The sociological implications of basic educational deficiencies among black adults, and strategies to facilitate the provision of adult education in South Africa.
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Statistics suggest that there are approximately 15 million educationally deficient adults in South Africa (Population Census, 1991). Given the widespread extent of educational deficiency among black adults, and the weak adult education base that exists currently, the study is formulated on the notion that alternative adult education provision can serve as a vehicle to transform the educational status of this sector. Methodologically the study is a theoretically based one, with a component of empirical analysis which utilizes census data and secondary analysis. The study applies radical theory to develop a historical perspective of the socio-political conditions of black schooling which were characterized by inadequate access, high drop-out rates, widespread failure, and a low quality of provision. Despite periodic expansionist and reformist strategies black educational provision remained inadequate and inferior. Four changing reformist strategies which reflect contradictory aspects are identified during the period 1953-1990, namely self-help (1953-1963), black education and the bantustan strategy (1963-1973), educational reform for economic expansion and political stability (1973-1983), and the repression of popular mobilization (1983-1990). It is in this context that the widespread extent of educational deficiency among black adults is interpreted as a consequence of poor educational provision within specific socio-political circumstances. In advancing a critical theory of schooling, the study utilizes a marxist paradigm reflecting deterministic, voluntaristic, and autonomous functions of the black education system in South African society. These changing roles of the educational system have reflected dominant theoretical positions in particular sequence, namely reproduction (1800s-1975), resistance (1976-1990), and transformation (1990 onwards). This critical theory of schooling is further contextualized to serve as a basis to transform adult education provision, so that it may effectively address the needs of the educationally deficient adult population. To achieve this, the study proposes that adult education provision must be reformulated along the lines of critical literacy and cultural power. An indepth analysis of adult education as a field of study is provided, focusing on definitions, issues relating to content, purpose, and practice, ideological debates, strategies, purposes, providers, target groups, and factors affecting participation and recruitment. The main conclusions of the study relate to the conditions of the black schooling system as a contributory factor in black adult educational deficiency, the extent of adult educational deficiency, sociological implications, and current educational provision in South Africa. The recommendations of the study focus on transforming initial basic educational provision, developing a culture of learning, and the implementation of a policy of adult education.