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NO PRIMARY EDUCATION EQUALS POVERTY

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For some odd reason when something goes wrong, everything else follows. This leads to a snowball effect such that you end up with a plethora of problems and you’re unable to solve them.

Due to this effect, some people end up depressed, some become mentally unstable, while others end up taking their own lives. However, the ones who always see the silver lining solve their problems one at a time until they come out like champions.
The same has happened to our government.


Currently the Government of Eswatini is cash strapped and that is a known fact. The situation is so dire such that government could hardly afford to pay the salaries of civil servants and meet other national commitments, including social grants.


To add salt to that already aching and bleeding wound, this week government alongside the European Union (EU) signed an agreement that would stop the EU from funding free primary education (FPE).


Yes, it is something that was indicated a long time ago but it surely came at the wrong time. No, it came at the worst time. The main question is; how will government be able to fund FPE seeing as it is already struggling maintaining what it already has on its plate? Is education still going to be a priority sector?


For those who remember well the provision of FPE happens to be in the Constitution under section 29 (6) when read together with section 60 (8).
However, from 2005 government was unable to deliver on this constitutional mandate until miners decided to take government to court in 2009 demanding that this right be adhered to. The court ruled that government should fund the entire primary school education.


Fortunately the European Union assisted with the funding and it has done so ever since until the depressing news this week. Enough about the past, it’s time to shift things to the future. First and foremost, everything comes to an end, yes everything.


Believe it or not the sun will stop shinning someday. As such, at some point the country should have considered how it was going to move forward with the funding of primary education when the EU pulled out. Now the EU has pulled out and the country is broke.


As such how do we, as a broke country, move forward? We all know that government is already finding it difficult to sustain itself with its current liabilities adding FPE to the will make it merely impossibly to do anything, not that it is not impossible as it is. So this means one thing, government will have to cut some of its expenditures to fund this.

However, with the cuts experienced this financial year, what is there to cut? So the only option could be doing away with primary education.
If government does away with FPE the people who would be most affected are not the Cabinet ministers who, for some odd reason, never considered preparing for the EU’s withdrawal.


It is also not their children who attend private schools. Instead it will be the innocent primary school pupils and their parents, some of whom could not afford to put their children through school. All of these people are not involved in government’s expenditure, as such the country being broke should not affect them.


Now let us analyze this in more detail. Over the past years FPE has been able to drive development by ensuring that primary pupils get education and develop themselves. Stopping the funding means some of the children will not get any form of education as they cannot afford the fees.


So we are back at the starting point. More importantly is the fact some of the children may have to drop out because schools cannot operate without any funding.
The children, some of whom might be the country’s next leading doctors, could easily end up as nothing; potential energy turned into kinetic energy.


The parents of the children who are already enrolled in primary education might have to start funding their children’s education. With what money, because it is a known fact that the country’s unemployment level is around 41 per cent?


This will work for those parents who will be able to have enough resources to fund their education. But for the parents who do not have the resource to fund primary education, their children will most definitely have to drop out of school.


But the truth remains here, if parents will go back to funding their children’s primary education because government cannot, it means parents will be more impoverished because they will have to cater for this expense they had not planned or could not afford.
All in all, this trickles down to one thing - poverty in the country. There will be no money for anything else.


Children will be driven further into poverty. As such, it is easy to conclude that the end of this fund will most definitely lead to poverty in the country.
It is imperative that government finds means of funding this education. And government should remain cognizant of the fact that this is the Constitutional right of children to education.


Adding to that, the children who benefitted from FPE are already in high school and some of them require funding as they come from backgrounds that might not be able to afford high school education.

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