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I have been following the issue of upgrading of our colleges to university status.

In 2009 and 2010, we learned with appreciation that our colleges were going to be transferred to the University of Swaziland to enable them to offer degree programmes when the King made a pronouncement during the University of Swaziland Graduation ceremony. During the era of the then Minister of Education, Mr Ntshangase, a lot was said about the transfer of the colleges to the university. When the current Minister of Education took over, he continued with the same song until 2015. At the beginning of 2014, he is on record to have said the colleges were to be incorporated to the University of Swaziland and start offering degree programmes by the beginning of the 2014/2015 academic year. We appreciated that since we realised that more school leavers were going to enrol for degree programmes which they cannot get from the colleges at the moment. The schools leavers opt for diploma programmes even if they qualify for a degree programme. Just because they do not get space at the University of Swaziland, they then enrol for the diploma programmes.

Upgrading of the colleges was going to alleviate the current problem of limited space for degree programmes. However, in 2015, we heard the minister saying a decision had been taken to allow the colleges to transform to universities on their own. If I am not mistaken, the targeted year was 2017. We, however, wondered if the King’s pronouncement was changed which he addressed the nation during the graduation ceremony at the University of Swaziland. Perhaps, Cabinet can explain the change. Our culture teaches us that once the King pronounces something no one can change it; ungumlomo longacali manga. As to what happened with this one, we don’t know. These days we are reading a lot about the Swaziland Christian University. When one considers the issue of SCU and what has been reported in the newspapers, especially the Swazi News edition of November 4, 2017, the reason for cancelling the upgrading of colleges is now clear. Seemingly, the cancellation of the upgrades was to pave a way for the incorporation of SCU to UNISWA.

If the transfer of the colleges to the university was expensive, how much is the transfer the SCU going to cost government? We have been made to understand that the equipment needed for the training of the medical doctors is very expensive. Is government prepared to shoulder the expenses of transferring SCU to UNISWA compared to the colleges? The current Minister of Education is known to have played a major role in the establishment of SCU. Before he was elected to be a Member of Parliament for his constituency and later appointed into Cabinet, he was a member of the Board responsible for establishing SCU. Does it mean that the minister wants to make sure before his term of office comes to an end SCU is part of UNISWA at the expense and disregard of the King’s pronouncement concerning colleges?

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