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Learning how to run a business will help Adult Basic Education and Training students to improve their lives. The hope is that they can develop themselves from entry-level workers.
FOR Lucia Mokone, 26 January was a special day: it was her graduation, and the culmination of four years of hard work.


ChantelleChantelle Murray from CLTD encourages students to further their studiesShe received a Certificate of Competence for completing the Business Practice Programme that is part of the Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet) course, and her smile was as permanent as the skills she was taught.

The Abet course is taught by the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development (CLTD) at the University of the Witwatersrand and has four levels that learners need to complete before they can receive their certificate.

Mokone now plans to use her skills to study office administration at Damelin College from February. “I have achieved a lot of things, and now I want to use what I’ve been taught to find a better job,” she said. “My dream job would be working in an office.”

The course teaches students competencies such as computer and life skills, literacy and numeracy, time management and entrepreneurship. Mokone also found that it helped to improve her English, which she feels will stand her in good stead when she looks for a better job.

“It helped my pronunciation, and I now find it easier to talk to people and understand what they are saying to me.”

It was through her work as a cleaner for Supercare, a company contracted to Wits, that she got the opportunity to study. She is one of approximately 70 students who received their certificates. They represent a number of contracting companies that provide services to Wits, and include cleaning, gardening, landscaping catering, administrative and technical staff.

The qualification is registered on the National Qualification Framework, and recognises the students’ ability to understand business practices within their working context.

“My life is fantastic now because I have studied,” Mokone said. “It was fine before, but I would like to improve it.” This is ultimately what the curriculum aims to do: improve learners’ situations by allowing them to see what is involved in the running of a business.


LuciaLucia Mokone dreams of working in an office“We want you to develop yourselves from entry-level workers, and also give you the opportunity to make suggestions that can improve and add value to the business you work for,” said Jenny Taylor from Read for Africa, which offers phono-graphix teaching and training; assessment and development of reading and spelling skills; and adult education, training and assessment.

Abet also aims to ensure that graduates can move up the ladder in the workplace as seamlessly as possible.

“Abet is the first rung of the ladder, but it is no good staying on the first rung,” said the CLTD’s Chantelle Murray. It was necessary to keep climbing. However, Abet’s core focus was on allowing the learners to get their feet firmly on to the ladder, but this was sometimes where problems arose.

“These projects are only possible through funding by government and agencies such as sector education and training authorities [Setas],” said Taylor.

The Services Seta provides the grants that enable Abet to be taught. “The problem is that Seta focuses money on the wrong area,” said Murray. “They are focusing on level four, and forgetting the lower levels, so people get stuck at levels 1, 2 and 3. Our concern is how do we get you to the level you need to be?”

The solution was to get the money injected at all levels of the course, but theory was often easier than practice, said Murray. “At this stage, we are focusing on keeping Abet ticking over for the next five or six months.”

She did not want this to discourage learners, though, and implored them to keep on studying and improving themselves: “Don’t stop now; if you do, you stop at the threshold of the door.”

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