South Africa

Project meeting with employees of The Women’s Circle (TWC) in Cape Town

Workshop during the “Adult Learning Forum”

Theatrical Performance within the project Popular Education

DVV International has been represented in South Africa since 1998 with a country office and is engaged there for a more advanced and flexible non-formal youth and adult education.

For over 20 years, South Africa has had a democratically elected government. It is counted among middle-income countries, is ranked 113 on the Human Development index of the United Nations (2018), and thus well above the African average. Since 1994, topic-building and education and training are high on the government agenda, but with an emphasis on vocational and formal school education. Along with the transformation of the political system in South Africa, education policy, including adult education, has also changed greatly. Remedial, compensatory and non-formal education, however, only have a small share in the dominant adult education concept. The economically disadvantaged and the poorly educated are rarely offered alternative learning environments which would allow them opportunities to learn and change their lives.

Main focus of work

Support for community colleges: In various peri-urban and rural communities of Cape Agulhas, DVV International uses the “Popular Education” approach in working with women and youth in order to assist them in the development of their communities. Work is done here without a curriculum. Instead, the programmes concentrate on the daily reality of the participants. They decide for themselves what issues are important to them and what they want to learn more about. The learning process is active and participatory. The participants analyse everyday situations and problems, inclusively organise new information and develop skills that enable them to change their social relationships.

Strengthening of adult education professionals: The focus is on the professional development of specialists in adult education. This happens often in cooperation with universities, whereby practitioners of youth and adult education are networked with science and research, and the professional training of multipliers is encouraged.

Dissemination of non-formal learning and educational practices: Together with a number of partners, DVV International spreads innovative and participatory practices in non-formal youth and adult education. The reference to local issues and concerns in the grassroots communities ensures their relevance to the participants.

Influencing policy-making: DVV International strengthens its partners and other stakeholders in youth and adult education in their roles as providers of decentralised adult education. Furthermore, DVV International assists them in lobbying to improve the political conditions for adult education.


Strategic partners are selected NGOs that work at the grassroots and have experience in non-formal youth and adult education. These include: the Popular Education Program (PEP), which represents a comprehensive approach to education and promotes lobbying; The Women Circle (TWC), that mobilises women in poorer parts of the cities and offers non-formal education programmes; the Adult Learning Forum (ALF) which is a network of learning centres and grassroots multipliers; the Initiative for Participatory Development (IPD), which uses non-formal adult education approaches for unemployed young people and adults and offers basic health courses, as well as the Hands On Collective (HOC), which works with youth and women activists in smaller communities with extremely precarious social conditions.

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