14 February 2013

Swaziland: PM Wrong On Education Standards

Swaziland's Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has misled us by claiming that the kingdom's 'education standard ranks high in the world'.

He also claimed in a government press statement that the standard of education in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, 'has always been outstanding'.

He was reacting to news that a Swazi team of children had come second in the World Schools Debate Championships.

But, everything Prime Minister Dlamini said was not true. In fact, the standard of education in Swaziland is so poor the kingdom is not able even to meet its own employment targets.

A report called The Education System in Swaziland, written by Mmantsetsa Marope and published by the World Bank in 2010, demonstrated that what is called 'the education, training and skills development sector (ETSDS)' (that is preschool, schools, colleges and universities) was inadequate to supply people capable of working in a modern economy, especially where skills in technology and innovation were needed.

'The current ETSDS is not sufficient to support national development aspirations and goals, accelerated and shared growth, and global competitiveness,' the report stated.

Among the key weaknesses in the education sector are low attendance at schools and colleges, inequalities of access and inefficient use of resources.

The report went on, 'Access is limited across all levels of the ETSDS. Current levels of access are inadequate to supply the right threshold and mix of skills required to meet national and regional labor market demands, to support accelerated and shared growth, and to make Swaziland globally competitive. Access is particularly low from the secondary level upwards, the very levels which are proven to be essential for the supply of knowledge workers required to attract foreign direct investors (FDIs).'

The report states , 'An estimated 74 percent of children of eligible age are not enrolled in junior secondary education, and 88 percent are not enrolled in senior secondary education.'

It adds, 'The situation is somewhat better for the primary level where only 16 percent of children of eligible age are not enrolled.'

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