Since 2014, MTN Group took a stance that all its operating companies would channel 60% of Corporate Social Investment (CSI) expenditure towards education projects with particular attention being given to the areas of Information, Communication & Technology projects, and the digitalization of education.
The following factors were listed as reasons behind this significant move;
- Fewer than 80% of 15 – 24 year olds in MTN countries are functionally illiterate.
- Improving educational performance could add up to 2% points to GDP per capita growth 2050.
- Modest improvements in educational performance in low income countries would help them achieve $1000 per capita incomes 14 years sooner than at present rates.
Although literacy rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate. There is an average of 40 pupils per teacher in Sub-Saharan Africa. In many countries, the ratio is more than 60 to one.
This is exacerbated by untrained/poorly trained teachers and outdated curricula and teaching methods and; It is estimated that $6.5 billion will be required to help sub-Saharan Africa achieve quality education.
With these findings therefore MTN Eswatini, by virtue of being part of the MTN Group, aligned its CSI Programme with this vision.
MTN Eswatini’s Role in Investing in Education for All
As the theme goes for the past four years, “Investing in Education for All” MTN Eswatini has played a major role in improving the educational climate within the country. The contribution has come in significant ways that may seem small to one when they are worth a million years of knowledge to a pupil benefiting from it. In the education sector, MTN Eswatini has been seen striving towards bridging the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools most of which are located in rural areas.
Trying to strike a balance and ensure equal opportunities has seen the company invest a large chunk of its budget towards the education pillar in order to realize the dream of an improved education sector.
MTN Radio Show
As of 2015, MTN Eswatini, through the MTN Foundation has supported the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) by airing revision lessons over radio. In carrying out this initiative MTN collaborated with the Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Service (EBIS) and the MOET.
In 2017, the collaboration was extended to the Voice of the Church (VOC) radio station. The lessons were both in siSwati and in English. However, a survey done showed that most students preferred lessons in siSwati and understood it better, so, this year they are only in siSwati. The revision lessons are for Science and Mathematics with a particular focus on Grade VII, Form III, and Form V learners who write external examinations.
However, it is known that subject content examined at Grade VII is taught from grade I; the one examined at Form III begins at Form I and for Form V it covers Form IV work too. As a result of this, all school-going age children are set to benefit from the revision lessons.
Science and Mathematics are core subjects in the curriculum. This implies that they are compulsory subjects and all learners do them. However, the country has been faced with the challenge of perpetual poor performance in external examinations in these subjects. This is a result of a number of factors which include shortage of specialized teaching materials (laboratories, equipment, and chemicals) and shortage of teachers that are qualified and confident to teach the subjects.
To help address the issue of poor performance in these subjects, MTN then supports the revision lessons which are taught by classroom teachers who go an extra mile preparing lessons for an audience that cannot see them hence the need to teach differently from the way they teach at school.
Both learners and teachers benefit from the radio programs. While learners get to understand the concepts better, teachers get to share ideas amongst themselves when listening to the programs and explore various ways of handling certain topics they teach. The fairs also enable learners to use their classroom knowledge and skills to conduct research and implement.
Science, Mathematics, and Technology projects that make them better individuals both cognitively and attitudinally. Most of them then get the passion to pursue careers in Science Mathematics and technology.
MTN ICT Fairs
Support to Science Fairs, Mathematics Fairs, and ICT Fairs has enabled the pupils to get an opportunity to conduct research, design artifacts, and showcase various innovative skills. These activities are mainly lead by the relevant teachers’ associations. Exposure of the learners to these Fairs encourages them to have positive attitudes towards the subjects and to gain a better understanding of the concepts taught. Hence they are encouraged to pursue careers in Science, Mathematics, and Technology.
MTN Eswatini places special focus on specific subjects namely mathematics, science, and ICT. The MTN Foundation has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Training’s Science, Mathematics, and ICT Fairs since 2015 in a bid to empower and up-skill Swati students. The ultimate goal is to see the country achieve from the current crop of pupils, future Mathematicians, Scientists, Engineers, and Software Developers.
Millions have been spent by the company towards infrastructure development and refurbishment of rural schools. In pursuing its dreams, MTN Eswatini has partnered with amongst others, key Government departments for the implementation of the projects. In the education programmes, MTN Has partnered with The Ministry of Education and Training in identifying schools in dire need.
