January 21, 2021
A good education is not just important. It's a must.
For any country to thrive and progress, it needs to have a school system that empowers its citizens to contribute to society and stimulate the community. Otherwise, its people will suffer.
A lack of education can prevent well-meaning individuals from getting ahead in life. It can lead to poverty, poor health, unemployment, shorter lifespan, exploitation, and gender inequality.
Given the impact of these consequences, it'd be easy to assume that every country has an excellent education system to ward off any adverse effects. However, that's not the case.
When considering the entire world, there are 264.3 million children, adolescents, and youth that are not in school. One of the countries that are suffering the most is Eswatini, Africa.
Khutsala Artisans, a Heart for Africa initiative, is committed to stimulating better education in Eswatini. This commitment is part of Heart for Africa's mission, which centers on building HOPE in the kingdom.
The H stands for hunger. The O stands for orphans. The P stands for poverty. And the E stands for education, a significant part of life that Eswatini continues to struggle with.
The lack of adequate education in Eswatini
In 2018, Eswatini took steps to reduce its costs to bring more money into the impoverished kingdom. One of the biggest steps the kingdom took was directed to all of its ministries and departments.
This new directive indicated that all vacant posts, including the creation of new posts and promotions across the government, would freeze. Essentially, if a government employee resigned, transferred, retired, or died, that vacant role would not get filled.
While it's too early to tell the full effects this step has had on the kingdom, one thing is for sure. The education system in Eswatini has suffered.
Significantly understaffed and indebted, the Ministry of Education and Training in Eswatini has been hit the hardest by this new government mandate. It's gotten so bad that the school system no longer serves its intended purpose.
With so few teachers, the students in Eswatini don't get the attention they need. Their teachers are overworked and at capacity, making it difficult for them to focus on each child's education.
Financing education in Eswatini
The lack of teachers in Eswatini is only one challenge that schools face. The next hurdle is financing.
Recently, the government in Eswatini announced that parents would no longer have to pay for their children's primary education. They would only be responsible for financing their kids' secondary schooling.
This free education has increased enrollment in primary schools. However, that same trend has not happened in secondary institutions.
Eswatini is ripe with poverty, so many parents can't afford to pay for their children's secondary education. Only a small number of families have the finances to do that, which isn't enough money to cover a school's expenses.
Even the funds that the government provides doesn't help. In Eswatini, the government pays for orphaned and vulnerable children between grades 8 and 12 to go to school. But the money is usually gone by October.
For schools that have a large number of orphaned and vulnerable children, like Sigcaweni High School, the lack of financial resources is devastating. Less than two dozens of its students have parents who can afford their education, and sometimes, they don't pay on time.
That inconsistency, in combination with little government funding, makes it difficult for schools to operate. Some schools in Eswatini are struggling to pay for essential items like electricity, librarians, secretaries, and cooks. The situation is so dire that teachers sometimes have to pause on fixing a broken window to pay for whatever will fulfill their students' educational needs.
The adverse effects of poor education
Because the schools in Eswatini are not adequately equipped and the kingdom is facing significant challenges, including poverty and an HIV/AIDS crisis, children are not getting the education they need.
According to UNICEF, these effects reach primary and secondary schools. For example, both levels of schooling see high repetition rates. In 2015, 16.6 percent of students in primary school and 13 percent of students in lower secondary school repeated grades.
Even worse, many students in primary and secondary school frequently drop out. Three contributing factors lead to this high drop-out rate.
When children encounter one or more of the above circumstances, completing school becomes drastically harder. Dealing with pregnancy at such a young age while battling poverty and sexual violence never sets students up for success.
What better school systems in Eswatini could achieve
Good schooling has many benefits. And with better education in Eswatini, the kingdom can progress much further than ever before. Specifically, there are three benefits Swazis will experience from strengthening their school system.
Without proper education, Swazis can't get high-paying jobs to end a cycle of poverty. Instead, gainful employment looks like a low-paying position that everyone is applying for and that most Swazis don't have the qualifications to get.
If there's access to better education, however, Swazis will have more job opportunities at their disposal. And this benefit will allow them to financially support themselves, their families, and their communities.
When people complete their schooling, they help stimulate their economy. Education leads to economic growth.
By gaining knowledge, Swazis can use their insights to live wisely and help their kingdom grow and succeed. They can build businesses that create wealth and job opportunities, and they can fund startups that help other entrepreneurs do the same.
Better education in Eswatini leads to empowerment. When people have the qualifications and schooling to get good jobs, they have purpose.
This sense of empowerment is why education is so important. If Swazis can tape into this feeling, they will have the motivation to turn their weaknesses into strengths, make good decisions, and take action when necessary.
The key to a better future
Education will continue to be a driving factor of Eswatini's success. With it, the kingdom can grow and prosper into a place where Swazis can excel. Without it, the cycle of poverty and unemployment will continue.
A better future requires better education in Eswatini. And once Swazis have access to it, they'll have enough hope to create the future they've always wanted.
How you can be a part of the solution
Heart for Africa understands the importance of quality education in their efforts to raise the next generation of leaders in Eswatini; leaders who will be the solution seekers for the many challenges the country faces. Project Canaan Academy, located on Heart for Africa’s farm called Project Canaan, is a Christ-centered learning environment, from preschool through Grade 12. It is specially designed to empower and inspire students to develop to their potential intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually so that they can be the future leaders of Eswatini.
This is designed as a Christian learning program that serves a diverse range of students including orphans and vulnerable children. The majority of these students have been in the care of Heart for Africa since they were infants. In 2018, Project Canaan Academy gained accreditation through the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa. You can learn more about ISASA here: https://www.isasa.org.
You can be a part of Heart for Africa’s mission to raise the next generation of leaders. Your gifts to the school enable the organization to continue to provide high quality education resources, top notch teachers and facilities that will allow for the ever-growing enrollment of the school. Learn more about this exciting program here: https://heartforafrica.org/education/
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