I am 58 years old and have been working full time since I matriculated at 16 years, studying mostly part-time or by correspondence. I have studied politics (M.A.) Library Science (diploma) and adult workplace learning (certificate).
I am an autodidact and have a lasting love, respect and allegiance for informal learning spaces, individual and group, specifically public libraries (and more recently, online resources) and the learning which occurs in social, cultural and workplace associations. I worked as a public librarian for the first decade and a half of my working life. I developed an internal training programme for rural and urban librarians, ran a youth drama group and half way through my tenure as a municipal librarian became the trade union representative for the amenities and cemeteries sector of the municipal union, which initiated my lifelong commitment for service to the labour movement. I began working at the Trade Union Library in 1990, and spent the next 20 years doing information provision, research and education for trade unions and developing programmes, projects and publications for what is now the Labour Research Service.
I joined the IFWEA Executive Committee in 1996, served as African regional co-ordinator and then Vice President and was elected General Secretary of IFWEA at the 20th General Conference held in Ahmedabad, India in 2007. I stood again for election as General Secretary in 2011 at the 21st General Conference in Cape Town.
When I first stood for the position of General Secretary, I was convinced that despite problems of finance, a mostly dormant affiliate body, a depressing trend of fees defaulting and lack of a participatory strategic direction, IFWEA was a unique organisation worth putting effort into turning around from its potential demise. With the financial and moral support and encouragement of the most active organisations through the IFWEA executive committee, and the enthusiastic response of many affiliates, IFWEA has been stabilised and now has an active programme and a functioning, self-sustaining Secretariat.
I am standing for another term because I feel that although progress has been made, my task is not yet over. Now that we have a small but steady core of active affiliates to stabilise organisation and a small but active secretariat staff to guarantee sustainable functionality, I would like to devote my attention to the next phase, viz. organisational growth, both in numbers and greater affiliate involvement in programme activities. I would also like to develop a greater global profile for IFWEA.
I know that the environment is not easy and that many labour education organisations are struggling to find resources to continue their existence. The Secretariat faces resource challenges as well. However, I believe there is strength through adversity, and my intention is to bring in those organisations which are resilient and know how to change and to function in a tough environment. Those organisations which want to contribute and are eager to collaborate in order to maximise our collective impact and potential. I also want to encourage and inspire the incoming executive committee to look out for and bring in a new layer of young educators who are eager for active participation and global leadership of IFWEA in the future.