Time for Lesotho to focus on adult education

New report on the way forward launched in Maseru

Richard Lee's picture

Author

Strategic communications for WWF

September 7th, 2012

Youth and Adult Education faces great challenges in Lesotho, including the lack of any official, adopted policy for the sector. With a burgeoning youth population, these challenges need to be addressed urgently to ensure that the country starts providing quality youth and adult education services to all – and so gives give everyone the chance of a brighter future.

The challenges and a series of recommendations are laid out in a new report, Youth and Adult Learning and Education in Lesotho, which was prepared by Setoi Michael Setoi of the National University of Lesotho with the support of the Campaign for Education Forum  - and commissioned by OSISA in partnership with dvv international.

The first challenge in Lesotho is the lack of capacity to plan for youth and adult education when the country is struggling to get its conventional schooling system to function appropriately. There are also difficulties in programmatically distinguishing out-of-school children of primary school age from out-of school-youth of secondary school age and from genuine adults. In the context of the HIV/AIDS situation, there are young children who are now effectively heads of households.

Secondly, Lesotho faces a big challenge in relation to youth unemployment, which is partly a result of the failure of the school system to retain youth and partly the result of global trends that highlight the importance of the knowledge economy (where having 53 percent of your workforce not having completed primary education is a severe handicap). There is a simple lack of technical and industrial training facilities in the country.

Thirdly, Lesotho faces a looming problem of having a male population that is significantly worse educated than its female one. Threats to end sponsorship of various education and training institutions because of the danger of male students striking is simply going to exacerbate the problem.

Fourthly, although there have been various attempts at co-ordination (particularly in the NGO sector), there are no structures that can effectively co-ordinate, monitor, assess, and evaluate provision of youth and adult education services and attempt to bring them to scale. The lack of coherent, accessible data on provision further hampers efforts.

Fifthly, the funding of youth and adult education remains a big challenge. Currently youth and adult education is almost completely sponsored by the donor community. There is lack of government commitment to set aside a sufficient quota of the national budget for youth and adult education and non-formal education activities. Every ministry, every institution and every organisation has to seek donor funding to undertake any form of adult education. This scenario is not only unsustainable, but it perpetuates dependency, powerlessness and submissiveness. Although the partnership between the government, NGOs and other partners in provision is, in an obvious sense, good, it has the downside of decreasing government responsibility for provision in accordance with the Constitution.

And finally, although the NGO sector is vibrant and diverse, it is not clear that the scale of its youth and adult education operations is adequate.

These are serious challenges but they can be tackled as long as key stakeholders adopt the following recommendations:

Policy, legislation and governance

1.            Lesotho needs a comprehensive youth and adult education policy document to ensure co-ordinated and accountable provision.

2.            Government should establish a Ministry of Lifelong Learning (that would encompass adult and non-formal education) with an appropriate budget.

Data and research

3.            Data from youth and adult education providers must be standardised

4.            All youth and adult education providers should be encouraged to develop their own capacity to supply the standardised data.

Quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation

5.            Strenuous attempts must be made to ensure that information about quality, monitoring and evaluation is disseminated more widely.

Funding

6.            Government should consider the institution of a skills development levy on the private sector to finance training and entrepreneurship development.

7.            There should be renewed attempts by all sectors to ensure sustainable funding of youth and adult education and the accountable and transparent utilisation of the funds.

Programme and project duration

8.            The time-line for agricultural, income generating community projects should be extended beyond the usual three- or five-year periods to allow for a deeper internalisation and ownership of the initiative by communities and to guarantee long-term sustainability.

Qualifications frameworks

9.            The establishment of the National Qualifications Framework is long overdue. The speedy establishment of this framework will assist and the alignment of youth and adult education provision and qualifications.

10.          More accessible progression routes from one level of skill competence or knowledge acquisition to the next should be developed.

If these recommendations are adopted and the political will exists to implement them, then there is no doubt that youth and adult education will improve dramatically in Lesotho – and that will help to build a fairer and more equal society.

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