Swaziland. Before the new school year in January, the government had decided that only Christianity could be taught in the field of religion. In new textbooks, the Bible would be the only sacred scripture to be addressed. Religions other than Christianity would be admitted only at college and university.
According to Countryaah.com, the decision came after a public debate with criticism of the country receiving some Muslim immigrants. According to the American Religious Freedom Report, some Christian groups have discriminated against non-Christian groups, especially in rural areas where the view of Islam is generally negative.
In March, civil rights groups strongly criticized King Mswati’s one-sided rule and demanded that the 44-year ban on political parties be lifted. Among the critics was the World Federation of Trade Unions. According to Swaziland’s solidarity network, the majority of the people live below the poverty line and the regime’s repression negates the will of the people.
The school system is in crisis. According to the Ministry of Education, only about one fifth of the children participate in the education. The big problem is the school fees, which most families cannot afford. Many children cross the border to South Africa, where they can have free schooling and a meal at school, but where they often live in miserable conditions.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma visited Swaziland in April and then participated in King Mswati’s birthday celebration, a precious history criticized by human rights groups as a waste of funds that should go to improve the lives of the country’s poor.
A May report by the British aid organization Oxfam showed that Swaziland is the world’s most unequal country, where discrimination against women is a major problem as is the economic divide between the elite and the poor mass.
In August, it was reported that a man of the people wanted to be free to the king’s eldest daughter. Fifty cows were the price to negotiate with the king, and if he joined the party, the total bride price could be at least 300 cattle.
During the year, however, a positive report came out that Swaziland had almost halved the rate of HIV transmission. This had been done in five years with the help of increased access to brake medicines. In 2016, the world’s highest proportion of HIV-infected people had fallen to 27% among 15-year-olds and older.