Education: More quality needed
THE arrival of Botho University (BU) on the academic scene, as reported in this edition, is a welcome development that will be lauded by all and sundry. It offers another local alternative to Basotho who have tended to look abroad for quality education.
However, as rightly stated by BU Head of Business Development and International Relations ’Mankhole Masisi-Thakhisi, the emphasis should be on quality rather than quantity.
Lesotho already has its fair share of fly-by-night tertiary institutions, and, with its pedigree and track record, BU’s entry goes a long way in stemming this trend.
Elsewhere in this newspaper, the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) laments the lack of innovative proposals by applicants for the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP). BEP is meant to foster the participation of young unemployed graduates between the ages of 21 and 35 in business to help stem the spiralling unemployment by capacitating them with entrepreneurship skills.
Of the 25 proposals initially earmarked for shortlisting for BEP, only 20 made the cut after the adjudicators deemed the rest below the expected standard.
Such a dismal showing by our youths highlights their frayed academic foundation which has ill-equipped them for entrepreneurship.
Most of our graduates are hardly employable either, with a number ending up doing menial jobs just to earn a living while the rest walk the streets looking for employment.
It does not require rocket science to observe that our educational system is in need of a major revamp. The government’s stated ambition to extricate Lesotho from its current least developed country status will remain a pipe dream as long as we don’t get the basics right.
Instead of producing half-baked graduates, our education system must produce school leavers on par or even above their counterparts anywhere in the world.
The curriculum must be tailor-made to suit the local operating environment and produce more entrepreneurs than employees in light of the limited job opportunities.
Local educational institutions also need to adapt their syllabuses in light of changing technologies and approaches.
Lesotho needs to emulate another small African country, Rwanda, which is now punching above its weight in the continent with a knowledge-based economy. Over the past decade, the Rwandan government and the private sector have invested massively in building the right infrastructure, skills, and institutional frameworks to provide an environment that is conducive to meeting this target.
The only way Lesotho is to emerge from chronic poverty is through the transformation of its agro-based economy into a service-oriented, information-rich, and knowledge-based one that is globally competitive.
However, revamping the education sector cannot be the job of government alone but that of all stakeholders. The efforts of the Queen’s National Trust Fund to raise funds to assist Basotho from disadvantaged backgrounds get education deserve mention and commendation in this regard.
As also reported in this edition, the fund exceeded their M1 000 000 target during their fundraising gala dinner and more such initiatives will help bridge Lesotho’s educational gap with other countries.
Institutions of higher learning such as BU and others already operational in Lesotho have a big role to play in transforming Lesotho. They will ultimately need to prioritise quality rather than the profit motive for that to happen.