Pre-Vocational studies were introduced in 2002 in Swaziland; these numbers have been growing since with boys and girls taking interest in the studies. When it started there were 25 learners at Ntfonjeni National High, with numbers increasing ever since.
In 2012 there was only one girl doing pre-vocational agriculture who displayed her tractor driving skills and how to mount farm tools and machinery. Unfortunately, during the recent visit to the school, Agribusiness found that the tractor was currently taken at Lobamba National High, another school they share same tractor with. It also offers pre-vocational subjects. Another school that they share the tractor with is Motshane High School where learners also have similar subjects like those offered at the school. Sikhunyane High also uses that tractor, meaning it rotates between the three schools.
Ntfonjeni National High is among the 16 schools that were identified by Government to pilot the Pre vocational studies. Senior Agriculture Teacher, Petros Simelane in an interview disclosed that all learners in lower grades at their school have to do Agriculture. They exercise freedom of choice once they get to Form four. Lower grades do Modern Agriculture which includes animal husbandry and also have an orchard where fruit trees like mangoes and oranges are grown.
Currently the school keeps about 15 goats under the pre vocational agriculture and sadly thieves come and steal their goats from the schools animal house. Simelane stated that if funds permit they would like to introduce piggery so that their pre-vocational learners can practice piggery. A vegetable garden is currently being used for grazing their goats; this was because vegetables were sold to vendors from next to the school.
A variety of subjects with a potential of making them self-employed are being offered at the centre. Subjects offered at the school include Agriculture, Design and Technology, Food and Nutrition and Fashion and Fabrics. There is also Rural Education Centre (REC) that caters for people who may not get to complete or even go to school. Learners registered in the triple stream of formal class are around 722 pupils.
During a visit to the school, learners were found busy feeding their batch of layers using the two systems namely caged chickens and the deep heat system. The learners are taught advantages and disadvantages of the two systems because they get to monitor laying chickens. Those in the deep heat system use wooden made cages. Simelane stated that before the end of October they hope to have broilers so that his learners can sell to the general public.
The school has breeds of New Zealand Red and one New Zealand White. A well fed rabbit can produce more than four times a year. Notably, there was a rabbit that was reported to have produced more than 18 times.
Mfanawenkhosi Sigudla, Temalangeni Dlamini, Lubisi Thembinkosi, Nakelo Dlamini and Manelisi Ngubane had a busy morning where they were feeding layers. At the animal house Form two’s were found feeding New Zealand Red Rabbits in their animal house. These included Tsikati Bonisanani and Mcolisi Dlamini.
One of the Pre-Vocational teachers Zandile Ndwandwe disclosed that their centre introduced subjects like baking, hair & beauty, which includes Manicure and Pedicure, lace waive and plaiting, electrical installation. These are subjects meant for people who come to the school once in a while; periods are structured according to the needs of their students. Ndwandwe stated that after completing some of their learners get awarded with certificates from City and Guilds in the United Kingdom. Those doing electrical installation have to undergo the process of grade testing with the Swaziland College of Technology.
Food and Nutrition department consist of Form fours of those eight currently doing the subject. Those doing Business Studies they are five in total and these include three boys and two girls. The excited learners stated that their desire is to run their own businesses as compared to joining the army of the unemployed.
Bonginkhosi Dlamini is one of the successful products of the school who graduated from the pre-vocational department such that he has been growing large tracks of land to supply chain stores and government agencies like National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMboard). Dlamini is determined to venture into pig production soon.
In a bid to encourage their learners they have partnered with a South African based Christian organisation based in Kwazulu-Natal where there is a community project that grows avocadoes and also bottling spring water. Learners have been taken to the centre almost every year and they will spend days at the facility.