The governments of Lesotho and France on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for French to be part of the country’s secondary school curriculum.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) Deputy Principal Secretary, ‘Mapaseka Kolotsane, and French Ambassador to South Africa and Lesotho, Elisabeth Barbier, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held in Maseru, Ms Kolotsane said the MoU marked an important milestone in the history of Lesotho and France relations, although French was already being taught in some local schools.
“Even prior to this arrangement, we had schools teaching French in this country. I learned French in high school and at university up to second year, but still this is a momentous occasion for our two countries,” she said.
On her part, Ambassador Barbier said the MoU was important in the strengthening of cooperation between Lesotho and France and the result of a six-year journey.
“The national exam delivered by the French Ministry of Education, when introduced in partnering schools, is always a sign of strong, healthy and sustainable cooperation. Numerous countries in the world have already made this choice and it is a real honour that Lesotho joins this group today. A seminar was held in 2009 gathering all partners involved in the project (MOET, National University of Lesotho, Alliance Française de Maseru, Central International d’Etudes Pedagogiques in Reunion Island and Embassy of France), which allowed us to set the goals for our cooperation,” Ambassador Barbier said.
“From 2009 to 2011, young teachers of French, as a foreign language, were placed under the supervision of MOET to develop French programmes within experimental school and to accompany the teachers. Since 2011, a technical supervisor has been fully dedicated to the pursuit of this task.”
Ambassador Barbier further said French is currently taught to 5000 pupils in 11 secondary schools by 28 teachers, the majority of which are graduates of the National University of Lesotho.
“Allowing all these pupils to sit for a national exam consistent with international standards for test development, which is recognised all around the world, is indeed, a remarkable accomplishment of our bilateral cooperation.”
In his address, the Director of National Curriculum and Development Centre, Teboho Tsilane, said to start any project is not easy.
“However, with the assistance of the French embassy and Alliance Française, the project became easier with each passing year. We were assisted with an instructor from France to help our teachers, and have also been assisted with textbooks. Our predecessors in office would relate a long story on this project but the most important one is the sending of an expert instructor from France every year to train our teachers,” Mr Tsilane said.