Up for grabs:
 Laptops
 FNB bank accounts with E1000 cash
 Educational goody hampers

The Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC) has partnered with First National Bank (FNB) Swaziland to tap into young minds by encouraging them to participate in national economic dialogue, as their views are important in informing national policy, particularly with a look into the future.

Since SEPARC’s and FNB’s goals align in terms of driving Swaziland towards a knowledge economy and creating a ‘brain trust’, the institutions saw it fit to partner in harnessing these young minds to gauge their understanding of the status of the country’s economy and opportunities that could be explored to drive economic development going forward. As the future of the country lies in the hands of the youth, and given their large population, the two institutions realise the need to harness their potential to drive economic development from an early age.

According to the Swaziland State of the Youth Report 2015, Swaziland is entering a transition phase and the window of opportunity to harness a demographic dividend is opening. If these young people are healthy, well-educated, and able to find or create work, the economic growth potential for the country as a whole could significantly increase. The report states that the critical nature of leveraging the potential positive benefits associated with a demographic dividend cannot be overstated, as a better present and future for young people in Swaziland will mean a better future for the entire nation.

With strategies and policies in place to safeguard the health of young people, ensure that they have access to quality education and skills development, that they can access comprehensive reproductive health services, and are ensured adequate employment opportunities, Swaziland can harness the potential demographic dividend to reap substantial benefits (SD State of the Youth Report 2015).

However, there are many challenges facing African countries in trying to harness this demographic dividend, and key among these is the educational system, where there is a mismatch between what pupils learn and the demands of national development.

Given the emerging interest among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in youth participation, it is important to examine and assess carefully the promise and challenges of youth engagement. Through active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities, helping them to learn vital life-skills and develop knowledge, and to participate effectively, they must be given the proper tools, such as information and education (UN 2011).

The United Nations encourages efforts aimed at achieving appropriate representation and participation of youth in decision making, and that when drafting laws that affect young people, their participation through consultation processes ensuring their contributions to debates on policy is facilitated. It is against this background that SEPARC and FNB are launching this inaugural essay competition on economic development for high school pupils residing in Swaziland.

The theme of the competition is; ‘Rural Economic Development in Swaziland: Opportunities for the Future’, which is particularly important as the country will be celebrating 50 years of independence next year. It is critical that the nation takes stock of how far Swaziland has come, and look towards the future for new and innovative ideas on how to grow the economy and propel the country forward, especially in this fast changing global space that is continually churning out new technologies for development.

So, who is better placed to give the country direction than these young and as yet untapped minds? The purpose of the competition is to engage high school pupils in thoughtful reflection on rural economic development, as well as financial inclusion in Swaziland, in an effort to promote dialogue among the citizens and policymakers based on their youthful and forward looking insights.


I. Guidelines

The competition is open to all high school pupils in Swaziland to write about their perspective on rural economic development in the Kingdom since independence and/or how the country can boost economic growth going forward. Essay topics must cover any of the following areas:

• Financial Inclusion
• Rural Development

The essay should not be more than 1 500 words and must be written in English. The format should be 1.5 spacing, Times New Roman font size 12, and submitted as a Microsoft Word document. Submissions should also include a brief author biography.

II. Judging

Essays will be judged based on originality and creativity on the topic of choice, clarity and organisation of the essay, appropriateness of the essay to the competition theme, and the author’s demonstrated grasp of challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions around economic development in Swaziland.

III. Prizes

Prizes will be awarded to the best three essays in each of the two categories.

First prize: Laptop, FNB bank account with E1 000 cash savings, FNB/SEPARC goody hamper
Second prize: FNB account with E1 000 cash savings, FNB/SEPARC goody hamper
Third prize: FNB account with E1 000 cash savings, FNB/SEPARC goody hamper

The overall winners will also be invited to present their essays at the Swaziland Economic Conference scheduled for October 25 – 27, 2017 at the Royal Swazi Sun in Ezulwini.

All submitted essays shall be published in a special booklet to be distributed at the Conference, and the best essays shall be posted onto the SEPARC website and mobile app (SEPARC Insights), as well as published in the Swazi Observer.

IV. Eligibility Criteria

• Entrants must reside in Swaziland
• Entrants must currently be attending secondary/high school in Swaziland
• Essays must be at least 1 000 words but not more than 1 500 words (Times New Roman 1.5 line spacing)
• Entries must be the original unaided work of the pupil
• Entries must be in English
• Only one entry per pupil shall be considered.

V. Submission Deadline

The deadline for submission of entries is September 23, 2017. Essays must be addressed SEPARC/FNB Essay Competition and delivered to the SEPARC offices on 7th Floor Dlanubeka House, Cnr Lalufadlana and Mdada Street, or emailed to info@separc.co.sz or sent to P. O. Box 8804, Mbabane. For more details contact SEPARC Knowledge Manager Teetee Zwane at 2404 3033/2823 or email zwaneteetee@separc.co.sz.