South Africa’s adult educators in the community college sector: Who they are and how they view their training, their work and their position
This article examines the work context of South Africa’s state-employed adult educators. It is based largely on a recent cross-sectional study of adult educators commissioned by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), which draws on the DHET’s database of adult educators and qualitative information gained from visits to adult education and training centres in all nine provinces. The study enquired into adult educators’ working lives, their qualifications, their sense of whether their training was adequate, the issue of further training, their understanding of their work, their conditions of service and the support they believe they need. The study showed that the number of adult educators employed by the DHET is declining steadily and that the working conditions of adult educators are uneven: a few work in fairly well-resourced urban centres, but many work in poor conditions, with little support. Nevertheless, the study indicated that almost all the adult educators view their role in a positive light. Confident of support from one another, they have a definite shared identity as a social group and express a strong commitment to their learners and the communities in which they work. Overall, they constitute a group with strong, yet poorly tapped, potential to contribute to positive community development.