SAFE AND SOUND in the FEDTRAW pre-schools


Busy bees at the FEDTRAW pre-school in Dube, Soweto

The Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW) has started over forty pre-schools for little children in the Transvaal. Learn and Teach spoke to some of the women who run the pre-schools…

EVERY DAY, millions of South African parents go out to work. But who takes care of the young children they leave behind?

Some parents ask the grannie or a childminder to look after their little ones. Others — the unlucky ones — have no-one to leave their children with. They are forced to leave their children all alone.

And that is when accidents can happen. Children play in the streets and get run over. They go near water and drown. They play in old, rusty cars and get hurt.

For these children, the world is a dangerous place.

One progressive organisation, the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW), is trying to solve the problem of children who have no place to go while their parents are out earning money. Since 1986, they have been running pre-schools in the Transvaal for children who are not old enough to go to primary school.

The pre-schools are warm friendly places where little ones play together safely. And the moms and the dads can have peace of mind while they are at work because they know that their children are safe and sound.


Mali Fakier is the co-ordinator of the pre-schools project. She told us some of the reasons why these schools started.

“The main reason was to give our children a safe place to go during the day,” she said. “But we were also concerned about the education of our children.

“You know the saying ‘you are never too old to learn.’ Well, we believe that you are also never too young to learn! You see, the first years in a child’s life are a very important time. This is when children are growing in mind and body. They ask lots of questions and want to know about everything. If the parents are not there to answer the questions, then pre-schools are the next best thing.

“But only a handful of our children have the chance to attend a pre-school. Out of five and a half million black children under the age of six, only 110 000 are at pre-school.”

Ma Mali explained that the government has not built many pre-schools for black children. For example, there are only six DET pre-schools in the whole of Soweto and these are very full. Parents put their names on the waiting list and wait for years. Ma Mali says that she knows many parents whose names are still on the waiting list, even though their children are now in primary school!

Most of the pre-schools in the township are private. But many working mothers cannot pay the fees for private pre- schools. Sometimes the fees are as much as R160 a month. “Because of apartheid, our women are paid peanuts,” says Ma Mali. “They earn so little because of the colour of their skin and because they did not get a good education.

“At the FEDTRAW pre-schools, we only charge R20 a month. And we also take children whose parents cannot afford to pay.”

Ma Mali told us with pride that FEDTRAW has started over forty pre-schools in Soweto, Eldorado Park, Noordgesig and Evaton as well as in Tafelkop in Lebowa. They now have requests from people in Pretoria and other areas around Johannesburg to help start pre-schools there.


Learn and Teach went along to visit one of the pre-schools in Rockville, Soweto. The school is in a big hall at the South African Legion and Social Club.

When we arrived, we found about 150 children in the hall. They were sitting at little tables on brightly coloured chairs. The children were listening to a story that a teacher, Thandi Buthelezi, was telling them.

When the children saw us, they started laughing and clapping their hands. “Woza! Woza!” they called, inviting us to come in. You could see that these children were not shy with strangers!

Thandi explained to us that it is very important to give our children confidence. Many DET schools, she said, did everything to break a child’s confidence. Children at these schools are afraid to ask questions. They are made to listen to everything in silence.


FEDTRAW teachers, Ma Elizabeth Mpotulo, Ma Dinah Nkomo and Ma Winnie Mazibuko talk to Saul Molobi of Learn and Teach

At the FEDTRAW pre-schools, the teachers want the children to ask questions. “We want them to leave here with their thinking sharpened,” said Thandi. “And you know, the school principals are now telling parents to bring their children here because they do much better in their exams.”

Thandi then took out some toys to give to the children. These were not just any toys — they are special toys that help children to develop their minds. For example, there were jigsaw puzzles and building blocks. “We struggle for money,” said Thandi, “and the teachers get very low salaries. But we only give our children the best toys. We believe that toys help children to learn.

“We teach our children to work together from the very beginning. Our games are not competitive. We do not want to develop the spirit of competition among our children. And that is how education must be.” Are the FEDTRAW methods working?

“Yes!” said Thandi. “Our children treat each other as equals. When they play they share everything and they treat each other with respect.”


We asked Thandi how one teacher can look after so many children. “Oh no!” she laughed. “There are more than seven teachers here. In fact, we try to have one teacher for every 15 children. In that way, we can give each child the attention he or she needs.”

