By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-07-19
THE writing of mock examinations is reported to have been stalled in some schools around the country.
Schools were scheduled to start writing mock examinations on Tuesday.
Due to the current financial challenges faced by the country, some schools complain that they have not received their grants from government, hence they are struggling to make ends meet. Principals expressed their concern by marching to the ministry of education and training and Cabinet offices yesterday to deliver a petition, calling for the immediate action on these issues. They claimed that due to the terrible financial situation, they have been unable to buy examination material like Typek and electricity units to facilitate the smooth running of the mock examination. Yesterday, Swaziland Association of Schools Administrators (SASA), the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) with the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and National Public Services and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) accompanied principals to deliver the petition. Their grievances included government’s failure to release Free Primary Education grants and the correct placement of qualified teachers, among other things. Speaking yesterday when delivering the petitions, most principals said they were even afraid to go to their workstations because they knew what awaits them. Some principals said they had no money to buy Typek paper and this has in turn affected the smooth running of mock examinations. In their petition which was delivered to the Ministry of Education and Training Principal Secretary Dr Sibongile Mtshali, they blamed the ministry for failing to assign the most value the education sector deserves. SASA’s Chairperson Samkelo Dlamini said government still haven’t paid money to schools and there were no resources to run them. He said the Examination Council had released the examination timetable and pupils were expected to go for exams, yet there are no teachers or teaching material. “We wish to put it on record that, your failure to finance education at primary school level and paying for those learners who are orphaned and vulnerable at high schools have rendered the schools becoming day care centres as opposed to institutions that should offer formal education,” Dlamini said. He added that it is a pity that schools will be graded according to the results attained at the end of the year, knowing very well that there was no effective teaching and learning taking place since the year began.
In the petition, the principals said for meaningful teaching and learning to run its course, there had to be support material for use by teachers and learners. “To our shock, monies have either not been deposited into school accounts on time or not at all,” Dlamini stated. He explained that this contradicts the ministry’s daily call of the learners as clients they are mostly concerned about. Meanwhile, SNAT stated that the lack of learning and teaching materials was one of the most unbearable scenarios in schools. SNAT Acting General Secretary Simanga Khumalo said the support staff in most schools have not been paid their salaries, schools have food shortages and there was lack of teaching and learning material. Khumalo said such a situation is not only a violation of human rights, but also violation of the ministry’s own policies regarding the release of such monies to schools and a degradation of the sector at large. Khumalo said as educators, it is their belief that for any development to be undertaken, it will not be viable and sustainable until education is placed at the centre of everything being undertaken by the State. Another issue which was raised in the petition delivered to the MoET was that of pay scales, which Khumalo said the engagement of qualified teachers at pay scales below their correct ones (B2) is highly condemned because not only is it a violation of human rights but also exploitation at its worst.
He said such actions had deprived the education sector of the dignity it deserved. Teachers also condemned the call by government as articulated in Circular No. 3 of 2018, directing that teaching posts as a result of deaths and retirement be not filled. The non-payment of support staff has been seen as something which government was allegedly using to set up the support staff against principals.
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