Lesotho education system

Deeply entrenched poverty coupled with on-going social and economic inequalities make significant contributions to the vulnerability of households, families and children in Lesotho. 43.2 percent of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day, while 68 percent lives on less than US$2 per day (UNDP 2009, Oxford Policy and Human Development Initiative (2011). Limited natural resources and a narrow production and export base continue to make the country extremely vulnerable to external economic shocks.

Former Education Programme Manager

March 5th, 2013

Deeply entrenched poverty coupled with on-going social and economic inequalities make significant contributions to the vulnerability of households, families and children in Lesotho. 43.2 percent of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day, while 68 percent lives on less than US$2 per day (UNDP 2009, Oxford Policy and Human Development Initiative (2011). Limited natural resources and a narrow production and export base continue to make the country extremely vulnerable to external economic shocks. Lesotho remains dependent on inflows of workers’ remittances and receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).  Low prices for gold and platinum in 2009 caused some mines in South Africa to suspend operations and to reduce their labour force. This resulted in retrenchment of Basotho working in the sector and an overall decline in total remittances (GOL 2010). After reaching historic highs in 2009, SACU revenues were expected to decline from M4.9billion to M2.16billion in 2010/11 and M1.6billion in 2011/12 (SACU revenues are expected to recover in 2012/13). This prompted the Government of Lesotho (GOL) to introduce national austerity budgets beginning from the 2010/2011 fiscal year. It also led to the need for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year Extended Credit Facility worth US$61.4 million.

Although the GOL has pledged to maintain its commitments during this austerity period to support the poor and the vulnerable through its existing social assistance and social protection programmes, it has not been able to fully shield these groups from the broader impacts of fiscal austerity and financial uncertainty. In a recently completed study on child poverty in Lesotho, it was estimated that the richest 10 percent of the population held 40 percent of the country’s wealth, while the poorest 10 percent held only 1 percent (UNICEF Lesotho 2011). An estimated 500,000 children under the age of 18 were considered to be living in poverty, with 25 percent of this group being children under the age of 5. These distributional inequalities fuel social inequalities for families and children in the poorest stratum of the population.

3.1.1.     Children and HIV and AIDS

Currently, the adult HIV prevalence rate (ages 15 to 49) in Lesotho has begun to stabilise at 23 percent (MOHSW and NAC 2011). In 2010, there were an estimated 282,532 people living with HIV of which 50,494 – or 18 percent – were children and adolescents below the age of 19. 55 percent of this group were female. Indeed, the HIV epidemic in Lesotho has a very significant gender dimension. Overall, 60 percent of HIV-positive adults and children are female. For the age groups from 15 to 24 years and 25 to 29 years, over 70 percent are female.

With respect to the provision of anti-retroviral treatment (ART), 62,190 – or 51 percent of the 113,286 HIV-positive adults (15 to 49 years) in need of ART – were receiving it at the end of 2009 (MOHSW 2011). At the same time, there were an estimated 23,000 children aged 14 years or less in need of ART – of which 9,841 or 43 percent were receiving it. Almost half the country’s HIV-positive children are under the age of 5 years, indicating that most of them were infected at birth. Lesotho still struggles to reach all HIV-positive pregnant women with interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. In 2010, of the estimated 13,336 HIV-positive pregnant women in the country, only 6,347 – or 48 percent – were reached with PMTCT interventions.

Results released in 2009 from the 2006 population census showed that the number of orphaned children had risen 41 percent to approximately 221,000 since the previous census in 1996 (GOL 2009). Estimates developed by the MOHSW in 2010 showed that of all orphans, approximately 25 percent had lost both parents. 67 percent of all cases of orphanhood were estimated to have arisen as a direct result of the HIV epidemic (MOHSW and NAC 2011).

