EDUCATION IN LESOTHO
like most countries in the developing world, embraced the concept of
distance education after independence in order to address the high
demand for education. Although
short term, non-formal programmes existed earlier as part of development
projects, formal distance education only started in 1974 with the birth
of Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre. However, many Basotho had long participated in distance education
programmes beyond the borders of Lesotho, notably with the University of
South Africa (UNISA).
is a former British colony uniquely situated as land locked and entirely
surrounded by the Republic of South Africa.
It is historically a labour reserve for the South African mines.
It has therefore been characterised by an absence of able-bodied
men for extended periods, female-headed households, and girls being
advantaged in terms of access to basic and high school education (including higher female literacy
Although the advent of an independent South Africa has
significantly reduced the numbers of migrant labourers from Lesotho, the
legacy of the apartheid era has had long-term effects on the education
pattern in Lesotho.
the same time, the education paradigm into distance education has been
precipitated by expansion in the basic, primary and secondary
education especially after “Education for ALL,” the
unprecedented unemployment rate, and the opening of better job
opportunities for post-secondary level graduants.
A number of institutions have emerged responding to this high
demand and thirst for education. Most
of the time, such response has been through non-formal/short-term
distance education programmes. However,
in a few cases of some institutions, such as Lesotho Distance Teaching
Centre (LDTC) and the Institutes of Extra Mural Studies (IEMS) and of
Education (IE), both institutes of the National University of Lesotho,
formal distance education programmes have been launched.
These cases will be explored at length later.
of distance education
are many divergent reasons why non-formal distance education is in
operation in Lesotho. Granted
that there is no unified policy guiding the operation of NFDE in
Lesotho, the following can be the synthesized summary of the objectives
across all such educational providers.
instruction as effective and as high in quality as the conventional
classroom. In essence,
NFDE will supplement and complement the formal educational
institution in making education available to everyone in the society
but maintain quality assurance in the process.
access of educational opportunities to more people than is possible
with the current education system and therefore, to do so cost
efficiently in terms of reduction in unit cost.
commercialise education, especially those offered by private
individuals or business organizations, thus making it a source of
regular income as a means of livelihood.
stimulate national economic growth by ensuring that every individual
becomes literate and employable, thus breaking the yoke of ignorance
and dependency syndromes, consequently contributing significantly
to the national socio-economic and politico-cultural developments of
Education Modes in Lesotho
education has been defined in many instances and has also been coupled
with open learning to represent a broader context including situations
where learning happens outside of school situation, and also learning
based on independent learner initiative (Harry and Perraton, 1999).
In the case of Lesotho, distance education started off as
correspondence schooling, and has now been generally accepted as distance,
part-time, part face-to-face. This
mode of operation has been very popular among adult learners wishing to
upgrade their education levels through continuing distance learning.
However, recently, distance education accommodates high school
dropouts, post-secondary graduants who cannot access conventional
university placement and working adults seeking continuing education.
print media is still the predominant medium for distance education in
Lesotho. Despite the
benefits to be derived from exploitation of modern information and
communication technology, it has not been feasible to reach those at a
distance using these technologies. Most participants live in rural areas, where there is no supply of
electricity. For some
families, owning a cassette player, a television or video cassette
recorder is a still a luxury. Even
in the capital city of Maseru, for those few individuals who might have
computers, internet connectivity suffers from poor telephone
infrastructure. The use of
satellite centres at regional or district levels would be the only hope
of employing new technologies to reach participants at a distance in
supplement the print and face-to-face modes.
Such centres would have to be developed in terms of required
infrastructure and be fully equipped with both the necessary
technological facilities as well as human resource.
there is no visible dichotomy between the forms of educational provision
in Lesotho across formal and non-formal sectors.
Although the former has physical facilities and human resources,
the latter makes use of such facilities, hence the thin margin.
