Unlike in most countries,
education in Swaziland is neither compulsory nor free for most students. Whilst the state does pay
teacher wages, it is up the communities to pay for the upkeep of school
buildings and provide homes for teaching staff, however as from January 2010 the
first two grades of primary school became free and it is anticipated that this
free program may be extended as the country's finances allow.
Despite this, nearly all children
in Swaziland attend primary education however drop out rates are high and only
about half the children of secondary school age attend formal education as
working on the land and providing for the family is considered more of a
into a secondary school also depends on whether the child has passed the
Swaziland Primary Certificate Exam and, of course, whether there are places
actually available in the school. In reality this means that only about one in
five students enrolled in primary school actually go on to secondary school.
Primary education itself starts at seven years old in rural areas (at the age of
six in urban areas) and lasts for seven years, followed by three years of three
years of 'lower' secondary education.
Many families tend to choose which child in their family would most
benefit from education or rotate their education each year so that only one set
of school fees would be payable in any given year. (Around 2/3rds of Swazi's
live on less than 60p a day and school fess are around £45.00 a year.)
Educational attendance is also
hampered by the ravages of HIV / AIDS
across the country with children being forced to remain at home to care for
family members. In fact 100,000 children have now been orphaned by AIDS and the
virus has also killed many teaching staff.
This short video
documentary shows what it is like inside a typical Swaziland school and hears
from a teacher about the provision of education to children in Swaziland.
If you are interested in helping
with the provision of education for children in Swaziland you may wish to visit
the Swaziland Schools Project.
This is a charity that helps promote education there by paying bursaries (fees)
so that children can attend school, helps with building classrooms, toilet
blocks, kitchens, life skills units, agricultural units and providing water
supplies at schools and provides equipment for schools such as books, computers,
sewing machines and sewing materials