Parents whose children attend government schools across the country will now be forced to pay salaries for teachers after King Mswati’s Government stopped hiring teachers, channeling more money to the royal family.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line and the situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted to massive job losses.
Government through the Eswatini Revenue Authority(SRA) collects Value Added Tax(VAT) Pay as You Earn(PAYE) and Corporate Tax among others, a large amount of the country's budget sustains the lavish lifestyle of the King and his royal family.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that on or around 11th June 2021, parents whose children attend Pigg’s Peak Central High School in the Northern parts of eSwatini were summoned into a meeting by Edward Khayoni, the Principal where they told to pay E52.00($3.60) every month as a contribution towards the payment of salaries for teachers.
This disclosure comes after another Headteacher at Elulakeni High School wrote to parents informing them about a resolution requesting contributions towards the payment of teachers’ salaries whose contracts were not renewed by the Teaching Service Commission(TSC) yet the school was facing shortage of educators.
It has been gathered that children in various schools across the country are stranded as a result of the shortage of teachers. Despite various engagements between the Swaziland National Association of Teachers(SNAT) and Government particularly the Acting Prime Minister's office, the TSC failed and or refused to facilitate the employment of teachers.
Reached for comments, Edward Khayoni, the Pigg’s Peak High School Principal confirmed holding a meeting with parents where they discussed an idea of contributing the said amount towards the payment of teachers’ salaries.
“It’s true, we did discuss the issue of contributions, but we haven’t finalized anything yet. We are facing a serious shortage of teachers after Government decided not to renew contracts for some teachers. We know the country is facing challenges these days and political tensions but we are just trying to make sure that we don’t fight with our children, at least we must do something to make sure they continue with their education” ,said the Pigg’s Peak High School Principal.
The shortage of teachers manifested into an education crisis after Dr Amos Mahlalela, the newly appointed Chairman of the TSC made sentiments saying Government decided to freeze hiring of teachers because the teaching profession was now saturated, he urged unemployed teachers to explore farming as an alternative source of income.
Reached for comments earlier, the TSC Chairman Dr Amos Mahlalela clarified that he was merely sharing an advise that teachers should consider other means of survival while looking for employment.
“As you might be aware, we have Government and private Colleges in the country, all are producing teachers and to make matters worse, the private Colleges are driven by profits to produce large numbers. So I was suggesting that because we have many unemployed teachers, what if they can start agricultural projects to earn a living while they look for employment? This doesn’t mean they won’t be employed when posts become available, they will get employment, this is just to assist them with money while they look for employment” ,said the TSC Chairman.
It has been disclosed that Mahlalela first suggested that teachers must explore farming during a stakeholder meeting held at the Ministry of Education.
But Mbongwa Dlamini, the President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers(SNAT) who was part of the meeting said as teachers they didn't understand how the Chairman came to such a conclusion that the education system was now saturated.
“We are surprised as to how he came to such a conclusion that the education system is now saturated when people are producing children everyday. Mahlalela has been training teachers at the Ngwane Teachers College and now he is saying to those teachers, they must do farming, does that mean he was training farmers?” said the SNAT President.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the socio-economic challenges in this tiny Kingdom, King Mswati continues to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle with his royal family, he is counted among the richest Monarchies in the world.
Mswati, an absolute Monarch with Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers, owns two private jets that were purchased with taxpayers money, a fleet of Royce Rolls and BMWs among others, the King owns shares in telecommunications and giant companies in the country.
Some of the shares are held through Tibiyo TakaNgwane, a multi-billion investment company that was established by Swazis but was later seized by royalty. Eswatini is currently facing growing calls for democratic reforms after citizens across the country petitioned King Mswati through their Members of Parliament, demanding democratic reforms.