Investigating efficacy in adult learning centres: a multi-case study (Biki Lepota)

The White Paper on Post-School Education and Training acknowledges that there are shortcomings and deficiencies with the current system of Public Adult Learning Centres. Consequentially, that has necessitated the reconceptualising and renewing of South Africa’s post-school education system in order to move towards a new vision for adult learning sites as community colleges. From Umalusi’s point of view, there is a need for appropriate research to inform policy development and implementation given this context of change and renewal.  It is for that reason that Umalusi has embarked upon a study entitled Investigating efficacy in adult learning centres: a multi-case study.

In terms of its definition, institutional efficacy is understood as the capacity of the adult education centre to achieve desired results. The investigation seeks to establish the factors that contribute to the effective and efficient functioning of adult education centres in relation to: (a) governance; (b) teaching and learning; and (c) wider community and institutional relations. The study employs a multi-disciplinary approach focusing on the institutional efficacy of selected centres from a range of sectors in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape provinces. In collecting data, the research uses a range of methods, including interviews, focus groups, observations and analysis of documents available at the selected adult education centres.

While this study is based on a selection of adult learning centres in four provinces, the research is vitally important for Umalusi, for at least two reasons. First, it is expected that the results will provide useful information for the development of a theoretically sound instrument for accreditation and monitoring of adult learning sites. Second, it is expected that the findings would yield useful information to assist in improving the quality and standards of teaching at adult learning centres. In sum, the findings of the study will provide a useful reference point for the identification and elaboration of cross-cutting trends and themes regarding institutional efficacy.

Biki Lepota has been Researcher at Umalusi since January 2009. His previous positions include being the Manager at the Council on Higher Education, Publisher at Media24’s NB Publishers and Lecturer at the University of Pretoria.


For further information contact Biki Lepota at Biki.Lepota@umalusi.org.za