3.1.2.      Maternal and child mortality

The impact of the HIV epidemic is linked to broader health and development challenges for Lesotho. A number of key indicators regarding infant and child survival have been deteriorating since the year 2000. In 2009, for example, the country’s under-five mortality rate was 117 per 1,000 live births, far above Lesotho’s goal of reducing this to less than 37 per 1,000 by 2015 (UNDP 2010). Along with Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, Lesotho has the highest under-five mortality rates in the SADC region. Reflecting a similar trend, the maternal mortality rate has continued to increase – reaching an estimated 960 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2009 from 416 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 (MOHSW and IFC Macro 2010). Along with Malawi, Lesotho has the highest maternal mortality rate in the SADC region (MOHSW 2011).

Immunisation coverage for young children has been declining in Lesotho since 2004 from 67 percent to 61 percent in 2009 (MOHSW and IFC Macro 2010). This was far below the country’s target of reaching 90 percent coverage of the country’s children. One reason for this was found in the 2009 accreditation survey of health facilities, which showed that only 25 percent of the hospitals and only 14 percent of the health centres provided routine immunisation for new born children before they were discharged (Ibid).

3.1.3.     Children with disabilities

According to the 2006 population census, 3.7 percent of the population in Lesotho is considered to have a disability of one form or another (GOL 2009). Approximately 1.5 percent of the population aged 0 to 19 years is disabled. Amputations of digits or limbs, congenital paralysis or lameness, blindness, deafness, mental illness and mental retardation are the most frequent types of disability found in the population.

In the age group 10 to 14 years, covering the end of primary education and the beginning of secondary level education, a recent survey found that while 90.4 percent and 96.4 percent of non-disabled males and females were students, only 78.5 percent and 85.1 percent of disabled males and females were in the same position.

3.1.4.     Nutrition and food security

Chronic malnutrition and food insecurity continue to negatively affect the survival and development of children in the country. Uncommon weather patterns continue to cause problems for Lesotho’s fragile agricultural sector. Subsistence farming, the dominant form of agricultural production in the country, remains highly sensitive to changes in the natural environment. Emergency food assistance continues to be required across the country for poor households, particularly those with family members, including children, living with HIV or TB. The impact of these challenges on children is evident. Wasting in children continues to be a significant factor in child morbidity. Overall, 4 percent of children under 5 are wasted, with 1 percent being severely wasted (MOHSW and IFC Macro 2010). Currently, there is still a substantive proportion of underweight children in all districts across the country even though prevalence has been in decline. The 2009 LDHS showed a national improvement in underweight prevalence from 15.7 percent in 2004 to 13.2 percent in 2009 (Ibid). Growth retardation, indicated by a low height-for-age index (stunting), is the main nutrition-related problem in Lesotho. The prevalence of stunting has not declined significantly over the past decade. Currently, it ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent across the different districts of the country.

3.1.5.     Abuse, neglect and abandonment

Recently, with assistance from UNICEF, Lesotho conducted an assessment of alternative care systems (UNICEF 2009 Lesotho). This included an examination of the effectiveness of guidelines and supervision arrangements for residential child care facilities. As noted previously, approximately 25 percent of the country’s children have no surviving parents. This burden has been felt to a great degree in relation to Lesotho’s ability to care for and protect abused, neglected or abandoned children. The assessment revealed that a high percentage of children placed in alternative care facilities were abandoned by extended families and communities. The assessment also revealed that although standards were developed for alternative care facilities in 2005, they were not completely implemented due to a range of factors, including lack of both human and financial resources to meet the standards. Nor were they codified in regulations with adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure quality and safety for the services that were provided. Supervisory systems within the Child Welfare Unit of the DSW were found to be not adequate and, consequently, not accurate in terms of the number of children residing in these facilities, the circumstances that placed them there, or the opportunities for re-integration within communities.

