Policy and Programs Program and Sector policy
Policy and Programs

Emlalatini Development Centre (EDC)

While collecting information for this global distance education network, SAIDE held several interviews with organisations in Southern African countries. Impressions of each country were generated to give some introduction to distance education and technology use in the area. Each interview has also been written up separately as a case study.

SAIDE country visits conducted in 1999

Permission granted

Contact details
Country: Swaziland
Head of EDC Mr Michael V Zikalala

Fax: 09268 41 61171/2/3
Tel: 09268 41 61983
Contact Person: Mrs Gladys Thembile Mtshawi
Position: Vice-Principal
Fax: 09268 41 61171/2/3
Tel: 09268 41 61983

Postal Address Emlalatini Development Centre
P.O. Box 547
Date: 8 July 1999


The Emlalatini Development Centre (EDC) is a Government institution under the Ministry of Education. It consists of three departments namely:

•the Correspondence department which offers students secondary education courses;

•the Vocational department which offers a one-year course in woodwork;

•the Agriculture Teacher’s in-service training department which trains primary school teachers to teach agriculture in their respective schools.

Mission statement:

The following mission statement appears in a brochure about EDC: Emlalatini Development Centre (EDC) provides services to all people who want to pursue the Junior Certificate (JC), O’Level and the Higher International General Certificate of Secondary Education (HIGCSE) courses regardless of age and distance.


Emlalatini was originally known as Ephesus House, which was started to help young people – nationals and refugees – to continue their secondary education. In the late 1960’s the need for correspondence education for Swaziland students was recognised. The Danish government provided the funds, through their aid agency DANIDA, to start up corespondence programmes for people who wanted to complete their secondary education. At first subjects for the Junior Certificate qualification were offered. Later EDC began to offer O’level courses and the Cambridge General Certificate of Education (HIGCSE) courses.

The opening of the correspondence centre coincided with the launch of a vocational training centre. Initially students who did not have a Junior Certificate (JC) could register at this centre. The course that was offered was a one-year course and the students were taught to make simple furniture. Today the vocational centre admits JC students, and gives priority to those who have studied subjects like Woodwork and Technical Drawing.

In 1972 Ephesus House changed its name and became known as the Swaziland International Education Centre (SIEC). In 1978 the centre ceased to be a project, and became part of the Ministry of Education. At the same time the name was changed to Emlalatini Development Centre.

The Agricultural Teachers’ In-Service Training Centre was established soon after the Ministry took over. The centre is responsible for training Primary school teachers to teach agriculture. The programme runs for two years during which teachers are offered residential as well as correspondence courses.

EDC’s structure

EDC is a government institution under the Ministry of Education. The centre, also referred to as a college, is situated in the Enzulwini area, midway between Mbabane and Manzini. At the Head of the centre is a principal who is assisted by a vice-prinicpal. They are responsible for managing the three departments, Correspondence, Agricultural Teachers’ Training Centre and the Vocational Centre. Initially it was envisaged to decentralize EDC’s work to rural education centres (REC’s) in the north, south, east and west of the country. It was hoped that EDC could make use of the existing infrastructure of the REC’s which are attached to high schools. However, the use of these centres as fully operational study centres for EDC students has proved to be difficult and currently they are used mainly for enrolling students

Programmes offered

EDC offers three programmes:

  • econdary Education Programme consisting of the Junior Certificate, O-level and the HIGCE courses
  • gricultural Teachers’ In-Service Training Programme
  • ocational Training Programme

EDC was specifically established to provide learners with access to secondary education programmes by using distance education methods. The remainder of this report will provide information about the distance education programme offered by the correspondence department of the centre.

Target groups

A profile of learners enrolled for the Secondary Education Programmes appears in an undated internal document, which gives an overview of EDC and its work. The following facts about learners are drawn from this document:

  • 88% are school leavers and those who failed the Junior Certificate and O’level examinations;
  • 3% are primary school teachers
  • 10% are working people, from the civil service and industry, and the private sector;
  • About 51% are women and 49% are men;
  • 65% of all learners have been to a conventional education system prior to their enrolment with EDC;
  • Students range in age from 15 to 54 years. Most students are in the age category 15 – 20 years, followed by 21 – 25 years;
  • The occupation/profession of EDC students includes the following: unemployed young people who live with their parents (they account for the largest number of enrolments), shop assistants, mine workers, bank clerks, civil servants, people working in industry, primary school teachers, staff at EDC, bus conductors.

