The US$20 million grant comes from EFA – FTI’s multi-donor trust fund and will be co-financed by Irish Aid. It will support the construction and refurbishment of over 300 classrooms that will be appropriately designed to accommodate disabled children, provide gender-friendly latrines and support the operation of more than 100 reception classes. These activities will be matched with a supporting set of interventions to improve the overall quality of teaching and learning in Lesotho.
The US$20 million is the second EFA-FTI grant allocated to Lesotho. The first grant – allocated in 2006 - was in the amount of US$11.9 million.
Bob Prouty, head of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative Secretariat, said progress is being made in Lesotho but acknowledged the remaining challenges in the education sector. "Lesotho is trying to achieve education for all children, including the more vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities and HIV/Aids orphans. I also commend the program for attracting qualified teachers where they are most needed which is a key step in getting all children educated,” said Prouty.
Primary education in the tiny nation of 1.9 million people is already free and compulsory and there are almost equal numbers of boys and girls attending primary school. Yet, the landlocked nation faces several challenges in providing basic education. Less than half of primary school classrooms meet standards, high repetition rates mean kids repeat primary education, especially in the first years, and only half of the children enrolled in basic education are still enrolled at the target age of six years.
“Education is fundamentally important for economic growth and improving human welfare,” said World Bank Country Director for Lesotho Ruth Kagia. “As Lesotho prepares for the future, increasing investment in basic education is a proven strategy for improving economic and social prospects for all Basotho people.”
Signed in August 2010, the grant marks the first pooled fund for improving education in Lesotho and will be managed by the World Bank on behalf of the donors. It will be pooled with an additional grant of US$6 million from the Government of Ireland. This multi-donor approach adopted for Lesotho’s education sector is a step forward and in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Training and is expected to run for three years.