3.1.6.     Children in conflict with the law

A recently completed, national situational assessment of children in conflict with the law found that there was effectively no juvenile justice system. The authorities within the existing system that dealt with child offenders had very poor knowledge or experience with the specific, specialised requirements for effective children’s justice. In addition, within the Juvenile Training Centre, the country’s only institution for juvenile offenders, most of the residents at the time of the assessment were orphans and many were not completely aware of why they had been confined in the facility (Kimane et al. 2010).

3.1.7.     Child trafficking

Although there is no comprehensive data on the magnitude of child trafficking in the country, anecdotal reports suggest that such activity may be occurring and that it is increasing. The global report on trafficking in persons, which was conducted by US Department of State, found that Lesotho is potentially a source and transit country for trafficking of women and children despite the absence of evidence (US Department of State 2011). In addition, a rapid assessment conducted in 2010 found that trafficking was present in Lesotho for purposes such as organized crime, sexual exploitation and labour exploitation (De Sas Kropiwnicki 2010). However, the lack of data made it impossible to assess the extent of these activities. It also found that many cases go unreported due to ignorance, fear, stigma and the absence of clear and available reporting mechanisms.

3.1.8.     Child labour

The 2006 population census estimated that approximately 24,660 children between the ages of 10 and 17 were involved in the labour force (GOL 2009). Approximately 51 percent were male orphans. In addition, the census estimated that 32,183 children were involved in domestic work. Household poverty increases the chances of small children being sent out to work either as herders or domestic workers. In 2008, an International Labour Organisation Committee of Experts noted that animal herding by boys was considered one of the worst forms of child labour because it prevented boys from attending school. It also involved long hours, including night work, and exposed boys to harsh weather conditions.  

3.2.         General progress in mitigating the vulnerability of children

Despite the scale and complexity of some of these challenges, Lesotho has been making some progress in addressing and mitigating the vulnerability of children, particularly since 2009. The following are among the more significant of these advances:

a)    In early 2011, parliament enacted the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (CPWA). The provisions of the CPWA signal a fundamental change in the focus and intensity of Lesotho’s efforts to support and protect its children. Overall, the CPWA fully domesticates the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The task remains to develop a robust implementation and monitoring framework to ensure that children in every family and community are empowered to claim what is promised to them in the CPWA.

b)    At the end of 2010, parliament enacted the Education Act, which sets out the legal framework for free and compulsory primary education for all school-aged children. In addition, revised School Supervision and Management Regulations were issued in 2010. These efforts will lead to important changes in the lives of children. The Act sends a direct signal to all families and communities that access to education is a fundamental right and that Lesotho is serious now with respect to its responsibility as a duty bearer to ensure that this entitlement is tangible and claimable by every child.

c)     The development and roll-out of the Lesotho Child Grants Programme (CGP) equips the country with a powerful tool to address poverty and deprivation, two of the most prominent causes of vulnerability for children. Once the programme has national reach and is fully implemented, in complementarity with other child protection interventions, it will become a strong core around which to build a comprehensive, effective and sustainable child protection and social welfare system to safeguard and enable the well-being of children.

d)    With assistance from UNICEF, the European Union (EU), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria and other partners, the technical and operational capacity of the Child and Gender Protection Units (CGPU), the Child Help Line, and the capability of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to provide effective, reliable and responsive child protection systems continues to improve. This includes a growing capacity to identify children in distress and to reach them with supportive interventions to protect their well-being and to remove them from situations and environments where they are in danger of sexual or physical abuse, exploitation or neglect (LCRS 2006). Similarly, more child-friendly, appropriate and effective programmes for assisting children in situations of conflict with the law or customs are being implemented, including restorative justice and diversion processes. (However, coverage is still not adequate, leaving too large a proportion of children without safe and immediate access to essential child protection systems.)

e)    Key policies, regulations and strategic plans and other documents guiding the national, multi-sectoral effort to address and resolve the vulnerability of children have either been revised or are in the process of revision. These include the National OVC Strategic Plan, the new National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NAC 2011), and the National Strategy to Eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (MOHSW 2011b) among others. These efforts have been motivated by the collection and dissemination of more comprehensive and reliable evidence of the causes and effects of vulnerability as well as the true scale and scope of the challenge the country faces to safeguard and support its children.

