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End of JC era in Lesotho schools

 

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – Lesotho students will no longer sit for Junior Certificate (JC) examinations starting this year. Public Eye can also report that next year students will sit for Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) for the last time. Students that sat for JC examinations this year will also be the last class to write LGCSE next year.

These changes are brought about by the new integrated curriculum that was introduced in Lesotho in 2013, under which the country will only have four secondary school grades, starting with Grade 8 to Grade 11. Speaking to this publication Secretary General at the Lesotho Teachers Association (LAT) Letsatsi Ntsibolane said Form C is being eliminated to give way to the newly integrated curriculum.

He said students to whom this curriculum was introduced are currently in Grade 10 and will proceed to Grade 11 after which they would move to tertiary education. Unlike with the previous curriculum where students spent five years in high school, they will now only spend four years under the new curriculum. “In 2013 we introduced a new integrated curriculum in primary schools. The curriculum has already been in place and leads us to where we will only have four years of high school.

“This means the five years of high school will be reduced to four, from Grade 8 to Grade 11 and, according to the new curriculum, there will be no Grade 12 anymore,” he said. He, however, noted that at Grade 11 students will still write final examinations that will enable their entry into tertiary institutions. Ntsibolane also said this is the last year in which Lesotho schools will have Form D and that the current Form D class will write the last LGCSE examinations next year.

Students who fail Form D will be allowed to join Grade 10 because the classes are more or less equivalent.

“There are issues that the new syllabus from Grade 9 covers Grades 10 and 11 subjects, but due to confusion and the restrictions that our education has been experiencing in the past three years from 2018, students were not taught at all, therefore this puts Form D students and Grade 10 students on the same education level,” he noted.

Public Eye asked if it is a wise move to eliminate a class in high school considering that students in Lesotho have not had a smooth learning experience since 2018, first due to a prolonged teachers’ strike and last year due to Covid-19.

Ntsibolane’s response was that as much as education has been affected asking students to wait for the learning to stabilise would be unfair to them.

He added that no-one can say with certainty whether the children will be fit enough or not when they go for higher education but it is a fact that Covid-19 has affected education worldwide, not just in Lesotho and that no one knows how long the Covid-19 pandemic will last.

In previous communication with this paper, former Principal Secretary to the Minister of Education and Training, Thabiso Lebese, said the aim of the curriculum is to enable the education system of Lesotho to deliver education for individual and boost social development. It seeks to equip both individual citizens and the nation as a whole to meet the challenges of the increasingly globalised world in which we live.

“Unlike the previous subject-based curriculum which encourages routine learning, integrated curriculum involves the development of thinking skills and is very practical.

“Children learn by doing. The previous curriculum was biased and discriminatory as it classified students based on theoretical performance,” he said.

Commenting on why Lesotho introduced the curriculum, Lebese said the previous curriculum and assessment system have outlived their relevance and no longer correspond with the needs of today’s learners.

Minister of Education and Training Ntlhoi Motsamai during announcement of JC results said the 2020 class was the last to sit for JC examinations due to changes brought about by the new integrated curriculum.

The ministry issued a circular notifying the education sector that the 2020 JC class was the last class to write JC examination.

Part of the circular that is signed by the ministry’s principal secretary Dira Khama reads: “This circular is issued following the release of 2020 Junior Certificate results on 26th April 2021. Please be reminded that the 2020 JC class is the last cohort in the history of Lesotho’s education system.

“You are duly directed to ensure that access to education is open to all learners who have received their 2020 JC results by encouraging them to complete their secondary education by all means and in every way possible.”

 

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