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Foreigners to benefit from free education

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MBABANE – With the advent of free primary school education, foreigners are set to benefit from the programme.

However, they will be required to pay special fees that will be determined by the Minister of Education. This will only apply in public schools. Public schools are those wholly controlled by government or the state has more than 51 per cent shareholding.

The new Free Primary Education Bill, 2009 stipulates that the minister will have to first consult with cabinet as well as the principal and school committee of the school where the foreign child wants to enrol.

The minister though can also issue a gazette that allows certain foreign nationals to be determined by him not to pay the specified fees.

The proposed legislation states that, once enrolled at a public school, the foreign pupil will have the same rights and privileges extended to Swazi nationals who are receiving instruction at the same school. However, “A foreign pupil shall not be enrolled at a public school if the pupil’s enrolment has the effect that a Swazi child or exempt pupil who is entitled to enrol there and has applied for enrolment is not able to be enrolled.”

If the foreign pupil falls under the category of pupils who are expected to pay the special fees set by the minister and then fail to pay the money in full, the minister has a right to take the parents or guardians of that pupil to court in order to get full payment of the money due.

“Notwithstanding that Swazi children and exempt pupils may not be able to be enrolled, a foreign pupil may be enrolled at a public school, or in any subject, course or programme at a public school, if the enrolment is in a vacant place that the committee established for foreign pupils and whose continued availability is dependent on the fees payable by foreign pupils enrolled in it,” states Section 4 of the Bill. The Bill has been approved by government. It is yet to be tabled and debated in Parliament.

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