3.3.         Education Sector – Overview, access and equity

3.3.1.      Overview

The current status of the education sector in Lesotho is described in the Medium Term Sector Plan (MTP) 2009/2010–2011/2013 released in 2009 (MOET 2009). The Plan reviews progress in the education sector against the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2005-2015 (ESSP) (MOET 2005). The MTP report identifies significant on-going challenges in the provision of quality and accessible education for Basotho at all life stages.

3.3.2.     Integrated Early Childhood Care and Development

Involvement with the education sector begins for some children with Integrated Early Childhood Care and Development (IECCD) programs. Since the early 1990s, IECCD has been part of the basic education framework. Available to children aged 2 to 6, IECCD is offered through home-based and centre-based IECCD providers. It also includes reception classes for 5 and 6-year-olds, which are attached to primary schools. In 2008, there were 56 home-based IECCD providers, 1744 centre-based providers and 218 reception classes. IECCD is considered by the MOET to be an integral part of its ESSP. According to the strategy, IECCD prepares young children for primary school and this has a positive influence on retention and completion rates. IECCD also has secondary benefits allowing women, in particular, to participate in employment and also, in some cases, to offer IECCD programs from their homes as a source of income. However, the MTP report notes that access to IECCD is mainly for higher income families in urban areas. IECCD is measured by coverage rate and in 2007 the rate was 40 percent of eligible children. In an attempt to expand access to IECCD, the MOET is offering bursaries as well as providing nutritional support. Some families enrol young children in Standard 1 even though they are underage because they cannot afford fees for IECCD.

3.3.3.     Primary education

In Lesotho, only 10 percent of primary schools are operated by the GOL (MOET 2006). Religious organisations operate most primary schools. The two largest proprietors are the Roman Catholic Mission (36 percent) and the Lesotho Evangelical Church (33 percent). Lesotho has implemented free primary education since 2000. While intended to reduce the number of school-age children not in school, FPE has had mixed results. According to an assessment of FPE conducted by the World Bank in 2005, between 2000 and 2002, “…the introduction of FPE did not significantly reduce the proportion of children who never attended school.” What it did achieve was a reduction in disparity in access to schooling between the different socio-economic groups. In the succeeding years of implementation, the proportion of children not in school has reached 16 percent. However, there is now better understanding of why these children do not attend school. The main factors include the level of education of the parents, socio-economic status of the family (children from very poor households are least likely to be in school), and the distance to the nearest school. Being an orphan was not a predictor of school enrolment. However, orphans had a higher likelihood of dropping out and not continuing in school once enrolled (World Bank 2005).

The MTP provides further data on OVC and primary school attendance. In 2007, the proportion of enrolled children who were categorized as OVC was 34 percent, an increase from 30 percent in 2006. Fifty percent of these children had lost one parent and 22 percent has lost both. There was an equal proportion of boys and girls within the OVC group. In the overall primary school population, since 2005 fewer boys than girls of school going age have been enrolled in school. Repetition rates are high for Standard 1 with as many as 28 percent of enrolled children not continuing to Standard 2. In addition, despite legislation entitling children to free primary education, other legitimate and illegitimate costs still function as barriers to enrolment and continuity. As the MTP states:

An analysis of educational statistics over the past years showed a disturbing trend where an increasing number of primary schools are charging fees, in spite of the policy of free education. The imminent legislation to make primary education not only free but also compulsory is expected to assist in protecting children from either being barred from entering schools or being expelled from school for reasons such as illicit school fees and repetition that often leads to dropout.

