Outdoor Schools

The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) is the proprietor of around 500 primary schools. A number of these schools are located in remote, mountainous locations and accessible only by 4×4 vehicles. In some cases there are hardly any buildings to speak of, save for old stone likerekana (small church buildings) which date back well into the times of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS, forerunner of the LECSA) when, as the leading provider of education, they established schools in association with their mission stations that were placed throughout the country. At some schools even desks and chairs can be in short supply or nearly totally absent. Despite these extremely difficult circumstances, you will find dedicated teachers doing what they can to help young learners with their education.

One such example is Qiloane Primary School located in the Khotla Parish of Morija Presbytery. Located high above the steep gorge of the Makhaleng River, the school has about 100 students in the seven standards or grades that make up primary school. Other than the stone kerekana, there is only one small rondavel serving as principal’s office, store room and kitchen for serving food to the students.

There are currently three teachers, including the Acting Principal, Mr. Pitso, in charge of these pupils. Due to the poor facilities the enrolment has dropped from around 135 students back in 2008. From this school, about an hour’s walk away is another primary school with much better facilities. However, some of Qiloane’s pupils already walk an hour or more to reach their school, let alone going another hour beyond it. And then there are the streams which flood during heavy rains making it impossible for the children to cross.

While there is plenty of land on the church site for building classrooms, the difficulty in bringing building materials to the site is a great challenge, not to mention the financial costs involved. The local community is determined to keep the school going and hopes that one day there will be proper educational facilities for their children. On a recent May visit by the LECSA Education Secretary Mr. Liphaphang Senekal and one of his assistants, Mrs. Adelaide Kotele, they discovered that the school had only a few benches and one desk! School was held outside, with small chalkboards leaning up against trees and pupils sitting on pieces of canvas laid out on the ground. It was a calm day with warm sunshine. But what of the days when it is windy and dusty, or cold and rainy?

After learning of the great need for desks at the school, the LECSA Education Office made arrangements to deliver some desks to the school and is exploring the possibility of constructing a few classrooms. If you are interested in assisting the LECSA with classroom construction projects, please contact the LECSA Planning Officer at lecplanning@ilesotho.com.

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