July 13th, 2012
Waya Waya = indefinite strike
We are now ending week 3 of the indefinite teacher strike here in Swaziland. This means a whole range of operation statuses for the schools across the country. Some have stood vacant since the beginning of June. Teachers and students have occupied some schools, like my High School, but class isn’t being held. Everyone just hangs around until after lunch. You can decide if this is a good or bad thing, but the students are still being fed lunch! The World Food Program (WFP) started a school-feeding program here in Swaziland and it successfully got transferred over to the government to manage. However, the government hasn’t been able to afford the program and schools were without food for much of last year (part of the school protesting that happened last winter), so it is now back in the hands of WFP. Despite all this, there are still some schools that are operating as per usual.
For me this means that my Health Club has basically disbanded, however, as you already know the library is still up and running thankfully. Well that was until this week. Teachers went to the government on Monday and lost their case. In retaliation they decided to host a sit-in: basically what they are already doing – being on school grounds but not teaching. The Government in response said this wasn’t allowed and in cases where schools are participating anyways violence has broken out. My school officially closed for the last three days of this week in response. I have seen a number of schools being “blocked” from entry by police but things have been quite in my area so far. There is talk of all civil servants striking together but so far transport is running and nurses are still at the clinics. We’ll see where this goes.
My question is why are parents not the ones protesting? They pay extremely expensive school fees yet their students are not being taught. Form 3 (grade 10) and Form 5 (grade 12) have national exams next term that they will be forced to take yet will fail because they have lost so many weeks of instruction. If this waya waya results in reform then it may be worth it, but right now it’s causing a lot more damage then good.