The structure of distance education could be delineated into governmental,
private, and NGOs. However,
there has been no bold step until now on the part of the government to
practically harness the activities of distance education agencies through any
national policy formulation, in order to achieve standardization of
programmes, maintain quality assurance, and validate the competence level
of their products. Furthermore,
there are as yet no goal-oriented governmental mechanisms in place, to
protect the innocent but desperate Basotho, who are daily yearning for
educational acquisition, from economic exploitative acts by many of the
mushroom NFE providers who are using distance education delivery modes.
to lack of recognition generally accorded to adult non-formal and
distance education practices in most developing countries of Africa and
especially in Lesotho, perhaps as a result of ignorance
among those in the corridors of governmental power, it is not therefore
only treated with disdain and temerity but also without any reasonable
financial allocation to propel the work of non-formal distance education
programmes in Lesotho. Unfortunately,
this group of officials forget merely that there is no legitimate human
endeavour that is not punctuated by one form of adult education or the
other. More importantly
during any social crisis, when a society finds itself at the crossroads
of social dilemma, when values and orientations of human beings are
lost, the only answer to integrate the already disintegrated social
lives will be the organization of adult education programmes.
Such efforts will be geared towards the reformation,
rehabilitation and reconstruction of the society, using education,
indeed, adult education, in all its ramifications, as a weapon of
reactivation, mobilization and awareness creation in the citizenry.
and Scope of Operation
in Lesotho, the target audience of most of the non-formal distance
education programmes across all the types of providers as they abound in
Lesotho, comprise both the males and females (even though the latter is
in the majority), the special feature of all such adult learners are the
drop-outs from the formal school system, who are for age and other
factors, could not possibly go back to complete their education process
in the formal school setting. Ultimately,
this group of people enrol in the non-formal distance education, either
of the governmental outfit, such as the LDTC or IEMS or private
institutions, while they continue to earn a living by working.
The major scope of their operation is to improve their
qualifications either for the purpose of further higher education or for
professional advancement on their jobs.
the global technological advancement in education, most African
countries still strongly adhere to the print medium for the offering of
non-formal distance education programmes to their heterogeneous
clientele due to unavailability of and competence on the application of
modern sophisticated technological hardware resources.
The cost of procurement of such technologies is prohibitive, and
therefore not affordable to most of the poor African countries suffering
from epileptic economies. Kinyanjui
(1998) stressed that if new technologies are to be successfully used in
DE and Open Learning in Africa they need to be affordable, accessible
and conveniently located for learners to utilize.
This is an unfortunate development though, as education is now
being commercialised in terms of commodification because we now live in
the age of “knowledge industry” and therefore, it is the global
industries responsible for the manufacturing of equipment that
facilitate educational delivery that determine prices with regard to
education and training as their most important market.
However, in Lesotho, the print course materials are mainly in
vogue for the delivery of knowledge among most of the operating DE
governmental institutions also have access to the use of Radio Lesotho,
but its receptivity is highly localized and may therefore not be all
that effective. This is in
addition to the fact that per capita income is low in Lesotho, apart
from the fact that not all people have access to electricity supply in
their respective places of abode to facilitate the reception of radio
supplement the printed course materials, most DE institutions discussed
in this paper make use of occasion face-to-face (F2F) for tutorial
sessions, either during the residential periods or at weekends.
While we are not pessimistic about the adoption of New
Educational Technologies (NETs) for the purpose of educational delivery
in Lesotho, it is not out of place that even computer mediated delivery
of educational content, either as email, or on-line, still makes use of
printed materials. The
printed course materials with occasional f2f sessions seem to be
generally adopted, embraced and effectively utilized by both the DE
tutors and learners.
Resource utilization for DE programmes
is no doubt that there is a dearth of qualified personnel in the areas
of adult and non-formal education in Lesotho.
At best, majority of the facilitators are either from the
government ministries or high schools including the university
lecturers. They are academically qualified with least number holding
Masters’ degrees and many PhDs, with no experience in distance
education methods. The net
effect of that is that most of them apply pedagogical approach to
teaching and learning process. Perhaps
the only way to remediate this situation in a bid to achieve excellence,
is to organize regular training workshops to impact skills to the
as a result of the global economic recession, in which majority of
African countries are hard hit, they are merely struggling to service
their debts or at best look on to donor agencies to assist with the
funding of many of the educational programmes, which as it were, also
must be in consonance with the philosophy of the funders.
In essence, to engage in some technological distance education
programmes operation, it will require initial gigantic capital outlay to
procure sophisticated equipment while a high number of competent
technical personnel will be required.