The MOET has identified a number of reasons for the poor performance of children and schools at primary level. These included a shortage of certified teachers, high teacher-student ratios, particularly in the early grades, and a lack of consistent attention to educational quality, including the conduciveness of the school environment itself. One strategy the MOET does implement to maintain enrolment and to improve student performance is the school feeding scheme, which is implemented in collaboration with the World Food Programme. The need for the scheme is expected to continue indefinitely. In the coming years, the MOET is intending to establish primary schools as “centres for [the] care and development of all children.” Neither the MTP nor the ESSP provide, at the moment, many details on how this will be achieved.

3.3.4.     Secondary school

The implementation of FPE has put tremendous pressure on the secondary school system in Lesotho. While there were 1,423 primary schools in 2007, there were only 310 secondary schools. The GOL operates 7 percent of secondary schools while religious organisations operate the remainder with the Roman Catholic Mission operating 33 percent of secondary schools and the Lesotho Evangelical Church 30 percent. In 2006, 69 percent of learners completing primary school went on to enrol in secondary school. However, school capacity is extremely limited. The country needs an additional 141 class rooms per year to accommodate 90 percent of those enrolling in secondary school by 2015. OVC currently account for 30 percent of enrolled students at secondary level.

Lack of sector capacity (i.e. too few schools) and school fees are the main barriers for young people wanting to attend secondary school. The MOET has proposed a double-shift system, increasing the number of schools and boarding facilities, maintaining the bursary scheme and standardising school fees at LSL1,000 (US$130) per year as strategies to address lack of capacity and other barriers to secondary school access. The 2007 pass rates show challenges in teaching quality and effectiveness. The average pass rate for the Junior Certificate between 2003 and 2007 was 71 percent. For Cambridge Overseas School Certificate during this same period, it was 50 percent. In a cohort of secondary school learners studied between 2002 and 2006, of the 26,226 learners who enrolled in Form A, only 9,593 – or 36 percent – were still enrolled by Form E (MOET 2006).

3.3.5.      Non-formal education (literacy and numeracy training)and distance teaching

In addition to its formal education system, the MOET provides literacy programmes and distance learning for children and adults unable to attend school on a regular basis. There is a JC and COSC programme as well as one addressing basic literacy and numeracy skills. The MOET offers these programmes in six of the country’s ten districts. Up until 2009, for the literacy component, the other districts were covered by NGOs belonging to the Lesotho Association for Non-Formal Education (LANFE suspended operation at the end of 2008 due to lack of funds). The literacy programmes are offered through learning posts in rural and remote areas by animators or facilitators (the two terms are used but essentially describe the same function). These individuals work with children and adults through a basic curriculum addressing literacy, numeracy, life skills training, and, to a limited extent, vocational skills training in carpentry or tailoring, for example. The facilitators receive a small monthly incentive and periodic supervision and support from the central level. In 2008, 6771 learners participated in the MOET’s NFE programme through 273 learning posts. Completion rates were low – only 30 percent of enrolled learners passed the national literacy exam in the same year.

3.3.6.     Technical and vocational education and training

Within the ESSP, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) occupies an important place as one means of supporting economic development in the country and alleviating poverty. The MOET operates two institutions as full programmes of the ministry. It provides budget support in the form of instructor salaries to six other institutions. The MTP notes that few institutions are operating at full capacity and that the student body is predominantly male. Discussion is on-going regarding where the TVET program should place its emphasis in terms of the skills that are relevant to the current opportunities for employment. For example, there is no institutional programme on textile production and yet the textile industry is one of the major employers in the country. The MOET does provide some bursary support to enable enrolment for disadvantaged students. In 2008, approximately 400 bursaries were awarded to TVET students.

