Primary Education Teacher
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Education in Lesotho remains a vital component for the country’s development. For this reason the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) aims to raise education standards at all levels; specifically MOET seeks to improve access, quality and relevance of education to all learners. MOET is giving special priority towards literacy, both in Sesotho and English, as well as mathematics, at the lower basic level.
Peace Corps Lesotho works hand-and-hand with the MOET to support primary learners to increase their literacy, numeracy and life skills. Life skills education focuses on healthy living habits which includes: positive identity and self- esteem, decision making, critical thinking, positive communication, emotional health, and sexual and reproductive health. The project’s dual focus spans Grades 1-7, supporting learners in the primary school to become literate in English and Math (Grades 1-4) and maintain healthy lifestyles (Grades 4-7).
Lesotho has one of the highest incidences of HIV in the world at 1.1% and the second highest prevalence at 25.6% with significant disparity between women and men (LePHIA, 2016). This dire situation has a negative impact affecting attendance and retention rates thus compromising the quality of education. Life skills-based Sexuality Education (LSBE) has therefore been integrated at the lower basic education level.
Besides teaching, Volunteers will also be expected to engage in community development activities. These may or may not be within the school community and they are primarily driven by the expressed needs of the communities themselves. Some common community development opportunities for Volunteers include community libraries, environmental management, and income generating activities.
Although your work day will vary from Volunteer to Volunteer, a typical work day for a Primary Education Teacher in Lesotho will begin at 8:00am; you will spend much of your teaching time in grade 4, your home room class, where you will co-plan and co-teach with the host teacher specifically on the literacy, numeracy and life skills windows. You will additionally support other teachers particularly in the lower grades with techniques to teach both literacy and numeracy at this foundational level. You will be teaching approximately 3-5 classes per day (each class is approximately 40 minutes, with 30-50 pupils).
Peace Corps Lesotho promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level
• English, foreign language or literacy tutoring experience with elementary school students and a strong desire to teach English
• Tutoring experience in basic numerical skills with elementary school students
• Public speaking and presentation skills
• Interest in and ability to model, coach and mentor fellow teachers
• Ability to develop educational materials and resources
• Classroom management skills
Required Language Skills
Trainees must demonstrate at least an Intermediate-Mid level oral proficiency in Sesotho language after 11 weeks of language training.
Volunteers often walk from approximately 2-5 kilometers before reaching their work site or where they can access public transportation. Volunteers use public transport when shopping in camp towns to purchase food supplies and when traveling to activities in different parts of the district. Through the monthly living allowance, Volunteers are able to cover their transport costs via buses and taxis.
The majority of Volunteers live in a family compound; on rare occasions some live in teacher housing on or near the school campus. The houses may be one- or two- roomed, thatched or corrugated iron (tin) roofed buildings made of stone, brick, or cement blocks. The Volunteer should expect to use an outdoor pit latrine and fetch water from a stand pipe in their home compound or from a village pump, and use candles, lanterns and solar lights for light. Volunteer houses with electricity and running water are extremely rare.
Cell coverage varies in quality throughout the country. Some Volunteer sites have excellent coverage and Volunteers are able to phone, text, and email easily. Others have spottier coverage and Volunteers are required to walk up to half a mile to make or receive calls. Volunteers are required to purchase a cell phone by the end of Pre-Service Training. Funds for this purpose are included in a settling-in allowance.
Most entertainment and recreation will be that which you create yourself…hanging out with friends, playing sports, exercising, hiking, etc. Lesotho does not have a bustling nightlife or many organized recreational activities. Most Volunteers shop in their village or closest camp town, which has larger shops that carry basic supplies. Some camp towns have supermarkets that offer a variety of produce, meats, and other goods.
You will soon become familiar with traditional Basotho food that consists of a stiff maize meal (corn meal) porridge called “papa”, well-cooked greens (spinach, Swiss chard, or cabbage) called “moroho”, and a meat dish (mutton, beef, or chicken) called “nama”. Fruits and vegetables are available in many parts of the country but can be expensive and are limited dependent upon the season. Patience, flexibility, and tolerance on your part will be very important.
Lesotho has distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. It is below freezing in winter and often snows heavily in the mountains, and therefore it is essential to bring warm clothing (which can be layered).
The prevalence of HIV among adults ages 15- 59 years in Lesotho is 25.6%: 30.4% among females and 20.8% among males. The prevalence of HIV among children ages 0-14 years in Lesotho is 2.1%: 2.6% among females and 1.5% among males. Many of the Volunteers’ fellow teachers, neighbors, and students could be affected by HIV. Some are HIV-positive, while others may be orphaned and/or caring for family members living with HIV. To help manage a social and work environment where support is needed by those affected by HIV, Peace Corps trains Volunteers on healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms and expects Volunteers to be positive role models for those with whom they work and live.
While people in Lesotho may be generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in some parts of the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainee.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Lesotho: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Throughout Pre-Service Training the couple will share housing. They will often. however. be separated during some training sessions, particularly in language. The couple will enjoy the privilege of being addressed as 'ntate' and 'm'e’, which is loosely translated 'father' and 'mother' and a sign of respect by both young and old. The couple should be prepared to share one room throughout training and in some instances even at sites. This could be a challenge for those who would prefer more space. Each member of the couple will be assigned to one primary school. Most likely the house will be located closer to one of the schools and placement may mean one member of the couple will work nearby whilst the other will work at a distance from the house (but less than 5 km).
Medical Considerations in Lesotho
- Lesotho may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; mammography; ophthalmology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder; urology; ongoing counseling.
- The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Ritalin and Vyvanse.
- Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
- After arrival in Lesotho, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.
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