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Free Education

Primary Education in Swaziland begins at the age six and under normal progression it is a seven years programme that ends with external examination [Swaziland Primary Certificate-SPC] in Grade seven. This is a national assessment and is compulsory for every child to sit for it in order to qualify to enroll for a secondary school education. All school going age children should access primary education with or without barriers. However, access to formal education is handicapped by several barriers such as poverty, hunger, and poor progression of children in the system. The Ministry has noted a high repetition and dropout rate in the school system with low enrolments because children could not afford to pay for their school fees and buy learning materials while their homes have  no food to feed them before and after school. The situation is mainly eroding away the Ministry’s Mission statement which  demanded for the ‘provision of  relevant, quality and affordable education and training opportunities for the entire populace of the kingdom of Swaziland in order to develop all positive aspects of life for self reliance, social and economic development and global competitiveness’. The Ministry’s core mandate is the provision and attainment of quality, inclusive and affordable education opportunities for all pupils of school going age including the out of school children.


In response to the above mandate the Ministry has implemented Free Primary Education {FPE} in grade 1 and 2 in 2010 and will roll out the programme to Grade 3 in 2011 and a grade per year until  the whole primary grades receive FPE by 2015.

Regional and International Commitments on Free Primary Education
In ensuring that Swaziland’s FPE Programme and activities are in line with Regional and International agreements, the Ministry of Education and Training is guided by the following:

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the child.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities [2006].
  • Jomtein Declaration on Education For All [1990].
  • The Dakar Commitment [2000].
  • The six EFA Goals that country committed themselves to achieve by 2015 [goal 2].
  • Millennium Development Goals {MDGs} which compels Swaziland to achieve universal access to Primary school Education by 2015. This is viewed as a vehicle towards Poverty Reduction
  • The SADC PROTOCOL ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING that state clearly those countries should provide at least nine years of Free and Compulsory Education.
  • Swaziland is also guided by the Following National Policies and Legal Framework:
  • The National Constitution which clearly states the Provision of Free Primary Education, starting with the first grade- 3 years after the adoption of the Constitution should be implemented {Section 29 [6]}. Free Primary Education was implemented four years later in 2010 in Grade 1 and 2 to cover up the lost year.
  • Free Primary Education gazette is also in place.
  • Free Primary Education Regulations document is in process of finalization.
  • The National Development Strategy (NDS): talks about Basic Education as a means towards Economic  Empowerment and Human  Development
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Program me (PRSAP): says the Provision of Basic Education is viewed as a means of overcoming poverty and social exclusion similarly, the Education and Training Sector Study identified gaps in the entire Education System which compelled Government through the Ministry of Education and Training to remove the barriers and increase access to primary education for all school- going age children to the extent possible by implementing Free Primary Education in Public schools grade 1 and 2 as per the National Constitution –section 26[6] of 2005. However the Ministry had long attempted to remove the barriers by implementing the following initiatives.


INCREASING ACCESS IN BASIC EDUCATION

Provision of Bursary Scheme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in 2003 after the Ministry has noted that poverty, hunger and severe draught particularly in the lowveld that indicated a very high dropout of children from schools leaving very few pupils[decrease ]in school enrolments]. Free Text books and workbooks for all Primary school children was implemented since 2003. These included brailled text books for the visually impaired after the Ministry noted that providing OVC bursary without learning materials did not have a positive impact. Pupils could not afford to buy Exercise books and stationery hence would drop out of school. Free Exercise books and Stationery including brailled for visually impaired materials for all children in public primary school were provided since 2006. The European Union {EU} assisted Government by introducing Capitation Grant Scheme for Primary schools. The objective was increase access and retention of OVC in schools and to improve the quality of Education. {E100.00 for each pupil plus E225.00 per OVC while able parents paid the full amount of school fees}. The school fund\income became adequate for the improvement of the learning facilities. The provision of the above mentioned items resulted in a considerable increase in enrolments from 203 000 to 245 000 [approx].

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION-2010

Free Primary Education has been viewed as a consolidated program me aimed at creating a conducive environment characterized by minimum barriers to access quality Primary education. The objective of FPE is to address the following barriers: distance from school [physical], school fees [financial], socio- cultural, eradicate illiteracy, alleviate poverty, eliminate all forms of disparities and inequalities, and provide basic skills and knowledge.

