Primary Education Teacher
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.
The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.
Can you imagine stepping out the front door of your mokhoro (rondavel) taking in the view of valleys falling below you and the mountain peaks disappearing into the distance as your village wakes up in the morning? Do you see yourself standing in front of a classroom of children eager to learn? Bo-‘M’e le Bo-Ntate (Ladies and Gentlemen), take a closer look at the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho and consider working hand-in-hand with the Basotho people to improve students’ knowledge and abilities in literacy, numeracy, and life skills.
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 include: 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).
Key findings from the study by LePHIA 2020 shows that, in Lesotho among individuals aged 15-49 years in 2020, HIV prevalence was 21.7%, 27.9% among women and 15.7% among men. In 2016-2017, HIV prevalence was 24.3% among individuals aged 15-49 years, 29.7% among women and 19.1% among men. Although these figures are encouraging the situation still needs attention; the resulting impact negatively affects the attendance and retention rates thus compromising the quality of education. Life skills-based Sexuality Education (LBSE) 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.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English
Peace Corps Lesotho seeks individuals with the following additional skills:
• 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
• Tutoring experience in basic numerical skills with elementary school students
• A strong desire to teach literacy and basic numeracy skills
• 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
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
There is a strong emphasis and high priority on learning and speaking the local language (Sesotho) spoken throughout the country. Volunteers will be more successful in community integration the more frequently they use local language skills.
Trainees must demonstrate at least an Intermediate-Low level of oral proficiency in Sesotho language after 11 weeks of language training.
Do note that there are a few communities primarily in the south of the country where two other languages are commonly used (isiXhosa and Sephuthi). For Volunteers who are placed in this area basic communicative language skills on the local languages will be provided during pre-service training as well.
Volunteer sites vary from rural areas to remote areas to small towns. Volunteers live and work in either district capitals, referred to as camp towns, or rural villages. Camp towns house government offices and serve as the main business hub for the district. During the 11 weeks of pre-service training, Volunteers stay with host families.
Volunteers often walk approximately 1–3 miles 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 throughout the country, with some Volunteer sites having excellent coverage and others requiring a walk of up to half a mile to make or receive calls. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop which not only increases options for internet access, but also enables Volunteers to complete required assignments off-line and upload them at a later date.
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, thus it is essential to bring warm clothing (which can be layered). The host school or organization provides a propane heater for your use whilst Peace Corps will provide heating allowance during the winter (Apr-Sep).
Due to the high HIV prevalence rates 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 trainees.
Serving in Lesotho
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Lesotho: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Lesotho welcomes couples. Your partner must also qualify and apply for the Primary Education Teacher position.
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 their permanent 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 3 miles).
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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