The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS) and the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) successfully held a consultative meeting with stakeholders on the 21st of October, 2022 to review the National Human Resource Development (NHRD) Policy (2017-2030). The review of the NHRD policy is a key recommendation of the 2022 National Skills Audit Report, which shared information on Eswatini’s HRD gaps and opportunities, highlighting new developments and policy considerations.

Human Resource Development has been gaining a lot of attention in many countries around the world. Policymakers and governments alike recognise the importance of a skilled labour force and an education and training system that sufficiently prepares young people enter the labour market. The Government of Eswatini (GoE) has also joined this global wave which, coincides with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim for rapid and inclusive growth.

Although the NHRD policy is distinct, it is frequently intertwined with general education and/or labour policies. As a result, it should be reviewed in light of the country’s labour market, and education and training system. During the discussions, participants were in unison, lamenting the different issues that should be considered in the review of the NHRD policy. These include a lack of investment in education infrastructure and learning equipment, a misalignment of tertiary-level courses with industry needs and global standards, a lack of structured internship programs in the private sector, and a tendency of the education offered to be ‘consumption-orientated’ rather than ‘production-orientated.’

To align the NHRD policy with national development priorities, the stakeholders submitted the following suggestions:

  • Periodic review of curriculum at all education levels to re-evaluate relevance of the courses offered to ensure that the contents and methods of instruction meet generally accepted academic and sector standards and expectations. Curriculum should be reviewed with input from industry players;
  • Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) should be encouraged in order to increase funding for courses related to the country’s priority growth sectors (agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing, ICT, mining and energy, and tourism). Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of companies can play an important role in this regard.
  • Introduce Performance-based funding or Outcome-based funding for higher education institutions. Instead apportioning funding solely based on enrolment, this funding model allocates a portion of state funding for public colleges and universities based on how well they perform against predetermined metrics or indicators, instead of apportioning funding based entirely on enrolment. The specific performance measures may differ, but they typically include course completion and/or degree completion;
  • Adoption of Competency-Based Education and Training at tertiary level. Competency-Based Education is essentially a model centered on the students, focused on mastery of competencies and/or skills, and based on learning outcomes demonstrated through action or application;
  • Focus more on the regulatory of the education sector to ensure that higher education institutions comply with the Eswatini Higher Education Council (ESHEC) qualification framework;
  • The NHRD policy should also support non-formal education or alternative education;
  • Introduce pre-vocational studies at secondary and high school level;
  • Investigate how the country can deal with labour surplus (e.g., teachers and lawyers).

The consultative meeting was attended by representatives from both public and private sector institutions including government ministries, departments, and parastatals, colleges/universities, and industry. ESEPARC and the MoLSS extends their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all stakeholders for their contributions and participation in the discussions. Stakeholders will be called upon again soon to validate the revised draft of the NHRD policy.