Inclusive policy spotlights special needs kids



MASERU – The Lesotho Inclusive Education Policy of 2018 stands as a pivotal milestone in the delivery of education for learners with special needs.  This policy document underscores the government’s commitment to providing quality and relevant education to all citizens, aligning with ratified international protocols and conventions.

In recent years, the significance of inclusive education has grown, recognising it as a reform that embraces and supports diversity among learners. The Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) holds the mandate to ensure the provision of quality education to all learners, including those with diverse learning needs across all levels.

Learners with special educational needs (LSEN) have historically faced marginalisation in accessing education. Hence, a new approach to inclusive education has been formulated to address the educational and related needs of all learners. The Lesotho Inclusive Education Policy (LIEP) is grounded in the principles of child-friendly schools, aiming to eliminate elements of exclusion.

Kefuoe Nkuatsana, the founder of Mamello Special Needs Centre, said there is no shortage of special needs teachers in the country. She graduated in 2013 from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) as part of the first group of special needs teachers, numbering around 70 at that time.

Nkuatsana highlighted that, despite continuous annual graduations, the challenge lies in the lack of positions or grants for special education teachers. “Many special needs teachers in the country are unemployed because schools do not demonstrate a need to hire them. If schools express a demand for such teachers, grants can be made available,” she said.

On the contrary, the Minister of Education and Training, Professor Ntoi Rapapa, told Public Eye in an interview this week that the Lesotho Inclusive Education policy places the responsibility on all teachers to provide quality education equitably, including for learners with disabilities.

However, he acknowledged the constraint of insufficient government funding, stating that there is no provision to hire new teachers this year. While efforts are made to replace retiring teachers, primary schools funded by the government face limitations in hiring due to budget constraints. In the budget speech for the fiscal year 2024/2025 presented to Parliament on Wednesday this week, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr. Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, revealed that the government has allocated M2.8 billion to the education sector.

She highlighted the need to expedite the construction of primary and secondary classrooms to accommodate the growing learner population.  Additionally, there is a call to update technical and vocational education and training curricula, aligning them with contemporary industry trends and technological advancements through collaboration between NUL and the Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP).

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