Monday, December 13, 2010

Nhlanhla Sibanyoni

He completed the five years of secondary school this year. He was attending Mbabane Central High School. I paid his school fees for the five years and also gave him a living allowance. He lives in a township called Sidwashini just below Waterford School near Mbabane. His friends asked me to sponsor him when they were hitching a ride up the hill to the school one day. I met his mother and so that is how it began.

I don't know exactly how much I have paid over the years but in the region of EUR 5000 would be a good estimate. For five years' of education and consistently good exam results I think it is worth it. His parents do not have the money to clothe him or his brothers properly so I have to help.

The quality of the teaching is pretty poor and so he has had to work hard to follow each subject. There are not enough textbooks. The sponsorship has generated some jealousy in the township. Fees have risen sharply and students are told to pay up or leave. This year, fees were around EUR 400. Swaziland is a country where 70% live in abject poverty but the king's 13 wives each must have their own palace and BMW. There is no welfare system, food prices have risen dramatically in the last two years, and the government is self-serving and corrupt.

He starts studying at Midrand Graduate College in South Africa next year, doing a one year pre-degree in accounting. I have paid the registration fee and the compulsory medical insurance. I have yet to pay for the study permit and first month's tuition fees.