Peace Corps Lesotho
Personnel: (updated January 2011)
U.S. Ambassador: Michelle Thoren Bond
Peace Corps Country Director: Kathy Jacquart Dill
Executive Secretary: Makhauta Mokone
Director of Administration and Management: James McCormick
Associate Director (Education): Clement Lephoto
Associate Director (Community Health & Economic Development: Charles Miller
Program Assistant (Education): Malitaba Hlabana
Program Assistant (Community Health & Development): Selloane Pitikoe
Training Director: Masechaba Mapena
HIV/AIDS Coordinator: Majimisi Machai
Information Technology Specialist: Deepak Pullanikkatil
Medical Officer: Dr. Victor Inegbedion
Safety and Security Coordinator: Masiphole Nthoalo
Mailing Address: PO Box 554, Maseru, 100, Lesotho, Southern Africa
Street Address: 5 Bowker Road, Maseru, Lesotho
US Embassy: 266-22-312-666
US Embassy Fax: 266-22-310-116
Lesotho is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, or 6 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Savings Time. There is no Daylight Savings time in Lesotho.
Lesotho became a British protectorate in 1868 after a series of territorial wars in the mid-19th century that cost Lesotho much of its best agricultural land. It gained its independence in 1966, by which time Lesotho had already been forced into a state of economic dependence on South Africa. King Letsie III remains the head of state. The last Parliamentary elections were held in May 2007, and the government of Lesotho is confident that the country will remain politically stable.
Lesotho is a small, landlocked, mountainous country whose economy is highly dependent on small-scale agriculture, livestock, remittances from miners employed in South Africa, and a rapidly growing apparel-assembly sector. Nearly half of all households live below the national poverty line. Lesotho’s high unemployment rate and the return of migrant workers from South African mines have contributed to an increase of crime in the capital city. Lesotho also has the world’s third highest HIV infection rate in the world, which deepens the impact of the food crisis.
Peace Corps/Lesotho Program:
The Peace Corps was invited to work in Lesotho in 1967, and since then more than 2,000 Volunteers have served in this southern African country. Over the years, education, business development, and, more recently, health and HIV/AIDS have been the Peace Corps’ principal program sectors in Lesotho. The focus in the placement of Volunteers is on rural development, which mirrors the country’s 85 percent rural population demography. Volunteers serve in all 10 districts of the country, and all Volunteers, regardless of sector, are trained in how to promote HIV prevention.
Peace Corps Volunteers support development in two key areas: Education and Community Health and Economic Development.
Education has always been a focal point for Peace Corps/Lesotho, beginning with the first group of teachers in 1967. Education in Lesotho remains a vital component for development. For this reason the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) aims to make further education and training more relevant and available to larger numbers of people, improve partnerships between schools and communities, provide life-long education to all learners, assume more effective control of the examination-based system so as to ensure that the broad objectives of the curriculum are realized, and to achieve efficiency in education development.
To improve net enrolment of pupils in schools the Government of Lesotho began phasing in Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2000. This resulted in a significant increase in the number of pupils enrolling in primary schools, which led to overcrowding in classrooms and shortages of qualified teachers. The Government of Lesotho therefore requested Peace Corps’ assistance to strengthen the quality of education as well as help address the teacher shortage.
In response to MOET’s request, the Peace Corps/Lesotho Education Project seeks to improve the quality of education at various levels through direct classroom instruction, teacher training and strengthened school-community relationships. The project has two components: Resource Teachers and Secondary Education Teachers. Primary Education Resource Teachers conduct in-service trainings to increase the overall skills and qualifications of Basotho teachers. Early Childhood Education Resource Teachers create awareness among local communities about the importance of early childhood care and development; develop curriculum, literature and teaching aids for use by local early childhood teachers; and, train instructors to effectively facilitate related activities. Secondary Education Volunteers teach English, Math and Science at the secondary and high school levels. Education Volunteers also promote HIV prevention through the teaching of life skills to in and out of school youth, help create school and community libraries, and assist communities to deal with the high rates of orphans and vulnerable children by linking them to local services.
Community Health and Economic Development
In 2001, the Government of Lesotho (GOL) pronounced its commitment to combating HIV/AIDS as a national priority by mandating its government agencies to designate two percent of their budget for HIV/AIDS activities. In response to the GOL commitment, Peace Corps began focusing on capacity-building around HIV/AIDS prevention, care, support and mitigation. Volunteers work with non-governmental, community-based and private organizations and government structures to change attitudes and behaviors related to HIV prevention and help to build the capacities of organizations to develop and implement HIV/AIDS initiatives. Among other activities, Volunteers and their community counterparts train young people and adults in life skills, promote improved nutrition and food production for individuals and households infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and organize and facilitate trainings for community members in small business management, handicrafts development, marketing, and ecotourism,