Youth and adult learning and education in Southern Africa: overview of a five nation study

Other title(s): Youth and adult learning and education in Southern Africa: overview of a five nation study; A educação e aprendizagem de jovens e adultos na África Austral: visão geral de um estudo para cinco nações

Author(s): Aitchison, John

Organisation(s): Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa; German Adult Education Association. Institute for International Cooperation

Date: 2012

Pages: 40 p.

Many countries in southern Africa are facing a critical and growing challenge – how to provide an education that meets the socio-economic needs of their bulging youth populations. Primary school drop-out rates remain high across the region so many children and youth end up outside the education system. Unable to return to school or to access technical and vocational education, they end up without the necessary skills to prosper in a world that is increasingly dependent on knowledge. And there are very limited ‘second chances’ for these children and youth to learn in adulthood since the adult education sector also faces serious difficulties. Funding remains low, while gaps in policy formulation and implementation mean that the sector cannot adequately meet the current needs of the region’s adults – let alone the needs of the burgeoning population of out-of-school youth. The right to education for every child, youth and adult is fundamental. Great strides have been made towards universal primary education along with increased participation in secondary and tertiary education, reduced gender disparities, and some steps towards addressing the needs of marginalised groups, children with special needs and indigenous people. But despite these gains, a lot still needs to be done in the youth and adult education sectors if southern African countries are ever to meet the demands of all the uneducated and unskilled youth and adults in the region.It is within this context that this research study was commissioned by OSISA in collaboration with dvv international to create an up-to-date map of the current state of youth and adult education in five southern African countries – Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland – and to highlight critical gaps and provide recommendations to address them.The study shows that all five countries need clearer policies, better financing and improved governance to ensure that young people and adults are able to enjoy their right to education. In addition, adult education is usually defined very narrowly as basic literacy or post-literacy – or, even at its broadest, as education that is equivalent to primary and secondary schooling.While focusing on just five countries, the findings of this study highlight key issues that the entire region needs to address – and should provoke much-needed reflection and debate on youth and adult education by policymakers and financiers at national and regional level. The report also provides recommendations that call upon governments to put in place mechanisms that will ensure the provision of quality youth and adult education services in order to give everyone the chance of a brighter future – and to make southern African societies fairer and more equal for all.

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