Since announcing our invitation to serve in Swaziland, everyone has had a ton of questions. I’ve decided to organize some of the most common answers in this post. Feel free to post any questions you still have, and we’ll do our best to post more information.
The Kingdom of Swaziland
Slightly smaller than New Jersey at 17,364 sq km (or ~10,789 sq miles)
Population of 1,370,424 (1/4 that of Wisconsin)
5th lowest life expectancy in the world
Over 1/4 of the population has HIV/AIDS–highest prevalence in the world
Non-Formal Education Program
Because this is a new project for Peace Corps Swaziland, there is not a whole lot of information on what our specific jobs may be like, however the following sheds some light onto the goals and purpose of our assignment. The project is a result of a 2009 request by the king to support some of the goals of UNICEF’s Schools as Centers of Care and Support project. With the Non-Formal Education Project, the total number of Peace Corps Volunteers in the country will total 80 by 2012.
- Helping teachers to incorporate a more participatory approach to teaching through workshops, small group mentoring and one-to-one technical assistance and mentoring.
- Strengthening or establishing life skills’ programs at schools. In this capacity, volunteers will either assist fellow teachers or take the lead in instructing life skills lessons.
- Working with in and out-of-school youth and adults at the community level on developing and strengthening their English language skills.
- Working with school faculty to develop school-based libraries and promoting related activities.
- Attending and promoting participation in Parent and Teacher Associations to encourage buy-in and participation by community members in school activities.
- Strengthening or establishing school-based Junior Achievement Programs, which help youth gain a greater understanding of basic business and entrepreneurship principles. Volunteers may also help community members to develop resumes and business plans and to strengthen their interview skills.
- Teaching computer skills to teachers, students and community members.
- Appraising students of available tertiary and vocational education opportunities within Swaziland and bordering countries, and serving as an informational resource for students aspiring to further their education”
This program is especially important because of the enormous and growing population of orphaned and vulnerable children in Swaziland (primarily as a result of HIV/AIDS). In order to stop the cycles of poverty and infection, it is vital that communities develop ways to address the needs of the next generation.
For those of you who know us personally, this assignment seems to fit us like a glove. Our work in Appleton and in Caneille have both focused on investments in education and enrichment in youth. The application process was a little grueling, but the information we do have ensures that this assignment will be well worth the wait. 34 days….