Maryland Literacy Programme


12 Million illiterate people in South Africa


Twenty five years ago the Schoenstatt Sisters realised the need for an adult education centre on the Cape Flats. The legacy of poverty and neglect during the apartheid years highlighted the dire need for skills development and adult education in our local communities and further afield..

On 16 June 1976 Operation Upgrade was launched at the Maryland Centre with Myra Doveton as representative of the national body in Durban.

During 1989 Maryland became an independent literacy centre in the Western Cape. Over these years more than 2000 volunteers have been trained as facilitators. Thousands of adult learners have been reached in the Western Cape and further afield.

Learner centres were set up in church halls, community centres, private homes, hospitals
industries, prisons, factories, homes for senior citizens, informal settlements, urban and rural areas.

Presently the programme is represented in 30 centres. Each centre is locally run with logistical support from Maryland.

Our contribution towards a literate society
in South Africa

The Maryland definition of literacy is to develop the whole person by recognising and building on existing skills and developing further skills to enable adults to take their rightful place in society and have a meaningful voice to actively participate in their local communities social, political and economic issues.

Lessons focus on topical issues which affect learners and society such as, Gender, Aids, Consumer Awareness, Numeracy, Nutrition, Arts and Crafts and Community problem solving

Emphasis is placed on life skills for learners to achieve their personal hopes, dreams and aspirations. Our classes provide opportunities for people to share experiences , discuss problems and build friendships.

It is our aim to support and encourage the growth and development of all our adult learners. Our programme is learner-centred and we constantly motivate learners to reach their full potential. Learners are made aware of their rights as citizens and they are encouraged to get up, go out there and speak for themselves.

A major development was in 1996 when the Department of Education incorporated ABET in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). ABET Levels 1, 2 and 3 were introduced and learners could write recognised examinations. A number of Maryland learners wrote examinations for the first time in October 1997 (79% pass rate).


Established: 1976 under the patronage of the late Bishop Stephen Naidoo, then Archbishop of Cape Town

Founder members:

  • Sr. Marina Lawrence - Schoenstatt Sister
  • Sr. Eleanora Dittrich - Schoenstatt Sister
  • Fr. Basil van Rensburg
  • Fr. Jeffrey Johnson
  • Br. Anthony O'Doherty
  • Miss Myra Doveton
  • Late Sr. Veronica O'Nolan
  • Late Mr Gray Cooper

Present Board Members:

  • Victoria Richter
  • Prem Maslamoney
  • Mary van Leeve
  • Ellen Scholtz
  • Hope Barlow
  • Sr. M Eleanora Dittrich
  • Francois Koeberg
  • Cathy Fouten
  • Helena McKinnon
  • Samantha Small
  • Sr. Marina Lawrence
  • Vivier Nel
  • Dennis Cloete
  • Theresa Daniels
  • Peter Arnoldus
  • Verona Minnaar

Learner Representatives:

  • Jesmina Mentoor
  • Sanna Claasen
  • John Boonzaaier
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