4 November 2017

Swaziland: School 'Turns Poor Children Away'

Parents at a primary school in Swaziland want the principal to quit after turning poor pupils away.

It happened at Mkhuzweni Primary where Principal Zanele Dlamini is reported to have excluded children from school because they could not afford school uniform, a white T-shirt, shoe polish and maintain a clean haircut.

The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (3 November 2017) that more than 100 angry parents demanded the principal to resign within seven days or they would 'take the law into their own hands'.

The school committee had arranged for parents to meet Dlamini who had only recently joined the school.

The newspaper reported, 'The parents minced no words as each stood up to condemn the principal and her deputy for chasing away their children from school.'

It reported one parent saying, 'It is hurtful, you don't have humanity and sympathy for our children. The former headteacher Mavundla understood our situation and our poverty, we are not working hence we cannot even afford to feed the children how much more shoe polish?'

The deputy head teacher and the principal denied mistreating the pupils.

Poverty among schoolchildren is widespread in Swaziland. In September 2017, it was reported that poverty was forcing girls to drop out of school and become sex workers.

The Times of Swaziland reported the girls could not afford school fees or uniforms, so some dropped out. Others stayed at school but also worked as prostitutes.

The newspaper featured Gija Emkhuzweni High School at Piggs Peak. The Times reported, 'It has been revealed that even pupils in lower classes at the school are engaging in such trade, with most of them blaming the high poverty levels as the main reason.'

In Swaziland, nearly seven in 10 of the kingdom's 1.3 million people have incomes of less than $US2 a day. Meanwhile, King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch lives a lavish lifestyle, with at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private jet airplane and is soon to get a second.

Swaziland

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