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MBABANE – A good start to the academic calendar year will only be a fairy tale for almost half of primary schools in the country as operations will be hard.
This is because the Ministry of Education and Training will not be paying the Free Primary Education (FPE) anytime soon.

The ministry has made it clear that they would not be paying schools which have not provided Personal Identification Numbers (PINS) for pupils.
Acting Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Dr Sibongile Mtshali said in order to avoid audit queries, they had to pay against a PIN, not a name of a pupil.
Mntshali said names could be similar and this would often result in mistakes when payments were made.

The country has about 650 primary schools and the only region that has everything in order is Hhohho.
There were about 301 schools in the Lubombo, Shiselweni and Manzini regions that still have to attend to pupils’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) prior to government releasing the FPE grant.  These children do not have birth certificates and need to register before a PIN is issued.

Deputy Regional Education Officer (REO) in the Manzini region, Nhlanhla Dlamini said they have been working on addressing the challenge with head teachers. Dlamini said the last time they had correspondence with the acting PS, there were 103 schools which needed to fix PINs. He said the numbers were drastically being reduced as the REO and head teachers were addressing the matter.
According to Dlamini, the process of fixing PINs for those pupils who did not have, has already started.

Shiselweni REO Thabile Nxumalo said there were only three schools in her region which will be paid, while 137 others needed to put their houses in order.
Nxumalo said since last week they had been trying to rectify the PIN issue, working with the various head teachers.
Lubombo REO Musa Mthupha said there were 61 schools in his region which have been affected.

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