Home > Calendar > 20 October 2020: New Book - Workers’ Education in the Global South: Radical Adult Education at the Crossroads

Book Launch: 20 October 2020

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 923 4399 1584: Passcode: 486072

Author Biography: Linda Cooper

Linda Cooper is Emerita Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Cape Town. Her teaching and research have centred around the theory and practice of Workers’ Education and the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).  Recent publications include  (with S. Hamilton) Renewing Workers’ Education: A Radical Vision (HSRC Press). She sits on the Western Cape Advisory Committee of the trade union education institute, DITSELA, and on the International Committee of the Researching Work and Learning Conference.

Book Abstract

Workers’ Education in the Global South explores the historical development of radical workers’ education in South Africa as one particular strand within the broader tradition of radical adult education. Drawing on the theoretical resources of Activity Theory, Gramsci, Freire and others, it investigates the key features of workers’ education as a form of pedagogy with a unique history and logic of practice, and explores how it has been shaped by its location within labour and other social movements as well as its ‘southern’ location within the global political economy. Successive chapters explore its counter hegemonic but contested purposes, its knowledge practices that seek to overcome the historical divide between intellectual and manual labour, and a pedagogy which often assumes didactic forms, but which retains a democratic character through its embeddedness in working class experience. It illustrates the rich processes of experiential learning that happen through day-to-day organising, in workers’ cultural activity as well as through mass action. It argues that this tradition of workers’ education currently stands at a crossroads, as global neoliberal market policies and post-apartheid education and training policies threaten to undermine its radical social vision and concludes by offering ideas on how this tradition of radical workers’ education might be renewed.


Linda Chisholm is a Research Professor in the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation of the University of Johannesburg


Dinga Sikwebu is a researcher for special projects based at the head office of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in Johannesburg. For close to 20-years, he headed the union’s education department and was responsible for political education and internal training in the organisation. In 2016, the union seconded him for three years to Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education where he was a co-director for programmes.

Elana Michelson is a Professor Emerita at the State University of New York. Her writing focuses on theories of experience and knowledge, feminist and critical race theory, and the relationship of knowledge claims to systems of marginalization.  From 1995-2010, she worked with South African universities, trade unions, and NGOs to promote the valuing of workers’ knowledge through the Recognition of Prior Learning.

Enver Motala is an Associate of the Chair for Community, Adult and Worker Education at the University of Johannesburg and of CIPSET at NMU.  He has worked in the field of education for many years. 

For more details, please contact:

Leigh-Ann Naidoo

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