Pupils in Swaziland / eSwatini are being forced to work as groundsmen at their primary school because the government has not paid grants it owes.
The children at Vulamehlo pick up paper, cut grass and sweep the school yard. The work used to be down by a groundsman but he lost his job because the school could not pay him. This is because like other schools across the kingdom it has not received free primary education (FPE) grants from the government.
Vulamehlo is also not serving meals to the pupils as the school did not have funds to pay school staff, deputy headteacher Cynthia Dlamini told the Times of Swaziland.
She said, 'We have not received FPE grants yet and this has resulted in our groundsman leaving the school as we have failed to pay him. In the meantime, pupils perform the duties of the groundsman.'
Public services across Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, are in meltdown. The Swazi Government, which is not elected but handpicked by the King is broke and owes suppliers about E3 billion (US$215 million).
More than six in ten schools in Swaziland do not have enough teachers because of government financial cutbacks, the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) President Welcome Mhlanga has said.
Government needs to find E151.9 million for the primary schools across the kingdom to fund FPE. There are about 650 primary schools in Swaziland. The Swazi Constitution requires that all children in the kingdom receive free primary education. There are about 330,000 pupils at school in Swaziland, including about 240,000 at primary schools.
Schoolchildren across Swaziland have been going hungry because the government has not paid suppliers for food under the zondle programme feeding scheme. This has been the case for more than a year. In the past schools have been forced to close because of the shortages.