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This signing ceremony which took place at the Shiselweni Regional Education Office (REO) in Nhlangano, marked the end of this eight-year project by the EU in Eswatini which began in 2010.
Signing for the EU was EU Ambassador, Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones, whilst the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, Bertram Stewart, who is also the National Authorizing Officer (NAO), signed on behalf of the government.
Two Ministers, the Minister of Education and Training, Dr Phineas Magagula and the Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Prince Hlangusemphi, witnessed the signing ceremony which also took place in front of hundreds of primary school head teachers from the Shiselweni region who had come to collect the 2018 grants for their respective schools.
Under this project, the EU has, since 2010, paid for all Grade One pupils in the country resulting in a 98 percent enrolment rate in primary schools thus helping the Kingdom to achieve universal primary education which was one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking before the signing ceremony, EU Ambassador, Hernandez Aragones said even though the SET project was coming to an end, this did not mean that the EU was pulling out of the country's education sector. Instead, she said the EU will continue to support the country under the Social Protection Project targeting early child care and education.
Ambassador Hernandez Aragones said the SET project was initially planned to end in 2016. But through fruitful collaboration with the Government of Eswatini, the EU was able to extend this support for a further two years until 2018.
She hoped that the government will now take over and sustain the free primary education initiative as envisaged in the country's constitution.
Speaking on the same occasion, the two Ministers, the Minister of Education, Dr Phineas Magagula, and the Minister of Economic Planning, Prince Hlangusemphi both appreciated the overall EU support to Eswatini though they regretted that the EU Support to Education and Training (SET) had come to an end.
In his speech, Prince Hlangusemphi said the SET project went a long way in helping Eswatini to achieve universal primary education which he said was a major milestone for the country.
He said the government was happy that the EU will continue to support Eswatini in other sectors of the country's economy.
The Minister of Education, on the other hand, said the government will from now on take over the payment of the Grade One fees beginning 2019.