Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dreams of Free Education Deferred

Mbabane — Ten-year-old Tembuso Magagula sat outside her classroom with her shoulders hunched against the cold today, tears streaming from her eyes. Her long-awaited first day of school had turned into a nightmare.
Magagula expected to start grade one this year - four years late - as a beneficiary of the Free Primary Education programme which started on Jan. 26 in all public schools.
But the head teacher at Qedusizi Primary School, Petros Zwane, was not in a compromising mood. Government may be paying the fees for grades one and two, but Zwane sent home every child who did not in school uniform.
"Uniform is very important, even for those under the FPE," insisted Zwane. "Government should buy uniforms for destitute children because I will not allow them into the classroom."
A sobbing Magagula said, "I've never been to school because my mother could not afford the fees. She said she doesn't have money for the school uniform."
Her mother is a street vendor in Swaziland's administrative capital, Mbabane; the whereabouts of her father are unknown. Magagula was not the only child in distress as the school year began.

Read the rest of the article here.: