The Centre for Adult and Continuing Education, UWC
2014 marks the closure of the last stand alone Adult Education Centre at South Africa’s universities. First, adult education programmes at WITS lost their home base and were merged with others in the Faculty of Education. UCT followed, then the University of the North. Recently, the Centre for Adult Education at UKZN was 'restructured' to become part of the School of Education and now, finally, UWC’s Centre for Adult and Continuing Education (CACE), legendary for it's engagement with popular education, has lost its ‘centre’ status and has been merged into the new Institute for Post-School Studies, along with Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education.
The problem is that instead of recognising that adult education (and popular education with it!) has distinct traditions and histories of furthering social justice in South Africa, it is being dissipated, some would say ‘watered down’, rendering it more and more marginal. The process of robbing it of its clear identity comes with cuts in staffing: there are no resources allocated to directors whose responsibilities included lobbying and advocating for adult, community and popular education. Instead, teaching and research is ‘mainstreamed’, with ‘throughput of students’, numbers of articles in accredited journals, as the main reason for being. Keep social justice questions at the forefront becomes more and more difficult and is left to a few dedicated people who try to champion its cause against the odds.
At a time when the White Paper on Community Colleges is being celebrated as ‘a step in the right direction’ for all those youth and adults who have been excluded from education, the closing of adult education centres is weakening rather than strengthening the sector and contradicts the intent of the White Paper.
Today, we present a profile of CACE – lest we forget….