'Away with illiteracy'

‘Eliminate adult illiteracy in KwaZulu-Natal by March 7 2008.”

That was the instruction from Premier Sibusiso Ndebele, provincial education minister Ina Cronje and Durban mayor Obed Mlaba.

During the launch of the province’s Year of Adult Literacy last month, Ndebele said Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana have done better than South Africa in tackling adult illiteracy.

Mlaba said education should be informed by the people for whom it is designed and the needs of the country.
‘Every square inch of South Africa falls under municipalities, so they [the national government] can’t just plan up there,” he said, gesturing skywards. ‘At some point they must come down here.”

When one of the officials from Cronje’s department suggested that by March 7 2008 ‘illiteracy in KwaZulu-Natal would be alleviated”, she interrupted: ‘No, not alleviated - eliminated.” A task team now has to present Cronje with a programme of action to achieve this. Action will be immediate, she said.

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane is currently the Mail & Guardian's education editor. He obtained an honours degree in English literature, a fairly unpopular choice among those who'd advised him to study something that would give him a real career and a pension plan. David joined the M&G in the late 1990s. There, the publication's youth – which was nearly everyone except him – also tried to further his education. Since April 2010, he's participated in the largest expansion of education coverage the M&G Media has ever undertaken. He says he's "soon" going on "real annual leave", which will entail "switching off this smart phone the M&G youth told me I needed".   Read more from David Macfarlane

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