African Library Project

Lesotho banner image

Lesotho Ministry of Education and Training

Who we are

Lesotho image 1Our Mission Statement:

To develop and implement policies which ensure the acquisition of functional literacy among all Basotho and to develop a productive, quality citizens through education and training.

Lesotho believes in combating its poverty through education. The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) ensures that education is accessible to all. The government of Lesotho introduced free primary education in order to reach this goal and hopes to do so by 2015. Initiatives associated with free access to primary education include the provision of textbooks and writing materials for primary school children and allowing secondary school students to borrow books. Other initiatives include integrating special needs students into the school system and requiring that equal, quality education be given to all students. 

What daily life is like here

Lesotho Image 2Our school day is from 8 am to 3 pm daily though many students stay later to study, play sports and use the library.  Many children do chores before and after school such as helping cook, cleaning their home or feeding their family's animals.  Students walk to school and many walk for more than two hours to get to school. Some students live at the school during the school year and see their families only once a month.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Lesotho.  Our children also enjoy playing netball, volleyball, and running track.  Traditional singing and dancing are very popular.  Each school has a choir where students learn intricate harmonies and a dancing and drumming group. They perform at important school and village events and when visitors come to the school.

Sheep and goats are very important to us and often used as a system of currency.  Many boys are kept out of school to herd animals for the family.  When a couple marries, the man must pay "lobola" or a bride price to the woman's family.  Four cows is the average, but the number usually depends on the education of the woman.

Lesotho image 3Many fathers work in mines in South Africa and are rarely home.  Many children only see their fathers a few times a year.  Women work in the fields alongside men to grow food for their families.  Nearly every family in Lesotho has a small plot of land where they grow corn and cabbage for their families.

Lesotho enjoys a vibrant oral tradition with people passing along stories from generation to generation.  Reading is not a common way to pass time, but this is because there are few books.  Gradually, as our students are gaining access to books in our new libraries, they are enjoying the stories and have begun to like to read.  We learn to read in Sesotho, then add English during our fourth year of school.  To pass the exams to get into secondary school, we must be fluent in English so this is a very important skill for our students.

Why we work with the African Library ProjectBasotho teen students

Many people living in Lesotho do not have access to books and the schools usually only have textbooks for their students. The Ministry of Education and Training is working to create more libraries within the schools and encourage the schools to open up their libraries to the community. The Ministry of Education and Training trains the teacher-librarians how to take care of the books and maximize each book’s longevity. This training ensures that the libraries will be well run and self-sustaining for the future. 

How we work with the African Library Project

Initially, the African Library Project was solely working with U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Lesotho. However, within the first year of the Project, the MOET lent support by storing the books in our School Supply Warehouse until they could be distributed. Gradually, the Ministry of Education and Training began to take a more active role. Now, the Ministry of Education and Training handles the application process for libraries within Lesotho and coordinates with the African Library Project team in the USA.

We clear the containers from ALP, paying all customs fees. We unload the boxes of books at our Lesotho image 5warehouse and sort them into piles by library project. Although Peace Corps volunteers still help their village apply for a library project, the Ministry of Education and Training has now taken the lead in terms of administering the project in Lesotho. A teacher from each school is selected to manage the library and uses the ALP library manual for guidance. This manual instructs the teacher how to set up and maintain the library. Additionally, some teachers visit other schools to learn from their library experiences.

We are proud to have worked with the African Library Project for ten years and to have hosted the second ALP African Partner Summit in 2009. During the Summit, we hosted an international group of delegates to learn the best practices in small library development in which over 100 teacher-librarians attended. The US Ambassador to Lesotho attended a special celebration of our accomplishments and declared it “the most fun gathering” he had ever attended in his long career as a diplomat.

What we have accomplished with ALP

Lesotho image 6Since 2005, the African Library Project has started 470 libraries in Lesotho, reaching nearly 500,000 readers (as of August 2018). The collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Training and the African Library Project has brought great success to this country and has led to an increase in test scores from previous years. The creation of libraries has affected many children and their choice to consider college or other forms of education as an option.

Our hopes and wishes

We hope that every Basotho child has an access to books. This requires getting books into every school in every district in Lesotho. 

How you can help 

Lesotho image 7The best way to get involved is to start a library in Lesotho. An access to books is essential in inspiring future generations to grow up with reading as a part of the culture. Many students have had their life change when given an access to books as it enhances reading ability, writing ability, and raises test scores dramatically. The African Library Project encourages anyone interested in helping Lesotho increase its literacy and love for reading to create a book drive and get involved!

Our sincere thanks to the people making it happen

We very much appreciate the support we have received from the U.S. Peace Corps Lesotho and the African Library Project to help our people learn and grow. We cannot forget to thank the individual book drive organizers who lead book drives in their community inspiring the donation of books and money. We so appreciate all your help!

To learn more about the African Library Project

Explore the website, join the African Library Project mailing list and become an ALP Facebook Fan.

Progress report

Number of ALP libraries in Lesotho :  470 (November 2018)

Number of readers we have reached: 500,000