Johannesburg - Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet) centres are up for an overhaul. Early next year, the Department of Higher Education and Training will release a report for public comment detailing the structure of the revamped Abet system and how the new set-up will be implemented.

There are 3 000 Abet centres across the country. They cater for 265 000 students - a fraction of the 7.2 percent of adults in South Africa who are illiterate.

According to the department, most of the students, 250 738, are registered for the general education and training certificate.

The general education and training band of qualifications is equivalent to basic schooling from grades 1 to 9.

The Abet qualifications also fall under this band. Students can also use Abet centres to rewrite matric exams.

According to the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training, released in January, Abet centres are the only state facilities that offer this.

To develop the further education and training band, which is Grades 10 to 12, the department is looking to develop the National Senior Certificate for Adults - an equivalent of the National Senior Certificate.

The National Senior Certificate for Adults was gazetted earlier this year for public comment.

The green paper acknowledged that public adult learning centres don’t have the capacity to offer the National Senior Certificate for Adults.

During his department’s budget speech in April, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced the establishment of the revamped Abet system - community education and training centres - that will allow for the National Senior Certificate for Adults course to be implemented.

Nzimande said the centres would offer more than what the current adult learning centres are offering - which will include work-oriented programmes.

The green paper conceded that the provision of education and training for young adults who didn’t finish school is inadequate.

“The exclusive focus in the current Abet approach on general education often means that programmes fail to attract large numbers of adults and young people interested not only in completing their schooling, but also in gaining labour market and sustainable livelihood skills, as well as those interested in learning for general self-improvement or cultural and community development.”

The ministerial task team Nzimande appointed to conceptualise the development and implementation of community education and training centres has completed its report.

The department’s spokeswoman, Vuyelwa Qinga, said the report still had to be tabled in the cabinet and would be released for public comment early next year.

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The Star