Sawa’s open space amphitheater was packed to its brim with army-fatigues clad members of the National Service; vocational school graduates donned in black gowns; and, parents who had traveled from all over the country for the occasion.
The student city, so to speak, was drenched by windy rains in the previous evening. The normally hot and humid climate was thus pleasantly replaced by a temperate breeze when the celebrations kick-started at 6:30 on Saturday morning (June 11,2015).
Sawa has long become a hub for high school students from all parts of the country where they take their final, 12th grade clasess, in the Warsay-Yikalo Senior Secondary School.
And since 2007, a vocational centre has been established in Sawa to offer both theoretical and practical courses at the certificate level in various fields – from secretarial science to accounting and machine operations and repair – for students who are not accommodated at the diploma and degree courses in the country’s various institutions of tertiary education.
This day was the occasion for the graduation of the 28 round of the National Service and the 7th commencement of Sawa’s Vocational Training Centre.
The Vocational Center has graduated 19,000 trainees in the past seven years. Five schools of the training center offer two year courses in eighteen fields of study. In the 7th commencement, the center graduated a total of 2,029 students. 52% of the total numbers of trainees were female students.
Members of the 28th round National Service program hail from 86 secondary schools in the six Administrative Regions in the country. During their one year stay in Sawa, the students follow rigorous academic programmes for eight months and sit for the National High School Leaving Exams.
They also undertake 4 months of military training as part and parcel of the normative 18-months long mandatory programme of National Service that every citizen has to fulfill.
On display during the two-hour spectacle were military parades, songs in local languages and plays that depicted the pitfalls of spoiling kids with latest entertainment gadgets without instilling proper discipline and focus on their education.
Prizes for excellence in military training were given to outstanding individuals and units by President Isaias Afwerki. Those who achieved academic excellence were similarly given prizes by the Ministers of Local Government, Education and Agriculture.
In his brief address to the graduates, President Isaias Afwerki elaborated on the considerable public investments that have been funneled to upgrade the educational standards in Sawa.
President Isaias further noted the progress registered this year in terms of higher rate of success in the High School Leaving Exams in comparison to previous years.
The President also underlined the government’s purposeful efforts to provide skill development opportunities for those who may not score passing marks so as to equip them with employable and practical techniques.
President Isaias expressed appreciation to all those who made relentless efforts to ensure the success of the various programmes conducted in Sawa.