Integrating Industry Resources and Community Development: A Vision for Development

Frost, Sally Joy
Date of publication: 
Mon, 1996-01-01

The objective of this paper is to present a vision for the co-operation of Industry and Communities in the provision of Adult Basic Education and Training. This paper aims to present experiences gained within a workplace literacy program, and explore how these can be utilized in community development, to the benefit of both the Industry and Community involved. The level of illiteracy within South Africa is estimated at 29 percent. Much of this illiterate population live in rural communities. Umgeni Water is the second largest Water Authority in the Republic of South Africa, whose responsibility is the provision of bulk water to an area of 24 000 square kilometers (9 266 square miles). Umgeni Water's Rural Areas Water and Sanitation Plan (RAWSP) is concerned with the provision of potable water to rural communities by the year 2005. It is the experience of RAWSP that its goal of empowering communities to manage their own water schemes, is being hampered by a lack of basic literacy and managerial skills within the community water committees. For the past few years, the Human Resources division of Umgeni Water has provided an increasingly successful Adult Basic Education program for its workforce, 42 percent of whom are below the level of functional literacy. The goal of the program is to help those interested obtain a level of functional literacy by the end of 1998. The program runs on a continuum from Mother Tongue literacy (Zulu) to a functional level of English literacy, with classes scheduled for four hours a week during business hours. Content revolves around literacy, numeracy, work and life skills. From this program has emerged a team of highly experienced facilitators, materials relevant to adults, a knowledge of water provision, a sound infrastructure, and a history of consultative implementation. The vision of the Umgeni Water ABE Department is to use its accumulated strengths and experiences to provide development support services for RAWSP. Plans are being developed to utilize the developmental skills gained, to provide literacy, numeracy, management and life skills, to those rural water committees and communities with whom RAWSP is involved. Through this vision the resources developed within Industry will be used to empower communities, to the benefit of both parties.