3.3.7.     Tertiary education

Lesotho has seven institutions of higher learning – namely the National University of Lesotho, the Lesotho College of Education, Lerotholi Polytechnic, the Centre for Accounting Studies, National Health Training Centre, Lesotho Agricultural College and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. In addition, there are training schools for nurses and nursing assistants that are operated through hospitals and health facilities owned by religious organisations. The first three institutions are directly under the auspices of the MOET. Student enrolment is facilitated through bursaries and student loans. Students may also request and receive financial assistance to attend universities in South Africa provided that the course is not already offered in Lesotho and falls within labour force training priorities (currently, for example, health sciences are emphasised and students wanting to pursue health-related careers are given priority). Government support for tertiary level education skews the balance of investment across the education sector. More funds per student are invested in tertiary level education than in primary or secondary level education.

3.4.         Children, vulnerability and access to education

It is clear from the information presented so far that certain types of vulnerability have a significant impact on a child’s access to education. Poverty is the most prominent of these influences. Disability is another strong factor. When either of these is combined with orphanhood, the vulnerability is magnified and, in some cases, becomes extreme. In 2009, the ratio for school attendance between orphans and non-orphans (10 to 14 years old) was 0.98 overall. However, between wealth quintiles, the attendance ratios were 0.99 for the lowest to 1.01 for the highest (MOHSW and IFC Macro 2010). The proportion of children attending school in the lowest quintile was 86.7 percent for orphans and 87.5 percent for non-orphans. For children in the highest quintile, the proportion attending school was 100 percent for both groups.

These results suggest that level of poverty is a greater predictor of school attendance than orphanhood. It is estimated that approximately 18 percent of school-aged children do not enrol in primary school in Lesotho. Approximately 29 percent of these children are kept out of school because of ancillary costs for items such as special levies, uniforms and learning materials. In regions of the country where the CGP operates, it is known that education costs (other than school fees for young children) are among the top priorities for the use of the quarterly grant for eligible households.

As children grow older, the barriers to pursuing education become more difficult to overcome. School attendance at secondary level is 34.3 percent among all secondary-school-aged children in Lesotho. There are large differences between urban and rural settings (57.2 percent for urban and 27.6 percent for rural). The lowest rates of secondary school attendance are found in Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka at 20.8 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively. The differences in rates of attendance are the greatest between wealth quintiles, with 10.7 percent of children attending secondary school in the lowest group against 61 percent in the highest. As noted previously, the major reason for low secondary school attendance is the cost of school fees. Clearly, this has a much greater deterrent effect for adolescents in poorer households.

3.5.         Efforts to provide care and support to OVC within schools

3.5.1.     Overview

3.5.2.     MOET efforts to address HIV and AIDS and OVC

The MOET is aware of the growing burden of OVC and the other equally significant impacts of HIV and AIDS on the education sector. Addressing the impacts of HIV and AIDS on the sector is a priority within both the ESSP and the MTP. In addition, an HIV and AIDS policy was drafted in 2007. The policy addresses a comprehensive range of HIV-related topics, including commitments regarding the provision of care and support to HIV affected children within schools (including OVC). It also sets out the role of the education sector in contributing to the national response to the epidemic. Finally, a new global education sector policy is in the final stages of approval and includes HIV and AIDS-related policy items. Described below are the main on-going initiatives within the sector specifically addressing HIV-and-AIDS-affected children.

3.5.3.      Bursary scheme

For more than a decade, the MOET has operated a school bursary scheme to increase access to education for OVC, particularly those affected by HIV and AIDS. The programme was recently assessed due to the rapid increase in the number of bursaries being offered – an increase that still does not address all the children requiring assistance (for the moment the scheme is targeted mainly towards double orphans or children of single parent households where the parent is chronically ill and unable to work) (Mwansa 2010). The assessment included a review of other efforts by the MOET to support OVC beyond the bursary scheme. The participants in the assessment spoke of their strong support for the scheme, including the bursary recipients themselves. However, the assessment documented a number of inefficiencies and challenges – problems that have arisen mainly as a result of the significant mismatch between demand and the existing capacity with the Bursaries Unit and the MOET to efficiently manage the volume of bursary recipients.