Just then, we were joined by two other teachers, Ma Winnie Mazibuko and Ma Dinah Nkomo. They had been in the kitchen making lunch for the children. It smelled delicious and our stomachs began making funny little noises.

We asked the two teachers about how they were trained. Ma Winnie explained that many of the teachers do not have matric or even Standard Eight. “But this is not important,” she said. “It is more important that our women feel that they can help build a new South Africa by doing something for their communities.”

All the pre-school teachers are given a three-month course in Early Learning at Funda Centre in Soweto. The course is run by Ma Mali, who was a primary school teacher for many years. Afterwards, the teachers go on follow- up courses which are also run by Ma Mali.

“The course was hard work,” remembers Ma Dinah with a smile. “But it was also a lot of fun. We were in an ‘each one, teach one’ situation. We encouraged each other to write non-sexist and non-racist literature. We workshopped songs and short stories and by the end of it, we had written a book called ‘Our Mama’.

“The book is full of stories and poems by the FEDTRAW women. One poem starts: “Apartheid is a rotten tomato. Freedom is a sweet potato.”

The stories try to explain to the children about apartheid. Ma Winnie explains: “As mothers we did not know how to tell our children about apartheid. And our children were always asking questions. How do you tell your little girl that she can’t go to the beach because it is for whites only? In the book, we tried to think of ways of talking to our children about these problems.”


Not everything is plain sailing at the pre-schools. There are some difficulties. “One of the problems is getting fathers to come to meetings,” said Ma Winnie. “Many fathers think that children are women’s business. We are trying to show the fathers that having a child is both parents’ responsibility.

“Another problem is that we are harassed by the health authorities. Not all the pre-schools are held in halls. In some communities, the councillors refuse to give us halls. So we have to hold them in people’s houses.

“This means that there are a lot of children in one house and the health authorities complain. But we ask them: “How can you say it’s okay to have ten people living in one house, but it’s not okay for us to look after children in our own homes? At least in our pre-schools they are safe.”

The pre-schools have also been harassed by the Security Branch. They said the teachers were teaching the children politics. It is only in the last few months that these visits have stopped.

While we were talking, a little child in brown trousers arid a woolen cap came up to us. He was wearing boots with pictures of clouds and rainbows on them.


It’s playtime! A FEDTRAW teacher leads the children outside for fun and games

“What’s your name?” we asked him. He said his name was Xolani Vilakazi.
“Do you like this school?” we asked.
“Yes! I love it here,” he said, clapping his hands.
“How old are you?”
He scratched his head and lifted five fingers, counting one by one: “One, two, three, four and five… I am five years old!”
We all laughed. It was good to see such a happy child.

It was getting late. The big brothers and sisters were arriving to fetch their younger ones. It was time to go home. But before we went, the children asked if they could sing us a song. They sang a freedom song about Comrade Mandela. And when we asked them who Mandela was, they told us he is their leader.

As we left, one of our colleagues said he wished he was still young enough to have the chance to attend a FEDTRAW pre-school. He’s a little too old to do that now!

confidence — if you have confidence, you are proud and sure of yourself
non-sexist — non-sexist ideas say that men and women are equal in every way
non-racist — non-racist ideas say that all people, whatever their colour, are equal


Turret Correspondence College

by Babylon Xeketwane

What makes Turret Correspondence College different from other col­leges? By the way, I have tried each and every correspondence college south of the Equator. Name one — I have tried it. I tried them all be­cause I really wanted my Matric.

When I first went to Turret, I did not feel good. I waited to speak to some­one. Then Sheila called me into her office. When I came out of her office, I felt like a different person — I felt good.

And I learnt something from her. I learnt that it was not just the Matric certificate that was important. But learning was also important. And not just school learning — but learning what is happening around you.

Anna was the second person I met at Turret. And I grew to like her very much. Anna knows and remembers each and every student at Turret. Margy and Sasa helped the students. They did much to make all of us enjoy our time at Turret.

And of my fellow students, I cannot say any one did more than the others to make my time at Turret something special.

All I can say is that I am finishing my three years with Turret and I will never forget them. Turret has taught me to say NO when I want to say No.

