‘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.

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