Imagine a school where children smiled big, white toothy smiles — where every day the entire school gathered to sing.

Imagine a school where every hand goes up eager to answer a question — where teachers are respected, care about their students and are eager to refine their craft.

Imagine a school where right outside your door, you look out and see the most incredible lush green mountains, lined with bright red dirt roads for contrast.

What do you picture in your mind? A happy place? A place where learning is taking place?

But did you imagine this?

Young girl in Swaziland enjoying breakfast before her school day.

Or this?

Young school children in Swaziland classroom

Or this?

Swaziland schoolboys in window

These are some of the pictures that we took on our visit to Emvembili Central Primary School (Pre-school to 7th grade) in Swaziland, Africa. A country tucked in the middle of South Africa.

We spent two days there observing classrooms, coaching the teachers and offering a workshop on positive discipline.

SPARK U founder Mary Matheson speaking to teachers at Emvembili Central Primary School in Swaziland, Africa

School children at Emvembili Central Primary School learning math lessons aided by bottle caps
It was an honor and privilege to be there working with teachers so eager to learn. Teaching experience ran from one to 26 years, and even the “historian” was open to new ideas and techniques.

But, can learning take place when some children walk up to five kilometers each way to school? Or when you have 49 pre-school children in one class, with one teacher?

You bet it can! No blame game here! The teachers just need to be more creative.

How about using rusted beer bottle caps as manipulatives for teaching multiplication?

I have never been to a school where they do more with so little! And yet, they did not sit and complain to me, but embraced us, and wanted to learn from us.

There was a first-year 7th-grade math teacher, who was so hungry for some teaching tips, and so concerned for his students, he was like a sponge, just soaking up everything we suggested to him. He cared so deeply about his students and wants to make a difference in their life. Looks Like/Sounds Like? No problem! 100% check for understanding? No problem. He welcomed it and applied the concepts immediately.


But there is still so much to do and give. Two days is only the beginning. What will come of Emvembili in the future? Children will still show up for learning, teachers will still teach and love on those smiley eager faces, but there must and will be a change.

Keep the students and teachers of Emvembili Primary in your thoughts and prayers. The journey has just begun.

Mary Matheson, founder of SPARK University, with a group of students from Emvembili Primary School in Swaziland, Africa

Pin It on Pinterest

Share The Spark

Share this with your friends!