For most of the operating regional centers in the ten districts
of Lesotho, it becomes even a hazardous task for the governmental DE
institutions to have vehicles and motorcycles provided to make regular
trips to such far rural areas. The
best strategy to operate such regional centers would have been the
establishment of telecentres and telelearning outfits in addition to the
production of radio cassettes to go along with the printed course
materials. It will be
over-ambitious for now, to talk about the use of teleconferencing, CD
ROMs and the computers including video facilities, when not everyone has
access to such facilities, even in the urban and semi-urban districts,
let alone those in the remote mountainous areas.
education and human resourse development
education has become so popular and attractive because of its
significant contribution to human resource development.
It is very obvious that no single institution can solely handle
the assignment of professional development across the different
occupations. At the same
time, the higher institutions of learning in the country – the
National University of Lesotho, the Lesotho College of Education
(formerly the National Teachers Training College (NTTC), and the Lesotho
Polytechnic, cannot adequately address the high demand for higher
education in their fields of expertise in their present conventional
arrangements. All of these
institutions are heavily subsidised by the Lesotho Government to produce
the human resource required. However,
as the table below reflects, the enrolments in these institutions speak
for themselves in terms of addressing the expected needs.
situation is against a background where in 1999 the population of
Lesotho was estimated at 2.09 million and where roughly 29% of the
population that is, 608,890 was between 15 to 30 years of age.
If we take that this figure represents the part of the population
that should be enrolled at post secondary level, this is a far cry from
the total of roughly 4,700 registered in 1998.
This also says that there is a need to revolutionarise higher
education offering for democratisation and for proper human resource
Enrolment in Post Secondary Institutions:
University of Lesotho
Teacher Training College
Department of Population and Manpower Planning (1999)
1999 Lesotho Population Data Sheet:
Ministry of Development
Planning, Maseru, Lesotho.
Adeola and Lephoto (1999) have summarised some of the perennial problems
facing the education system in Lesotho.
Among these are lack of infrastructure, ineffective teaching and
learning process and “fewer number of tertiary institutions in Lesotho
which are grippled by limited absorptive capacity to cope
adequately with the unending demands of those seeking admission into
higher institutions of learning to improve their skills and
qualities.” (p. 152)
foregoing picture forms the background to the explosion of distance
education enrolments in Lesotho today.
The government of Lesotho has realised the potential to respond
to the education needs of the Basotho and to develop human resource
through distance education programmes.
Although participants in distance education programmes were left
to fend for themselves in terms of financing their studies, since
1997/98 session, the government through the National Manpower
Development Secretariat started awarding bursaries to them.
At the same time, there is now more recognition for graduants of
the distance education programmes through mobility to more challenging
work, promotion, vacancies for employment requesting certificates from
the programmes and so on.
the same time, the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of
Education has committed itself to implementing the SADC Education
Protocol. Government of
Lesotho is represented in the SADC Technical Committee on Distance
Education by its distance education department – LDTC.
One of the critical issues that Lesotho is faced with is the
formulation of the distance education policy.
The LDTC coordinates the task force working on this major
Government of Lesotho is also embarking on a countrywide programme to
train in-service teachers through distance education.
Early in March 2001, the Ministry of Education organized a
two-day consultative workshop on “The Distance Teacher Education
Programme.” At this
workshop, the Honourable Minister of Education affirmed government’s
commitment to distance education to improve human resource development.
He indicated that this diploma programme was a priority of
government to produce a greater number of teachers especially to service
the Free Primary Education programme.
It was also seen to have a direct leaning on the government
poverty reduction policy. Distance
education potential to improve access, to produce more teachers at a
quicker and more cost effective manner than the conventional NTTC
programmes was recognised. However,
the workshop also recognised the need to ensure that this programme
works on producing better and higher quality products.
This programme is in the final preparation stages and should be
launched in the new NTTC academic year.
studies of distance education institutions
section will present case studies of three Lesotho institutions that
offer distance education on a moderately large scale.
These are the Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre, a government
department, the Institute of Education and the Institute of Extra Mural
Studies – both are the institutes of the National University of
Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC)
Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC), a department in the Ministry of
Education of the Government of Lesotho, was established in February
1974, with the assistance of the International Extension College (IEC),
which is based in the United Kingdom.
