Sabine Strassburg

Government, the economy, civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) face huge challenges responding to poverty, unemployment, and skills development needs. Considering the historical background of South Africa, educational interventions particularly for the previously disadvantaged "non-White" adult population have proved to be an effective strategy in the fight against poverty and inequality inherited from Apartheid. Sabine Strassburg was born in Germany and has lived in South Africa since 2002. Having graduated with a Master's Degree in Adult Education in 2004, she continued her academic studies at the University of Leipzig (Germany), Institute for Adult Education, in cooperation with the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Department of Economics, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), and recently completed her PhD in Education. The dissertation included the development of a good-practice model, which we reprint here, researching approaches in education and poverty alleviation and addressing inequalities in the South African context. The author is currently working as an independent consultant in the areas of adult education and development.

Adult Education and Poverty Alleviation - What Can Be Learnt from Practice?


Four Case Studies from South Africa

A number of studies have confirmed the direct relationship between poverty and education (e.g. Ribich 1968; Vally 1998; Preece 2005; Akoojee & McGrath 2006). 1 Research has established that higher education can have positive effects on productivity, income levels and employment, education of the next generation (intergenerational effects), health, fertility, and nutrition, as well as empowerment, social inclusion and participation. Educational interventions including adult education enable people to realise their full potential and to improve their well-being. The main assignment is to help poor people improve their chances of changing their own situation.

This paper presents four case studies from South Africa. All interventions investigated aim to improve human development and alleviate poverty. In addition they are regarded as examples of good practice, having received Impumelelo Trust Awards. The organisations and training offered are introduced, and various effectiveness indicators are identified, based on lessons learnt from practice. Recommendations are made accordingly for educational interventions that focus on poverty alleviation.

Methodological Note

Research was carried out at the Bergzicht Training and Support Centre in Stellenbosch, Learn to Earn in Khayelitsha, P.E. Childline and Family Centre in Schauderville, Port Elizabeth, and LifeLine/Childline Western Cape in Cape Town, Khayelitsha and Bishop Lavis. Case studies rely on multiple sources of evidence, pooling the data collected using a triangulating approach. Therefore, several techniques for data collection were chosen, such as written document analysis, interviews, questionnaires, and direct observation. The written document analysis included the review of documents such as monitoring and evaluation reports, administrative databases, and training materials. In addition, learning material, including learners' manuals and facilitators' manuals, were reviewed in order to investigate educational methods used within the training. Thirteen semi-structured interviews in face-to-face sessions with project stakeholders were conducted to gather information about the project planning process, implementation, service delivery and problems. Questionnaires were used to collect more specific information about the participants, particularly demographic data, which also helps to describe the poverty situation. It was not possible to distribute the questionnaire to all participants of all courses. Hence, one to two training programmes of each organisation (depending on availability) were selected as educational interventions in order to conduct empirical research. Written document analysis and interviews were primary sources of information. However, data was also collected through participant observation. Observation works towards greater understanding of the case.

Direct observation was used in order to find out what happens, when and where, and to get a more holistic picture of the project settings, as well as the stakeholders and participants involved. In total, three training sessions were attended. The purpose of the observation was to capture the general background of the project as well as practical information about educational methods used within the training.

Case Studies


Case Study I: Bergzicht Training and Support Centre

The Bergzicht Training and Support Centre, established in 1992, is located in the centre of Stellenbosch, a small town in the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Western Cape. Bergzicht includes a training centre, a support centre and a (job) placement bureau. The training offered at Bergzicht includes Home Management, Educare, Frailcare, Catercare, as well as Accommodation and Hospitality. Life Skills training is obligatory for all participants. This module addresses poverty-related issues such as health education, including hygiene and HIV/Aids awareness. The duration of the courses varies from 5 to 17 weeks (full-time). In general, the training includes a theoretical part, which is held within the premises of the Bergzicht Training Centre, and practical on-the job training, which takes places in external organisations according to the field, for example in crèches, frailcare institutions and hospitals, or guest houses. The training itself is free. However, participants have to pay a registration fee, which varies between R35 for the Home Management Course and R70 for advanced courses (Educare, Frailcare, Catercare). Private students who are enrolled by their employers have to pay up to 50 percent of the training costs, which varies between R440 and R2500. Students receive R8 per day towards their travel expenses so that poor learners are not excluded from participation. The training courses focus on unemployed people, particularly women in and around Stellenbosch. Participants mainly come from poor communities in the outer reaches of Stellenbosch, such as Kayamandi Township.

Kayamandi is an informal settlement, located at the outer reaches of Stellenbosch. It was originally built to accommodate Black migrant male labourers who were employed on the (wine) farms around Stellenbosch. The main language spoken is isi-Xhosa. Poverty characteristics are similar to other informal settlements in the country, including low educational levels (high illiteracy rate), poor access to sanitation facilities, and high unemployment (SA Census 1996).