(from the Turret Correspondence College newsletter, Johannesburg.)

When Learn and Teach read what Babylon said about Turret College, we went to Turret to find out what it is all about. There we spoke to Cindy Cupido and Darkie Molantoa.


Cindy started by telling us how Turret began. “Turret Correspondence College is part of SACHED — the South African Council for Higher Educa­tion,” said Cindy. “We run courses for people who want to study for their matric certificates.

“Turret prepares people to write the Turret Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) examinations. We chose the JMB examinations because they are the only ex­aminations that everyone can write — it doesn’t matter what colour the stu­dents are — unlike the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.”


Turret students at a “learning event”


Then Darkie started to talk. “Very often people who leave school before they finish are called ‘drop-outs,” he said. “But calling people ‘drop-outs’ means you blame them because they left school.

‘Here, at Turret, we call people ‘left-outs’ because we feel schools leave people out in the cold. And these are the people we try to help. Turret is for adults who never finished school. We try to give these people a second chance to learn.”


“When Turret College started, people who wanted to do matric used to come to the Turret Centres.” Cindy said. “People came for lessons once a week. But last year Turret College changed. Now we are a correspon­dence college. People study on their own, at home.

“We have workbooks for every sub­ject. We try to make our workbooks as interesting as we can. And we try, in our make people ask questions about what they are learn­ing— not just learn without thinking.”


“We have two courses at Turret. One course takes three years and the other course is just for one year,” said Darkie.’ ‘The three-year course is for people who have done Standard Eight or Form Three.

“And the one-year course is for people who have done matric but not Or people who started matric but not write their exams.”


“In the three-year course, people spend two years doing the subjects they will write on the higher grade. At the end of the first year, people write a Turret exam. Then at the end of the se­cond year, people write the JMB exam.

“In the third year, people do their stan­dard grade subjects. And if people want to do Mathematics, then they must do it over three years.”


“With the one-year course, people only do the subjects that they failed when they wrote their matrics before. If people did not write matric, then they do all the subjects together.”


Turret students share their problems in a study group


“We have ‘learning events’ four times a year at each of our centres. At ‘learn­ing events’ all the students who are studying through Turret come together for a week-end. We try to cover each subject during these week-ends.

“‘Learning events’ are important be­cause students meet and talk. They also give students a chance to or­ganise study groups so that they can help each other at home.”

Turret has centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Grahamstown, East London, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg. If you are in­terested in studying with Turret Cor­respondence College, you can write to them.

Why the students are angry

Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2005

Students on the march in Pretoria

Thousands of students all over South Africa are staying away from school. They are unhappy about many things. Learn and Teach spoke to Lulu Johnson, president of the Congress of South African Students. We asked what is happening in the schools today.

Learn and Teach: Lulu, can you please tell us why so many students are staying away from school?

Lulu Johnson: There are two main reasons. Firstly, as you know, thousands of students didn’t go to school because they wanted to show their anger at last month’s elections – the elections for the new Indian and “coloured” parliaments. And secondly, the students are unhappy about many things at the schools.

Learn and Teach: Can you tell us why the students are unhappy at the schools?

Lulu Johnson: Well, the main reason is that students want SRCs at the school. They don’t like the system of prefects. Another problem is the way teachers beat students. Students want teachers to follow the rules – they must not give a student more than four strokes. And they must not do this in front of the class – they must do it in front of the principal. Many women students complain that men teachers give them problems. If the women don’t show some love to these teachers, the teachers often punish them.

Another very big problem is the high failure rate. In January, half the students failed matric. How can half the students fail matric? And then we hear stories about DET losing students examination papers. We hear stories about somebody failing – and then three months later, that person passes. There is funny business going on in DET.

And then we have the whole question of age limits. The government made this law in 1982. Students can’t do standard six if they are over 16 years old. They can’t do standard eight if they are over 18 years old. And they can’t do standard 10 if they are over 20 years old. Students feel this law is very unfair. Many students lost time in the troubles of 1976 and 1980. And many students come from poor families. These students need to work before they come to school.

Students are also unhappy about subjects and grades. Students can’t freely choose subjects and grades. If they force a student to do standard grade, that student will never get into university.

