Resourceful and employable citizens through enhanced access to, and success in, formal education
Formal education in Eswatini took a big step forward with the introduction of free primary school from 2010. However, children who have not attend preschool struggle at the primary level, while many children don’t progress past primary for various reasons.
boMake Rural Projects supports children in formal education in two key ways:
- The School Fees Bursary Fund addresses the biggest barrier to secondary education, lack of funds for school fees, by providing bursaries to children in high school.
- Pre-school teachers trained by boMake ensure that children are ready for primary school.
School Fees Bursary Fund
The boMake Rural Projects School Fees Bursary Fund (SFBF) has, since its inception, helped 200 children a year, on average, with contributions to their school fees. It was initially set up to assist Gone Rural artisans in paying fees for their children in primary school.
The Government of Eswatini introduced free primary education in 2010, starting with children in grades 1 and 2 and gradually extending their coverage until all primary school grades were covered in 2015 (meeting the Millenium Development Goal of free primary education by 2015).
Although 98% of Swazi children attend primary, many do not continue to secondary school and more drop out before completing it. Lack of money for school fees is a key factor, depriving many students of the opportunity to progress through high school.
We currently focus on secondary school students who are all relatives of Gone Rural weavers from 52 communities in the Hhohho, Manzini and Shiselweni regions. Bursary recipients join our Youth Empowerment Clubs at participating schools for assistance in ensuring their successful completion of high school.
Although free education has been extended to all primary school students in Eswatini since 2015, primary school teachers have been struggling with overcrowded and underfunded classrooms. Children who have had pre-primary education are more likely to succeed in primary school. Schools are increasingly insisting that children have had some form of preschool education, but less than 22% of pre-schoolers receive early childhood education.
We have trained 48 preschool teachers in early childhood care and education, using an early childhood care and development (ECCD) curriculum developed for us by Vusumnotfa with UNICEF. All are from the communities they work in.
boMake’s involvement in pre-primary education typifies our community-led approach. A woman in one community offered to help the women of a Gone Rural artisan’s group on their market days, when they would gather to weave and trade with Gone Rural, bringing their small children who were too young to leave at home. She would look after the youngsters under a tree while the other women worked.
We realised then how few preschools there were and that community members were ready and willing to run them but had little or no training or facilities. About three-quarters had no shelter but trees. The multipurpose community halls we now construct include a room for a preschool.