More than six in ten schools in Swaziland / eSwatini do not have enough teachers because of government financial cutbacks, the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) President Welcome Mhlanga said.
Hiring of teachers has been frozen and if the problems is not solved soon, some schools will ‘collapse’ he said.
Schools are also suffering because government has not paid the Free Primary Education (FPE) grant, something it is required to do under the kingdom’s constitution. It also has not paid special grants for orphaned and vulnerable (OVC) children.
The Swazi Observer reported, ‘He said the freezing of recruitments is one of the thorny issues that are troubling schools. He stated that over 60 percent of schools in the country do not have enough teachers.
‘The shortage of teachers compromises the completion of the syllabus, as well as the quality of results that the country will produce.
‘“If these challenges are not solved on time, schools will collapse,” he said.’
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) plans to march on government on Thursday (18 July 2019) to deliver a petition calling for more teachers to be hired. SNAT says that examinations are due to start in less than two months but many children have not been taught because of the shortage.
Public services across Swaziland are grinding to a halt because the government is broke. The government is not elected by the people but handpicked by King Mswati III who rules as an absolute monarch.
At the end of June 2019 public service unions said they would only work three days a week unless a long-running claim for cost-of-living wage increases was agreed.
Government needs to find E151.9 million (US$11 million) for the primary schools across the kingdom to fund FPE. There are about 650 primary schools in Swaziland. The Swazi Constitution requires that all children in the kingdom receive free primary education. For eight years until last year the European Union had paid about E140 million a year toward the cost of FPE.
Initially, the EU said it would fund FPE for all primary school pupils until 2016. After the initial period elapsed the financial support was extended until the end of 2018.
There are about 330,000 pupils at school in Swaziland, including about 240,000 at primary schools. The government pays a minimum of E560 per pupil for primary pupils.
At the end of 2018 the Ministry of Education and Training had to pay to cover the cost of sending police and prison wardens into schools while teachers were in dispute.
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