GOAL: To ensure that citizens of Lesotho are educated, literate, autonomous decision-makers and problem-solvers who will positively influence the development of Lesotho.
DEFINITION: Education encompasses more than the acquisition of knowledge; education should allow children to reach their fullest potential in terms of cognitive, emotional and creative capacities (UNESCO).
DESCRIPTION: At its core, Help Lesotho is an educational organization. All programs are carefully designed to foster cognitive development, problem solving and decision making. Programs are delivered either through formal or informal education modalities, reaching overbetween 15-20,000 beneficiaries each year.
- Formal Education: Help Lesotho does not own or operate schools, but rather supports formal education in Lesotho through partnerships with the Ministry of Education in Lesotho, Lesotho and Canadian schools, child sponsorship and improving school learning environments. School-based programs are age and context specific at the primary and high school levels (no preschool or tertiary).
- Informal Education: Help Lesotho develops and delivers reiterative educational programs and learning opportunities that promote life skills and literacy for students, out of school youth, educators, and adults.
Life skills education refers to participatory learning that leads to positive attitude and behaviour change (UNICEF). Topics include communication, self-esteem, goal setting, anger, forgiveness and peer pressure.
RATIONALE: Education is the most meaningful way to impact individuals, communities and Lesotho as a whole. Education is a critical component to overall physical, mental, psychological and social well-being. Children who are educated grow up to become influential community members who can be role models for their peers. Youth and adults who gain life-transforming education can change their lives and make better decisions. Education leads to greater income-earning potential and opportunities to make a positive change in the development of Lesotho.
In cultures where children lack regular safety and support, their intellectual or cognitive development does not reach its fullest potential. Through the support of both formal and informal education, participants have a chance to develop the cognitive structures and knowledge that will guide them for life. Informal education with vulnerable populations needs to deal directly and practically with the challenges they are facing daily in order to help build individual autonomy.
APPROACH: Help Lesotho values education as a main component in alleviating poverty and creating an AIDS-free generation in Lesotho. By supporting the formal education system and delivering educational programs of excellence in informal settings, vulnerable children, youth and adults acquire the information and practical tools to deal with their formidable challenges. As people learn to think for themselves, they become more autonomous, confident and responsible, and more able to take on leadership roles in their communities.
Help Lesotho is especially committed to educating girls and women. Not only does every extra year of school decrease the chance of pregnancy and risk of HIV infection, but girls are most likely to support their families and communities with the knowledge they gain.
Child Sponsorship Program:
Help Lesotho’s Child Sponsorship Program (CSP) provides the financial and psychosocial support needed for vulnerable children to complete high school. Sponsors are asked to commit a minimum of 5 years of support through this one-to-one sponsorship program (the duration of high school in Lesotho). Click to learn more.
Education Support Fund:
Support vulnerable students in Lesotho who need one-time support related to their education. The Education Support Fund supports outstanding students who are identified as strong leaders with the ability to affect change in their communities. Click to learn more.
Literacy & Libraries:
Help Lesotho runs two libraries in the Seotlong Leadership Centres in northern Lesotho. Both are non-lending libraries that are stocked with Afro-centred books, local newspapers, high school textbooks, and many other resources. Trained youth are available at all times in the libraries to ensure that help is always available for visitors of all ages and reading levels.
Preschool Literacy Program:
This program aims to enhance the early literacy experiences for children from underprivileged preschools who might otherwise attend school unprepared and unmotivated to learn. At Help Lesotho’s two libraries, preschool children have the opportunity to participate in a variety of interesting and fun literacy-based games and activities.
Schools Helping Schools:
The Schools Helping Schools Program was one of the first programs launched when Help Lesotho was founded. Since 2004, thousands of children and youth have benefitted from such support as classroom construction/repair, uniforms and shoes, classroom supplies, textbooks, rain barrels, blankets and toothbrushes! Click to learn more.
(formerly Anti-AIDS Clubs):
Help Lesotho’s school-based Youth Empowerment in Schools (YES) Clubs provide students with a forum to talk openly about the impact the HIV/AIDS pandemic has on their lives. Weekly after-school meetings are led by Help Lesotho trained youth leaders. Each meeting focuses on carefully sequenced life skills topics such as self-esteem, teenage pregnancy, rape and abuse and how these issues relate to HIV/AIDS and gender equity. The clubs build awareness within the student body and surrounding communities while equipping youth to make healthy choices.