Bergzicht Training Centre
Source: Sabine Strassburg

Case Study II: Learn to Earn (LtE)

Learn to Earn (LtE) consists of three branches (training centres) and a Resource Business Centre. The main branch, first established in 1989, as well as the Business Resource Centre, is based in Khayelitsha, City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, Western Cape. Since 1999/2000 training services are also offered in Zwelihle, Hermanus (Overstrand Municipality) and in Fisantékraal, Durbanville (northern suburbs of Cape Town), both situated in the Western Cape. The Zakhele "Build for yourself" programme, and a coffee shop on the premises of LtE Khayelitsha, support income generation activities for LtE graduates. The Business Resource Centre also facilitates job creation and business opportunities for graduates as well as for unemployed people who did not necessarily participate in LtE courses. Five training courses are offered in the following areas: sewing, woodwork, baking, business skills and computer graphics. All courses include English literacy and numeracy, business skills (basic business development module), Life Skills (lifestyle counselling), and a discipleship module (optional). The duration of courses varies between 4 weeks (part-time) and 15 weeks (full-time). The training includes theory (lectures) and practice (workshops), but no on-the-job practical training outside LtE. The training is not free. Registration (R100 to R150) and participation fees (R100 to R350) should ensure commitment and develop a sense of ownership, in accordance with the mission statement "A hand up - not a hand out" . LtE creates income-generating opportunities for participants also during the training, which help the learners to pay their course fees. The training courses focus on unem ployed people, particularly poor people coming mainly from informal settlements around Cape Town, for example Khayelitsha.

Khayelitsha is a peri-urban (mainly informal) settlement situated about 30 km from the centre of Cape Town. It is one of the largest townships in South Africa. According to the SA Census 2001, the population is predominantly Black African, and mainly Xhosaspeaking (96.5 percent). Poverty characteristics are similar to other informal settlements in the country, including low household income (77.8 percent of earners in Khayelitsha have a monthly income between R0 and R1600), low educational levels (7 percent have no schooling) and high unemployment (50.8 percent) (SA Census 2001).

Source: Sabine Strassburg

Case Study III: P.E. (Port Elizabeth) Childline

The P.E. Childline and Family Centre is located in Schauderville, Port Elizabeth, in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape. Childline South Africa is the umbrella organisation, accommodating eight regional offices in almost every province in South Africa, with P.E. Childline being one of them. Services offered include counselling (concerning child rights, child abuse, HIV/Aids, responsible relationships, and sexual behaviour), networking and coordination of services to children, advocacy of children's rights, and training of volunteers. In order to promote the well-being of families and to alleviate poverty in the region, a skills training programme was established in 1990. Two training courses are currently offered, including Needlework (8 weeks) and Educare (16 weeks, full-time). Participants do not need to pay for the training, but they also do not receive a travel allowance any more. The programme is open to anybody who is able to get an employment contract before the training starts since the Department of Labour only then supports the training intervention. P.E. Childline focuses on poorer communities, mainly female, coming from urban and peri-urban areas in the region, such as Schauderville.

Schauderville, formally Schauder Township, is a poor suburb of Port Elizabeth. According to the SA Census 1996, the area accommodates mainly non-White South Africans. The main language spoken is Afrikaans. 


Case Study IV: LifeLine Western Cape

LifeLine started in 1963 in Australia and has expanded since then, currently embracing centres in 14 countries worldwide. In 1968 LifeLine began its work in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, Western Cape. Initially set up as a crisis telephone counselling programme, it currently offers training courses for adults and youth development, telephone and face-to-face counselling, HIV/Aids programmes, therapeutic work with children, and support groups. LifeLine Western Cape, in cooperation with Childline, offers services in the Cape Town City Centre, Wynberg (Childline), Khayelit sha, Mitchell's Plain, Bishop Lavis and Gugulethu. The lay counselling programme was established in 1998/1999. The training programmes aim to train volunteers for Lifeline/Childline's counselling service, and members/counsellors for other NGOs and corporate bodies, as well as to increase the overall awareness of HIV/Aids in the general public. Various training courses are offered, including LifeLine in-house training (personal growth and counselling skills), training for Life-Liners (e.g. HIV/Aids awareness, presenter and facilitator training) and training for other NGOs and corporate bodies on request (e.g. HIV/ Aids peer education, HIV/Aids awareness, life skills, personal growth, counselling and communication skills etc.). Course fees vary between R0 (free of charge for LifeLiners) to R1000 (for personal growth and counselling skills). Corporations pay up to R550 per trainee per day. A limited number of bursaries are available, but no special target group has been identified.