ELEMENTS THAT CONSTITUTES FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION {FPE}
The objectives can not be achieved without the following elements which constitute Free Primary Education:-
Provision of relevantly qualified teachers

  • Provision of conducive Infrastructures like classrooms and special teaching rooms, teachers houses.
  • Provision of Teaching and learning materials like Textbooks, workbooks, Exercise books and Stationery.
  • School grants [school fees] to cover school operational costs such as school fees, school feeding and run administrative duties.


FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION REGULATORY FRAME WORK [Road Map]

The Ministry of Education and Training established a bill [gazette] that would be a road Map for the implementation of FPE. A Gazette that provides conditions on how and when non Swazi children can be admitted and who determines the fees they should pay.

The Ministry  has  put in place some strategies  towards attaining Free Primary and these are:
Extending Primary school entry age from 6 to 9years for grade one; 7 to 11 for grade two. This has been  done to accommodate all out of school children who were above six but not above 11 years old. Sebenta Non- Formal Upper Primary Education {NUPE} has been expanded for children above ten years who seek admission into Grade one. Sebenta is using existing primary school facilities for the NUPE classes while rural Education Centres {RECs} will also be used as Satellites for the program me. In places where the influx will be very high like in urban\ peri-urban schools the shift system will used.

School Infrastructure

Some schools in urban and peri-urban areas have been expanded funded by the European Union (EU) Additional classrooms have constructed through Micro Project and SET Project. 78 Additional Mobile classrooms were allocated and delivered to schools with influx children such Kwaluseni Primary, Phocweni. However some schools were not accessible and had to be allocated permanent structures.


Mobile Teachers Houses
One Hundred and Ninety mobile teachers houses were allocated and distributed to very needy schools. However some were not accessible hence their houses had to be re-allocated to other schools.


Teaching and Learning materials
Free Stationery and Exercise books were distributed to schools in January 2010 before schools while a ten [10%] buffer stock was reserved for supplementary orders. Additional Teachers for FPE. Additional 220 Teachers Posts for FPE were provided by Government. Teachers were posted to schools immediately after identifying the schools. Teachers were also re-diploid from schools with low enrolment to schools with high enrollment.


POST GRADUATE
PGCE and Humanities graduates have been deployed at primary school level in addition to contract teachers who under IDE training.


COLLEGES INTAKE
Expansion of in-take at Nazarene, Ngwane colleges and re-introduced PTD at William Pitcher College.


MANAGEMENT OF THE FPE IN GENERAL
Head teachers are responsible for the day to day management of the entire School and were trained by INSET. The school committee constitution being reviewed to strengthen the roll of the school committees.The Ministry will soon be introducing the positions for Deputy Regional Education Officers to strengthen education management at Regional level. A comprehensive Audit Inspection is being carried out by the newly established Audit Department.


SCHOOL LEVEL OPERATION OF FPE
All teaching and learning materials are supplied before schools open for the New Year.Schools [staff\head and committee] to develop a detailed School Development Plan {SDP} on expenditure, income\budget and projected projects. Ministry to pay per capita grants direct to school account [Electronic Disbursement]. Schools to adhere to their SDP and report expenditure in accordance to budget plan. Schools to submit enrolments in the first week of opening.


SCHOOL INSPECTION
Government has increased the number of regional inspectorate by 13. Ministry awaiting for 9 more new inspectors to be appointed by the appointing Commission. There will be Deputy Regional Education Officer in all four regions to assist the Regional Education officer.
School Inspection is mainly for Monitoring Purposes as they check teaching and learning impact. Check school enrolments, payments and usage of funds as well as support schools through school Administration.

Free Primary Education Unit within the MOET
To compile & interpreted data in collaboration with EMIS to determine school needs.
Carry out Procurement of teaching and learning materials to schools.
Disbursement of teaching and learning materials to schools.
The unit will also calculate and disburse per capita grants to schools on time.
Monitor the usage in collaboration with inspectorate.
To evaluate the implementation of FPE


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING POLICIES TO SUPPORT FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION [FPE]
Free Primary Education policy\gazette to guide the operations of FPE at school level which also include admissions.
Assessment Framework Policy to provide guidance on assessment & progression\ Repetition of children should be in place.
Procurement and Management of Text books and Exercise at school level should be in place. The School Feeding policy to guide schools and pother supporting agencies on school feeding.

