On Wednesday (February 13), a team of Eswatini Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) researchers visited Londunduma High School in the Hhohho region to motivate learners and inform them about the importance of education and available opportunities in their prospective careers.

The researchers were welcomed by Principal Ms Nompumelelo Masina, who appreciated the fact that the team is dominated by young people, which she said would motivate the learners to listen attentively and respond positively towards their presentations. She thanked ESEPARC for visiting the school and observed that the learners no longer take their teachers seriously when they advise them about the importance of their future, perhaps because they interact with them (teachers) on a daily basis.

Deputy Principal Mrs Futhi Dlamini-Ngcobo informed the team on the overall performance of the learners, mentioning that most of them experienced challenges with the English Language subject. She highlighted that most learners take English with levity, thereby leading to their subsequent failure.

“The learners do not make it because they have no plans and no notion of how to put their ideas into action. Our learners have potential but they simply do not want to apply themselves to their work. We have witnessed intelligent minds going to waste due to refusal to put in effort. It is absolutely frustrating because these learners have the potential and ability but tend to get involved in drugs and alcohol for whatever reasons and their fire does not get ignited,” she said.

The session covered 212 learners in Form 3 to Form 5. While sharing information with the learners, the researchers also gathered a contextual understanding of the perspectives of young girls at the school regarding transactional sexual interactions with older men (otherwise known as ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘blessers’).

One learner mentioned her concerns about the phenomenon of ‘sugar daddies’ which, it was gathered, has in recent times contributed to cases of teenage pregnancy at Londunduma High School. She said the main factor that influenced such interactions is general lack of resources, which leads to young girls being sexually involved with older men in exchange for monetary/material gain.

The learners expressed their appreciation for the visit and further stated that their low performance in English could be because they are not availed opportunities to engage in public speaking, as the school does not partake in any debate competitions. ESEPARC Associate Researcher Gugulethu Mgabhi advised them to read books, which she said would be an ideal tool to enhance their communication skills.

She further warned the learners on using their mobile phones for the wrong purposes like texting friends or updating social media sites. Gugulethu encouraged the learners to use these devices for educational purposes in order to improve on their English.