Over the past few years the number of enrolments has dropped due to a large extent to the opening of private schools which offer secondary education courses. Information derived from sources such as: registration forms, pre-course/on-course/post course counselling, learners’ worksheets (tests) and difficulty sheets reveal that students register with EDC to:

  • improve their marks in order to qualify for senior secondary O’levels;
  • upgrade their qualifications to enable them to enter colleges or universities;
  • counselling to choose careers and subject combinations;
  • assistance in helping them to acquire a certificate that reflects their results from previous studies with a conventional education facility;
  • attain a high academic level to qualify for promotion at work, increased salary increment, personal upliftment;
  • make use of a conducive study environment;
  • have access to an examination centre;
  • benefit from an affordable learning option. In most instances the tuition fees charged by EDC are lower than the fees charged in a conventional school.

Delivery Modes and Technologies

Learners at EDC use self access study materials, which are referred to as workbooks. This is the main form of support and accounts for about 80% of the overall support to learners. Most of the workbooks are self contained but some courses do make use of textbooks. In such instances the workbooks guide the learners in the use of the textbooks.

The average number of books per subject is six. Learners receive the workbooks at intervals determined by them and this allows for self-paced learning. Each workbook contains self-check practice exercises that are designed to help the learners to learn and remember. The workbooks also contain tests which the learners are expected to complete and send to EDC for comments. Difficulty sheets are supplied with the workbooks and learners receive guidance on how to complete them. They are encouraged to describe any difficulty they might experience and to send the sheets to tutors who respond to the difficulties by writing helpful comments. However, this form of support is problematic because of the delays in the postal system.

Learners can avail themselves of face-to-face support in the following ways:

  • a residential course is run at EDC during April/May. Learners stay for one week during which they receive intensive support from their tutors;
  • from May onwards learners can come to EDC to attend one day sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays are reserved for J.C. learners whilst O’level learners can come on Thursdays;
  • learners can arrange to meet their tutors at EDC at any time;
  • trial examinations are conducted at EDC during August and September. Learners who have registered for their end of year examinations can write these examinations for a nominal fee of E2.00 per subject.

At the moment learners have to travel to EDC to attend these face-to-face sessions because the decentralised academic support in the six rural study centres has not materialised as envisaged.

Radio programmes

So far only the English department has been using radio. Some EDC staff are radio specialists who write and produce the radio programmes with some assistance from other tutors. The programmes cater for both junior secondary and senior learners and cover language issues and English literature.

The production of these programmes is done at the national radio station and EDC has three 15-minute slots per week. Towards the end of the year, EDC produces programmes, which give learners examination hints. Radio is also used to give learners information about registration, the timetable and examination dates and venues.

Learner Support Strategies

In an effort to provide quality distance education programmes, EDC offers learners the following support services in order to enable them to be successful in their studies:

Pre-course, in-course and post-course counselling service

Before registration learners can go to EDC where they receive guidance from tutors on which courses they should enrol for. During their studies learners can make an appointment with their tutors to get advice on any aspect of the courses for which they have enrolled. Upon completion of their courses learners can get assistance from tutors to plan the next steps in their career.

Block enrolment system

EDC implements a block enrolment system, which caters for two enrolment sessions: the first session spans from January to April and the second session starts in August and ends in September. Students who enrol during the second session are those who intend to sit for their examinations in the following academic year.

Making available to learners self-access materials

The materials are written according to the methods of self instructional materials and learners can check their own progress by completing self-check practice activities. Learners are required to complete tests in each workbook, which they submit to tutors who provide them with feedback. This gives learners and tutors a good idea of how the learners are progressing on the course.

Tutorial sessions

As indicated above learners can attend a residential week or they can participate in one-day tutorial sessions once a week.