THE ROLE OF PARENTS AND COMMUNITIES IN FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION [FPE]

Government demands parents and communities to play an active role in the provision of schools infrastructure for their children. Parents through the school committee are involved in Planning, budgeting and school expenditure.
Parents through the school committee approve the schools financial report at the end of the year. Parents are expected to provide school uniform for their children. This will harmonize the children s’ attire.
Parents and communities should monitor school daily attendance of their children.


CHALLENGES


  • SHORTAGE OF TRANSPORT IN REO.
  • LACK OF COMPUTERS FOR WRITING REPORTS.
  • SHORTAGE OF OFFICES IN REGIONAL EDUCATION OFFICES.
  • SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS HOUSES.
  • SHORTAGE OF INSPECTORS HOUSES.
  • SHORTAGE OF FURNITURE IN GENERAL.
  • MASS MOVEMENT OF PUPILS FROM ONE SCHOOL TO ANOTHER.
  • DELAY IN THE PAYMENT OF GRANT



IMPLEMENTATION FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION ROLL OUT PLAN IN GRADE THREE [3] FOR 2011

The Ministry of Education and Training has successfully implemented Free Primary Education in all Grade 1 and 2 public schools with effect from January 2010. The introduction of Free Primary Education will assume a staggered approach rolling it out to grade 3 in 2011, grade 4 in 2012 and so on in subsequent years until the whole primary school cycle is covered in year 2015.


One of the major objectives of Free Primary Education is to remove barriers and increase access to primary school education for all school –going age children to the extent possible. Indeed this objective has been achieved as the enrolments increased from 66 000 in 2009 to 77,923 in 2010 which is a 15% increase for both grade 1 and 2. Grade 1 enrolments increased from 31,245 [2009] to 41, 378 [2010] an increase of 32.4% while in grade 2 the increase was from 34,755 to 36,545 [5.2%]. However, not all the out of schools going age children yielded to the invitation to come to school hence the Ministry still expect these children to register and enroll for Grade 1 in 2011.


SCHOOL GRANT

The Government of Swaziland will provide all children the grant at E580.00 per child  from Grade one to Grade 3 to cover Operational expenses, school feeding, administrative duties [utilities] and Wages for support staff.
PROVISION OF CLASSROOMS:-
The Ministry has been allocated a budget for 68 classrooms only instead of 78 units as provided in 2010.
Teachers Houses.
The Ministry of Education is currently constructing 35 teachers houses in addition to the 190 mobile classrooms delivered to primary schools in 2010

INFRASTRUCTURE
Government has provided a budget for sixty eight classrooms to accommodate progressing children from grade 2. These classrooms are less than the number of mobile classrooms [78] distributed to schools in 2010. The Ministry is suppose to provide at least 78 classrooms for a smooth progressing of pupils accommodated in the mobile classrooms distributed to schools apart from the additional 167 classrooms required. The 68 classrooms have been distributed to schools that were not accessible for the mobile classrooms like Umkhondo Primary.

PROVISION OF SCHOOL FURNITURE

The Ministry has been allocated a budget of E3.5M for school furniture in readiness for the rollout of FPE in grade 3 in 2011. While an additional furniture worth E1M will be allocated and distributed to grades: 4 to 7. The Free Primary Education furniture will be distributed to schools during January, 2011.
CRISIS: Shortage of school furniture has been crisis in all primary schools.


LEARNING AND TEACHING MATERIALS

[i] Stationery and Exercise Books.
The Ministry Of Education and Training has secured E23M for the procurement of Exercise books and stationery packs to Primary schools for the year 2011 January. Seven companies have been awarded tenders to supply the stationery and seven companies specializing in printing have been awarded tenders to print, package exercise books and deliver stationery packs to all primary schools before the schools re-opens in 2011, January.
[ii] Text Books:
The provision of Exercise books through Macmillan Publishing Company will be distributed to all public primary schools in December\ January 2011.  A buffer stock of 10% has been secured to cater for grade 1 and three pupils’ influx in 2011.

ADDITIONAL TEACHERS FOR FPE IN GRADE 3.

220 additional teachers will be needed for the FPE roll out in Grade 3 in 2011. The assumption is that these teachers will cater for all the additional classes in Grade 1 to 3.

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