Home | Letters | EDUCATION OFFERED IN ESWATINI: EPA DIALOGUE

EDUCATION OFFERED IN ESWATINI: EPA DIALOGUE

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Sir,

The report in the Eswatini News of November 6, 2021, on the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) Gala Dinner, was refreshing news, especially in these times of predominantly disheartening news. The open mindedness of the EPA and its leadership, is inviting discussion from outside stakeholders on the education offered in the country, which is encouraging. The theme of the gala dinner says it all: ‘Re-thinking education in Eswatini-sustainable educational programmes for improved socio- economic standards’.

This mature attitude/world view by the EPA membership leads to ‘win-win’ scenarios, where all efforts are synergistic, building up on each other, with minimal loss of effort. The announcement by the Minister of Education and Training, Lady Howard Mabuza, that ‘O’ Level will now be taught over four years was the cherry on top.

Record

I am on record in the public arena, from the mid 90s, advocating for this, as ‘O’ Level was meant as a four-year programme for high school learners. Unfortunately in Eswatini, this was disturbed by the Junior Certificate (JC) curriculum, for three years in secondary school, leaving only two years after that to the examinations. Performance by learners will improve as now the entire four years will be solely for the ‘O’ Level programme. The usefulness of the Grade VII Eswatini Primary Certificate examination, and the Junior Certificate examination, have long exceeded their ‘sale by date.’ The JC qualification has fallen from the mighty perch it used to enjoy, as a sought after qualification in yesteryears. If it is true that ‘O’ Level, as a qualification, was originally meant for the top 20 per cent of learners entering secondary school, then a lot of heartache and wasted effort can be averted by not channeling children who cannot make it well in ‘O’ Level into the programme.

Initiatives

All the initiatives of the ministry in coming up with alternative programmes are appreciated, as they are meant to improve the welfare of our youth and secure their future, but a balance is needed with vocational studies. Pre-vocational training studies in schools have been piloted for long enough; they now need to be rolled out as the finished product. The whole idea of vocational training in schools must be to produce learners who, at the end of their time in high school, will be able to enter the workforce as competent workers, short of only a suitable apprenticeship period.  Entrepreneurial skills need to be added to all the vocational studies so that young people can start their own businesses, if so inclined. The range of vocational skills to be offered needs to be broadened, from typing, secretarial services, bookkeeping, basic accounts, reception work, carpentry, welding, fitter and turner, house wiring, horticulture, small animal husbandry, aquaculture, the list is endless.

Capable

Young people are capable of leading independent lives of fully supporting themselves in careers according to their natural abilities and talents. There is absolutely no need for every young person to go via college to make a living. Let that be for those academically inclined, still in need of more theoretical training after the school years, and those with vocational training requiring to further equip themselves, or specialise in their areas. As societies and communities, we accept that young people can be leaders and fully competent in many areas and sectors, eg in the arts, army, police, sports, yet when it comes to education, we still call them children, needing to be led by the hand at tertiary institutions. To fully ‘rethink education,’ we need, as a society, to accept that a young person, after 11 years of schooling, is capable of an independent life, including establishing a family and leading it.

Mindset

Our mindset as emaSwati, that a 27-year-old mangenerally, ‘is still too young to be married,’ yet he is busy siring children in his parent’s home, for their account!
Besides these vocational skills for independent living, that young people need, is that our municipalities carry out their mandate of providing entry level housing for young people. These measures alone would greatly boost the economy of Eswatini. As emaSwati, in all spheres of life, we need to grasp the importance of ‘baton passing’, so that our society develops, going from strength to strength. Education and training are very important commodities, but do not add value if layers are added without increasing capacity for the tasks intended.  

There is nothing mediocre in having competently trained and skilled people working in their chosen careers, producing excellent work, even if they do not boast of degrees. The trend that has led to all cadres having tertiary qualifications, even where they are not needed for their tasks, has burdened society in its duty to provide a competent and diverse labor force.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:

: Budget
Should government include civil society in its yearly budget planing process?