Hon. Minister for Education & Training
Honorable Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture
Principal Secretary MoET
MoET Senior Management Team
Directors/Senior management from Technical and Vocational Training Institutions
NERCHA Executive Director
Beneficiaries of DREAMS programming
USG employees present
PEPFAR DREAMS Implementing Partners
It is my pleasure to join you today to help launch a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Training, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) DREAMS initiative.
Eswatini is recognized leader in providing HIV-related services. In September, the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and the U.S. announced the results of the 2021 Eswatini Population-based HIV Impact Assessment survey, locally known as “SHIMS3”. The survey found that in Eswatini, 94 percent of adults 15 years and older living with HIV are aware of their status, 97 percent of those aware of their status are on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 96 percent of those on therapy have achieved viral suppression. This is a significant milestone towards keeping the HIV epidemic under control, but more must be done to address the causes of new HIV infections.
Since its inception here in 2014, the PEPFAR DREAMS program has focused on addressing the key factors that make adolescent girls and young women – or “AGYW” – particularly vulnerable to HIV. The DREAMS program stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. Today, there are over 40,000 AGYW enrolled in the DREAMS program. The initiative offers an invaluable platform for reaching AGYW where they are and providing needed support. Data shows that tens of thousands of AGYW aged 15-24 remain exposed to gender-based violence (GBV), HIV, and unwanted pregnancies. Coupled with high youth unemployment – estimated at 58 percent – the call to help AGYW is urgent.
We must innovate and collaborate across ministries, development partners AND AGYW to effectively respond to the needs of this population in a manner that serves their best interests. We must leverage the expertise, assets, and resources of all stakeholders, including the youth, private sector, government, traditional and faith structures, and community organizations. These are the same stakeholders who will play key roles in what we hope will be an inclusive, peaceful, and consequential national dialogue that will help Eswatini heal and move forward with a stable political system responsive to the needs and rights of all emaSwati.
This partnership being launched by the Ministry of Education demonstrates how Eswatini will continue to build on and leverage U.S. support through PEPFAR to protect and create opportunities for AGYW. Collaborating with USAID DREAMS partners, the Ministry of Education will decentralize Technical Vocational Education and Training – or “TVET” – programs to build the economic and life skills of vulnerable AGYW.
This initiative will keep young women engaged in education, which has been proven effective in reducing the chances of getting pregnant and acquiring HIV. It will also create a space for further collaboration to address the broader development challenges that impact HIV outcomes. And it will create economic opportunities for those individuals, giving them a voice and empowering them to reach their potential.
We congratulate you on this innovative partnership. We look forward to working with you to make it a success locally and a model for the world.