Findings and Recommendations

This section summarises results of the case studies and identifies good practice and effectiveness indicators. Information from all the case studies is triangulated. The effectiveness indicators identified cover location (accessibility for the poor), approach, training offered, targeting of the poor, strategies and poverty issues addressed, financial sustainability of the organisation, institutional and human capacity, concept appropriateness, monitoring and evaluation, outcome and impact.

General Organisational and Project Information

All cases investigated were long-term interventions. Mainly skills development programmes were chosen since their effects could be measured more easily (in terms of employment found and hence alleviation of income poverty). The research showed that an intervention is more likely to be effective (in terms of human development and poverty alleviation among the most vulnerable population groups):

... if the intervention is located in an area with high poverty levels.
Effects on poor individuals and communities were higher if interventions were located in areas with high poverty levels because this increased the accessibility of interventions for the target population and hence attracted more poor people. If the organisation could afford to pay its participants a travel allowance, the location did not have a major impact. It is, however, more cost-effective to place interventions within the target community since the organisation can then save the travel allowance.

... if the approach is directly intended to address the problems of the poor.
Three of the four organisations investigated followed a direct approach to addressing the problems of the poor (mainly unemployment). Hence, they showed better results in terms of reduction of (income) poverty. Nevertheless, one of them required that participants had to have a work contract prior to the start of training. Since most of the poor had difficulties finding employment without sufficient qualifications, participation numbers decreased, resulting in a downsizing of the job skills training.

... if the intervention has originally been established to alleviate poverty and improve human well-being.
Poverty alleviation and/or social development and well-being were objectives of all the organisations investigated. Yet, those two of the four organisations that were originally established to improve human development and alleviate poverty (mainly through skills development in order to improve employability) showed higher commitment and hence better poverty alleviation results in terms of reduction of income poverty. Two organisations were initially established for other reasons connected to development and did not necessarily focus on poverty. Other interventions such as skills development programmes that would improve the employability of participants were introduced at a later stage and therefore did not receive the same attention, which was mainly visible in the allocation of resources.


An intervention is more likely to be effective:

... if educational methods are used that encourage participation and focus on a mixture of theory and practice.
All interventions used activating methods within their training that encouraged participation by learners, mainly through demonstration and practice. Training always consisted of a combination of theory and practice, partially with on-the-job practical training, which had positive effects on the job-placement rates since some participants found employment at the same company/organisation where they did their practical time.

... if the participation costs for training are not too high since learners from poor communities cannot otherwise afford it financially.
There was a big difference in training fees. They varied from R0 (free of charge) to R1000. One organisation even paid a travel allowance to participants, which meant that they received money during the training course. Research revealed that the higher the participation fees, the more unlikely the participation by poor people (from a low monthly household income). One needs to consider the income situation of the target group. Most of the participants (60 percent) had an average household income of less than R1001 per month (see Targeting below). Hence, most poor people could not afford a participation fee of more then R500. A small participation fee seems to be important, though, in order to develop a sense of ownership of the situation, according to the Director of Learn to Earn. However, a relation between participation fee and commitment / sense of ownership (measurable through pass rates) could not be verified.


Prior assessments are required in order to identify target groups, their problems and needs. A number of studies have confirmed that poverty in South Africa is concentrated among previously disadvantaged population groups (the Black majority of South Africa), and females / femaleheaded households. Most of the poor live in rural areas. Therefore, the main target group of poverty alleviation programmes should be Black females living in rural areas (e.g. May 2000). 2

Once the project has been designed accordingly, strong targeting mechanisms and methods are required. Target groups need to be precisely defined and the project needs to be specified at the right level in terms of expectations and prior knowledge of the participants in order to avoid disappointment and high drop-out rates. A lack of strong and effective targeting mechanisms enables people to participate who are not the preferred beneficiary group, hence resulting in resources being diverted away from the poor (Cox, Healey, Hoebing, & Voipio 2000). Another major argument in favour of targeting is sustainability. Effective selection of individuals or groups, and assessment of the beneficiaries, have positive impacts on the project's sustainability (Hanson, Worrall, & Wiseman (2006:2f), 3 and hence increase the effectiveness. They can also improve efficiency where resources are limited. Funds can be used more effectively and efficiently when they are channelled directly to individuals or groups with the greatest needs and/or with the greatest ability to benefit. The following section is mainly based on Chapter 10 of Hanson, Worrall, & Wiseman (2006).

An intervention is more likely to be effective:

... if prior assessments have taken place to identify the target group, their problems and needs.
It is now commonly known that previously disadvantaged population groups such as Black South Africans, and in particular women, form the main target group of interventions. Hence, prior assessments to identify the general target group are not necessarily required. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing the specific target community. Therefore, a community analysis is recommended rather than only a target group investigation.

