UNESCO’s fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4) has spotlighted progress made by South Africa.

The country has been particularly commended for developing new quality curricula and establishing community colleges, and enhancing adult learning and education (ALE).

The report particularly notes that, in 2015, South Africa established nine community colleges, one in each province.

Community colleges are responsible for the delivery of formal, non-formal and informal adult learning and education, which in South Africa is called community education and training.

Each college is governed by a 16-member college council, formed to strengthen cooperation with diverse stakeholders. The college council has an oversight role in the delivery of ALE in South Africa and is funded through the National Skills Fund and other public entities, such as the Sector Education and Training Authorities.

Adult education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. However, in almost one-third of countries fewer than 5% of adults aged 15 and above participate in education and learning programmes.

Disadvantaged groups, in particular, are often deprived of their right to education. Adults with disabilities, older adults, refugees and migrants, and minority groups are among those losing out, according to the report.

Overall, the GRALE report warns major change in adult education participation is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The report calls for a sea change in approach, backed by adequate investment, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and benefit from adult learning and education and that its full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realised.

The findings of the global report are based on data submitted by 159 countries.

To reach the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and other SDGs by 2030 the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education calls for six recommendations:

* Better data, particularly for low-income countries and marginalised or vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees;

* Increased investment in adult learning and education, from governments, employers and individuals;

* Donor countries to live up to their aid obligations to developing countries and rebalance their funding of education to support the education of adults as well as children;

* More research on good practices, particularly when it comes to vulnerable and excluded groups;

* Recognition that investment in adult learning and education has social, civic and economic benefits;

* An integrated, inter-sectoral and inter-ministerial approach to governance to enable Member States to realise the wider benefits of adult education to the greatest extent possible, with resources allocated accordingly.