Education in  Lesotho in  worrying state

Education in Lesotho in worrying state

LAST year’s examination results left a chill down my spine. There are many factors that could have contributed to that sad state of affairs. Among these was the long drawn-out strike by teachers. It would appear that the students did not receive adequate attention before the exams.

However, a deeper investigation reveals that the strike alone should not be blamed for the poor results. This is because among the many grievances that the teachers tabled was the issue of lack of teaching and learning resources.

Teachers complained that they are expected to teach without textbooks.
They also complained about the lack of training with regard to the new curriculum. It is very unfortunate that in 2019 teachers were complaining about issues that could have been addressed a long time ago through the effective and efficient implementation of the Lesotho Vision 2020.

The Lesotho Vision 2020, a document that has since proved to have been just a charade, was never fulfilled. This week I would like to discuss what this document promised with regard to education in Lesotho.
Firstly Lesotho Vision 2020 alludes that, “Basotho will have access to quality education fully responsive to the country’s needs, accessible at all levels and limited only by intellectual ability not by income or wealth. Lesotho will have the system of education that is closely linked and well researched to enhance the student’s talents and capabilities. Education will be free and compulsory up to senior secondary level.”

Looking at this very ambitious goal the country set for itself, we can already see problems. Currently Lesotho has a high number of unemployed youths. In fact the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) contends that there are more than 7 000 qualified yet unemployed teachers in Lesotho. The high number of unemployed youths who have university qualifications is proof that as a country we dismally failed to produce graduates with relevant skills.

Also when we look at the current education system we only see chaos. The Curriculum and Assessment Policy has caused a lot of confusion among teachers who do not understand what they are expected to teach. If one looks at teacher groups both on Facebook and Whatsapp, it is clear that most of them cannot make head or tail of what they are expected to do in schools.
The worst case scenario is that one of the schools that are piloting the new curriculum will not have students sitting for the Junior Certificate at the end of this year. The teachers and principals appear not to be aware of what they are expected to do in the schools.

The education system we are currently offering seems to be foreign to our needs. For example one of the learning areas of the new curriculum is on creativity and the arts. A visit to a class of one teacher in this area proved disastrous as the teacher had no clue with regard to what he was teaching.

His very sad confession was that he did not study this area anywhere and he had to improvise in class so that at least he gives learners something. Had the Ministry of Education and Training conducted its research, they would have found out before implementing this area if they have teachers who have specialised in the subject.

Additionally, the Lesotho Vision 2020 made a promise that by the year 2020 education would be free up to secondary level. As it stands secondary level is still paid for in Lesotho. The payment has now even extended to textbooks as the ones supplied by the government do not cover all the subjects. As a result, parents have to dig into their pockets to buy supplementary books for their children. In essence the vision’s objective has not been achieved.

Furthermore, the Lesotho Vision 2020 stipulates that, “Lifelong learning, vocational, technical and entrepreneurial education will be the main focus in the education system. The education system will produce a competent, skilled and productive labour force. In this regard, Lesotho will serve as a service country exporting human capital to other countries whilst retaining a reasonable proportion in the country.”

In this regard the Lesotho Vision 2020 promises to offer vocational and technical education. What can be applauded here is that just last week the Minister of Education launched the Technical and Vocational Education Policy. This is indeed a great achievement provided it will be implemented.
However, on the ground no one knew vocational schools had been established to accommodate the growing numbers of high school leavers. Lastly, the Lesotho Vision 2020 promises to export human capital to other countries.

With the current unemployment rate among graduates this is long overdue and should have been implemented a long time ago. It is thus imperative that even though the Vision 2020 was never fulfilled, we should not continue to ignore the good goals that it proposed. We should still strive to implement them for the growth of our country.

Kelello Rakolobe

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