... if there are strong targeting mechanisms in place, focusing on the most vulnerable population groups such as women and non-Whites.
Three of the four organisations investigated showed a lack of strong targeting mechanisms such as selection criteria. However, indirect targeting of poor population groups was achieved through the location and services offered. Accordingly, most interventions used self-selection targeting methods. They were designed to be more attractive to the target population through the geographical location of the organisation in a partially informal settlement with high unemployment and poverty rates, and through the services offered. Participants investigated showed the following characteristics:

  • Location: Since the organisations investigated were located either in peri-urban or urban areas, interventions did not directly target the rural population. However, indirect targeting could be achieved since 31 percent of all participants investigated originally came from rural areas, for example from remote regions in the Eastern Cape (one of South Africa's poorest provinces) and were now living in peri-urban areas (e.g. Khayelitsha). Case study research revealed that poverty alleviation projects do not necessarily need to be located in rural areas to tackle those population groups. Locating interventions in peri-urban (yet poor) communities has various advantages over rural areas. Firstly, they are more easily accessible since transport infrastructure is in general better than in remote areas. Secondly, resources are already available such as buildings, staff and materials. Thirdly, employment opportunities are more likely to be available in peri-urban and particularly in urban areas. Therefore, job placement rates may be higher. However, locating interventions in urban areas (e.g. the city centre of Cape Town or Stellenbosch) makes them less accessible for the poor since they need to travel further, which many of them cannot afford without a travel allowance. The research demonstrated that interventions are more effective if located in areas with high poverty levels, which does not necessarily mean rural areas. It is recommended that poverty alleviation interventions should be located in peri-urban areas (e.g. informal settlements), both to reach poor communities (partially from rural areas) and to take advantage of city transport, resources and jobs.
  • Population group: All interventions focused on non-White communities and hence fulfilled an important target criterion. More than 75 percent of all participants investigated were non-White, mainly Xhosa-speaking (62 percent).
  • Gender: Although not always specifically targeted, women predominantly participated in the interventions investigated, fulfilling a second target criterion. The questionnaires revealed that 85.7 percent of all participants were female. Indirect targeting (self-selection) could be achieved through the services offered (e.g. sewing, childcare, frailcare).
  • Age: In general, participants were relatively young, with an average age of 32 years. 71.4 percent of all participants were younger than 35 years. Course planners need to consider age within their project design and focus accordingly on topics and methods that are most suitable for their age groups, such as HIV/Aids and relationships.
  • Education: Education levels were in general high, particularly for White learners. About 82 percent of all participants investigated had minimum Standard 9. Questionnaires revealed that lower educational levels (below Standard 8) were more likely among "older" and non-White participants.
  • Employment status: Questionnaires revealed that 42.9 percent of all participants were unemployed prior to training beginning. Unemployment rates were higher for participants in courses located in peri-urban areas (partially informal settlements).

In general, targeting was effective, attracting mainly young, non-White (predominantly Xhosa-speaking) women who were unemployed and financially dependent on other family members or grants.

Strategies Used - Poverty Issues Addressed

The intervention is more likely to be effective if a variety of topics are addressed and different strategies are combined, including life skills, literacy, empowerment, and income-generating activities.

All the organisations investigated offered more than one training programme, resulting in a variety of interventions and topics addressed. Most of them were combined. All interventions addressed income generation in one or the other context. It seems that attendance by poor people in adult education interventions is more likely if there is the possibility of finding employment afterwards. Interventions focusing on employability showed the best effects in income poverty alleviation if combined with high job placement rates. Job placement rates could be increased by supporting participants in finding employment. Additionally, other poverty-related issues were addressed, mainly through integrated life skills training, which has proved to be a vital part of human development and overall well-being. Effects were mainly related to empowerment, which also had positive impacts on the employment search, according to the Manager of the Placement Bureau at Bergzicht. None of the organisations investigated paid much attention to literacy, resulting in either language difficulties for participants with low literacy levels or relatively high general educational levels, since education and literacy were an entry requirement

- and often a barrier to participation - in three of the four organisations investigated.

Level of Sustainability

The establishment of sustainable projects is essential. Sustainability refers to

"the ability of a development project to sustain itself, both throughout the life of the project, and into the future beyond the handover period." (Khan 2003:5f) 4

When project benefits can be maintained over a long period of time, they are likely to increase the impact on the communities involved. Whether a project has achieved sustainability or not can only be seen after the donor assistance ends and the project has been handed over to local stakeholders, such as the benefiting community, government or the private sector. A sense of ownership, inclusion of government officials and other local project stakeholders, as well as intensified efforts to mobilise domestic resources and strengthen financial sustainability, using local systems and mutually agreed standards, are necessary for sustainability. Furthermore, one needs to ensure that a project is responsive to the needs of the people it is meant to benefit, and that they agree with the project's objectives. The ability of the organisations investigated to continue over a long period of time is proven since all interventions had been offered for more than ten years, starting in the 1990s. All the cases investigated were long-term interventions. They were not planned by international agencies but initiated by communities, which then sought financial support from various donors. They were all community-driven, and they continue to receive donor assistance, which is limited to financial support. Hence, a sense of local ownership is ensured. All the organisations took into account national development strategies in one way or another. However, inclusion and cooperation with government officials, and meeting national standards (e.g. those set out in the National Qualification Framework), remained problematic, resulting in problems concerning official recognition of qualifications achieved and financial resources (government funding).

