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MBABANE – Some schools have ‘suspended’ the services of their support staff due to non-availability of free primary education (FPE) grants.

Phumelele Zulu of the Swaziland Union in Learning and Allied Institutions (SULAI) said a number of their members reported to the union that they had been coerced to suspend rendering their services.

This, she said, was due to the unavailability of FPE grants in some schools –as they were (grants) the only funding they received.
The failure to award some of the 21 schools funding happens at the backdrop of government having already drawn E1.4 billion from the reserves to pay salaries.

Since the adoption of the FPE programme, government has been the sole funder of primary schools as parents do not have to pay a cent for the education of their children.

Zulu said some of the primary schools that had been reported to SULAI for requesting that their support staff take a sabbatical leave until there was funding were Ekuthuleni Primary School in Bhunya under the Manzini Region, and Bhunya Primary School.
Zulu further said the 21 schools reported by the Swaziland Association of School Administrators (SASA) to have not received funding were the most affected when it came to the remuneration of support staff.

SASA is under the umbrella of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and its membership consists of head teachers and deputy head teachers.

Yesterday, this publication reported that since the schools opened on January 24, 2019, government had not funded 21 schools with the FPE grants. This was established by SASA following a social media survey where members of the organisation stated schools that had not received the grants.
 Currently, government pays about E560 per pupil enrolled under the FPE programme.

Following the publication of the schools, Zulu said, most of these schools had not remunerated their support staff. She implored government to take the issue seriously as it affected the well-being of those who were entrusted with catering for the nutrition, hygiene and security of pupils. The unionist rhetorically asked how government could fail to abide by labour laws while it was the very institution that had to take people to account for failure to do same.

She further painted a gloomy picture on the welfare of the support staff as she relayed that some of them had been locked-out by their landlords due to being on arrears with their rent.
“Some of our members were last paid in October and now it’s March. Imagine the frustration they are going through; even if one has an understanding landlord, this is too much a burden for them as well,” Zulu said.

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