Many children in Swaziland, especially high school students are not able to stay in school because they can not pay their school fees. An orphaned or vulnerable child, if registered as being one, has a portion of their school fees paid for by the Swaziland Government through donations from the European Union. However, if a child’s family can not pay the difference between what the government pays and what the school fees actually are (called “topping off”), the child is told to leave school during the second term. Some will come back the next year and the same thing will happen and others will not. In either case, it’s the child who looses out.
In 2010, the Swaziland government announced there would be “free” education for all Swazi children starting in grade one and two. In 2011, they added grade three. In 2012, they added grade four. Because of the high cost of high school, and the fact that younger children are now getting their school fees paid for, we are focusing on assisting high school age students who want to go on to finish their education and are at least average students. We find these students one child at a time. They are usually recommended to us by teachers or members of the church. We provide them with a proper school uniform, stationary or other supplemental materials needed for class and pay their what is owed on their school fees.
A big part of our ministry is to follow up with the students, their teachers and families throughout the year. We provide them a phone number that they can call if they need anything. Our very hard working volunteer, Thoko Khumalo, visits with the child, their family, their teachers and their head teacher. She gets their school reports each term, praises them when they have done well and lectures them like she would her own child if they need to improve in any area, including coming to school looking neat in their school uniform, being prepared with the proper stationary, and exhibiting honest, trustworthy, hardworking behaviour. Accountability and integrity is also taught, modeled and required.
Visit “Our Kids” page for information on the individual children that are a part of the One Child, One Heart family.