Financial Sustainability

Financial sustainability here means that projects need to become financially stable and independent from donor agencies which limit the duration of the project. A project is more likely to be sustainable if financial resources can be found which ensure that the project can be continued. Projects are usually only funded for a few months or years. Many of them cannot be continued without funding from international development assistance organisations. In terms of sustainability it is, therefore, important to find other financial mechanisms, such as a "buy-in" by government or private companies (structured market). Self-financing mechanisms are the most effective in order to enhance sustainability. However, this may be problematic due to the character of the intervention (poverty alleviation) and the target group/participants (low income individuals and communities). Absorption of the project activities into the government's budgetary mechanisms has shown good results. Nevertheless, most funders are not in favour of this approach. They prefer not to contribute directly to the government budget. Therefore, it would be more effective if funders were to develop models together with the participating communities, which can then be taken over by the government after successful implementation, in order to support extension and further project implementation. The models developed need to be in line with international and national requirements. Funders support local institutions with capacity-building, and developing and testing the models. Capacity-building for both government officials and project stakeholders is required to improve financial management. A project is more likely to be sustainable if it has a long-term vision. That needs to be communicated to all stakeholders, who can then align their resources. Written commitments describing the (financial) contribution of stakeholders are required, as well as a clear timeline for partnerships. Then it will be possible for the project manager to develop strategies on how and when to obtain additional funding for the project beyond the envisaged time of the original (primary) support. In general, projects should be financially affordable for communities, and the cost of a project should not exceed its envisaged benefits. Financial sustainability may be enhanced and costs reduced by focusing resources on what is most needed (effective targeting), using local systems and resources.

Financial sustainability was the main challenge for the organisations investigated. Most organisations experienced difficulties with financial stability. Operational expenditure often exceeded income for the financial year, resulting in a deficit. Since "buy-in" by government remained problematic, as mentioned above, organisations were largely dependent on financial support from international and national donors. Single-donor dependency has been proved to put the financial sustainability of a programme at risk, resulting in a scaling down of the intervention. Self-financing mechanisms have been shown to be a vital factor in financial sustainability. It seems that donor dependency decreases with increased training fees (one of the most important self-financing mechanisms), but only if fees are sufficient to cover the cost of training, shifting the burden from funders to participants. At the same time, the focus on poor people then decreases since they cannot afford the high participation fees. It has proved to be an effective approach for organisations to offer courses also for private and higher-income participants who are able to pay higher fees. Two out of the four organisations applied this concept and could thus decrease donor dependency. It is necessary, though, still to focus on the main target group of poor communities, and not to shift the focal point towards private students.

Institutional and Human Capacity

Institutional and human capacity is vital for the sustainability of a project. Hence, executive institutions and organisations should be chosen carefully. The South African Department of Labour, for example, has a list of established service providers which have been shown to work effectively (available at the DoL website). The Department would provide these organisations with support and available financial resources if necessary. Institutional capacity includes areas such as external relations, management practices

(e.g. organisational structure, administration, planning, information management, and strategic management), human resources and organisational learning, financial resources, and service delivery. If those areas within an organisation are strong and stable, it is more likely that the project will be sustainable. Depending on the organisational strengths and weaknesses within the above-mentioned areas, capacity-building supported by international donors can increase the effectiveness of an organisation. International donor agencies should avoid the extensive use of external personnel, and rather employ local staff who know the problems of the people. They are often better experienced, and less expensive. Training of local staff can ensure effectiveness and alignment with international standards, as well as increasing the sustainability of both the project itself and the whole organisation. Strong organisations are more able to accomplish their goals, and to provide for long-term projects and their own needs.

Three of the four organisations investigated were organised hierarchically, with a clear division of labour resulting in effective management. All of them employed local staff, partially even from the target communities, and this had a positive effect on the level of sustainability and problem awareness. Various staff development programmes improved human capacity and hence increased the effectiveness of the organisation. All capacity-building interventions were planned by local stakeholders rather than international agencies, which had positive effects on problem orientation and ownership. All organisations had a long-term vision describing their commitment to poverty alleviation and human development. The vision and mission statements were communicated to the public either through annual reports and/or other media such as a homepage and printed PR material. External relations were facilitated in three of the four organisations through regular newsletters and information provided on their homepages. All the organisations published annual reports which had overall positive effects on general accountability, governance and information management. All the organisations showed good marketing mechanisms, including their own logos and branding.

