Government’s Programme of Action to 2018 declares its intention to provide an education system in which the rollout of free primary schooling will extend to all grades, and secondary and tertiary education will include a sharper emphasis on mathematics, science and ICT. Finance Minister Martin Dlamini duly allocated to this sector E2.45-billion for 2014/15: he said that investing in Swaziland’s most important resource, its people, demanded the biggest slice of the national budget.
Minister Dlamini declared that government recognises the need to seek higher productivity in all spheres of the economy, especially as the world continues to change with the introduction of new technologies. He said that the financial resources he was allocating will especially go towards the provision of quality and advanced skills-training to meet the demands of the job market, and the provision of universal primary education - including pre-school programmes - to make sure that all children in Swaziland have access to education. The Finance Minister told Parliament and the nation that government commits to roll out the Free Primary Education (FPE) programme to Grade 6 in 2014 and Grade 7 in 2015: this is to ensure, he said, that by 2015 – the culmination of FPE which began in 2009 - children everywhere in the kingdom, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling with a financial burden to no-one but the state.
October saw the Minister of Education and Training, Phineas Magagula, disclose that government had set aside E32-million in preparation for the roll-out of FPE to its concluding phase in 2015. He said that the Ministry had authored a Circular which covers the financing mechanism of the programme and spells out a number of initiatives on which education authorities are ready to embark to ensure that come January the ultimate phase of FPE runs smoothly.
Minister Magagula assured all school principals that pupils’ fees would be paid before schools open: through the programme, government pays E560 for every child – except those in Grade One, whose fees are paid for with funding from the European Union – and additionally pays their examination fees, which in 2015 will automatically extend to learners in Grade Seven. The Minister also issued an assurance that textbooks, exercise books and stationery will be delivered to schools before they open.
As regards the E32-million preparatory spending, the Circular detailed the allocation thereof as:
E18-million for the construction of teachers’ houses:
- Magagula said that the Ministry had drawn up a list of selected areas and schools that will get houses to ensure that schools are not left without teachers due to a shortage of accommodation. A focus was placed on rural areas, he said, to make them more attractive to teachers who were offered posts there. By late October it was reported that the construction of houses had begun in the precincts of selected schools around the country.
- E6-million for the construction of classrooms: similarly, the Ministry was said to have identified schools in all four regions that required additional learning space and would respond accordingly.
- E8-million for desks and chairs for learners and teachers: Minister Magagula said that additional furniture requirements would be procured and delivered before day one of the new school year.
Without disclosing the expenditure details thereof, the Education Minister declared that the extension of FPE to Grade Seven also demanded the hiring of an additional 110 primary school teachers and said that the recruitment process had already begun. He said that suitable personnel are a crucial factor in the programme’s ongoing success: they are acquired through the Teaching Services Commission which falls under the Ministry of Education and Training. Towards the end of 2013 the Commission announced that it had vacancies for 4 000 teachers across both primary and secondary levels that needed to be filled, and invited qualified graduate teachers to apply. The TSC said that the country needed 14 000 qualified teachers in total, but that there were 10 000 employed at the time.
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini declared in his 2014/15 Budget Speech that government is concerned by the mushrooming of unregulated colleges in the country. To ensure that the quality of training provided in Swaziland is not compromised, he said, government has recognised the need to fast-track the implementation of the Higher Education Act of 2013: this includes, among other aspects, the setting up of the National Qualifications Authority and the Higher Education Council, the roles of which will be to regulate and monitor the standard of education in institutions of higher learning and to provide them with recognised accreditation. Minister Dlamini said he had been assured that this process would get under way during 2014 and for this purpose he allocated E1.2-million.
University of Swaziland (UNISWA) www.uniswa.sz Acting Registrar, Dr Salebona Simelane, said on 11 October when presiding over the institution’s 34th graduation ceremony that the 1 546 recipients present represented a year-on-year increase of 18 percent. The 2014 tally comprised 50 postgraduate and 900 Bachelor’s degrees, along with 596 certificates/diplomas. Dr Simelane attributed the growth in numbers to UNISWA’s striving to absorb as many qualifying school-leavers as possible and to the introduction of new courses: the figure included the first graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, the restructured, four-year Bachelor of Commerce degree and the certificate in Psychological Support. The Acting Registrar also revealed to the Kwaluseni campus audience that UNISWA had leapfrogged 17 places to #65 in the ranking of Africa’s Top 100 universities: he said this was the result of collaborative links and partnerships with other universities – both at home and abroad – as well as major companies and parastatal organizations, NGOs, UN agencies and Swaziland’s development partners.