Students are also unhappy about the soldier-teachers in some schools. The army sends these soldiers to the schools. Some of these soldiers teach in uniform – and some of them even put their guns on the table in front of them. But let me say that the students don’t hate all these soldier-teachers. There are a few who care for the students.

Learn and Teach: Lulu, you spoke about SRCs earlier on. Why do students want SRCs instead of prefects?

Lulu Johnson: Students never know what is happening in their schools. And they never know what will happen. For example, sud­denly teachers will tell students who play sport to pay R1 for transport. Or they will ask money for polish for the floor. Or they will say students can’t leave the school at break. Students are always told what to do – nobody ever asks them what they think.

Prefects don’t help or talk for the students. Prefects in our schools just work for the administration. The principal will talk to the students through the prefects. The prefects are like a shield for the principal and the teachers: If we had SRCs the students can tell the principal and teachers what they think – and then they can also tell the students what they think also through the SRCs. The SRCs will be like a bridge between us.

Learn and Teach: We often hear people say. “There are people on the outside who make trouble in the schools.” Is there any truth in this?

Lulu Johnson: That is a really false thing to say. I can only say that DET officials are the ones who often make the trouble. When there is a problem, the officials or the principal just call the police. And then we all know what happens.

Learn and Teach: What about parents and teachers – how do the students feel about them?

Lulu Johnson: We don’t see any difference between teachers and parents. Teachers are also parents. We believe that teachers and parents must support us. They must help us in our struggle ­ just like they did in 1953 when Bantu Education first started. I just want to say that these days some parents and teachers don’t help us as much as they can. I think they must try to help us more. We are all in this together. We will be like cripples without each other. I believe parents can really help us. If all parents were behind us DET would listen much more – and the police would not always be so hard on us. The police always think twice when they see our parents are behind us.

Created by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2005

The cream of the country – looking for an education to believe in

Learn and Teach: What is the answer to all these problems?

Lulu Johnson: We students will only be happy when “Bantu Education” is gone altogether. We want equal and free education under the same department for all the children of this country. And we want an education we can believe in. You know, students are the cream of this country. And right now they don’t believe in their education. But I think Bantu Education will only go when apartheid goes – and when all the people of this country are free.

The one that got away

1986/04_L&T Cover

The one that got away

– a snippet of Learn and Teach, an adult literacy magazine
(Learn and Teach 4, 1986)

Hassen Lorgat

13 June 2016

Three decades ago, a small team of a radical adult literacy magazine was putting the finishing touches to their latest edition, Learn and Teach magazine number 4, 1986. On its cover was the iconic photo by Sam Nzima of the first reported fatal incidents of 16 June 1976, the injured and dying Hector Pieterson in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhuba, and running anxiously alongside, Antoinette Sithole.

Commemorating a decade since ‘76 was too much for the apartheid state to tolerate. No sooner had the magazine been published than it was banned.

Continue reading

Pensions – getting money when you are old

Untitled0-25WHAT IS A PENSION?

A pension is money that you get when you are old and no longer work. Most people get pensions from the government. We are going to tell you how government pensions work.

Some businesses have private pension funds for their workers. Private pensions have different rules. If you are paying money for a private pension fund, you must know how it works. If you do not know how it works, ask your union or your employers to tell you.

The government pays pensions to women over 60 years of age and men over 65 years. Pensions are not a gift from the government — the law says all old people must get pensions. Pensions come from the taxes that people pay. But sometimes people have big problems with their pensions.


When you ask for your pension, you must talk to the District Pensions Officer. In big towns there is a special person who does this work. But in small towns and on the farms, the magistrate or the Commissioner is the Pensions Officer.

District Pensions Officers have clerks who help them. The work of the clerks is to help people with the pension forms — the clerks cannot decide who gets a pension. The District Pensions Officer decides this.

If a pensioner is too sick or too old to go to the Pensions Office, then the clerk must come and visit the pensioner at home.


When you go to ask for your pension, you must take your reference book with you, or your passport if you come from a “homeland”.

Untitled0-24You must also show where you live. To do this, you must have a house or a lodger’s permit. Or you must have a section 10 1(a), (b) or (c) stamp in your reference book.

Even if you come from another country like Swaziland, you can get a pension in South Africa. You must show that you lived in South Africa for more than five years.

If you live on a farm, but not in a homeland, you need a stamp in your pass or a letter from the owner of the farm. The letter must say that you can live on the farm.