Computer Design Course
Source: Sabine Strassburg

Concept Appropriateness

The appropriateness of interventions is described here in terms of meeting individual and community needs, economic/labour market demands and replication potential. All interventions were community-driven and ensured local ownership.

Meeting individual needs: Individual needs could not always be met, mainly due to a lack of literacy skills and language difficulties. There was a common sense, however, that English skills played a vital role in the future work environment. Nevertheless, the need for English literacy was not considered appropriately within most of the interventions. Illiteracy hinders most kinds of training, but trainers do not generally regard it as their responsibility. Adults are expected to "go off and become literate somewhere else" and then return to training programmes (NEPI 1993:21). 5 The main reasons include the additional cost, and time. Hence, participants with al-ready relatively high educational levels were chosen to participate in interventions rather than illiterate people whose training would have cost the organisation more in order to achieve similar outcomes. Interventions also need to fulfil a compensatory purpose in order to address a general lack of basic education such as literacy, numeracy, and English-language skills (NEPI 1993:21).

Meeting community needs: All the organisations ensured that their interventions were responsive to the needs of the community they were meant to benefit, through needs assessments and community analysis.

Meeting economic/labour market demands: Market research ensured alignment with current economic needs in three of the four organisations. One organisation identified labour market needs by requiring a work contract from participants before training began. Meeting economic demands has proved to be the most vital factor in concept appropriateness since the employability of participants is highly dependent on it.

The intervention is more likely to be effective if the replication potential is very high, resulting in a higher model impact.

The replication potential was very high in almost all the interventions, resulting in a high multiplication impact. The training concept of all the organisations investigated had been implemented elsewhere. Three of the four organisations had more than one branch, resulting in an expansion in the area of influence. Although replication potential does not have an effect on the participants in the short term, the resulting multiplication impact might have an overall positive long-term effect on the community where it is implemented.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Evaluation and monitoring have various aims, such as detecting possible implementation problems (on-going), monitoring progress, and learning from mistakes and success. Results and recommendations may support the planning process of new programmes (ex-ante evaluation). Evaluation also helps to identify the impact and sustainability of an intervention (ex-post evaluation). Within the project sector it also has a legitimating function and is used as a basis for funding and accountability. With the help of continuous monitoring and evaluation, progress can be tracked and corrective action can be taken accordingly.

All the organisations carried out monitoring and evaluation. Progress was mainly evaluated through private success stories and learner enrolment rates. (Financial) sustainability was monitored through audited annual financial statements. Results were published in term and annual reports. It seems, however, that the annual reports mainly included success stories rather than describing problems found. Challenges posed by researchers were sometimes down-played by project stakeholders instead of being accepted as constructive criticism. This cannot be measured, however, since while they down-played problems externally, they were aware of them internally. Monitoring and evaluation are only effective if the outcomes are communicated and result in corrective action where necessary.

Outcome and Impact

The training mainly affects the poor by increasing employability and hence the possibility of improving their financial situation. In total, 2012 people were successfully trained (finished the course) through the interventions investigated in 2004-2005. In general, pass rates were high for every intervention. On average, nine out of ten participants who started a course also finished it. 383 out of 2012 participants (19 percent) were economically active after the training, resulting in a reduction in income poverty. Job placement rates varied between the organisations and interventions, from 98 percent (where participants had to find employment prior to training) to a low of 4.1 percent (where employability was not the main objective of the organisation). Job placement rates could be positively influenced by three factors: Firstly, through special initiatives to support the employment search (such as a business resource centre or placement bureau). Secondly, placements could be improved when the organisation offered practical-on-the job training as an integral part of the course. Many participants got the chance to stay in the company where they did their practical time. Thirdly, some participants found employment prior to training beginning. However, this was problematic since employers preferred to take on people who had already received training. Although job placement rates in this initiative were high (98 percent), not many participants could be found, and the project had to be scaled down. In any case, it has been proved that it is vital for educational interventions to be guided by labour market demands. All the effects measured were at grass-root level and did not lift their participants completely out of income poverty as the maximum monthly income amounted to R 2500. Given that the household income of most participants (60 percent) was less than R 1001 per month, an income of R 2000 for one family member (the recipient of the training) might increase the overall household income by 100 percent. Earning an income also decreased dependency on other family members and/or social grants, which in turn had positive effects on confidence. Thus, training was shown to have strong empowerment effects. Self-esteem increased through education ( "I can do this") as well as through financial stability when employment was found ("I am worth it, I can provide for myself and for my family" ).