In early June 2014, UNISWA and the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) signed a service-level agreement and launched a skills-development initiative wherein the country’s power utility partnered with the university’s Consultancy and Training Centre (CTC) on a tailor-made capacity-building programme for its managers. UNISWA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cisco Magagula, described this partnership with the SEC as ideal: he pointed out that in its mandate the university had established the CTC to provide various academic fields and sectors with flexible services in consultancy, contract research and training, and said that the CTC’s core activity is to transfer knowledge, skills and attitudes. The Vice- Chancellor disclosed that the Centre had secured the expertise of several qualified facilitators to run the Supervisory Development Programme for the SEC. He said that the objectives of the programme include developing a SEC-branded leadership cadre and equipping the SEC’s future managers with the skills required to execute business imperatives.
SEC Engineering Manager, Luke Mswane, said that internal surveys and research had identified the power utility’s need to strengthen certain of its management-level aspects through training, and it was decided to look no further than UNISWA which has been turning out great leaders for over three decades. He pointed out that the partnership will serve as a platform for the SEC’s human resources to be nurtured, saying that as the country heads towards its Vision 2022 the Company could not afford to lag behind. Mswane added that it was the SEC’s belief that the skills-development initiative will enrich a tailor-made management style and quality, as well as ensure continuity, given the dynamic environment within which the utility operates. He described the partnership as mutually beneficial: UNISWA has long benefited from SEC sponsorships and in recent years from internship programmes that give students on-the-job training.
Established in 1982, the institution’s declared vision is ‘Leadership Through Excellence in Education’, while its mission is to achieve excellence in teaching and learning, research and research-training, community service and the provision of opportunities for consultancy, professional leadership and enterprise development in the contemporary context. UNISWA declares that its mission shall be achieved through:
- providing education opportunities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels
- establishing new academic programmes designed to meet the emerging needs of society
- conducting a regular review of the academic programmes to make them demand-driven to stakeholders
- creating continuing education opportunities for the inculcation of lifelong learning
- generating, disseminating and preserving knowledge through research, stakeholders’ participation and development of an institutional repository
- teaching that encourages participation of students in entrepreneurship endeavours
- accounting to stakeholders that fosters efficient utilisation of resources
- coordinating and monitoring performance among all employees and periodic evaluation and review of activities
- providing an excellent working and learning environment for staff and students
The UNISWA Foundation works to secure independent financial resources by engaging stakeholders and interested parties in strategic partnerships and thereby ease the financial burden on government. The 2013/14 period marked the seventh anniversary of the Institutional Fund for Academic Advancement whereby the Swaziland Water Services Corporation pays for eight postgraduate students to undertake their Master of Science in Environment degrees.
UNISWA’s expertise is availed to students via seven faculties spread over three separately-located campus facilities: the Agriculture Faculty is situated near the country’s research station at Malkerns and its home is Luyengo Campus, formerly the Swaziland Agricultural College and University Centre; Kwaluseni Campus near Manzini houses the Faculties of Commerce, Education, Humanities, Science and Social Science; Mbabane Campus – formerly the Institute of Health Sciences – constitutes the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences. There are also two institutes, covering Distance Learning and Postgraduate Studies, respectively.
According to the Vice-Chancellor’s Annual Report for 2013/14 there were 5 938 male and female students, including 45 foreigners, enrolled at UNISWA during the period in review. The breakdown into faculties and institutes – across all years of study – was as follows:
- Agriculture – 1 177
- Commerce - 562
- Education - 431
- Health Sciences - 541
- Humanities - 271
- Science and Engineering - 414
- Social Science - 580
- Institute of Distance Education – 1 672
- Institute of Postgraduate Studies - 290
UNISWA offers degree courses within the Arts, Sciences, Law, Education and Commerce, along with diploma-level Business Management, Accounting and Marketing courses. UNISWA affiliates include the Academic Development Centre, the Centre for Community Services, the Consultancy and Training Centre, the ICT Centre, the UNISWA Health, Information and Counselling Centre, the UNISWA Research Centre, the University Planning Centre and the Swaziland Institute of Research in Traditional Medicine, Medicinal and Indigenous Food Plants.
The Institute of Distance Learning caters for the study needs of those students who are unable to undertake full-time campus attendance. Medicine, Architecture and Engineering are among the degrees for which Swazis must currently travel beyond the country to qualify. The Institute of Postgraduate Studies has a mission to maintain academic excellence and development through teaching, research and community service in all the disciplines offered at postgraduate level. It also strives to retain relevance in responding to the needs of human resources development locally, regionally and internationally.
