Ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor gets M352m boost

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

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.”

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