Success story from Learn to Earn sewing graduate

Chwayity Ngcotyelwa, 30:

 "In 1999 Learn to Earn taught me to sew. The next yea r
it found me permanent work. Then last year I learn t
how to run and grow my own business through LtE' s
business achiever's course. When I came to LtE I coul d
not dream of starting my own business. Now I am no t
dependent on my husband for money. I have directio n
and a vision for my life. I am reaching my full potential! "

(Source: Newsletter Learn to Earn 04/2005)

How can there be some guarantee that people will keep their jobs?

Keeping a job seems problematic, as can be seen in the high job turnover rate in South Africa. Reasons for labour turnover rates are various, including the impacts of HIV/Aids, lack of job loyalty and work ethic, and mismatches between employers' needs and employees' qualifications and abilities. Therefore, it is recommended that HIV/ Aids programmes should be included in all interventions, particularly considering that the average age group of participants investigated matches closely the age group with the highest HIV/Aids prevalence.

In addition, work ethic and loyalty should be part of interventions that prepare participants for future employment. Mismatching between employers' needs and employees' qualifications and abilities might be avoided by closely assessing both sides and then choosing the employment situation carefully. This, however, sounds easier than it is since most poor people take almost any job they can get out of desperation and only ask afterwards about the requirements. Effective Human Resource Management is vital.

Model impact: Three of the four organisations implemented their interventions elsewhere, had opened new branches and / or assisted other organisations to offer adult education programmes. The third organisation had adapted the model described in the Skills Development Strategy supported by the Government. However, this model has shown difficulties in implementation and is hence not considered a preferred model. Nonetheless, this positive model impact has acquired great influence and hence a great impact on the communities served.

Multiplication impact: All interventions had strong ripple effects in the communities they served. Participants had a positive impact on their family / household members as well as on the community. Once they found employment with sufficient income, they were able to provide for their families, send their children to school (intergenerational effects), and afford food and clothes. Some participants also started their own businesses, improving the overall socio-economic situation in their community at a micro-level.

Checklist for Educational Interventions Focusing on Poverty Alleviation in South Africa

The questions for planners of educational interventions in South Africa are: What should be regarded as making the programme most effective. And what can be learnt from practice? The following table formulates the "ideal" characteristics of effective poverty alleviation interventions. It is presented in the form of a checklist that can be used for planning and management of educational interventions.

Location Directly within the target communityOtherwise transport allowance should be offered 
In a peri-urban area (e.g. township)Considering transport infrastructure 
With high poverty levelsVisible e.g. in high unemployment 
With a good transport infrastructureClose to taxi ranks and train stations 
Not too far away from the cityConsidering future employment 
 ApproachThe organisation is initially established to alleviate poverty, particularly to improve employment levelsFocus on poverty alleviation ensures commitment 
The approach is directly intended to benefit the poorPrivate students only as an income-generating mechanism for the organisation 
Government strategies are taken into account during planningIn order to receive Government support 
TrainingLearning programmes (curriculum and material) are developed according to unit standards, are outcomes-based and take account of prior learning experiencesConsidering recommendations given by the Department of Education 
Qualifications are integrated within different levels of the National Qualification FrameworkNQF qualifications are recognised nationwide 
A variety of training programmes is offered, focusing on skills development and employabilityIn order to alleviate income poverty 
Training programmes are combined, offering qualifications on different levelsConsidering different educational levels of participants 
Additional learning fields such as English literacy are offered in modulesEnglish literacy has proved to be a vital factor as barrier to interventions & employment 
The training integrates theory (with activating educational methods) and practical parts  
On-the-job practical training is includedPositive effects on job placement rates 
TargetingThe target group is precisely defined as young (20 to 35), non-White, unemployed females with an average household income of lower than R 1000 per monthAs research revealed, most participants were young (below 35 years of age), non- White unemployed females. Interventions did not exclude men or older or younger participants 
Target mechanisms: selfselection (through location and services offered), categorical indicators (gender, age, population group), and individual assessment of socio-economic situationSelection criteria, particularly age, should not be exclusive if the organisation has additional resources 

