COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$3.47 million

Years: 2020-2022

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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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 student retention and teaching quality in junior secondary schools in targeted community councils of Lesotho and support the roll out of a new curriculum to strengthen ECCD service delivery.
Allocation: US$7,500,000
Years: 2022-2025
Grant agent: WB
Utilization: US$2,331,626

The objective of the Basic Education Strengthening Project, supported by the $7.5 million GPE grant, is to improve student retention and teaching quality in junior secondary schools and support the rollout of a new curriculum. The program's components are as follows:

  1. Improve the transition to, and retention of, students in junior secondary education in targeted regions, and support improvements in mathematics and science instruction in schools located in these regions, by:
    1. Improving the efficiency of cash transfer schemes for 3,700 students (50%girls) from poor households
    2. Scaling up implementation of youth clubs for girls and boys, with 2,000 students (50%girls) joining support groups
    3. Strengthening online training models in mathematics and science for 500 junior secondary school teachers.
  1. Provide system strengthening support to the early childhood care and development (ECCD) sub-sector in key areas that are critical to improving children’s access to quality early childhood education through:
    1. Structured support to roll out the new curriculum in 300 reception classes and ECCD centers
    2. Mapping of 3,000 ECCD service providers and developing a comprehensive, costed expansion strategy for the sector.
  1. Project management, capacity building and technical assistance support to the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
COVID-19 2020-2022 3,470,000 3,470,000 UNICEF  
Program implementation 2022-2025 7,500,000 2,331,626 WB Progress report
2017-2022 2,300,000 2,006,292 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 295,000 287,805 WB  
2017-2019 204,819 204,819 WB  
2014-2016 230,000 230,000 UNICEF  
Program development 2020-2021 200,000 193,609 WB  
2016-2017 250,000 250,000 WB  
  Total 45,714,762 40,239,094    
Data last updated: May 26, 2023

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting:

  • The Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) for the 2019-2021 period. This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.
  • Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development to mobilize an advocacy alliance across multiple partner countries, including Lesotho, for the 2021-2023/24 period.

GPE had provided the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) with a grant from the CSEF to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Last updated September 09, 2021