Key Focus Areas
The Malealea Development Trust is a champion of education in the Malealea valley, Lesotho. We believe that education is a key aspect of development. Education shapes both individual and community capacity to participate effectively in social and economic activities which contribute to human development and poverty reduction. For this reason, the Malealea Development Trust places a strong emphasis on promoting education initiatives within the valley.
We support a number of initiatives at different levels of education.
Primary school in Lesotho is free for all children, so children do not pay school fees at this level.
However, the Malealea Development Trust has an orphan's programme, and 21 of our officially supported children are assisted by us in terms of school uniforms, school shoes, school trips and other extraneous expenses.
We cooperate closely with 4 local primary schools and support school-based projects such as tree planting, school gardening and school painting as well as minor repairs to buildings and equipment.
To the children at these schools we also offer free, very basic weekly computer classes to children in their last year of primary school as a contribution towards preparation for secondary school.
Since we know that there are other children needing support, we try to offer support in the form of materials and second hand clothing to children attending other more remote primary schools.
Secondary schooling in Lesotho is not free and tragically, many children are denied the chance to further their education at this level simply because their parents are unable to pay the school fees.
Because there are high levels of poverty in the Malealea valley, and equally high levels of unemployment, this means that many parents are unable to pay for their children to further their education in this way.
The Malealea Development Trust offers support to a limited number of children in the form of scholarships for 70 children at the secondary school level, all of whom are orphans or vulnerable children in need. We try to keep track of these children in terms of their performance and behaviour at school, and our social care worker assists with follow up of children on a psycho-social level.
However, the Malealea Development Trust is also a firm believer in education during the early years of life. To this end we support 6 pre-schools in the valley, the newest one of which is nearing completion, having been generously funded by a wonderful donor John Sames.
We believe that not only does the opportunity to attend an early education facility assist children in getting the best possible educational start in life, but for many children in a poor rural context, it is much more than this.
It is in reality a daily sanctuary where children can play, learn and for many children, have access to activities and materials that are not available in their homes.
The role of the Malealea Development Trust in these schools is:
- We support the building of schools when requested by the community, and when there is a strong level of motivation for the school. Any building project is done with some contribution from the community. For example in the case of the Botsoela School, the community collected all the stones required for building and brought them to the site.
- We supplement the teacher's salaries on a monthly basis
- We provide equipment (indoor and outdoor) where we can, which for the most part is donated.
- We provide scholarships for 5 orphans and vulnerable children in each of our 6 schools. The Malealea Development Trust allows the teacher to use 50% of this money at her discretion, but insists that the other 50% is used for the betterment of the school and for the benefit of all the children in it. This money is carefully monitored by the Malealea Development Trust, and during the process, teachers are taught basic book-keeping and financial record skills.
- A meeting is held once a month, open to all teachers, where business matters, educational activities and matters related to English teaching are discussed. (The latter is undertaken because all formal schooling in Lesotho from Grade One is done through the medium of English. Pre-school teachers are anxious to assist children in some kind of readiness for this.) The meetings are also a forum where other relevant issues can be discussed, successes shared and problem-solving undertaken. The meeting venue is rotated through the schools, and the meetings have been very well attended this year. We have also opened the meetings to other schools not on the official Malealea Development Trust programme.
If you would like to support the Malealea Development Trust's support in this area, you might consider:
- Making a contribution toward a scholarship for a secondary school child,
- Contributing towards a pre-school teacher's salary, or
- Sponsoring an orphan to attend pre-school.