Swaziland Children and School
Do children go to school in Swaziland?
Normally, children in Swaziland should go to elementary school for seven years. They can then attend a Junior Secondary School and then a Senior Secondary School for another two years. Those who have successfully completed the latter have something like our Abitur under their belt and could go to university.
There is a lack of secondary schools in Swaziland
However, the important secondary schools in Swaziland are often missing. Usually there is a lack of books and other work material. Many schools have no electricity. When the government runs out of money, it cannot pay the teachers either. And these then work with very little enthusiasm or not at all.
The government has promised to pay school fees for children whose parents cannot attend school or who have died. At least in the first grades. But if the money is missing, it falls back on the schools, which can no longer provide meaningful lessons.
And again and again children stand in front of closed school doors because the directors do not let them in. They no longer have parents who pay school fees, and the state hasn’t paid anything either. So the children are not allowed to go to school although they wait, although they want to learn. That too is Swaziland, that too is reality.
They go on strike sometimes
Compared to the rest of Africa, Swaziland has a low number of people who cannot read and write. The former king did a lot for the education of his subjects and had schools built. But since the country is very poor and the number of AIDS sufferers is increasing, there is not enough money for education.
Schooling in Swaziland is supposed to be free. At least that is what the constitution provides. However, schools were closed again and again because there was a lack of money. There are also repeated strikes by teachers, for example in 2011, when the schools simply stayed closed after the summer vacation.
Long way to school
Many children in Swaziland have to walk a very long way to school. You cannot get on a school bus in the morning or your mom or dad will take you to school quickly by car. Often they have to walk five to ten kilometers to get to school.
By the way, children in Swaziland always wear a school uniform, it’s customary there. They are not allowed to go to school without a school uniform. Often there is not enough money to buy such a school uniform.
Land of contrasts
Most of the people in Swaziland are poor, but the king of the country is rich. This also applies to the members of his family. The king buys expensive cars and lives very lavishly, very different from the population of his small state.
In the cities there are many hotels for rich people, even golf courses and a modern football stadium. In the countryside, people live in abject poverty, live in simple huts made of mud, grow vegetables and raise a few animals in order to survive. In the cities, people dress like in the West, listen to the same music and go shopping to the mall. You can eat deliciously in the city’s restaurants.
Although many people in Swaziland are poor, Swaziland is actually not that poor at all. Ten out of 100 people belong to the so-called middle class or upper class. And the members of the royal family are doing very well. But so far no help can be expected from this side.
AIDS in Swaziland
The AIDS rate in Swaziland is very high. Not only the poor people in the country get infected, the middle and upper classes who live in the cities also get sick. Only nobody talks about it. Even though so many people are infected, people with AIDS are marginalized. That is why many remain silent because they are afraid of exclusion.
Since there are now drugs that can delay the disease, you cannot tell from many people that they are already sick. And that makes it even more dangerous, because that’s how other people get infected and so on. AIDS is also seen as a women’s issue. Attempts to inform and educate people often fail due to the lack of interest on the part of men. Old traditions like polygamy and the weak position of women prevent enlightenment. But slowly resistance is also stirring.
Eating in Eswatini
What do you eat in Swaziland?
The main food in Swaziland is corn, which is prepared in a number of ways, but mostly boiled into a pulp. It’s similar to Italian polenta, it’s also a corn porridge. If meat is eaten with it, it is usually beef or goat meat. But only very few people in Swaziland can afford meat, and if so, then often only at traditional festivals. A common meal is corn porridge with vegetables. Peanuts are also ground into pulp and then used instead of oil for frying.