Radio programmes

Only the English course makes use of the radio as a form of support in conjunction with the materials. Any information about the courses in terms of registration and examination times and venues are communicated by means of radio and print. Towards the end of the year programmes are produced on how to approach the preparation and writing of examinations.

Telephone and postal support

Those learners who have access to the telephone use it mainly for enquiries about administrative matters. Sometimes they use it to enquire about course related issues.

EDC also uses the telephone to contact learners who have access to telephones. Tutors make use of these telephonic conversations to inform learners of their progress and to motivate those who are lagging behind.

Study centres

EDC has six operational study centres, which have been established at the following rural education centres (REC’s:

  • Ntonjeni
  • Vuvulane
  • Dvokolwako
  • Big Bend
  • Masapha Correctional Services
  • Simunye

It was decided to use the above REC’s for two main reasons: the first one is that the personnel who manage the centres are employed by the adult education department in the Ministry of Education; secondly EDC can make use of the existing infra-structure i.e. facilities and personnel.

It has been problematic to train and monitor teachers in the areas in which the centres are located. As a result the centres are used mainly as distribution centres for EDC. Learners can enrol at the centres and receive their first workbooks when they enrol.


Tutors can monitor the progress of learners on the course through the regular submission of tests, which they mark, comment on and return to learners. The tests merely serve as monitoring devices because there is no continuous assessment in any of the courses.

Summative assessment for learners who have enrolled with the Junior Certificate, the O’level and HIGCSE courses takes the form of written examinations at the end of the year. Only learners who have passed the O’level examination can enrol for the HIGCSE courses.

Professional Development

Emlalatini depends on the government, through the Ministry of Education, for staff training and development. This has proved to be quite problematic and management of the centre has had to look elsewhere for assistance with the training of tutors. As a member of the Distance Education Association of Southern Africa (DEASA) Emlalatini has been able to participate in workshops and training events organized by DEASA. All new full-time tutors are currently enrolled on the Certificate Course for Distance Education Practitioners, which is being offered by the Institute for Continuing Education at UNISA in South Africa. The current head of the centre attended the Short Course in Distance Education in London during 1999. This four-week course is a residential course and is offered by the International Extension College (IEC).

Relevant National Policy

Distance Education in Swaziland falls under the Ministry of Education. Up to the EDC period the government did not have a clear cut policy on Distance Education. However, once EDC was established the government committed itself to distance education as an approach and set of methods that is expected to contribute significantly to the education and training of learners in the adult, secondary and tertiary sectors. A draft policy on education exists but this was not finalised at the time of this report.

Enabling and Hindering Factors

One of the biggest challenges for EDC has been to decentralize its work to the various study centres in the rural areas as originally envisaged. This is due mainly to inadequate capacity and lack of financial resources. Currently the only face-to-face tutorial support is provided at the main centre while the study centres are used mainly for enrolment purposes.

There following is a summary of an analysis of the learner support services.


  • Poor reception of radio programmes from the channel which is currently being used means that it is difficult for learners to get the most benefit from this form of support;
  • An unreliable postal system hampers the learning process because learners, especially those who live in the rural areas, do not get their workbooks on time and the turnaround time of assignments and tests is far too long for learners to derive benefit from the feedback;
  • One-day tutorials only benefit the learners who live in and around Manzini-Mbabane;
  • Difficulty in finding suitable part-time tutors for the study centres;
  • It is difficult to monitor the learners’ progress because of lack of capacity.

Attempts to overcome weaknesses

  • Negotiate for radio programmes to be on a channel that has no reception problems;
  • Make audio cassettes of radio programmes to enable learners to have more flexible and convenient listening time;
  • Encourage learners to collect their study materials whenever they visit EDC;
  • Send reminders to learners who are not up to date with their work;
  • Arrange for part-time tutors to conduct tutorials at the study centres;
  • Acquire transport to enable EDC staff to visit and monitor the study centres;

Future goals

The following priorities have been identified to improve the services to learners at EDC:

  • Increase the number of subjects offered to create a wider choice for learners.
  • Increase the number of subjects taught on radio currently.
  • Employ a full-time radio tutor.
  • Investigate the use of television as a means of support.
  • Connect EDC to the internet;
  • Buy computers to facilitate work in the various departments.

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