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MBABANE – While primary education is free for every child in the country, some children will not have the privilege to be in class when schools open.

This follows a decision taken by head teachers from various schools not to admit pupils who do not have Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
According to the head teachers, they had a terrible experience last year, where government withheld free primary education (FPE) funds for pupils who had no PINs. This, they said, made it very difficult for them to operate schools, hence their decision not to accept them this year.

Simangele Mthethwa, who is the Head teacher at Kholwane Primary, said there was just no way they would accept pupils without PINs because government failed to pay.


Mthethwa said there were only seven who registered in Grade I at her school between October and December last year. She said guardians who failed to produce applicants’ PINs were turned back. She said the frustration around the issue of PINs was serious and they did not want to find themselves in the same predicament.

“Government ended up refusing to pay and this frustrated the learning process, which we do not want to witness again,” Mthethwa said.
Last year, Mthethwa said, she had a total of 68 pupils who did not have PINs. She explained that one of them, who was doing Grade VII, ended up failing partly because he spent a lot of his time trying to get an ID at the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to Mthethwa, the pupil who failed missed tests and lessons due to his continuous visits to the ministry.

Mangwaneni Primary School Head teacher Jabulani Nkonyane also said they had so many challenges last year with pupils who did not have PINs. Nkonyane said since the admission of Grade I pupils began towards the end of last year, they rejected applicants who did not have birth certificates or any form of identification. He said they did this to avoid wasting the applicants’ time while also depriving the school of much needed financial resources.

Concurring with the other head teachers was Qedusizi Primary School Deputy Head teacher Nokuthula Simelane, who said they also turned back pupils without PINs and transfer cards. Simelane said they depended on the funds paid by government to run the school.

The situation in secondary and high schools is also difficult as head teachers have pointed out that they will demand pupils to pay  a certain deposit before admitting them. According to the head teachers, ever since the OVC programme started, government had not reviewed funds paid to schools. They said they were being realistic by requesting deposits upfront to run schools.

Eswatini Principals Association (ESWAPA) President Welcome Mhlanga said the issue of PINs gave them a lot of challenges last year.
Mhlanga said their wish was for government to give them a directive on whether schools should admit pupils without PINs or not.


He said it was government that processed FPE payments, hence it needed to give them a clear position on the matter.
Further, Mhlanga urged guardians to meet schools halfway and play their part as the learning institutions required funds to operate while financial resources from government were not reviewed.

He said schools were collapsing in the rural areas because of OVC admissions and FPE. However, he said what was important was that schools had their policies which ensured smooth running. He then advised that they should stick to them.

Parents, on the other hand, felt that government was failing the children of Eswatini. They said it was government’s responsibility to make sure that every birth was registered.

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