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SANU REVEALS STRATEGY TO FIGHT HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

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MANZINI - SANU has revealed its strategy to contribute in the fight against the high rate of unemployment in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

It is worth noting that according to statistics which were released by government, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, unemployment rate have increased from 33.3 per cent to 34.5 per cent. Therefore, SANU Vice Chancellor Faith Mlotsa said as a university, they were mindful of the current un-employability and job creation, a challenge that confronts their graduates. As one of their responses to minimise the effects of this position, the vice chancellor said they have incorporated an entrepreneurship module as an attempt to inculcate an entrepreneurship mind-set as well as capacitation with minimal business development skills.

Furthermore, she said their Business Management and Entrepreneurship students run an annual Business Entrepreneurship Day, where the youth is capacitated on business start-ups and industry personnel and also showcase their financial services, especially for the youth.

She said attendance at this event encompasses both high school-going pupils and tertiary students. She extended their gratitude to the First National Bank and Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation for their financial support of these events. On another note, she said in 2023 SANU held an institutional review of programmes, which was conducted by the higher education regulatory body, Eswatini Higher Education Council.

Pride

Through this exercise, she said, they take pride in rolling out two new long-awaited programmes, a Bachelor of Education in French and a Degree in Pharmacy, which also incorporates an Entrepreneurship module in the course structure. She also highlighted that as an ongoing exercise, they look forward to the rollout of several other programmes once they were approved.

The vice chancellor said they have noted the continual financial shortcomings like all other sectors and they were cognisant of the changing financial landscape in their sector. She said they also noted the dwindling numbers in their enrolment, which was mainly caused by minimal sponsorship and capping of enrolment in some programmes.

Therefore, she said currently they were engaging in developing a turnaround strategy, one that would address the current educational and financial landscape, as well as strengthen their research output as an institution of higher learning. She said they had already embarked on cost-containment and income-generation strategies. Motsa said as they undertook this drive, they plead with industries to partner with them through collaborations in some ventures. She mentioned that some of the responses in this regard were positive.

“We recently received confirmation of a sponsorship of USD80 000 (about E1.5 million) by one of the Nazarene churches in the United States of America (USA) to repurpose one of their facilities at the Faculty of Education to a Learning Hub, which would service the two faculties at the Manzini campus,” the vice chancellor said. This, she said, included the installation laptops for a computer laboratory and the construction of a student experience centre. She said construction works will commence in June 2024.

Renovated

At their Siteki campus, she said the student hostels had been renovated through the generous sponsorship of another church in the USA and four whiteboards were installed in four lecture rooms through the donation of one of the local Nazarene churches. On top of that, she said SANU was joining hands with other organisations and institutions through exchange programmes. She said they received a team of lecturers and students from Turku University in Finland, who visited them on an exchange programme on capacitation in Mental Health.

She said their team of lecturers and students also returned the visit in November 2023. Motsa added that a report on this programme indicates potential benefits for the country in addressing mental health challenges that have become prevalent even in their institutions. She said they were hopeful that the experience gathered would assist in generating substantial evidence of the need to provide differentiated centres for mental health assistance.

Exchange

The vice chancellor added that they have yet another exchange programme with a University in Greece, which should commence in May 2024. She said its purpose was to develop a Sports Science programme. “We believe capacitating our youth with relevant skills in the field of sports can contribute to their livelihood and the economy of the country,” she said. Moreover, the vice chancellor said they were grateful to government for the continued assistance with funds for students and subvention.

She also appreciated various stakeholders, who have contributed to making it possible for their graduates to reach this milestone. She said some sectors have contributed through the academic empowerment of staff to ensure relevance and alignment with the fourth industrial revolution, while others provided funding for graduates to pursue their studies.

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