Also playing a major part in the partnership has been the Microprojects, a critical department within the Ministry of Economic Planning. It is imperative that every Swazi student learns under a conducive environment as this will enhance the rate at which they absorb what is being taught.
MTN Eswatini places special focus on specific subjects namely mathematics, science, and ICT.
The MTN Foundation has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Training’s Science, Mathematics, and ICT Fairs since 2015 in a bid to empower and up-skill Swati students. The ultimate goal is to see the country achieve from the current crop of pupils, future Mathematicians, Scientists, Engineers and Software Developers.
Material And Labour
MTN Foundation under the Education Pillar has donated building material and labor for the construction of classrooms and laboratories in a number of schools countrywide.
The Foundation, in acknowledgement of the positive work done in rehabilitating some members of the society, has collaborated with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs’ Department of Correctional Services, donating over E1 million worth of raw material/inputs used in the construction of school furniture and minor repairs.
As part of the Department’s contribution to the partnership, the department would produce desks and chairs through its metalwork, Carpentry, and housing departments. The final products were donated to the Ministry of Education and Training.
MTN Educare Radio, Website And Educational Portal
Pupils countrywide have been carried away by the new wave of learning and preparing for examinations through MTN Foundation’s MTN Educare Programme and Online Learner Center. This initiative has made it possible for pupils to listen to lessons on Mathematics and Science through the country’s radio channel EBIS. Radio still remains one of the most easily accessible and affordable forms of media in the country. This is the case in rural or urban areas.
Impact and Initiatives born through the MTN Educare Radio Show
Through this tool, MTN Eswatini has managed to provide a fair platform for all pupils to benefit countrywide despite geographic settings, connectivity, or even finance.
Also offered by the MTN Educare initiative is a much-needed solution that made it possible for pupils to download past examination papers. Through this platform, pupils have been able to hold academic discussions. These offerings have been positively received by both pupils and teachers all over the country. Using this platform has yielded high positive results with some of the country’s top students giving testimonies on the influence that these programs have had in them acquiring the highest marks.
Cyberzone At The University Of Eswatini
The University of Eswatini is another focal point where future entrepreneurs and shapers of the economy are prepared.
It is important, therefore, to ensure that the environment in which students are prepared and offered the best tools and facilities in which they can best practice for the future. In a bid to achieve this, MTN Foundation still under the Education Pillar established a Computer Simulation Laboratory and Cyberzone. Hailed by the Vice-Chancellor as a critical success factor for education, the laboratory’s simulation software allows engineering and electronics students to observe what is happening in the real world through the design and simulation of various systems.
The MTN Foundation has collaborated with Young Heroes Eswatini and Eswatini Skills Centre in the form of Vocational Scholarship Fund to benefit the country’s Orphaned and Vulnerable children.
A large amount of money has been invested by the company towards this initiative. Target group here are youth who are unable to enroll at universities due to many reasons (e.g poor results) Instead of students being idle at home, scholarship addresses and fills this gap. At least 65% of the investment made by MTN Eswatini towards this partnership specifically takes care of tuition fees of children in need of such assistance. The invested remainder goes towards equipping the Eswatini Skills Centre plumbing unit in Nhlangano. This bursary is aimed at empowering the youth with vocational skills such as plumbing, panel beating, electrical wiring, motor mechanic, bricklaying and ICT.
The MTN Bushfire School’s Festival
Created to counter the lack of a formal arts curriculum in eSwatini’s public schools, the MTN Bushfire High Schools’ Festival supported by MTN Bushfire, and the MTN Bushfire Primary Schools’ Festival supported by MTN Bushfire and the European Union, engage students from across the country in a week of interactive arts learning that precedes the main festival. The Schools’ Festivals combine the arts with social responsibility themes, to deliver a week of facilitator-led teacher and student workshops and performances
As a direct result of the Schools Festival initiatives, the Kingdom of eSwatini’s Ministry of Education has engaged Bushfire and other industry stakeholders to assist in developing an arts curriculum in public schools as of 2017. The Festival along with the Ministry and industry stakeholders have made significant strides in 2018 towards finalizing the curriculum
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Ministry of Education
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Bushfire (Arts and Culture)