When Principal Matsemela enters this hut, he has to crouch, and once he is inside, he disappears from view entirely. It is dark, cramped, and utterly derelict, and until this year he was using it as a classroom.
He only stopped using it a few months ago because he became truly afraid it would collapse while he was teaching, injuring any number of his students.
The alternative, though, is that all 150 of his primary school students are in the main building of his Molai Primary School for the entirety of the school day. In comparison with the hut, the main building is larger, but not large enough, and brighter, but not bright enough. Students are lumped together and faced with near-constant distraction.
About half an hour away is Lebona Primary School. The classrooms are bright and roomy, and the children are vivacious and successful. These classrooms were constructed by the MDT in 2016, with funding help from Solma, a Holland-based fundraising arm of the MDT. Their test scores improved significantly in the past year, and the next rounds of results are highly anticipated.
The difference is striking, but the MDT doesn’t want it to be so. Solma is in process fundraising for four new classrooms to be built for Molai as well, so they may see the same improvements seen at Lebona. We are hoping to begin construction by February 2018. With help from its funders, the MDT has assisted many area schools improve their facilities and the quality of the education they can provide.
There are many problems with our education system in Lesotho beyond derelict study spaces. Class sizes are large and multiple grades are in one room together, forcing excessive school closures during exam times so that the grades sitting exams can have space. Large class sizes also mean a lot of disruption, and a lack of individualized attention from their instructors, denying them valuable access to adult mentorship.
While some schools have ample supplies, most do not have electricity, eliminating the chances for adequate technological education for today’s world. Our children need to be prepared to interact with the global economy and without access to computers and technology they will be unable to do so.
Drop-out rates and failure rates are high, especially in rural areas like Malealea. There are also far more girls in schools than there are boys because many of the boys leave school to become Herd Boys, and later, to join the legions of Basotho migrant workers in South Africa.
We at the MDT are trying to assess these gaps and provide supplementary services that can address key areas of education that our government is not covering.
Our field workers and our social care worker visit the villages’ preschools regularly to see what they need and to encourage parents to value early education.
Please click on the images to read more about these projects and how you can help.