Willing pupils at adult school

Namhla Tshisela

After seven years of no schooling, Sibongile Mabena, 26, is thrilled to be behind a desk again.

Mabena, of Hlalanikahle in Witbank, Mpumalanga, left school in grade 11 and is unemployed.

She is one of 200 adults enrolled at the KwaGuqa adult education centre in Witbank who have received a second chance at getting an education.

"I want to finish my studies so I can find work as an electrician," Mabena said.

She goes to school in the evening and does most of her work on a computer at her own pace. Her progress is monitored by the teachers.

"They are very helpful and have taught us to express ourselves in English," she said.

"I'm also learning mathematics and about computers for the first time in my life."

The students are allocated to a class according to the grade they passed at school.

The R6million centre is a joint development of Xstrata Coal and the education department. Its adult pupils are taught everything from basic literacy to computer and other technical skills.

The centre has been in operation since January.

"Adult education must be considered a basic right, like access to water and sanitation," said Linah Malatjie, executive mayor of Emalahleni.

Lucy Moyane, the education department's deputy director-general, said: "Literacy should create employment opportunities and advance gender equality," she said.

The chief operating officer of Xstrata Coal, Sam Coetzer, said the curriculum of the centre would be extended so that more skills could be taught to adults who had been unable to complete their education at school.