Basic Education in Lesotho
THE BASIC EDUCATION OF LESOTHO Education in Lesotho is divided into four main sub-sectors, namely Basic education, Secondary Education, Technical vocational Education and Training and High Education - Basic Education in Lesotho introduction. The practice and policies guiding the Basic education sub-sector, the sub-sector’s philosophy, how relevant to the clientele are the programmes, or the subjects offered and whether Adult Education can influence the policy and practice of Basic Education shall be displayed or examined in the essay.
Basic Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), comprises of primary education and lower secondary education, whilst in Lesotho is regarded as continuous from the first seven years of primary school education level to the three years of secondary school education level. Lesotho like all the developing countries also includes pre-primary education and or adult literacy programmes – (Education Sector Strategic Plan 2005-2015: 40). Philosophy can be defined from different perspectives depending on the given situation.
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Philosophy has a conventional definition, which is the study of wisdom, nature and its existence. According to Ntimo-Makara (1996), Philosophy ‘is also an academic discipline, it has its own concepts, theories and pool of knowledge and it is also applicable to the study of other disciplines like education law, religion and politics among others’. As a result, it is appropriate to have philosophy of Basic education of Lesotho. Basically philosophy forms the model or the basis of the Basic Education policy and practice in Lesotho.
The latter shall be examined starting From the perspective of the traditional Sesotho education, missionary schools, colonial influences and education of Lesotho since, independence eras. In the past, Basotho learned by living and doing. Thus, youths were taught skills, given knowledge, which they were to apply during their life span in an informal forms or ways. For instance boys and men work skills included land cultivation, heading of cattle and special trades such as metal work, whilst girls and women skills included house cleaning and plastering, collecting wild vegetables and baby care.
The idea of the traditional education of Basotho was to transmit knowledge and skills from one generation to another, for future production of a citizen who would be useful in his or her community. The young ones were moulded to become easily intergrated in to the society which they lived in and so to become productive and loyal to their country- (Moeletsi et al 2002: 26- 28). These were maintained through teaching and learning as parents in the family were teachers and elders were teachers outside the family sector such as the initiation schools.
According to Moeletsi et al (2002), “the youth were expected to demonstrate their mastery of the skills and knowledge essentials to the physical cultural needs of the community’. During the missionary era, teachers were to be evangelists first and pedagogues secondly. Thus, due to the fact that the missionaries were the ones who introduced formal education in Lesotho, basic education was influenced by the need of the missionaries for communication, Bible reading and acquisition of literacy.
The European cultural values and behaviour were also emphasized-(Moeletsi et al 2002: 27). The British government later colonized Lesotho and it continued with formal education support through grants. During the colonial period education and training for Basotho were largely directed towards the limited opportunities for employment in the government sector and in the churches as teachers. Thus, more people sent their children to school for acquirement of skills and knowledge in order to get white collar jobs.
After independence Basotho now wanted to restructure their education system. They believed that, the pertaining situation could not develop the socio economy of their country. They idea was to obtain education that is relevant to the leaner’s needs. Basotho needed to be trained in commercial, managerial, technical, and agricultural skills in order to improve their working conditions and so to become productive and competitive. Non formal and formal educations were to complement each other in a way or another.
Thus, both young and old needed education which is functional or practical per say. According to the Education sector Strategic Plan 2002-2015 the main policy in Basic Education sub-sector is Education for all “Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belong to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete compulsory primary education of good quality. Policies are simply guidelines by which he government shall achieve their goals or objectives basing itself from the foundation of the philosophy of basic education – Education for all Basotho and the provision of sufficient numbers of people with appropriate qualifications, technical and managerial skills to ensure the development of the modern sector of the economy. How the policy was to be implemented was to follow the government goals as they are stipulated in the strategic plan.
The goals are as follows, a) to provide primary education for all Basotho, b) to provide sufficient numbers of people with occupational, technical and managerial skills, c) to provide opportunities for continuing education both in basic skills such as literacy and numeracy and in more advanced skills in industry and the government, d) to incorporate cultural values in school activities, lastly to promote cooperation between the three main parties involved in Lesotho’s educational system- the government of Lesotho, the churches and the community. a)To provide primary education for all
The government of Lesotho declared free and compulsory primary education in 1999 and was implemented in 2000. Every Mosotho is free to enrol in primary education regardless of age. This does not ignore the matter that the official entry age into primary education school is six years. For instance, in Quthing district there was an eighty one years old primary student. The girls’ children in Lesotho used to outnumber the boys children in the primary education. This was influenced by the Basotho cultural practices that the boys had to look after the animal herds and to work in the mines.
Currently the pertaining situation is that the numbers are more or less the same. The enrolment reports, shows that and the only difference now is that the boys do enrol at the ages above six years. b)To provide sufficient numbers of people with occupational, technical and managerial skills. According to Ministry of Education and Training, Lesotho’s Education Statistics Bulletin (1999-2003) as cited in the Lesotho Education Sector Strategic Plan (2005-2015:40), there has been an increase in the enrolment rate for primary school level pupils.
Regardless of the situation there is high repetition rate, over age rate increase and subsequent decrease in completion rate. All of these indicators highlight a need to provide sufficient number of people with occupational, technical and managerial skills. The National University of Lesotho and the Lesotho College of Education are there to provide the qualified teachers, on part time bases and full time respectively. On the other hand the free primary education for every Mosotho (Basic Education) goes with accessibility of the educational right.
The good quality education is also a challenge as in relation to the teacher to student’s number per class. The student’s ratio as in 2002 was an average estimate of 47 pupils for every teacher. Despite the trend the ratio is still well above the desired 40:1 set objective by The Ministry of Education and Training- (Lesotho Education Sector Strategic Plan 2005-2015:41). These situations, relatively affects the quality of the Lesotho’s Basic Education. )To provide opportunities for continuing education both skills such as literacy and numeracy and in more advanced skills in industry and government. Development of intergrated curriculum frame work and assessment will assist Basotho with necessary literacy, numeracy and survival skills and will enable assessment results to inform policy decisions. This is practiced by the government of Lesotho through the national Curriculum Development Centre. This is ideally carried out in order to improve the Lesotho’s education.
Basically the formal education is to be more inclined to the functionalism thought. d)To incorporate cultural values in school activities. Philosophy is the study of wisdom. In the past Basotho taught and learned through riddles, poems, stories and games. Youth were expected to show mastery of skills and knowledge that were vital to physical and cultural needs of the community. The practice enhanced good memory and good reasoning skills. Cultural expressions were emphasized through songs and instruments and dances.
Currently we see the cultural weeks and celebrations held throughout the country and the celebration days are set in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training – “Maccufe” and the regional and national competitions are held annually e)Cooperation between the three main parties involved in Lesotho educational system. Philosophy as the study of nature and its existence includes man and his environment. Thus, in order to achieve the objectives of the basic education collective efforts are highly needed. In Lesotho, the government, churches and the community are the stake holders in education system or structure per say.
Therefore, the government’s contribution is reflected through teacher’s salaries or grants, buildings infrastructure, school books or learning material supply, feeding programmes and curriculum settings. Churches are also noticed to play more or less the same roles, in regard of the historical background of Lesotho’s education system. That is, most of the schools in Lesotho belong to the churches. Community entails families as units. The family also plays part in the development of the youth. For instance, the free and compulsory primary education policy can be easily implemented by family response.