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MBABANE – Scrap top-up fees! Despite a call to have additional educational fees popularly known as ‘top-ups’ in the past, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) now seems to be going against its previous notion.

Zwelithini Mndzebele, Secretary of SNAT, dismissed the new quest by the Ministry of Education and Training to re-introduce the fees. He said there was no need for top-up fees at primary school level given that this was a human right enshrined in the Constitution of the land.

“Government has the obligation to offer Free Primary Education (FPE) with no option of top-ups as that affects parents,” he said.
The unionist implored government to increase the FPE grant instead of seeking an ‘easy way out’. He further said this was the same case with secondary or high schools.

He noted that there was a commission set to view the issue of top-up fees in schools and it had offered recommendations. The educator said it would be best if government revisited those recommendations.

The task team, in its recommendations, had noted that top-up fees in schools were the reason many Swazi pupils attended schools in South Africa. The task team compiled the report on the issue of top-up fees in fulfilment of the dictates of legal notice No. 125 of 2014. This, according to concerns raised by head teachers and school committees, depreciated the quality of education as the funds were insufficient to run schools.

The task team discovered that the FPE and orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) funds were paid per child, which caused challenges as schools were not uniform in their set-up. They require diverse operational costs.

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