top of page

Phambile Nolwazi

Crossroads is a big shanty town in Cape Town. In the evenings, when it is warm, you will see many people going to Noxolo school. You will ask yourself, what do these grown up people want at Noxolo in the evening.

These people are going to classes. They are going to learn — some people are learning to read and write in Xhosa and others are learning English. The Adult Learning Project, or ALP as everyone calls it, runs these classes.


ALP started in Crossroads some years ago. ALP has seen good times and bad times in Crossroads. Some­times people did not come — especially in winter when there was too much rain and mud. On some nights there were 5 teachers and only two learners, sitting together round the hissing gas lamp.

Today things are very different. ALP teaches people all over Cape Town. They teach people from Langa, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Hout Bay, even Macassar. They teach people from trade unions and other organi­sations.


ALP is different from other schools. The learners don’t just learn. They help to run the school too. There is a committee for the learners. The committee meets often to talk about the school.

If learners have problems, they tell the people on the committee. Then the committee tells the teachers. So the learners can teach the teachers. Every year there is a big meeting where the learners choose a new committee.


This year Mr Makhenke Mahlombi spoke at the big meeting. Mr Mahlombi has been with ALP longer than anyone. “When I first joined ALP I did not know which way to hold a paper, said Mr Mahlombi, “But ALP helped me.

“I am not a child, I am an adult. My father has already taught me manners. So, I want my school to treat me like an adult. I like ALP because the teachers listen. When I said I want to learn about South Africa and not just read and write, they listened. Now I can tell other people about South Africa.


In this school the learners say what they want. We tell the teachers what we want to learn. If learners see a teacher making a mistake, they must tell him or her.

“Our school is a school for poor people, not rich people. We must know of the problems of the school. We must fight to keep our school alive.

“ALP taught me how to read and write. They also taught me about my country. ALP also taught me to listen to people below me, even children. I learnt about unions and how unions help. I want to thank ALP for all I learnt.”


Other people who learn with ALP agree. Mr Lucas Magazi lives in a hostel in Gugulethu. He said this about ALP:

“This school is number one. We really learn well. Sometimes I speak to other workers in the hostel who go to the government night school. I look at their books. I ask them, tell me about this and that. Then they can’t tell me, they don’t know. Really ALP is number one.”


Another learner, Khupiso, says this, “I want to tell the teachers to be strong and patient. It is difficult to teach grown people.

“Sometimes you have problems at home so you do not listen at school.

Maybe you get a letter from your wife and she tells you that she has no money. The letter works on your brain. But you go to school.

“At school you don’t listen because you are thinking of your family at home. The teacher asks you why you don’t know anything. Then the teacher must understand that you have problems at home.

“Some people do not care for school, other people are too tired to come to school after work. We must fight all these things so that people can come and help themselves.”

” I am very happy with the teachers of ALP. Today I can write my name and read and count.”


Mr Twoboy Lupuwana talks about ALP’s big problem, “We might think that we are many. But there are only forty or fifty learners in ALP. Outside there are thousands. But they do not come to our school. We must try to bring more people to our school. ALP must be strong.”


Annie Mentor also learns with ALP. She said, “The school is like umgqushu ,all mixed up, the beans and the samp together. We are like that, Africans, and coloureds and whites, all together.”

ALP’s saying is “Phambili Nolwazi”. If everyone loves ALP as much as these learners, then we know that they will meet their goal — people in Cape Town will go forward with knowledge.


If you would like to print or save this article as a PDF, press ctrl + p on your keyboard (cmd + p on mac).

bottom of page