African child commemoration spotlights clean schools


MASERU – To improve education, young people believe the government should focus on hygiene, technology, sanitation, and infrastructure, among other areas.

Speaking at the African Union (AU)’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child, World Vision Lesotho child advocate Kutloano Mohlaba emphasised the importance of clean schools.

He stated that proper cleaning supplies and handwashing facilities are crucial for maintaining health, enabling better concentration, and reducing absenteeism due to illness.

Mohlaba participated as a panellist at the event, representing the voices and aspirations of children across Africa. He highlighted the need for internet access for learning and proper sanitation facilities for both boys and girls, including those with disabilities.

The internet, he said, opens up a world of knowledge, while good sanitation keeps learners healthy and ensures that girls do not miss school during their periods.

Mohlaba also stressed the importance of making schools accessible to all, including children with disabilities. “We need ramps, accessible bathrooms, and learning tools that work for all learners. When schools are inclusive, it shows that everyone deserves a chance to learn and succeed,” he said.

He pointed out that many children face significant challenges in obtaining a good education due to inadequate facilities, such as leaking roofs, broken windows, and non-functional doors.

These conditions make learning difficult, especially in bad weather. The lack of desks forces some learners to sit on the floor, which hampers concentration. Bullying and discrimination are also significant issues.

Mohlaba noted that when children are picked on or treated unfairly, they do not feel safe or happy at school, leading to a dislike for school and, ultimately, higher dropout rates.

Despite these challenges, he acknowledged positive steps taken to improve education in Lesotho. The Government, in collaboration with communities and organisations, has built preschools to engage young minds early, fostering a love for learning from the start.

Furthermore, professional teachers have been employed to ensure high-quality instruction, meeting educational standards, and addressing diverse learner needs. The presence of qualified teachers enhances the learning experience, ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed academically.

The Ministry of Education and Training has also implemented school feeding programmes, which improve concentration and attendance, as children are more likely to attend school regularly when they are not hungry. This initiative directly impacts their ability to thrive in a school environment.

For children from poor backgrounds, the Government provides tuition fees and school materials, reducing the financial burden on families and ensuring economic hardship does not prevent children from accessing education. Communities also contribute by donating uniforms and stationery, further supporting disadvantaged children.

These collective efforts contribute to improving children’s access to education and upholding their right to learn. By addressing both educational and socio-economic barriers, a more inclusive and supportive environment is created, ensuring every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Mohlaba concluded by urging the AU and all stakeholders to prioritise quality education for all children and to work together to create an environment where every child can thrive. He said education is the key to a brighter future for Africa, and it is a collective responsibility to ensure no child is left behind.