If you live in the “homelands”, you must get a letter from your chief or headman. The letter must say that you live in his area. Sometimes the Pensions Officer will say that he wants to see the headman. Then the headman must go with you to the pension office.


You must show that you are old enough to get a pension. Your birth certificate shows your age. But many old people do not have birth certificates. You can use a baptism certificate or a marriage certificate. New reference books also have your age in them.

If you do not have any of these papers, you must get a letter from a doctor to say how old you are. If your age in your reference book is wrong, you can also get a letter from a doctor. You must also get an affidavit — a signed letter — from someone who knows your right age. People at a magistrate’s office will help you make an affidavit.


Once you have filled in all the forms, you can collect your pension. You will wait for two months to get your money. But often people wait longer.

If you get your pension from the main South African government, they must pay you from the time that you first asked for your pension. But in some “homelands”, they will only pay you from the time that they agree to pay your pension. Then you cannot know how much money you must get the first time.

Once the Pensions Officer says that you can get a pension, he puts a pension number into your reference book. When you collect your pension, they check the number in your book, and find your card. Then you sign your card, or put your thumb print on it. This shows that you got the money. Then they will give you the money.

You must count your money carefully before you leave. If you cannot count well, take someone to help you. Sometimes people do not get the right money.


When you ask for your pension, the clerk will want to know if you are getting any other money. They want to know:

1. Are you working — and if you work, how much money do you get? If you are a man over seventy years or a woman over 65 years, they must not count the money you earn.

2. Does your husband or wife work? If they do,then the clerk will count half of this money as your money.

3. Do you get money from a private pension fund?

4. Do you get money from lodgers or from your family?

5. Do you get money from farming? If you do, they work out the money like this. One cow = R8,00 a year. A goat =50c a year, a bag of beans = R2,00 a year and a pumpkin = 2c a year. But if you farm with your wife or husband, they will only count half of the money from farming.

Once the Pensions Officer knows how much money you get, they add up how much pension you must get. If you get money from the main South African government, this chart tells you how much money you will get.


So, in South Africa if you get R22,50 a month you will get a full pension. But if you get in R45,00 a month you will get no pension. Remember that you only get your pension every second month.

In the homelands, there are different rules for the pensions. In Kwazulu, everyone gets the same money, it does not matter how much money you get in from other places. Everyone gets R65,00 per month.

In the Transkei, the pension is R52,00 a month. But if you get in R50 a month, you cannot get a pension at all.

In Bophuthatswanathe pension is R40 per month. And if you get in R40,00 from somewhere else, you cannot get a pension at all.


If you do not ask for your pension when you turn 60 if you are a woman, or 65 if you are a man, you must get extra money. This chart will tell you how much extra money you must get.

People who are over 85 years, or people who are so sick that they need someone to look after them, can get an extra R10. This is called an attendance allowance.


If you are too old or too sick to fetch your pension, you can ask someone to fetch it for you. This person is called a PROCURATOR. If you want someone to fetch your pension, then you must write a letter. The letter must say that this person is going to help you.

If you do this, they will check your pension from time to time. They will want to know that you are still alive. Then the clerk must come to your house or you must go to the pensions office. If your pension stops while they are checking on you, they must pay you all the money for the time that they stopped it.


If someone in your family is getting a pension and they die, you must tell the pension officer. But they must pay the pension to the end of the month that the pensioner died in. This money is to help pay for the funeral.


If you have a problem with your pension, you must ask for help. You can write a letter to the Secretaries for Health, Welfare and Pensions.

Our readers write

We have got many stories, jokes and poems from our readers. So now we are going to have a special page for our readers’ writings.


Gone are the times of rest
Forgotten are the times of peace
Rest and peace are things of the past
These are times of stress and strain
Frustration rules our personalities
But frustrated we have nowhere to go
And frustrated we have nothing to do
Get up, stand up
These are times of stress and strain
Frustrated we poison ourselves with violence
Oh yes, easy way to eternal freedom
Blessed is the blood shed for…
The freedom of a black man.
These are times of stress and strain.

from a poem by Zet-el King,
Mphuluzi Township.

