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Lesotho - Summary

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


Despite international perceptions of Lesotho as an economically deprived country, it has a long history of intellectual, academic, and literary involvement. Some of southern Africa's foremost writers, Thomas Mofolo being only one of them, have deep cultural roots in Lesotho. Much of its present educational dilemmas are due to the legacy left by colonialism and the resultant loss of geographical, cultural, and political identity. In many ways King Moshoeshoe tried to protect his people precisely from such a predicament. By establishing himself in the almost impregnable mountain hideout of Thaba Bosiu, by whenever possible using diplomacy rather than confrontation to reach some kind of co-existence with the invading and war-like Zulu, Boer, and British, and finally by asking for the protection of Britain rather than be conquered and absorbed into another nation, Moshoeshoe attempted to create a national and cultural identity within geographically defined borders. Ironically, Independence in 1966, which should have seen the fulfillment of this ancient dream, in many ways saw its collapse. The international necessity to make English, the language of the "protector", the national language; the economic necessity for the men to become part of a migrant labor force and thus cause the breakup of the basic social and cultural unit, the family; the financial necessity to put the education of their own children in the hands of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Foreign NGOs, and not in the hands of their own people, have all contributed to the crisis in education in Lesotho. An important step in the right direction was taken in 1978 when through the national Pitso, the traditional system of communication, the views of the nation concerning education were taken into account.

There is no reason why Lesotho with its proud history, should not once again be a major participant in the educational and intellectual global arena. Much depends on whether the international community with its fascination with the profit-making aspects of globalization and with "efficiency," often at the expense of other values, will allow this little mountain Kingdom the freedom to develop its educational system in such a way that its citizens rediscover their national and cultural character and mature to that stage where the contribution they make will be on their terms, rather than on those of the economically dominant modern superpowers.


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—Karin I. Paasche

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