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Major boost for education



Staff Reporter


THE World Bank has approved US$25 million (approximately M374 million) for a project that will help Lesotho support its teachers and improve the learning environment in rural schools.

This will lift Lesotho’s efforts to deliver better quality education and stop its children from dropping out of school.

The fund was approved on Wednesday last week to support Lesotho’s Education Quality for Equality Project (EQEP).

The EQEP will target 300 of the poorest-performing primary schools and 65 junior secondary schools in rural areas.

In total, 84 500 students are expected to benefit from the project, which will last for five years to 2021.

Beneficiaries are expected to be schools in hard to reach areas where the geography makes it difficult for the students to work to their full capacity.

Such schools include Boribeng Primary and High Schools in Leribe.

Boribeng is cuddled on the slope of the Boribeng Plateau in Leribe, a rural village known better for traditional initiation schools and early marriages.

To reach to Boribeng, one has to endure the discomfort of a short but meandering rocky gravel road from the Main North 1 Road in the direction of Butha-Buthe.

It was only six years ago when this village managed to register a student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and last year they had enrolled six.

The Boribeng High School improved its teaching when a private company, Thaba-Bosiu Risk Solutions, introduced academic excellence competitions among students six years ago.

Another such school is the Liqoabing Primary School in Rothe, one of the poor rural villages of Maseru district.

Half of the school’s pupils have been taught under the tree for the past 50 years because there were no classrooms while the other half was taught in a church until last year when the Lesotho Revenue Authority built six classrooms as a donation to the school.

The school is situated in a rural area, southern part of the constituency, but not far away from the Maseru City – some 35 kilometres south of the city.

The school and the church serve communities from five villages surrounding Liqoabing.

Such projects are in line with the World Bank Group’s strategic goals of supporting the most vulnerable and poor by eliminating extreme poverty and boosting the incomes of the poor, according to the World Bank.

“We welcome the World Bank funding for our project. It will go a long way towards helping us achieve our goals to lift Basotho out of poverty by creating a literate youth population who have a firm foundation in numeracy and reasoning skills, especially in our rural areas where we have seen a consistent trend of student dropouts,” the Minister of EducationDr. Mahali Phamotse said.

The objective of the new project is to improve basic education service delivery and student retention in targeted schools.

Basotho students’ level of learning in primary school is the third lowest in the southern African region.

The quality is equally low at the junior secondary level where only one-fifth of students pass Mathematics and Science in the end-cycle examination.

In addition, only about 62 percent of the cohort that enters Grade 1 completes primary and only 42 percent completes junior secondary school.

This is despite high public spending in education.

“Raising the quality of basic education is crucial to giving the Basotho youth a strong foundation for further skills development and improving their ability to participate more productively in the economy,” the World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, GuangZhe Chen said.

“With this project we will also help the Lesotho education system to groom, support and manage its teachers, which is critical to raising the quality of education,” he said.

The project will be based on three complimentary components: first, improving the teaching and learning environment; second, strengthening accountability for student learning and retention; and the last strengthening institutional capacity.

One of the innovative approaches brought in this new project is the empowerment of key actors at the school level, including school principals, teachers, school boards and local communities.

A new model for teaching mathematics and science will also be piloted in some junior secondary schools. – part of the article was published by The Financial.




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