The main challenges of LDTC were to provide continuing education
to those large number of people who could not enjoy full secondary
education benefit because of various reasons.
The other task emanated from an increasing number of people who
were studying privately with commercial correspondence colleges in South
Africa, whose courses were not only expensive but were also designed for
a curriculum that did not have direct relevance to Lesotho’s needs.
Thus, LDTC was established primarily to extend educational opportunities
to the above-mentioned groups of learners and that was to be done by
employing distance education methods.
With time, another group of clientele were added to the list of
the earlier target audience and these are the herdboys and the rural
populace who needed literacy and occupational skills necessary to
improve their lives.
clientele are mostly dropout adults from the formal institutions, with
an average age of 30, majority of whom are females.
They are also working adults either in the teaching, clerical or
secretarial profession and they live in urban or semi-urban centres.
educational delivery modes adopted for all the above-mentioned
continuing education programmes are a combination of self-instructional
printed materials, radio broadcasts and face-face tutorials.
The literacy programme of LDTC is a success story to a point in
the rural villages where they maintain literacy learning posts.
The reason for an incomplete success story is because of the
bureaucratic bottlenecks where they operate the teaching process based
on volunteers with little or no impressive payment of honoraria.
Monitoring of the activities is limited while radio facility is
not too effective because not every clientele has access to radios.
The following are some LDTC’s functions:
correspondence courses for Junior Certificate (JC), Cambridge
Overseas School Certificate (COSC) and teachers who intend to
upgrade their professional qualifications;
educational materials and workbooks for candidates who want to
develop their literacy and numeracy skills;
production of booklets in Sesotho on practical topics as well
as running of village-based workshops to train rural groups and
acting as service
agency for other organizations by supplying them with a variety of
services that are related to rural development.
for LDTC distance programmes in 1999 was 3,037 and in 2000 was
These figures represent enrolments for basic, junior certificate as well
as Cambridge Overseas School Certificate.
At the time of preparation of this paper, enrolments for 2001
were not yet available.
Institute of Education – IE:
IE was established in 1961, the B.Ed. Primary programme by distance mode
was launched in 2000/01 academic year.
This has been a joint venture between the Institute and the
Faculty of Education. IE,
whose mandate is the promotion of teacher education, embarked on this
programme at the height of outcry from the primary teacher population
for the degree level continuing education programme. The programme also coincided with the government launching of
the “Free Primary Education” programme and was therefore a direct
complement to this laudable policy.
As a distance education programme, this programme has generated a
lot of interest and is very attractive to the teachers, who are able to
learn as they teach, to be able to implement/test what they learn and
therefore contribute immediately to the improvement of the teaching –
programme opened doors with an intake of 247 teachers.
These were coming from schools all over Lesotho and could mostly
be able to access the programme from its face-to-face meetings in Roma,
Maseru and Mahobong Regional Centres.
The programme runs for a period of five years, with six-week
residential session during June/July and another 3 weeks in January,
during primary schools holidays. Bi-weekly
weekend meetings at the regional centres complement these residential
meetings. It is hoped that
these meetings will be reduced once required materials are in place.
The programme is yet to move into the second year, but it already
promise to be popular – addressing a dire need for high calibre
teachers. At the same time,
one observes the enthusiasm as well as dedication among the distance
learners and the facilitators.
the challenges facing this programme is the lack of teaching and
learning materials. The
printed medium is the main mode of teaching – learning, but at the
moment, the institute is busy trying to prepare as well as adapt
materials from elsewhere.
of Extra-Mural Studies (IEMS):
Institute of Extra-Mural Studies is one of the institutes of the
National University of Lesotho, which is located in the capital city of
Maseru. Its general mission
is to bring the University to the people. It is an example of organisations that focus on continuing
education. The objectives
of the institute include:
organising courses and classes for part-time students who are
interested in obtaining university degrees, diplomas and
organising courses, seminars, workshops and conferences for
specific interest groups, associations, professions etc;
providing training in general community;
promoting research in non-formal education programmes;
educating and organising local business people.
has organised its activities under four divisions:
The Adult Education division that organises distance education
programmes at the certificate,
The Business Management and Development division that offers a
three-year diploma in business management (a successor of certificate
and diploma in business studies);
The Non-Formal and Continuing Education division – organising
short-term non-formal education programmes and
Research, Evaluation and Media (REM), which among other things
organises a three-year diploma in Mass Communication on a distance
an extension arm of the university, IEMS has employed the correspondence
distance learning through the use of printed course materials,
to extend university programmes to the rest of Lesotho and
started offering its programme on a part-time face-to-face basis.
