Imit­ed­lane to be al­lowed in class in same schools Siswati com­pul­sory for first four grades

Observer on Saturday - - Front Page - Sto­ries by Si­fiso Nh­la­batsi

There will be no more in­ter­views re­quired for ad­mis­sion in pub­lic schools. This is ac­cord­ing to the new Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Sec­tor Pol­icy which has been given to prin­ci­pals to im­ple­ment, come Jan­uary 2019.

The new pol­icy, which has been is­sued by the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, states clearly that it must be en­sured that no in­ter­views or any kind of ex­am­i­na­tion is re­quired or ap­plied to de­ter­mine any ad­mis­sion cri­te­ria in pub­lic schools.

When given this pol­icy which was ac­com­pa­nied by a new syl­labus for the lower grades, prin­ci­pals were in­formed that this ap­plies to learn­ers who are start­ing from Grade Zero within the pri­mary level.

Prin­ci­pals who re­ceived the pol­icy just this past week ex­pressed their shock as they said they do not un­der­stand what the min­istry im­plies by that be­cause there are no Grade Zero struc­tures in schools and there is noth­ing that sug­gests that there ever will be.

The prin­ci­pals said the whole pol­icy was just ridicu­lous. Some of the prin­ci­pals who were in­ter­viewed yes­ter­day said the new pol­icy was ‘chaotic’. The pol­icy goes as far as men­tion­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of ICT in all schools across the board from pri­mary to high school level.

Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy plays an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of 21st Cen­tury skills. It is a key as­pect in Eswa­tini’s ful­fill­ment of its na­tional de­vel­op­ment. The pol­icy states that ICT will be in­tro­duced as learn­ing and teach­ing tool for all sec­tors of ed­u­ca­tion in Eswa­tini.

This did not go down well with prin­ci­pals. A prin­ci­pal who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity stated that gov­ern­ment is broke so in­tro­duc­ing ICT in all sec­tors will mean they will have to con­struct com­puter lab­o­ra­to­ries even in pri­mary schools, which is some­thing that is im­pos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing the fi­nan­cial sta­tus of gov­ern­ment.

The prin­ci­pal said the pol­icy is just im­pos­si­ble and what is worse is that they were never even con­sulted when such was put in place.

Mean­while, Swazi­land Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Teach­ers (SNAT) said as a union rep­re­sent­ing teach­ers, they em­braced the new pol­icy.

SNAT Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sikelela Dlamini said they were aware of the pol­icy which is part and par­cel of the new syl­labus. He said, how­ever, gov­ern­ment must make sure that it pro­vides ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions that would be able to ac­com­mo­date the group of pupils who would be com­ing out of the new syl­labus. Dlamini said it is true that there would be a need for gov­ern­ment to pro­vide in­fra­struc­ture for the new de­vel­op­ments which would come as a re­sult of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pol­icy.

He said gov­ern­ment must in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture and per­son­nel by re­duc­ing the teacher: pupil ra­tio as some teach­ers are forced to deal with a group of 40 learn­ers, which is not right.

Mean­while, the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion jus­ti­fied this con­tro­ver­sial syl­labus by say­ing that the 2018 Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Sec­tor Pol­icy is the sec­ond doc­u­ment in the coun­try to holis­ti­cally ad­dress ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing is­sues.

The for­mer Min­is­ter Phineas Ma­gag­ula, who was present when the pol­icy was crafted, said the re­view of the pol­icy has pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to in­cor­po­rate per­ti­nent is­sues and new de­vel­op­ments re­lated to ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in Eswa­tini.

He said through the pol­icy doc­u­ment, stake­hold­ers within the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor would be in­formed about the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing sec­tor com­po­nents and the port­fo­lio re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of The min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing. This Ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing Sec­tor Pol­icy is ex­pected to be re­viewed every five years to in­te­grate and im­ple­ment in­puts from stake­hold­ers.

AWARE: SNAT Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sikelela Dlamini.

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