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The country is facing a possible education crisis brought about mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic and partly due to political challenges which have taken our children away from their classrooms for many months.  

Hope of salvaging the little time left of this academic year was rekindled when schools reopened recently, but this was short-lived when the Ministry of Education and Training announced the closure of schools two weeks later. The pupils have been away from class for about three months and 20 days of learning for external grades, according to teachers. Under normal circumstances, they should have attended about 197 days, which is seven months and 13 days. For the other grades, it is worse. They have missed approximately 10 months of learning.

However, there are teachers who have realised that this generation of children cannot afford any more disruptions and availed themselves to continue with classes this week. Kudos to them! These are teachers who fully comprehend that the right to go to school and learn is central to every child’s development and well-being. Yes, the country was and still is experiencing challenges, but these should not be allowed to jeopardise the academic future of pupils.


The cost of school closures on their learning, health and well-being has been devastating. The repercussions for every child, their families, their communities and the country will be felt for years to come. Many children will never catch up. While some pupils were able to access remote learning during school closures, many of them struggled due to a lack of support; the kind of support demonstrated by the teachers who have now availed themselves despite schools being officially closed. They are further committed to ensuring that all health regulations meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are observed. The relevant stakeholders are urged to prioritise the undisturbed process of learning in a safe and healthy environment as opposed to scoring political points at the detriment of innocent souls.

We are aware of the backlash and threats that these dedicated teachers and school heads have received for their good deed. Everyone is entitled to their views and opinions, but the debate should be engaged outside of schools while our teachers concentrate on how best to educate our children in times of crisis. We have already witnessed how the school lay-offs can diminish a child’s prospects of proper education and career opportunities through drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and crime.The school closures have also increased the vulnerability of those who are less likely to receive the support and extra services they need, rendering the gap between pupils who experience additional barriers and those who do not, a whole lot wider. This is not the Eswatini we want.


Education stakeholders should see the current situation not only as highly challenging, but also as an opportunity to place a stronger focus on reducing existing educational gaps by implementing initiatives to foster equity and inclusion for vulnerable pupil groups who might be the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and political challenges faced by the country. So let’s commend and support those who have begun this process; not condemn them. For its part, the Ministry of Education and Training should see to it that these dedicated teachers are not frustrated by the failure to provide the necessary funding and the requisite teachers to make their effort worthwhile for all.

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