King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, has declared a small teacher-training college will become a university, repeating a promise previously made and broken in 2013.
He told the Ngwane Teachers’ College graduation ceremony in Shiselweni on Thursday (12 October 2017) it would be declared a university in 2018 to coincide with Swaziland’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain.
The decision appears to have been made on the spur of the moment without consultation with the Ministry of Education and Training.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘His Majesty pointed out that every year he visited the college, the students and staff told him of their wish that the institution be elevated to university status.
‘“Every time we come here we get the same request that the institution be elevated to a university.
‘“I heard you again today when rendering your entertainment stating that the institution is ready for such an elevation.
‘“While one group was performing and touched on this issue I asked Dr Mahlalela how far the process to elevate the institution and he told me it was very advanced and it would be concluded soon hence I declare that in 2018 this institution will no longer be a college but a university,” his Majesty declared.’
He added, ‘In 2018 the country will be celebrating the jubilee hence it is important that the progress made on the ground reflects that we have been independent for 50 years.
‘“Those that are involved in the negotiations and planning process of this must therefore speed track it,” His Majesty said.’
The King and others did not report that a similar promise had been made to Ngwane Teachers’ College in 2013. It was announced it would become a university in 2014.
The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that College’s Principal Amos Mahlalela and University of Swaziland (UNISWA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Cisco Magagula made the announcement at that year’s graduation ceremony.
The college is small and in 2013 Magagula said it had graduated 3,764 since the college was formed. This was in 1983.
This year, 292 students graduated; all with diplomas. At present it has 52 lecturers and only two hold Ph.D doctoral degrees. According to the official website of the Swaziland Government from 1989 to date the college offers a three-year Primary Teachers Diploma (PTD) programme. About 90 percent of the students in the college are sponsored by the government.
This is not the first announcement the King has made regarding the creation of a university. In August 2016, he declared a ‘university of transformation’ serving the whole Southern African Development Community would be established in Swaziland within a year. It did not happen.
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