This book is organised into 16 chapters written by different authors concerning diverse themes on education in Lesotho, ranging from early childhood development to tertiary education. As narrated in the book, formal education started in 1838 in Lesotho after the arrival of the first group of missionaries – the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in 1833, followed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1862 and the Anglican Church in 1876. From the time they arrived, the three pioneer churches engaged in fierce competition and scrambled to establish their missions and schools across the country in order to expand their denominational territory. As a result, to this day, these mainstream churches operate the majority of schools in partnership with the state, which regulates and coordinates education. Lesotho’s educational arrangement is unique in the sense that the government runs ‘public schools on private property’; a situation that occasionally causes tensions between the two over the control of schools. Despite Lesotho’s long history of education, not much has been written on the education of the country. Therefore, this book attempts to fill that gap by chronicling the history of education, and the philosophical and sociocultural context within which education is provided. It explores the structure, organisation and management of education at different levels, educational policies and curriculum aspects. It also looks at early childhood development, which is not directly funded by the government, but has increasingly been recognised as a critical phase that readies the child for school and improves educational efficiency.
The book also highlights that Lesotho is a low-income country, with unacceptably high levels of unemployment and poverty. Partly because of these and the skewed government priorities, the standard of facilities, and the quality of teachers and learning conditions in rural schools are generally poor compared to those of urban schools. These socioeconomic inequalities are manifested by the stark differences in achievement between the urban and rural schools, with the rural students generally falling behind their urban counterparts in the national examinations. In order to tackle this problem and provide educational access for all children, the government introduced Free Primary Education in 2000. However, this takeover by the government appears to have somehow diminished parental involvement and accountability in education. The book further acknowledges that Lesotho has experienced political tensions since its independence in 1966, and advocates the introduction of democratic education in schools in order to interrupt a cycle of social and political violence by nurturing a democratic culture from an early age. At the higher education level, the challenges revolve around low state funding that render higher education institutions unviable and uncompetitive and trigger brain drain, poor educational quality and a curriculum not aligned to the needs of the country and the labour market. Finally, although Lesotho is used as a context for this book, the style of discussion is scholarly and ultimately makes it relevant to an international audience. (Nova)
“This book is a valuable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the education system in Lesotho, which has received insufficient attention in the past. It provides a comprehensive and scholarly analysis of the many different levels and aspects of education in Lesotho and raises many pertinent issues that also affect education in other African countries. The book is an important addition to the academic literature on education in Africa.” - Clive Harber, Emeritus Professor of International Education, University of Birmingham, UK
"This book will make a significant contribution to the literature on the schooling challenges of small states in developing countries. The fact that the authors are all from Africa provides a welcome contrast to the majority of publications about African countries which are written about Africa by non-Africans. As someone who has lived and worked in Lesotho I am delighted to see a scholarly publication that engages with both theoretical and historical lenses which help to explain the country's educational growth." - Julia Preece, Honorary Professor of Adult Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor of Adult Education, Durban University of Technology, South Africa
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