6 minute read


Nonformal Education

Vocational Education: Two types of technical and vocational education are available: (1) pre-service vocational education in fields that include agriculture, commerce, or nursing, obtained in a school setting within a formalized system of education; (2) in-service, out-of-school education where apprenticeship is the primary element of the program. Most of these programs, though supported by the government, have been established with foreign technical and financial assistance and are influenced by foreign educational systems.

The Lerotholi Technical Institute (LTI) in Maseru offers training in basic engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, electronics, electrical installation, and plumbing. The Commercial Training Institute, attached to L.T.I, offers secretarial subjects and a technical training school trains supervisors for the road department. The admission requirement to the Institute is the JC, and the programs are two or three years in duration.

Full-time, residential agricultural colleges offer courses in agriculture and domestic sciences to students with a JC and a two-year Diploma in Agriculture to those with the COSC with passes in at least math, science, and English. The Ministry of Agriculture, rather than the Ministry of Education, is responsible for these colleges.

Formal & Nonformal Distance Education: It is not always easy to distinguish between formal and nonformal education. Because of economic constraints and the physical terrain of the country, school provision is often inadequate and large numbers of the population obtain higher education through distance education. Prior to 1974 correspondence education had been provided from institutions operating from South Africa to the few who could afford the services. In 1974 the Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC) was established by the International Extension College (IEC) at the request of the Lesotho Government's Ministry of Education so as to democratize the education system. The services offered by the Centre span the formal and nonformal sectors of the country's educational system and reflect the Lesotho government's vision of the role of education in the development process. As the level of literacy was low, especially among the large proportion of the population living in the mountainous rural areas, LDTC provides basic practical skills to these people. It further offers opportunities for out of school youth and adults to develop their literacy and numeracy skills and attempts to expand distance education by including correspondence courses at Junior Certificate and Cambridge Overseas School Certificate levels. The LDTC acts as a service agency for other organizations involved in formal and nonformal education. Thus it provides support and materials, mainly in the form of visual aids, pamphlets, training for field workers, instructional booklets and radio programs for the in-service training of unqualified teachers at the National Teacher Training College who are automatically enrolled in the correspondence institute. Additionally, the LDTC provides educational materials and radio programs to the Agricultural Information Service and the Health Education Unit.

In 1980 several African countries comprising mainly the so called front-line states, i.e., those countries most affected by the political struggle in South Africa, and also most economically dependant on the southern African economic giant—Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe—joined together to form the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC). In 1992 they were joined by Namibia. In 1994 South Africa became the eleventh member of the organization that was renamed the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The role of the organizations was to encourage economic independence for its members through the improvement of national and inter-country communications infrastructures, the growth of inter-country trade and cultural ties. By implementing joint training facilities and organizing joint training sessions in these countries, the Southern African Transport and Communications Commission (SATCC), one arm of the SADCC, promoted cooperation in human resource development. The SATCC also promotes cooperation among the telecommunications administrations of the region via the Pan African Telecommunications (Panaftel) microwave network and satellite links, international gateway exchanges, and earth stations. These projects undertaken by Panaftel are vital for the furthering of distance education in Lesotho. Possibilities for further development of telecommunication based distance education exist, but at present Lesotho does not have the necessary infrastructure to make this a viable proposition for such initiatives by organizations such as the Commonwealth of Learning that at present sponsors the LDTC.

During the 1980s when Lesotho hosted a number of refugees from the urban areas of the Republic of South Africa, the International Labor Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, together with the United Nations High Command of Refugees, implemented small projects designed to assist and train especially female refugees in developing small enterprises, in learning basic occupational skills, and so make them less dependant on the host country during their period of exile, which could range from anywhere up to twenty years or more.

Access to Global Information: The predicament for many developing countries is whether a relatively poor country with a high illiteracy rate, few skilled people, high unemployment, disease, malnutrition, and even starvation should exchange scarce foreign exchange and perhaps even increase its international debt burden to import computers. Purchasing computers also creates strong dependency on vendor countries: those countries that are merely consumers rather than producers of technology are exposed to the dangers of cultural invasion.

There are several reasons why even poor countries would want to put computers into classrooms and universities, the chief reasons being a wish to prepare students to be computer literate, to use computer-assisted learning, to have access to international information. However, added to the investment of installing computers in schools and universities is the added expense of importing software. Developing and marketing suitable educational software is so costly that few countries attempt it, yet educational and cultural reasons cause dissatisfaction with the software that is available.

Lesotho counts as one of the poorest countries in the world. Microcomputers are fairly readily obtainable at reasonable prices. But in 1987 there were few people trained to use them. A private school that had started to teach computer studies was forced to abandon the project because of staffing and resource shortages. In some schools hand-held battery-powered electronic aids were used to help students in the learning of English. However, this trend did not spread to other schools.

By the end of 1999 all African countries except Eritrea, Somalia, and Libya had local Internet access, with South Africa leading the number of Internet service providers and the number of computers connected to the Internet. In the other countries, including Lesotho, Internet access is limited to the capital cities. While Internet access presents especially African academic and research institutions with the possibility of admission to libraries and research institutions worldwide, there is growing concern that there is very little African content available on the Internet. The Global Information Infrastructure is not only dominated by the English Language, its content almost exclusively targets the needs of users in the United States and the United Kingdom. A 1999 survey of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has shown that Africa generates only 0.4 percent of global content. If the South African contribution is excluded, the figure is merely 0.02 percent. While a great deal of research has been done on the African continent, this research is unfortunately only available in the sponsoring institutions. And yet a specialized research institution like the Institute for Southern Africa Studies (ISAS) of the National University of Lesotho has the capacity to produce and publish the information and the research done by its faculty and students and thus add to the African content on the Internet. Similarly, while the foreign languages (English, Portuguese, French) spoken in Africa are well represented on the Internet, little has been undertaken to advance African indigenous languages through this medium. There is no reason why a country like Lesotho which has an indigenous national language, should not publish language materials produced in Sesotho.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceLesotho - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education