However, this arrangement is limiting in that availability of
space becomes a constraint. The
vision of the institute is to move into full-blown distance education
for all programmes in order to meet the challenges of access,
flexibility as well as to guarantee affordability.
IEMS has plans to embark on a B.Comm degree at a distance at the
beginning of 2002/2003 academic year.
For now, the B.Ed Adult Education is offered on a part-time
distance mode, with residential sessions of four weeks once every
semester, supplemented by one weekend a month of face to face tutorials
and utilizes the print media.
following are the enrolment figures for the three IEMS programmes for
the academic year 2001/2002. although a lot still needs to be done to make these
programmes more accessible, the part-time distance mode in place has
offered more educational opportunities to the Basotho.
The total enrolment for this year is 1,025 for all the
IEMS Enrolment Figures for 2001/2002
in Mass Communication
I & II – 146
I & II – 137
I & II – 140
IEMS (August, 2001).
Executive Committee Report.
is now exploring with some electronic devices to supplement the print
media. The long-term plan
is to utilize the radio station as well as the regional centres to make
programmes more accessible.
future of distance education in Lesotho
(1973) stressed that human resources, not capital or income, nor
material resources, constitute the ultimate basis for the wealth of
nations. Therefore, a
country that treats its human resources with temerity will certainly
find it difficult to make any form of development, because investment in
education has a far reaching dividend in the final analysis.
from the discussions in this paper, we have come to the inevitable
conclusion that the formal institutions alone do not possess the
absorptive capacity to meet the explosive demand for formal education by
the entire Basotho, therefore, non-formal distance education, must be
brought on board to assist with educational delivery.
Considering the fact that Lesotho is small, the national economy
is not that buoyant and the technological development is still at low
ebbs, we need to channel a way for revolutionizing education industry so
as to achieve equity and massification of products beneficiaries for the
purpose of balanced development.
government should not sit on the fence but take lead role in making
education free and accessible to all and sundry.
It can play the champion role in many respects, which include,
general policy development for non-formal and distance education, huge
financial investment on the different levels of education and the
effective coordination of educational provision to the Basotho people.
is obvious that education requires a heavy continuous expenditure,
therefore, it is necessary for the government to work out viable
mechanisms where funding of education including the procurement of
necessary technological hardware resources could become a joint venture
between the state and the business sector.
This is because, the business sector has a direct benefit of the
utilization of the human resources produced from the tertiary
institutions on which the government has made a substantial investment.
Most of the tertiary distance education institutions in Lesotho
should be encouraged to collaborate with similar institutions with
common vision, orientation and goal, within the sub-region to offer
joint shared courses for the advantage of cost reduction.
is an indisputable fact that because of the topography of Lesotho, it is
too difficult to have radio reception at all the corners of the country,
not even in the face of less powerful satellite technology. All hands must be on deck, to committedly invest on the
establishment of technologically vibrant learning centres, which should
be managed by competent technicians and effectively run by distance
educators throughout the ten districts of Lesotho.
list of areas for improvement is inexhaustive as far as adopting
distance education for educational delivery is concerned in Lesotho.
This is with a view to achieving greater accessibility.
Nonetheless, we cannot blindly adopt such technologies, which
from all ramifications may not be appropriate for our social, economic,
political, religious and cultural developments.
It is however, pertinent that those strategies of delivering
educational provision could be effectively implemented if better
conditions of service including good pay, can be accorded to the
“manufacturers” of the needed human resources in Lesotho, that is,
the educators at all levels of education industry.
With this deliberate plan on the priority list of the government,
a lot can be achieved within the shortest possible time, without
necessarily compromising standard and restricting people’s access to
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