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Millions have trouble at work due to illiteracy


Close to 10-million South African adults are totally illiterate or
semi-literate. That affects the ability of a significant proportion of the
population to earn a decent wage, but it also affects the earning potential
of employers.

That is why adult basic education belongs in the workplace, says Dennis
Lamberti, a director of Media Works, an ABET specialist company. Lamberti
was addressing the University of the Witwatersrand's Bachelor of Education
Honours students in a lecture, that ABET should be a national priority.
But it needs a special approach when undertaken in the workplace – it
requires flexibility and a long term commitment. This is not skills
training, which is short term with clear boundaries.
Strict timetabling of Adult Basic Education and Training is important, but
there must be flexibility to allow the company to meet its production
targets. This must also take into account that a commitment running into
years is vital. It is important to note, too, that adults don't all learn at
the same pace.
A single subject has an average duration of six months, part time, and thus
it is difficult to keep management and learners motivated. Add in that there
are eight subjects and it is clear why ABET is truly a long-term commitment,
says Lamberti.  A literate worker, however, will probably produce the same
level of work as an illiterate worker when performing a menial job. The
difference is that a literate worker is now trainable.
To keep learners' interest, incentives of some sort will help – they don't
have to be financial, but public recognition of the work achieved, is one
good way. Other factors to be taken into account are whether transport is
available and whether learners will be safe if they undergo training after