UNISWA Library offers print and electronic resources in line with its mission to provide efficient service and access to quality academic information. The print side includes more than 180 000 monographs and current subscriptions to more than 300 journals, along with back issues to more than 600 journals. Collections are categorised into general lending, reference materials, journals, law, health science and agricultural science, with an additional special collection comprising Swaziana, SADC, World Bank, African Development Bank, IMF and UN agencies. Electronic resources are comprised primarily of EBSCOhost Online, SABINET Online and CD-ROM databases, plus free- and open-access electronic resources.
Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) Swaziland – established 2011 – held its inaugural graduation ceremony in mid-May 2014 at the Mavuso Centre. In front of an audience that included His Majesty King Mswati III, Her Majesty the Queen Mother and Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini, 825 students graduated with Associate Degrees in disciplines such as Advertising, Creative Multimedia, Architecture Technology, Public Relations, Journalism and Media, TV and Film Production, International Tourism, Business Information Technology, Hotel Management and Information Technology.
Delivering the keynote address, His Majesty said that when looking at the work that LUCT was doing and the list of graduating students and their achievements, this was a clear indication that the country was indeed headed for attaining Vision 2022. He described the establishment of LUCT Swaziland as one of the solutions to invest in education in a different way, and said that it is through the technical skills and expertise that the graduates have acquired that the kingdom will comfortably form part of the global village. The monarch assured the graduates that government and the private sector will consider them when looking for human resources, but he also implored them to inculcate the culture of being job creators instead of job seekers. The 13 top achieving students were each awarded full scholarships worth E4-million to study at LUCT’s flagship campus in Malaysia.
Swaziland Christian University (SCU) Chancellor, Professor Chun G Yoon, announced in September, during the enrolment of 300 new students, the launch of 100 new courses along with new laboratories and lecture theatres. He described the developments as evidence that SCU is doing its best to offer exceptional learning opportunities at degree level and encouraged students, faculty and staff to invest their efforts in the wealth of opportunities to collaborate, learn and prepare for the future. Professor Sun Young Kim then disclosed that the imminent opening of the SCU Health Centre in Mbabane heralded the arrival of the SCU School of Medicine, saying that the Health Centre will strive to achieve a preventive medical system that offers education programmes for medical professionals and citizens. The School of Medicine will be the first of its kind in Swaziland: while SCU officials have been implementing various steps towards the opening of this important faculty the institution has been offering various Allied Healthcare Sciences that include Medical Lab Science, Pharmacy, Psychology and Nursing, among others.
The Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) fifth graduation ceremony, held in October, saw degrees conferred on 245 students in the disciplines of Theology, Health Sciences, Nursing, Midwifery, Pharmacy and Education, respectively. Launched in 2010 by bringing together the Nazarene College of Nursing, Nazarene Teacher Training College and the Nazarene College of Theology, SANU is not only fully recognised by the Ministry of Education and Training in Swaziland, but it also recently attained Associate status from the Africa Association of Universities. Its professional courses are all recognised by the relevant professional regulatory bodies, among them the Swaziland Nurses Council, Teachers’ Service Commission and the International Course of Study Advisory Committee of the Church of the Nazarene. SANU is a recognized institution of the International Board of Education in the Church of the Nazarene.
Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) Principal, Grace Mdluli, disclosed in September that the institution was poised to be upgraded to a fully-fledged university in 2015. This comes in the wake of SCOT having liaised over a period of time with education officials from the Republic of China-Taiwan who were assisting in the transformation process. Principal Mdluli said that a fact-finding mission to SCOT by representatives from Taiwan earlier in 2014 made her optimistic that a bilateral agreement between the two countries will be signed in the very near future: the Republic of China-Taiwan is one of Swaziland’s longest standing development partners.
She said that the ratification will then see the launch of an agreement for SCOT to implement ICT and Electrical Engineering programmes. The latter pair will in turn lead to exchange programmes for SCOT lecturers and students and their counterparts from Chin Yi University of Technology. Principal Mdluli said that she foresaw this partnership playing a significant role in developing SCOT both technically and academically to meet its mission to be at the forefront of technological advancement in the kingdom.
William Pitcher College, which produces teachers for both primary and secondary schools and is also earmarked by government for upgrading to university level in the near future, was during this review period given an E10-million facelift by the Ministry of Education and Training.