Bursaries are offered at all levels of schooling from IECCD to secondary school. Modest support is provided to primary school learners and is targeted towards ancillary needs such as contributions to school feeding programmes, the purchase of uniforms, stationery and other school supplies. Bursary support is more comprehensive for IECCD and secondary school learners, covering in most cases school fees, books, uniforms, boarding costs, and stationery and hygiene supplies. Bursary support is also provided to OVC wishing to attend TVET institutions. In 2008, the MOET awarded 22,000 bursaries. This number includes approximately 3,100 bursaries provided through support from the Round 2 and 7 Global Fund grants to Lesotho. Additional undocumented support was also provided through NGOs, individual schools themselves, and from different individuals in families and communities across Lesotho.

3.5.5.     School feeding

As noted above, the MOET operates a school feeding scheme at the primary level in collaboration with the WFP. Within the larger group of all learners, the scheme assists OVC as well as impoverished children to remain in school or at least not be denied schooling due to lack of food security. In 2010, for example, the WFP provided two meals a day (morning porridge and lunch) to 66,000 pupils in 400 primary schools located in remote and economically-disadvantaged highland and mountainous regions of the country.

3.5.6.      Life-skills training

With support from Lesotho’s Global Fund Round 2 grant, beginning in 2004, the MOET has developed and implemented a life-skills training curriculum for Standards 5, 6 and 7, and Forms A, B and C. The curriculum aims to build competencies in self-awareness, self-esteem, assertiveness, decision-making, responsibility, refusal skills and resistance to negative peer pressure, self-control, empathy, critical thinking, effective communication skills, and negotiation skills. In 2009, the curriculum underwent a review and amendments were made. Funds from the Global Fund’s Rounds 7 and 9 grants to Lesotho will support the revision and reprinting of the life-skills materials. By mid-2009, 4,821 teachers had been trained to deliver the life skills curriculum and 233,718 learners had participated in the programme.

3.5.7.      HIV and AIDS competency and lay counselling

To address the impacts of HIV and AIDS at the individual school level, the MOET is attempting to train one staff person per school in HIV and AIDS topics. There is also a plan to place one lay counsellor per school. By 2009, 3,500 teachers had been trained as well as 74 district education officers as part of this initiative.

3.5.8.     Initiatives at school level

There are many actions taken at the individual school level to address the care and support needs of OVC. Research by Nyabanyaba (2008, 2009) has described some of them. One key informant from a faith-based proprietor of schools in Lesotho, who was interviewed for this study, noted that caring for and supporting children, including OVC, was part of the calling of the teacher. However, the same informant noted that teachers are becoming overwhelmed with the burdens placed upon them and, at the moment, there are no national programmes to provide either technical or professional support for these individuals.

3.5.9.     Contributions of NGO partners

NGO partners operate a range of community development initiatives addressing the needs of OVC in Lesotho. This group concludes World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, ActionAid International and CARE, among others. Their comprehensive approaches are comprised of elements such as community mobilisation, food security, livelihoods development, peer education and life-skills training. The Lesotho Red Cross Society, for example, has developed an Integrated Community Home-based Care Project that operates in the Thaba-Bosiu region, involving 10 villages and 400 OVC. The integrated approach combines interventions addressing food security, material support, health care, educational support, income generation, psycho-social support, stigma reduction, advocacy, HIV and AIDS prevention, and the promotion of community ownership and management of OVC care. The programme has been documented as a best-practice within the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LRCS 2006). However, the challenge with these efforts is that they are limited in scope and include as yet only a small proportion of the total children in need of such support.

Additional details on Lesotho’s efforts to respond to the needs of OVC within the context of education and schools are contained in the case studies that follow.

About the author(s)

Wongani Grace Nkhoma is the Education Programme Manager. Wongani has over 10 years experience working in the development sector. Before joining OSISA, Wongani worked with ActionAid International - Malawi as Regional Manager and Education Policy Coordinator


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