Education sector gets M352m boost
UP to 84 500 vulnerable and poor school children in Lesotho are set to benefit from a World Bank-funded project spearheaded by the government of Lesotho.
The World Bank Group’s Board last week approved US$25 million (about M352 million) funding towards the implementation of the Education Quality for Equality Project currently being introduced by the government of Lesotho.
The objective of the project is to improve basic education service delivery and student retention in targeted schools, since Lesotho’s level of learning in primary school is the third lowest in the southern African region.
According to the global financial institution, the quality of education is equally low at the junior secondary level where only onefifth of students pass Mathematics and Science in the end-cycle examination.
“In addition, only about 62 percent of the cohort that enters Grade 1 completes primary and 42 percent completes junior secondary school, respectively. This is despite high public spending in education,” the World Bank said.
Education and Training Minister Dr. Mahali Phamotse told the Lesotho Times this week, the project would be piloted in the rural areas where education service delivery challenges were more acute. She said the five-year project, which was currently at the preparatory stage, would target 300 of the poorest-performing primary schools and 65 junior secondary schools in rural areas.
“We welcome the World Bank funding for our project. It will go a long way towards helping us achieve our goals to lift Basotho out of poverty by creating a literate youth population who have a firm foundation in numeracy and reasoning skills, especially in our rural areas where we have seen a consistent trend of student dropouts,” the minister said.
She the ministry was looking for a consultant who would train about 150 facilitators to be dispatched to the schools. The facilitators would be trained teachers.
For his part, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Guang Zhe Chen said: “Raising the quality of basic education is crucial to giving the Basotho youth a strong foundation for further skills development and improving their ability to participate more productively in the economy.
“With this project, we will also help the Lesotho education system to groom, support and manage its teachers which is critical to raising the quality of education.”
The World Bank also stated that supporting the project was in line with its long-term objectives.
“This project is in line with the World Bank Group’s strategic goals of supporting the most vulnerable and poor by eliminating extreme poverty and boosting the incomes of the poor,” the global financial institution said.
“The project will be based on three complimentary components: first, improving the teaching and learning environment; second, strengthening accountability for student learning and retention; and the last strengthening institutional capacity.”
The World Bank added: “One of the innovative approaches brought in this new project is the empowerment of key actors at the school level, including school principals, teachers, school boards and local communities. A new model for teaching mathematics and science will also be piloted in some junior secondary schools.”