The government has neglected the constitutional right of adults to basic education over the last decade. This paper examines the bases for holding the government to account in the constitutional court for its performance. It examines the effectiveness of government responses to adult illiteracy since 1994, drawing on a range of policy documents, statistics, scholarly reviews and other data. It outlines two lines of argument which might be pursued against the government: its underspending on adult basic education, and its failure to cater for adults for whom the formal ABET system is not accessible. On a constructive note, it calls for a comprehensive approach to the challenges of adult basic education, outlining key principles that might inform such an approach as well as alternative models of provision.