KeywordsLiteracy programs - South Africa.
Functional literacy - South Africa.
Sociolinguistics - South Africa.
Women - Education - South Africa
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A large percentage of the South African population has had little or no formal education, many of whom are black women. It is increasingly important to be literate in urban and peri-urban areas. Although there are opportunities for literacy education, not many people attend literacy programmes. One of the reasons for this phenomenon might be the fact that illiteracy affects adult literacy learners' learning, their motivation to enter literacy programmes and to persist in the learning process. Illiterate people do, however, devise strategies that enable them to function effectively, even in highly literate surroundings. Against the background of the preceding statement, the following problem is addressed in this study: How do four female adult literacy learners in a peri-urban area of Gauteng experience being illiterate and how do they cope with their illiteracy in a literate society? The aim of this study is twofold: In the first place to describe how women experience being illiterate, and secondly to give a description of the ways in which illiterate women adapt in a literate environment.