I’m going to rise
From inner city blues
Sick and tired
Of ghettos
Tired of dry lands
Stinking toilets
Saying ‘Yes, sir,
Asseblief, baas
Ja, miesies
Askies dat ek leef, kleinbaas’
I saw
My father’s broken fields
Even from a distance
It smelt
I will load all my goods
On Oom Solly’s donkiekar
I will pack in the old man
And the old lady
Wipe the kids’ snotnoses.
I’m tired of hand-me-downs
I have had enough from you,
Miesies 41
My son
Is going to make his own rules
Say who can
And who can’t
We will put African angels
On the greeting cards
An Indian Father Christmas
And a non-racial Christchild
In the Jewish Mary’s arms
I have had enough of your
Baasmiesieskleinbasskleinnooi minds
This meid means business.

from a poem by Muriel Winterburg

First we have money
Money is also called capital
A capitalist is someone who likes money
Capitalism is a government that deals with money
Capitalist government is like the government in South Africa.
The capitalist wants profits, big profits.
He is selfish —
He thinks only of himself and his profits.
He is greedy —
He wants all the money he can get.
He is hard —
He makes his workers work long hours and gives
them little money
This is the form of government in our land.

from a poem by Wandile

What is the aim of Inkatha? Their leader says he is not a man of violence. But why do they do these things to us? They kill us, shoot us, torture us and stab us. They are violent in the things they do. They are liars because they can’t keep their promise of peace. Why do they do these things to us when we are one nation. Why can’t we come together and fight for the rights of black people?
Mr S Masikane

Greetings to all the readers. We are fighting for freedom and not apartheid. But we are killing our brothers and sisters. I say forward to black people. But let’s not kill each other. Viva Comrades. Teargas and bullets won’t stop us!
Mpulana Segaswana

I have a problem. My husband had an accident on 3rd of March 1984. He was on his way home from work. He never arrived home. I went to look for him and I found him in Natalspruit hospital. He could not speak when I saw him. He had wounds in the head, on his left shoulder and both his legs were broken. He also had a big stomach operation. He did not remember what happened. The doctors said people from the railways brought him to the hospital. They found him near the railway line but they said there was blood on the road nearby. The doctors think he was hit by a car. If anyone saw this accident, please write to me. I want to know what really happened.
My address is 981 Klipspruit, P O Pimville, 1808.
Dumisile Ndhlovu

Since I started to read your magazine, I have learnt a lot. For example I have learnt about Mr Edwin Mofutsanyana, Fanie Kuduka, Gencorand how they treated our fellow black brothers. I was once a member of a union. The chairman did not tell me enough. I have learnt what I was looking for in Learn and Teach.
Please find out for me and other readers how civic associations began. We need to know more than they write in the newspaper.
Lastly you told us about the UDF, Cosas and other organisations. Please tell us about Azapo and their members. Find out how the fighting between the UDF and Azapo can be stopped.
Derick Motsepe

Three years ago there were three young men. They finished school. They wanted to visit God. When they went there, they said, “God, we have a problem. We want you to help us.” The first one said, “Who will be the next South African Prime Minister? will it be an Indian?” God said, “Not in your life.” The next one said, “Will it be a ‘Coloured’? God said, “Not in your life.” The last one said, “Will it be a black man?” God said, “Not in my life.”
Willie Mabhuda

4 cups of love
2 cups of loyalty
3 cups of forgiveness
1 cup of friendship
5 spoons of hope
2 spoons of tenderness
4 quarts of faith
1 barrel of laughter
Take love and loyalty and mix it well with faith. Blend it with tenderness, kindness and forgiveness. Add friendship and hope. Sprinkle with laughter. Bake it with sunshine. Dish it up every day.
Vusie Miya

A big meeting at Athlone

One Thursday evening, early in April, 1986 about forty people met at Park Station in Johannesburg. They were on their way to Cape Town to the first big meeting of all literacy organizations in South Africa. The organizations were meeting to talk about their work – helping people to learn how to read and write.

Two days and two nights later, the train arrived in Cape Town. People from other literacy organizations were waiting for them. The people didn’t waste anytime. The meeting started on the Saturday in a hall in Athlone, Cape Town.

There were about 150 people at the meeting and they were all happy to meet each other. There was a lot of singing and a lot of hand shaking. In the front of the hall there was a big yellow and black banner that said: “Phambili Nolwazi, Voort met Kennis, Forward with Knowledge!”


