Adults Rise Above Daily Challenges Through the Gift of Literacy

Mustadafin Foundation is helping adults in gang ridden areas in the Western Cape to rise above daily challenges through their adult literacy programme.

In communities where struggles and poverty are rife, learning to read and write later in life takes a certain amount of courage and will-power.  Originally implemented as far back as 1988, Mustadafin Foundation’s adult literacy programme has helped over 1000 illiterate adults aged from 17 to 60 years in Athlone, Crossroads, Montrose Park, Phillipi and Heinz Park to read and become more confident and independent.  

The programme, run by Mustadafin Foundation’s Literacy Coordinator, Jasmina Salie takes place every week, for up to four hours at a time at the Foundation’s centres in Delft and Sherwood Park.

“The programme starts with a six month pre-abet course, which is equivalent to Grade R to 3.  Students can then move on to abet classes which is the equivalent to Grades 4 to 6.  Thereafter, they can complete their schooling up until Matric.  The foundation phase of learning is very important, so we teach each student in their mother tongue and adapt to their unique method of learning,” explains Salie.  

The Delft programme currently has 11 adults in the class and they are showing significant progress.  One enthusiastic student mentioned that she is now able to help with her children’s administration and homework – something she could not do previously.

“It is wonderful to see the change this programme has had in these adults’ lives.  We cover reading subjects and also discuss daily struggles in class, from domestic violence, drug abuse and HIV.  The class becomes a support group where they give and receive advice to handle the challenges they face each day.  As a result they have developed confidence through learning but also know that they are not alone in their trials.” reflects Salie.

At the Sherwood Park centre in Manenburg, the learners are a little older and struggle with concentration, making the learning process longer.  “The area is afflicted by gang violence leaving people in a constant state of shock and trauma, however shootings and drugs in the community haven’t deterred them from learning and pursuing their goals,” says Salie.

Many of the women in the class have sons and family involved in gangs.  One woman in the programme has already made progress with her son by building up her confidence and setting an example for him.

“It is so refreshing to see how the literacy programme has helped these people.  One gentleman in the group is very pro-active in seeking out his education and wants to be a librarian one day.  He is pursuing his goals and wants to help the youth do the same,” mentions Salie.

After the students complete the programme, Mustadafin Foundation helps them further by assisting with job opportunities.

“I always say to my students that if you are committed, change will come – and that’s exactly what they are proving,” concludes Salie.  

Ghairunisa Johnstone, Founder of Mustadafin Foundation has put out an appeal to Capetonians for assistance, “There is a very high demand for this programme and without the residents’ help we won’t be able to continue with this much needed programme.  If you are able to help, please make contact with us.”

If you able to help out with funding or if you would like to find out more information, contact Mustadafin Foundation on 021 633 0010 or visit  Join their Facebook page at