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Second chance for out-of-school youth and adults

Written by Lehlohonolo Mphuthi* and Noluthando Mkhize
Angel Baloyi,16, is serious about developing herself through education. She attends a Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) community college in her area.

Unlike other teenagers her age, Baloyi is currently doing level two at the Don’t Waste Time Nthathe Community Learning Centre in Winterveld, north of Pretoria.

The college is one of many launched by the DHET around the country to allow unskilled people and those who did not attend or finish school to further their education for free.

The community college offers a range of subjects but Baloyi’s favourite subjects are mathematics, English and Setswana.

She attends school on a daily basis together with her 12 classmates.

“Once I have completed my studies, I would like to be a nurse,” she said.

Another student who is also passionate about education is Flora Sithole, 31, who has been out of school for 10 years. She is also doing level four, which is equivalent to grade nine, also at the Don’t Waste Time Nthathe Community Learning Centre.

“While I was at home, I tried to find a decent job but I could not due to my lack of qualifications and skills. I then decided to come back to school so that I could fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher,” said Sithole, who is also the mother of a 12-year-old boy.

Sithole added that developing herself was very important because she struggled to read and write.

“When I arrived at the centre, I had serious problems with reading and writing in English as I had not read anything for years. I am learning a lot and my reading and writing skills have improved.”

She is doing six subjects, which include health care, mathematics, travel and tourism, English, life orientation and Setswana.

The Don’t Waste Time Nthathe Community Learning Centre also offers various skills such as welding, bricklaying, carpentry and computer lessons.

Thandeka Masondo Director for Community Education and Training at the DHET, said the main purpose of community colleges is to offer programmes for youth and adults who have never been to school or have some level of primary education but lower than grade nine.

“They can enroll in any of our community learning centres for adult functional literacy and numeracy programmes,” said Masondo.

She said adult functional literacy programmes start at level one, which is equivalent to grade three; then progress to level two which is equivalent to grade five; level three which is  equivalent to grade seven; and level four which is equivalent to grade nine.

“At level four a learner writes a national examination which gives them a national certificate called a General Education and Training Certificate which has a National Qualification Framework level one rating and has 120 credits.

“From here, the learner can progress to a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College for further education.”

She said another alternative for South Africans wishing to further their education is studying towards getting a national senior certificate.

“This is a second chance opportunity for learners who want to register and write their senior certificate exam. They must have either failed or want to improve their Matric subjects. Students must be above 21 years and have passed grade nine, 10 and 11 or equivalent.

Masondo said all community learning centres register new students at the beginning of the academic year.

She added that prospective students can contact the community college principals who will refer them to the nearby community learning centres or their nearest DHET district office.

For information on community learning colleges, contact the DHET’s call centre on 0800 872-222 or 012 312 5368.

*Lehlohonolo Mphuthi  is a communications officer with the Department of Higher Education and Training.