Shots from the Trip
About the Community
Lesia Combined Government School and Mahlabatheng Combined Government School are located in the capital, Maseru, of the tiny mountain kingdom marooned by South Africa, Lesotho. Pronounced "Leh-soo-too", Lesotho is home to the Besotho, a gentle and blanket-loving people whose nation was founded by King Moshoeshoe I (delightfully pronounced Muh-shway-shway), who long ago united the many Sotho tribes of South Africa and led them into the mountains. Many years later, we began offering the children there a storytelling workshop and teacher training workshops for the staff starting the 24th of January, continuing on until the 8th of February.
Lesotho is considered a quintessential LDC (Less-Developed Country). A good deal of the population is reliant on migrant labor from South Africa, and it is not uncommon, especially in the highlands, for kids to miss school or sacrifice their homework in order to let the cattle out to graze. The education ministry recently rolled out a new curriculum focused on critical thinking and creativity, but challenges still remain. Textbooks are still scarce, some teachers teach upwards of 100 students at a time (we did too!) in schools built for 300 but serving 1200 (Lesia), and teachers, conditioned to teach in a more traditional manner, are struggling to shift their teaching style over and make meaning of this new direction.
In spite of these challenges, the learners and teachers greeted us with open minds and much anticipation, and we had a wonderful time learning from them, listening to their stories, and helping them get closer to conquering these challenges.