Strategies & poverty issues

Interventions focus on incomegeneration and employabilityAlleviation of income poverty has positive effects on other poverty-related issues 
Interventions include health education but connected to the qualification accordinglyHealth education connected for example to childcare and frailcare (e.g. nutrition, hygiene, infectious diseases) 
HIV/Aids awareness is always included as compulsory moduleConsidering the high HIV/Aids prevalence particularly among young adults (main target group) 
Empowerment is an overall aim and hence is considered a cross-cutting issueConsidering its positive effects on employment search 
(English) literacy is offered as an optional moduleConsidering future employment. 
Life skills are included within every interventionLife skills training supports empowerment, and can include health education (particularly on HIV/Aids) 
Financial sustainabilityThe organisation has a mixture of finance mechanisms, including self-financing, government support and donor fundingPreferably self-financing mechanisms to reduce donor dependency 
The organisation has various self-financing mechanismsE.g. sale of products (e.g. from sewing course), services (e.g. frailcare and childcare) and private students who are able to pay high participation fees 
The organisation receives financial support from the government“Buy-in” by government is only possible if the organisation follows government guidelines 
There are many different donors, including (preferably) national and international fu nding. Local companies fund the interventions within their social responsibility programmesThe higher the number of different funders, the more stable is the support system (in case one donor does not continue financial support) 
Institutional and Human CapacityThe organisation is structured with clear division of labourSo that everyone feels involved and takes responsibility for the intervention 
Staff members are mainly recruited from the target communityTo increase a sense of ownership and concept appropriateness 
The organisation and its interventions are officially accredited / registeredIn order to tap into government money, qualifications are recognised within the NQF nation-wide 
The organisation has strategic external relations with other NGOs working in the same / similar field, various funders, and government officialsTo improve cooperation and harmonisation, avoid duplication, share resources and experiences 
The organisation facilitates information management and public relationsFor example through a homepage for possible funders, newsletters for stakeholders, and campaigns in the community that inform the target group about interventions 
The organisation facilitates continuous staff developmentFor example Train the Trainer workshops, HR, funding, and financial management 
Concept AppropriatenessThe organisation has assessed individual needsFor example assessment of prior knowledge, particularly English literacy, and other needs such as childcare during training (offering educare services) 
The organisation has assessed community needsCommunity analysis required 
The organisation facilitates community participationTo ensure sense of ownership, and that the programme is responsive to community needs 
The organisation has assessed economic / labour market demands!Considering future employment opportunities 
The model is replicableConsidering possible model impact 
M & EThe organisation uses problem- oriented monitoring and evaluation to review interventionsTo detect possible implementation problems, monitor progress, and learn from mistakes and success 
The organisation monitors the budget closely and publishes audited accounts within its annual reportsLegitimating function, used as a basis for funding and accountability 
Outcome and ImpactThe organisation offers services to prepare graduates for employment search, and the application and interview processFor example CV writing, communication and presentation skills training, work ethics 
The organisation supports the employment search of graduatesFor example through a Business Resource Centre or Placement Bureau that negotiates between employers and participants 
The organisation has a high job placement rate (< 80 %)Job placement rate is the percentage of graduates that find employment 
The organisation stays in contact with graduates to assess long-term impact, ensure that they keep their jobs and support new employment search where necessaryDevelop sense of commitment already during the training 
The organisation has a high model impactThe concept is implemented in other organisations 
The organisation has a high multiplication impactInterventions have strong ripple effects in the communities they serve 


Concluding Comments

Poverty alleviation is a holistic and dynamic process consisting of many interrelated factors. Hence, there is no simple solution. A variety of educational strategies have the potential to tackle poverty across all dimensions: income, health and nutrition, basic education and social exclusion. Education alone, however, does not end poverty! It cannot be used as a panacea for lack of development policies. The success of educational interventions also depends on the overall macro-economic environment and current socio-economic policies, which give people the opportunity to utilise their skills.

Childline Learner
Source: Sabine Strassburg 

This paper introduces four case studies and puts forward several recommendations for the effective planning and implementation of educational interventions on a micro level in an attempt to benefit poor communities in South Africa. Nevertheless, these cannot be exhaustive. Therefore, it is necessary to share good practices and learn from experience. Additional comments from adult education practitioners are welcomed.

1 Akoojee, Salim & McGrath, Simon 2006. Post Basic Education and Training: Education and Poverty - Beyond the Basics. South Africa: Post Basic Education and Training for Growth , Employment and Poverty Reduction. University of Edinburgh, Centre of African Studies . Preece, Julia 2005. The Role of Education in Poverty Alleviation for Sustainable Development . University of Stirling, Scotland . Ribich, Thomas I. 1968. Education and Poverty. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution . Vally, Salim 1998. Poverty and Education in South Africa. Braamfontein: Sangoco .

2 May, Julian Ed. 2000. Poverty and inequality in South Africa: Meeting the challenge. Cape Town: David Philip; London & New York: Zed Books.

3 Hanson, Kara, Worrall, Eve, & Wiseman, Virginia 2006. Targeting services towards the poor: A review of targeting mechanisms and their effectiveness. In: Health, economic development and household poverty: from understanding to poverty. Edited by A. Mills, S. Bennett, L. Gilson. London: Routledge.

4 Khan, Mak 2003. Sustainability through participation: roles and functions for development project managers. Melbourne: Melbourne University, School of Development Studies.

5 NEPI 1993. Adult Education. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

Important notice: If you click on this link, you will leave the websites of DVV International. DVV International is not responsible for the content of third party websites that can be accessed through links. DVV International has no influence as to which personal data of yours is accessed and/or processed on those sites. For more information, please review the privacy policy of the external website provider.