MASERU, April 20, 2022—The Government of Lesotho and the World Bank signed an agreement to improve student retention in times of COVID-19 in an environment in which boys, particularly from poor households and in the rural areas, are most vulnerable to dropping out of school. The project will also help strengthen the country’s basic education system.
Funded through a $7.1 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Basic Education Strengthening Project (BESP) will also help improve the quality of teaching in junior secondary schools in targeted communities as well as support the rollout of a new curriculum to strengthen Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD).
“We have come a long way in improving access to junior secondary education, however the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated primary and secondary student drop-out rates. With this project, we will be able to retain students across the education system and give them a chance for a better future,” said Hon. Mamookho Phiri, Minister of Education and Training for Lesotho. .
Targeting rural areas with high poverty rates and high school drop-out rates, this project includes a component that will help improve the efficiency of cash transfer schemes to students from poor households. About 18,700 students will be supported throughout the project with a top-up of M1,500/$97 per student on the Child Grant Program (CGP), starting in 2023. In addition, the project will also incentivize students to stay in school by scaling up the implementation of social youth clubs that are already active in schools.
Furthermore, the project will provide structured support to roll out a new curriculum to over 300 reception classes and ECCD centers. It will also help improve the quality of teaching by strengthening online training models in mathematics and science for junior secondary school teachers. The project will also provide technical assistance to strengthen the government's capacity to monitor progress of the Lesotho Basic Education System.
“Through this project, we are supporting children in critical stages of their development by strengthening the provision of Early Childhood Care and Development, keeping boys and girls in school, and improving the quality of their education—all of which is paramount to helping them become productive adults that contribute to growing Lesotho’s economy and ending extreme poverty,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
This project responds to the Education Sector Response Plan, which is in line with the wider national response plan and reflects the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is further aligned with a key objective of the second National Strategic Development Plan (2018/19-2022/23) which aims to strengthen human capital development.
“This project comes at a critical time, as Lesotho continues to build back from the devastating impacts of the pandemic on education. We hope that this funding will ensure more students, especially the most vulnerable, stay in school and continue to receive a quality education,” said Charles North, Acting Chief Executive Officer of GPE.
About the World Bank
The World Bank provides financing, global knowledge, and long-term commitment to help low- and middle-income countries end poverty, achieve sustainable growth, and invest in opportunity for all. We comprise the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the world’s largest development bank, and the International Development Association (IDA), one of the largest sources of funding for the world’s poorest countries. With the other World Bank Group institutions as well as partners across the public and private sectors, we are helping build solutions to the global challenges of the 21st century in all major sectors of development. A world where no one lives in poverty, and everyone has the opportunity for a better life is within our reach.
About the Global Partnership for Education
GPE is a shared commitment to ending the world’s learning crisis. We mobilize partners and funds to support 76 lower-income countries to transform their education systems so that every girl and boy can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential and contribute to building a better world. www.globalpartnership.org