Youth and Adult Learning and Education in Swaziland

In 2011, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) conducted a research study in five of the countries in the region – Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland –  to draw an up-to-date map of the current state of youth and adult education in these countries – the policies, institutional frameworks, governance, funding, provision and stakeholders.

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

September 10th, 2012

In 2011, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) conducted a research study in five of the countries in the region – Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland –  to draw an up-to-date map of the current state of youth and adult education in these countries – the policies, institutional frameworks, governance, funding, provision and stakeholders.

This report on Swaziland is part of that regional study and is based upon research conducted in Swaziland in 2011 by Dr David Jele of the Faculty of Education of the University of Swaziland with the support of the Swaziland National Coalition on Education for All (SWANCEFA). The purpose of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the current delivery of education and training to out-of-school youth and adults and to identify the effective institutions, educational practices, stakeholder collaboration and networking that will improve its quantity and quality.

It is hoped that this report can challenge the Swazi nation to finalise its adult education policy and make suitable institutional and financial provision to meet the educational needs of youth and adults.

The full report can be downloaded below

The report concludes that it is evident that the current provision of youth and adult education is nowhere near what is required to achieve the Education for All goals by 2015. The inadequate scale of provision does not bode well for the youth and adults who are neither employed nor enrolled in any education or training programme. Given the size of the youth population compared to other population groups and the urgent need for greater knowledge and skills to make people more employable, the Swazi government must give greater priority to youth and adult education.

The following recommendations emanating from this study have taken cognisance of the list of general recommendations made in the African statement on the power of youth and adult learning and education for Africa's development made at the CONFINTEA VI Preparatory Conference in Nairobi in December 2008.

Policy, legislation and governance

  • Swaziland needs a comprehensive youth and adult education policy for those people who have not benefited from the highly selective system of formal education and training. While such a policy may understandably prioritise literacy and basic education, it should incorporate the whole range of adult education and should include attention to language issues and support for the creation of literate environments.
  • While creating and reforming the governance and institutions of adult education, it should be seen as an autonomous sector and not an appendage to another (such as formal schooling).
  • The dormant Adult Education Council should be resuscitated, given the critical role it could play in the promotion of adult education.
  • As an interim measure, the existing unit in the Ministry of Education needs to be upgraded to a full Directorate of Adult Education.
  • The Technical and Vocational Education and Training policy and strategic plan needs to be finalised, including the formal establishment of the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The existing unit in the Ministry of Education needs to be upgraded to a full Directorate of Industrial and Vocational Training.

Literacy and Language

  • Given that Swaziland is a signatory to several international and regional conventions relating to the elimination of illiteracy, it is imperative that the country observes these agreements.  In the field of literacy, the Bamako Call to Action, which was agreed to by African countries in 2008, is a challenge that Swaziland has yet to meet. While the Sebenta National Institute indicates the government’s commitment to this field, a re-galvanised adult literacy plan and the resources to implement it are needed.
  • The issue of the language of literacy and adult basic education instruction needs to be re-examined. While there are compelling reasons to teach English as a key means of communication in the workplace and bureaucracy, there is overwhelming international evidence that the use of the mother-tongue as the main medium of instruction in primary and basic education is more effective.

Data, information and research

  • There is a need for a standardisation of the data required from youth and adult education providers – and all youth and adult education providers should be encouraged to develop their own capacity to supply this information.
  • Digitised, internet-accessible stores of reports, research, evaluations and other documentation are needed – along with a comprehensive, systematic web-based database on adult education provision and practice in Swaziland.
  • Government must work hand-in-hand with the university and other research-based institutes to revive the National Research Council so that research findings can inform policy and practice in youth and adult education.

Quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation

  • The government should support the development of quality assessment, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms as well as support research and data collection in order to formulate and regulate policies, programmes and to evaluate the impact of youth and adult education. It should also develop a framework for learning validation, which is equivalent to the system of formal education, regardless of where and when the learning occurred, and ensures fair equivalence between formal and non-formal learning.

Funding

  • Funding benchmarks should be developed along with strategies for mobilising funds, including from international donors, for youth and adult education.
  • There should be renewed attempts by all sectors to ensure sustainable funding of youth and adult education and the accountable and transparent utilisation of the funds.

Qualifications frameworks

  • The speedy establishment of a national qualifications framework must be supported to ensure access and recognition of prior learning (formal and non-formal) of adults and the rational comparison of certification and qualifications provided by various providers. However, care must be taken to avoid cumbersome and over-bureaucratised models.

Capacity building

  • The poor conditions of service of adult education personnel, particularly in literacy, adult basic and non-formal education need to be rapidly addressed.
  • Adult education qualifications need comparable status to those for conventional education and training.
  • The use of open and distance learning and ICT in the training and support of educators and materials developers should be encouraged.

Out-of-school youth

  • The advantages of separate programmes for out-of-school youth should be explored.

Cooperation and networking

  • More networking and exchanges are required to give substance to cooperation in the field of youth and adult education. Civil society organisations, the donor community, and other actors should make youth and adult education an important part of their social ‘agenda’. 

Contacts

  • 1 Hood Avenue/148 Jan Smuts; Rosebank, GP 2196; South Africa
  • T. +27 (0)11 587 5000
  • F. +27 (0)11 587 5099