The Vocational Training Institute Matsapha (VOCTIM) graduation ceremony in October saw 74 students from various disciplines awarded with Certificates and Diplomas. Minister of Education and Training, Phineas Magagula, commended VOCTIM for offering a variety of attractive programmes that are stakeholder-driven, respond to market demand for skilled labour and thereby fill the gap created by Swaziland having more university-eligible matriculants each year than available admissions. He expressed a desire to see VOCTIM expand and diversify its programmes even further so that it can increase its student intake. Principal, Thabo Mokoena, spoke of a constant need to improve the institution’s training for it to be relevant to the needs of industry. He welcomed the support received from the Taiwan International Cooperation Development Fund that enabled VOCTIM to introduce Automotive Diagnosis into the Automotive Engineering Department and Motor Control into the Electrical Engineering Department.
In June the government of the Republic of China-Taiwan, through its embassy and part of an ongoing assistance programme, issued scholarships to 21 Swazi students to study in that country. The disciplines include, but are not limited to, Business Administration, Agriculture, Human Resources, Environmental Studies, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Medicine and Computer Science.
The Institute of Development Management (IDM), which is a regional organization in Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho, held its annual graduation ceremony in November - on this occasion at the Swaziland campus in Matsapha – and also celebrated 40 years of partnership between the three governments. IDM strives to meet regional management needs through development-orientated activities that include training, consultancy, research and the establishment of a Management Resource Centre. Specific objectives within the public, parastatal and private sectors are to improve managerial knowledge and skills, provide training and consultancy, refine organizational structures as well as administrative and management procedures, expand the database available for decision making and extend public awareness of all aspects of development. IDM aspires to become a largely self-financing institution by 2016, with minimal tri-government financial support: to achieve this, the 1 400 graduating students, dignitaries and audience were told, IDM needs to become the service provider of choice, and the core competency of a continuum of high quality operational service within the IDM must be supported by the key performance enablers of strategic leadership and governance plus strategic partnerships, innovation and science and technology research capacity.
The International Development Centre for Africa provides training, consultancy and management development services aimed at improving the performance of people and organizations towards achieving defined goals. It offers post-experience training programmes, outreach development activities, impartial consultancy and technical assistance, results-oriented research and studies, effective management development services, professional visits and study-tours to places of learning. Specialist fields include Agriculture and Environment Sciences, Economics and Trade, Finance and Accounting, Gender and Participatory, Health Services Delivery, Human Resources and PR, IT, Logistics and Procurement, Management Development, Management of Information Systems, Project Management and Secretarial Administration.
Lwati Training Institute offers a comprehensive range of courses for middle and senior managers, as well as for supervisory-level staff. Modular courses are tailored to meet the requirements of a single client or group. The Management Services arm offers specialised consultancy services that include collective bargaining, organizational analysis and restructuring, terms and conditions of service, job evaluation and grading, institutional strengthening, recruitment and selection, strategic planning, corporate planning, financial services, counselling, conferences and seminars.
Mananga Centre for Regional Integration and Management Development offers Executive Management Development Programmes, Accredited Diploma and Degree Programmes and Graduate Programmes. Executive Management Development Courses include General Management and Leadership, Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction, Environment and Sustainable Development and Health Management. Accredited Diploma and Degree Courses focus on developing leaders and professionals in the areas of Innovation and Technology, Business and Development Studies. Graduate Courses are aimed at leaders, captains of industry and champions of development in the business, civil society and public sectors. Courses at Master’s level include Master’s in Leadership and Change Management, Business Administration and Strategic Management. In early February 2014 an E10-million campus-expansion was announced as Mananga intended accepting school-leavers who qualified for tertiary education.
A broad array of institutions that serve the education, healthcare, technical, commercial and agricultural sectors are situated in the two cities and principal towns. These include the Ngwane Park Youth Training Centre, the National Handicraft Training Centre, the Emlalatini Development Centre, the College of Nursing, the Manzini Industrial Training Centre, the School of Appropriate Farm Technology and the Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Centre.
READING FOR ALL
The Swaziland National Library Service (SNLS), through its Strategic Plan to 2016, continues to establish new libraries, upgrade existing infrastructure, train more school teachers in library- and information-management, train more members of the public in the use of its digital platforms and acquire more equipment that supports the needs of disabled persons. On the SNLS agenda, in addition to liaising with Ministry of Education and Training officials to significantly elevate the percentage of schools able to boast their own libraries, is reviving the concept of mobile libraries and establishing centres in hospitals, old age homes and correctional centres.