The first speaker at the meeting was Mr Shephard Mdladlana. He is a school principal in New Crossroads in Cape Town. He is not a principal who likes Bantu Education.

He spoke about young people who boycott school because of Bantu Education. He said they must not be angry when their parents go to learning groups when they are boycotting classes. The learning groups are not Bantu Education – they are People’s Education. The young people must not stop their parents from going to the groups.


There were many learners at the meeting. Most of the learners were from the Adult Learning Project (ALP). They were all wearing red skippers that said “ALP” and ” Phambili Nolwazi.”

All of the learners work in factories in Cape Town. They did a Toyi- Toyi for the people at the meeting. Everybody could see that they were strong and united.

There were also learners from the Montagu enAshton Gemeenskapdiens. These learners work long hours on the farms and in the factories,- but they still found time to bring two plays to the meeting.


One of the plays was a mime – a play without words. The women showed how they pick fruit on the farms. The work is hard and the sun is cruel. Then they showed how fast they must work in the canning factory. They must wash and peel and slice and cook – and then put the fruit in cans for people to buy.

There is no time for these women to rest at work. The supervisor only lets them go to the toilet one at a time. The women showed how they must stand and pack the fruit – with their legs crossed.


The other play was about the farm workers on the smaller farms in Montagu. These workers suffer a lot. It is hard for them to unite and fight for better wages and working conditions. Some of these workers get only R20 a week. The farmers also pay the workers with wine. Maybe they want to make their workers drunk so they won’t complain about the low wages!


Clara Stanford, a farm worker from Montague, spoke to the meeting. Her mother died when she was five years old. When she was a child she worked on the farm for 15 cents a day. She never went to school. She is now a mother and she is learning how to read and write in a learning group.

One of the learners from ALP told the meeting that she was still young, and that she was going to stay with ALP for the rest of her life.


Makhenke, the chairperson of the learners committee at ALP, told the meeting how the learners control their school. The learners elect a committee. The committee talks for all the learners in ALP. The committee helps to choose coordinators and they tell the co – ordinators what the learners want to learn. The committee also decides when and where the groups must meet.

All the literacy organizations listened carefully to Makhenke. They all agreed with him. Literacy organizations belong to the learners, and must be controlled by the learners.


From Monday to Wednesday the different literacy organizations showed each other how they teach. There are many different ways to teach – and each organization has their own way. But that is why the organizations were there. They were at the meeting to learn from each other.

On the last day of the meeting, the organizations sat down and decided many things. Some of the things they decided were:

* to work closely with each other and to have a meeting of all literacy organizations once a year.

* to work closely with organizations and trade unions that are figthing apartheid and for a better South Africa.

* to work with student, parent and teachers’ organizations that are fighting for better education – “a peoples education.”

* to help women in the learning groups fight for a better life.



Cape Province:
Adult Learning Project
4 Astley Street
Tel: (021)65 3330

Montagu-Ashton Gemeenskap
Lees- en Skryfprojek
Sultana Singel
Tel: (0234) 41175/42619

Eastern Cape Adult Learning Project
503 Alfin House
510 Main Street
North End
Tel: (041) 54-3141

English Literacy Project
314 Dunwell House
35 Jorissen Street
2017 Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 339 2864

Using Spoken and Written English
118 9th Street
Orange Grove
2192 Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 640 3073

Learn and Teach
P.O.Box 11074
2000 Johannesburg

The Sached Trust
P.O. Box 11350
2000 Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 836 3331

The Sached Trust
140 Queen Street
4001 Durban
Tel: (031) 31 6748/9

The Women’s Centre
16 Ecumenical Centre Trust
20 St Andrew’s Street
4001 Durban
Tel: (031) 301 1624

Careers Information Centre
Ecumenical Centre Trust
20 St Andrews Street
4001 Durban
Tel: (031) 31 8177/8

Adult Education Centre
University of Natal
King George V Avenue
4001 Durban
Tel: (031) 81 5911×408

Adult Basic Education
Centre for Extra-mural Studies
University of Cape Town
P/Bag Rondebosch
Tel: (012) 69 2805/2905

Midlands Council of Churches
P.O. Box 34
Tel: (0483) 21500