As a result of the Free Primary Education (FPE) policy, the demand for basic education has risen sharply, with consequential pressures on the absorptive capacity of the system. Enrolment rates have continued to rise, as well as primary completion rates. However, huge disparities across districts are observable. The majority of children from disadvantaged social groups, particularly in rural areas, are yet to access ten years of basic education. The first cohort from the FPE drive
reaches the end of the cycle in 2006. But with a current availability ratio of 1 secondary school to 6 primary schools, the pressure to expand at the secondary level is evident. The Government is also quite concerned that the number of qualified teachers servicing the education system is not tenable for quality purposes and that the present curriculum is characterized by an excessive number of subjects that are fairly academic and irrelevant with minimum practical skills that are
essential for the integration of graduates into the employment market.
The Kingdom of Lesotho has prepared an integrated ten-year Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) for the period 2005 вЂ“2015. The plan is set to play a pivotal role in the countryвЂ™s achievement of the human development and poverty reduction goals articulated in the Poverty Reduction strategy (PRSP). The plan emphasizes expansion of educational opportunities, especially through trained teachers, relevant curricula, appropriate instructional materials, increased access to education, capacity building and elimination of disparities based on gender, region, poverty or other vulnerabilities, including HIV/AIDs.
On the basis of a request submitted by the Government in November 2004, an ADF mission visited Lesotho in June 2005 and appraised the present project. On account of a shortfall in resources in 2005, the project was re-appraised in November 2006. The proposed project has been formulated on the basis of the ESSP, the present shortcomings of the education system, the complementary actions of other development partners and the guidelines of the education sector policy paper.