programmes announced in 2008, the campaign may be regarded as one of the important ways in which the developmental state prioritises the needs of the poor and addresses the right of all citizens to basic education in the official language/s of their choice. The campaign, which is the result of recommendations by the Ministerial Committee on Literacy, is intended to provide 4,7 million South Africans with the opportunity to become literate. Achieving this target also means that South Africa would have fulfilled its 2000 Dakar commitment, namely that of reducing illiteracy by 50% by 2015.
Conventional approaches to Adult Education are limited by its narrow concern for formal qualifications of learners that allows for progression towards formal skills development and to fit into the mainstream economy. Some community learning programmes address the divisions and wounds of our history that is ignored in the upper class environments. For example, The Community Healing Network(CHN) in Cape Town concentrates on creating safe spaces for healing and creating an enabling environment for social cohesion to flourish. Generally Community Adult Education tries to satisfy a wide range of need-providing formal education skills in basic or further education, trying to improve the quality of life of the community, the ability to participate in democratic processes including bringing about social transformation. Similar social conditions prevail in Latin America (Brazil), dealing with issues such as the lack of land and housing for the poor. A movement, Abahlali Basi Mjondolo is part of the Poor Peoples??™ Alliance and the leadership uses forms of popular education to educate shack dwellers of their rights to housing. The various strategies involving community adult learning by civil society education activists include, in the main, working for social justice and transformation, thereby paying particular attention to the challenging conditions that marginalized communities face in the present South African context.
Money has been allocated for education, but Adult Education has been neglected. Spending on education will grow from R207 billion in 2012/13 to R236 billion in 2014/15. Additional allocations of R18.8 billion over the medium term are accommodated, including equalisation of learner subsidies for no-fee schools and expanded access to grade R. An amount of R235 million is added to the baseline of the national department over the three-year spending period to extend the national assessments system. An additional R850 million is allocated to improve university infrastructure, including student accommodation facilities. (Budget Speech of Feb. 2012). Since democracy, spending on education often topped 20 % of the annual budget expenditure and currently exceeds 18 %. Annually several billion Rand are spent on skills development. Adult basic education however has been given scant attention, receiving around 1 % of the education budget despite the number of illiterates and functionally illiterate adults ??“ pegged at about 75 % of the number of children in schools. The state has established training authorities (Sector Education Training Authorities ??“ SETAs) covering more than twenty various broad economic/job sectors to address skills development for youth and adults but these have not measured up to the call for a ???skills revolution???. ??? A more recent effort in the area of literacy is the government??™s Mass Literacy Campaign that has begun to address the hugely neglected Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) sector???( Lind, A 1996). The contribution of Adult learning is a sector that needs to be strengthened in South Africa.
Namibia and South Africa
The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. The country is also rich in minerals and adopted a policy of privatization of several enterprises with the hope that it will stimulate foreign investment. Similar to SA the apartheid ideology and policies led to dramatic inequalities and disparities in the quality of education. Following independence, the Ministry of Education undertook a comprehensive education reform process aimed at access, equity, democracy and lifelong learning as principal means of investing in human capital to promote socio-economic development. The whole area of skills and vocational education, which must be considered a component of adult education, has struggled somewhat since independence. Half a dozen traditional vocational training centres have grown to some extent, but there are many doubts about the efficacy of the apprenticeship model on which they are based. In recent years, a similar number of Community Skills Centres (COSDECS) as in SA have been established on a competency-based open access model, but with considerable difficulty in providing community-based management. Two important institutions are now, however, being established to bring about reform in this area: the Namibia Qualifications Authority which has been created to regulate providers and develop a National Qualifications Framework; and (although not yet established by law) a National Training Authority which will administer a payroll levy, allocating funds to whatever institutions, whether private or public, that are able to deliver relevant vocational skills in the most effective and efficient manner.
One of the developments in Namibia was the adoption in 2003 of a National Policy on Adult Learning, born of the discovery that almost every agency of government and many bodies in the private or NGO sector were engaged in some or other form of adult education programme. The National Council on Adult Learning was established. Namibias recently released Vision 2030 has the ideal to move from being a lower middle income country to an industrialised country in the space of a few decades. Such dreams and visions, no doubt, are necessary and are part of creating a hopeful and positive attitude towards the future. However, they cannot disguise the fact that Namibia remains a highly unequal society, with perhaps one-third of its citizens still living in abject poverty. Whether adult learning programmes can be melded with other development efforts to overcome this terrible poverty remains the challenge of the day.
The global institutions that have a stronghold on South Africa as well as Namibia are the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, the Washington Consensus, International Monetary Institutions and Credit Rating Agencies as well as Transnational Corporations etc. (p. 120). They are the center pillars in the global economy. These global institutions have put these two countries on a path of greater inequality.
The academic exploration to develop a new conceptualization of the politics of radical adult education
Holst(2007) states that the local/global dialect is often insufficiently problematized in Marxist critiques of civil societatarian perspectives and that we should challenge globalization by focusing on its local manifestations???(p.176). The fundamental contradictions within capitalism are not external relations but contradictory relations internal to the process of capitalism. This would mean that there is a contradiction between the forces of production and the relations of production. Capitalism has developed the forces of production to a degree inconceivable under any previous economic system but because they are based on alienated labour the more they develop the more they turn into forces of destruction, either in the form of weapons of unimaginable power or through the destruction of the environment on which our survival depends. If capital can shift production from one country to the next in an effort to find the lowest living standards and most politically oppressed workers, then the efforts of workers to improve their conditions anywhere will be undone. This will call for Oppositional movements to struggle constantly to maintain anything close to decent social provision.
Neoliberalism promotes an elitist and reductionist mentality (Apple, 1999; Gandin, 2007). In South Africa the Lonmin mine incident is a classic example of labour unrest where the state as well as the Union of Mineworkers played a contradictory role due to their relationship with one another backed by neo-liberal ideologies.
This then leans itself to Radical Adult Education Perspectives, a critical pedagogy, as outlined by Freire (1998) which must include critical and creative thinking, not just skills. The critical aspect must examine not only political issues, but also issues of social justice and equity. In a culture of democracy, the dialectic nature of both critique and possibility go hand in hand. Critical democratic pedagogy offers the opportunity to ask the tough questions about their lived experiences and the contradictions that they encounter.
In this paper I have argued that adult education and training, and the success thereof, is determined by both global and local dynamics. Broader social, economic and political issues played a pivotal role in the development of adult education and training in South Africa. After 1994 South Africa, neo liberalism brought further inequalities between rich and poor. The government tried through development policies to bring about transformation, but much is still left to be done because adult basic education and training has been neglected. Despite limitations and barriers imposed by a neoliberal educational agenda, policy approaches and initiatives are beginning to appear locally, nationally and internationally which support and encourage critical democratic pedagogy, a radical approach to Adult Education.
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