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Equipping Lesotho’s teachers for rural primary schools

Our previous research project on Education systems, aspiration and learning in remote rural settingsfound that primary school children in rural communities in Lesotho, India and Laos tend to see their education as being useful only in relation to formal sector careers (teacher, nurse, policeman, soldier etc). Such careers can be achieved by only a minority of learners and, as a consequence, many young people are left disillusioned, and disengage from schooling.

In Lesotho, this is despite a new integrated curriculum that explicitly seeks to equip children with knowledge and skills for alternative futures. Part of the problem is that teachers in rural schools also see education as preparation for a formal sector career, and have not themselves fully embraced the integrated curriculum. Relatively few teachers have received any training in the new curriculum and it is not currently introduced in initial teacher education at Lesotho College of Education (LCE). Moreover, issues of teaching in specifically rural contexts, or the needs of rural children, have little prominence either in the new curriculum itself, or in teacher education.

This project seeks to equip Lesotho’s primary school teachers better for engaging rural children with education. It aims to produce a school experience that connects more meaningfully with rural children’s lives and prepares them for success in a future life that might not be in a formal sector job. Rural children will as a consequence engage more actively with schooling.

There are four strands to the approach:

Introduce preparation for rural teachers into the diploma in education primary at LCE

We are working with students in the term preceding their year-long teaching practice to teach them action research methods and design action research projects to undertake during their teaching practice. Supervised by nearby graduate teachers, the students will assess the needs of rural children, institute change in their schools and generate valuable knowledge that will feed into classroom-based teacher education and policy-focused and academic publications.

Introduce reflection on rural contexts to programmes for in-service teachers

LCE runs a Distance Teacher Education Programme for those teaching in primary schools without a qualification; the National University of Lesotho (NUL) runs a Bachelor of Education programme for teachers who have completed a Diploma in Education and wish to progress their careers. We will work with those who run these programmes to build in sessions that encourage the teachers to reflect on the challenges that rural settings pose to learners, to explore ways of making schooling more meaningful to rural children.

Develop in-service training workshops for rural teachers

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has historically been largely a responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), particularly the Inspectorate and National Curriculum Development Centre. There are plans that in future the Inspectorate should identify the need for CPD but this should be delivered by LCE and NUL. We will work with the MOET, LCE and NUL to design and trial workshops for those already teaching in rural schools. These might focus on outreach with communities as well as working with learners in school.

Ensure that government policy and frameworks for teacher education pay attention to the needs of children in rural contexts

A new Comprehensive Teacher Policy has been drafted which covers teacher education, and a new competency-based framework model for training teachers is under discussion. These documents are being produced with input from multiple stakeholders. We will bring together representatives of MOET, LCE and NUL to ensure that they give appropriate attention to the specific needs of rural children, to ensure that education is meaningful and valuable to children in more remote areas.

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Project last modified 10/08/2021