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Swaziland

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Catching up with literacy and numeracy skills

Catching up with literacy and numeracy skills

In Swaziland, over 60 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Although primary education recently became free, many families could previously not afford to send their children to school. SOS Children are running literacy and numeracy classes to help the ‘lost generation’ of children develop literacy and numeracy skills and move forward into a career.

In 2001, SOS Children established an SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland. The Programme works with parents and caregivers to prevent family breakdown, and help children to grow up safely. Staff running the programme quickly realised that most children from families on the Family Strengthening Programme, had missed out on the opportunity to attend school, as their parents were unable to afford the high fees in place at the time.

As a result, SOS Children in Swaziland established a partnership with the Sebenta National Institute and together launched a literacy and numeracy programme for this generation of children.

The four-year programme takes in children from four communities, and is based in a local community centre. Children are taught as two groups – the lower grades and the upper grades, and are given a breakfast and a hot lunch in-between classes. The programme prepares the children for an external literacy examination, which allows them to move onto secondary school.

When children do go on to enter formal education, SOS Children recognise that many may need ongoing support to help them to adapt to the school environment. To help them, children’s clubs offer a forum for children to meet and share their experiences, and take part in extra study sessions.

Hundreds of children successfully returned to formal education as a result of SOS Children’s classes, evidence of the programme’s success. One former student, Mncedisi Mabuza, is now in his second year pursuing an associate degree in Information Technology at Limkokwing University. Mlungisi Dlamini, another pupil, is studying for his first degree in nursing at the University of Swaziland.

The programme is currently being phased out due to the government’s introduction of free primary school places. We are continuing our work helping children to access education through our Family Strengthening Programme.

Find out more about our work in Swaziland.

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