COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$3.47 million

Years: 2020-2021

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key document: Application and program document

The US$3.47 million grant will support the following interventions

  • Collect up-to-date information about the situation of children through SMS and social media channels to enable real-time data collection and mass-communication with program beneficiaries
  • Develop and roll-out free and open digital tools to support large-scale remote learning; including educational TV and radio programs, online content, and print materials
  • Establish systems for remote support from teachers
  • Establish hand-washing facilities in schools and provide hygiene supplies to students
  • Open better through back to school campaigns, catch-up classes, and accelerated learning. Subsidize school fees for disadvantaged lower secondary students for the remaining academic year
  • Develop and roll-out child-friendly complaints and feedback mechanisms in schools through helplines
  • Develop accelerated learning guidelines and support program targeting disadvantaged students, particularly adolescents transitioning from primary to (lower) secondary education with an emphasis on rural boys. Participation of boys in education, particularly in rural mountain areas, is the lowest of any group in the country
  • While the GPE program targets all districts in Lesotho, some areas will receive more support – particularly those where the enrollment rates are lower, dropouts are higher, and those with significant numbers of schools with poor WASH facilities and rural districts with high concentration of poverty.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Lesotho received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education with producing lessons for the radio and TV, as well as learner packs.

Education in Lesotho

Lesotho has made significant progress in its efforts towards Education for All by introducing Free Primary Education from 2000 through 2006, which was then reinforced to Free and Compulsory Primary Education by law in 2010. The net enrollment ratio in lower basic education increased from 82% to 95% between 2000 and 2010, and the gross enrollment ratio in grade 1 was 98% in 2014. Furthermore, the government engages in tangible efforts towards financing its system.

The education sector is allocated 23.3% of the government’s recurrent budget on average, which corresponds to 9.2% of the national GDP. Still, a diagnostic study conducted in 2015 highlighted that the education sector faces major challenges including:

  • Poor retention rates at primary and secondary levels,
  • Low student learning outcomes/achievements,
  • Graduate with inadequate skills for the job market,
  • High inefficiency in the system,
  • HIV and AIDS, and
  • Poor school governance.

In addition to these, the sector lacks adequate facilities and displays disparities across districts. For instance, mountainous districts experience difficulties to attract and retain teachers and show poorer performance compared to lowland districts.

To address these challenges, Lesotho has set strategic objectives in its Education Sector Strategic Plan for 2016-2026, which are to:

  1. Reform the national curriculum and assessment system to meet the needs of Lesotho.
  2. Improve access to comprehensive early childhood care and development, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
  3. Increase access to quality free and compulsory Lower Basic Education.
  4. Increase access to quality Secondary Education.
  5. Increase access to Technical and Vocational Education. 
  6. Improve relevance of   programs offered at Higher Learning Institutions.
  7. Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Non-Formal Education delivery
  8. Curb the spread of HIV and AIDS among sector employees, teachers and learners by 2025
  9. Improve strategic information, planning and accountability at all levels of the sector.

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Latest grant

Qoaling is a village/suburb of Maseru, Lesotho. It has a built in infrastructure for most part but hand pumps are still evident in some sections. Maimoeketsi Community Primary School.

Qoaling is a village/suburb of Maseru, Lesotho. It has a built in infrastructure for most part but hand pumps are still evident in some sections. Maimoeketsi Community Primary School.

CREDIT: World Bank/John Hogg
Development objective: Improve basic education service delivery and student retention in targeted schools.
Allocation: US$2,300,000
Years: 2017-2021
Grant agent: WB
Disbursements: US$1,281,410

The new GPE grant of US$ 2.1 million to the Government of Lesotho has recently been approved for the Lesotho Basic Education Improvement Project (LBEIP). This project builds on the previous GPE-funded EFA-FTI-III project and is structured into three components: (i) improving the teaching and learning environment in targeted primary schools and associated pre-primary and junior secondary schools, (ii) strengthening school accountability for student learning and retention in targeted schools, (iii) strengthening institutional capacity and project management.

  • Improving teaching and learning environment in targeted primary schools and associated pre-primary and junior secondary schools: this component helps improve the quality of classroom service delivery at the pre-primary, primary, and junior secondary school levels to help youth develop a strong foundation in literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills,
  • Strengthening school accountability for student learning and retention in targeted schools: this component aims to empower key actors at the school level to collectively decide and perform actions that contribute to student retention and enable them to learn through a school-based management model,
  • Strengthening institutional capacity and project management: this component focuses on strengthening and developing the capacity of the Ministry of Education and Training to deliver on its agenda as stated in the education sector plan. It also supports project implementation activities and covers project management costs.

The main implementing agency of the project is the Ministry of Education and Training, and other entities are also involved in its implementation.

Source: World Bank Project Appraisal Document. February 2017


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent  
COVID-19 2020-2021 3,470,000 0 UNICEF  
Program implementation 2017-2021 2,300,000 1,281,410 WB Progress report
2010-2015 19,593,431 19,593,431 WB Completion report
2006-2010 11,671,512 11,671,512 WB  
Sector plan development 2019-2021 295,000 0 WB  
2017-2019 204,819 56,996 WB  
2014-2016 230,000 230,000 UNICEF  
Program development 2020-2021 200,000 0 WB  
2016-2017 250,000 250,000 WB  
  Total 38,214,762 33,083,349    
Data last updated: March 15, 2021

GPE has also provided the Lesotho Council of NGO's (LCN) with a grant from the Civil Society Education Fund, to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Education sector progress

The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Lesotho, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.

Primary completion rate

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained

Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.

Last updated August 21, 2020