Matjana Community Preschool

Kaphunga Swaziland

Matjana is a not-for-profit, community preschool in rural Swaziland

Training Swaziland's Preschool Teachers

Written by Michelle Brear

There is a huge shortage of qualified preschool teachers in Swaziland, yet there are few places where Swazis can study early childhood care and development in the country. In response, the Ministry of Education has organized a training course, which Matjana’s Teacher Ncobile Mbonane is attending.

Ncobile Mbonane“The course goes for eight weeks and over 80 women have registered to complete the course,” Dudu Hlophe, ECCD Coordinator at the Ministry of Education, told us. “International sponsorship has made it possible for us to provide the training, for a nominal fee.”

The training fee of 400 emalangeni (about US$60) is much cheaper than ECCD courses offered at private colleges in Swaziland. It also includes the cost of all meals and accommodation, meaning the participants can reside in Manzini while attending the course. “Without accommodation it just wouldn’t be possible for many women to attend. Most are from rural areas and travelling to town is difficult and expensive,” Hlophe said.

She told us that prior to organizing this course, the MoE was receiving a lot of enquiries from communities wanting to register preschools, but unable to find qualified teachers to support them. “The importance of ECCD centres in Swaziland is increasing, as there are around 100,000 orphaned children in this country, mainly as a result of HIV and AIDS.”

Currently many communities are providing care points, where the children receive meals and play. “We want to support communities to extend care points to education centres, and training teachers is one of the greatest needs,” Hlophe added.

The course commenced on July 7th and will be held in Manzini on alternate weeks for the next sixteen weeks. It has been scheduled this way to ensure that small preschools and community care centres are able to cope while staff members are away training. The participants have welcomed the opportunity to develop their skills and expand their networks. “I’m very pleased to get this opportunity to learn more about teaching, how children develop and all the things they should be learning when they are five or six years old. I’m also getting lots of ideas for activities we can do with the kids in Kaphunga,” Matjana’s Teacher Ncobile said. “It’s also really good to spend time with other preschool teachers. We’ll sit an exam at the end and those who pass will receive a certificate. We’re all working really hard because we want to pass and become qualified teachers.”

Fortunate SihlogonyaneIn the meantime, Teacher Fortunate Sihlogonyane is holding the fort in Kaphunga. “Taking the class alone is a bit challenging, but it’s also fun. It is much easier when there’s two of us, so I’m glad Ncobile’s returning every second week,” Fortunate told us.

“The kids are very young and they need a lot of attention. Sometimes they just don’t understand that the teacher can only do one thing at once! But it makes me realize how lucky we are here, as I know most classes only have one teacher.”

“It’s also good to know that training is being provided as there are not many opportunities here in Swaziland. The training course will run again next year and I hope to be able to attend then,” she said.

Ncobile will return alternate weeks when there is a break in training, to give Fortunate a break and to “make sure the kids don’t forget me,” she told us.

A Picture of the Swaziland Flag


Matjana 2009

New Swings for Matjana

2009 Begins

2009 School Committee

Matjana 2008

Improving MPS in 2008

Parents get involved in MPS Committee

Comparing 2007 and 2008

Dancing at MPS

Training Swaziland Teachers

Ministry of Education Inspection

Matjana Excursion 2008

Graduation Party 2008

Matjana 2007

The First Month

Why Kaphunga needs a preschool

Inaugural Fundraising Day

Matjana becomes Registered

Michelle gets Siswati lessons

Enrolment for 2008

Plans for A new Classroom

Chris and Corina visit Matjana

Fun Filled End to first Year

The Graduation