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Christopher Chitereka
Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education…
Accessibility and Affordability of Higher
Education in the 21st Century in Lesotho
Role of Social Workers in the 21st Century
CHRISTOPHER CHITEREKA
Developing countries face new challenges in the 21st century, especially in the higher
education sector. Both opportunities and threats are arising out of these new
challenges. Higher education, therefore, seems central to the creation of intellectual
capacity on which knowledge, production and a country’s social and economic
development depend. Chefa (2004) notes that higher education is a multi-purpose
project that contributes to production and application of knowledge, training of a highly
skilled labour force, social development, educational up-grading and generation and
transmission of ideology. Utilising Lesotho as a case study, this paper will argue that
because of its importance, the majority of Basotho are now seeking higher education.
While higher education is growing in size and importance for Lesotho, it is also
becoming more competitive, more global in nature and more influenced by the impact
of technology. Most significantly, it is more and more functioning as a market rather
than a regulated public sector. The article further argues that the majority of Basotho
are no longer able to access and afford higher education because of a variety of
reasons. The article begins by conceptualising education in general and higher
education situation in Lesotho highlighting the challenges being faced by the nation in
this sector. Finally, the role of social workers in this scenario will be examined.
Mr. Christopher Chitereka is Senior Lecturer, the National University of Lesotho,
Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, P.O. Roma, Lesotho.

INTRODUCTION
Lesotho, formerly Basutholand, attained political independence from
Britain in 1966. The country occupies an area of 30,355 square
kilometres, of which less than one-fifth is arable. It is a landlocked
country completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. About
two-third of Lesotho consists of rugged, mountainous terrain that is
difficult to reach (Gill, 1993). The country is composed of ten
administrative districts, with Maseru as the capital and sixty
constituencies.
Mba (2003) argues that although Lesotho is politically free, it is
economically dependent on South Africa, perhaps due to historical,
geographical and physical reasons. South Africa determines Lesotho’s
wages and prices, its interest rates and customs receipts and the
exchange rate of its monetary unit as well as controlling all trade and
communication links between Lesotho and the rest of the world.

20 Christopher Chitereka
Lesotho is divided into four major ecological zones, namely, the
lowlands, the foothills, the mountains and the Senqu River Valley. It
has also distinct seasons: the spring planting season occurs between
August and October; the summer months of November to January
experiencing the heaviest rainfall; autumn extends from February to
April and the winter months of May to July bring frost and sometimes
much snow (Stevens, 1967). The country is relatively homogeneous in
terms of linguistic and cultural affiliation. SeSotho is the national
language, while English language is the medium of instruction in
tertiary institutions, and it is used in government and business
transactions. However, there is bilingual education at the junior levels.
Both English and SeSotho are used in primary and secondary schools.
The country’s population has been estimated to be 2.2 million in 2000
and is projected to be 3.2 million by 2020 (United Nations, 1999). However,
a census has recently been conducted in April 2006 and the results are still
pending. But in terms of size and density, Lesotho is small. However, the
population growth rate has not been small. World Bank (2000) estimates
suggests that life expectancy at birth is 55 years for Lesotho, while the
infant mortality rate is 93 deaths per 1,000 live births. Of late, however,
many Basotho have been dying of HIV/AIDS- related illnesses.
About 49 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty
line, while the gross national product per capita is currently US $560.
Only 25 per cent of the population lives in urban areas (United Nations,
1998) and just about 17 per cent of the populations aged 15 and over are
literate, as compared with 39 per cent for the Sub-Sahara Africa (World
Bank, 2000). It is remarkable that in Lesotho both literacy and
educational levels are higher for women than men. This is because more
uneducated adult men migrate to South Africa as unskilled labourers in
the country’s diamond mines (Sembajwe and Makajane, 1992).
Furthermore, the predominantly rural-cattle rearers are composed of
more males than females. So, in a nutshell, Lesotho can generally be
described as an underdeveloped and poor country. The purpose of this
article, therefore, is to discuss the accessibility and affordability of
higher education utilising Lesotho as a case example. The article is
divided into 4 parts. The first part gives an explanation of the concept of
education in general. This part also explains the concept of higher
education. The second part provides a general background of education
in Lesotho. The third part discusses the accessibility and affordability of
higher education in Lesotho including the various challenges faced by
this sector. The forth and final part provides suggestions on the possible
roles of social workers in this scenario. A conclusion follows.
THE CONCEPTS OF EDUCATION AND HIGHER EDUCATION
DEFINED
Education is regarded as a vehicle of passing on information skills from
one party to the other. The aim is to develop the individual so that

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 21
he/she becomes productive, or that he/she understands issues better.
Education is, therefore, both a means to an end and an end in itself. A
means to an end in that people hope to function more meaningfully,
efficiently and to obtain jobs after they have been educated, or are able
to become self-reliant because of the education gained. Education is
largely a broad preparation for future manpower needs of a nation and
a linchpin of development. An end in itself because education helps
people to understand development issues. The right form of education
is the precursor of all consciousness (Madzokere, 1995).
Education can be divided into: formal, informal and non-formal. All
the three forms of education are necessary. Formal education is
provided in formal institutions, mainly as a means to an end. Informal
education is passed on through socialisation — usually as knowledge,
which must be known by all in order to speak or behave in a socially
desirable way. Non-formal education on the other hand, is an organised
form of imparting new knowledge, skills or attitudes, but is carried on
outside the formal system (Mupedzisa, 1993).
Education is difficult to define because the concept entails varied
aspects of knowledge, which can be passed on in various forms,
including oral, written and behavioural. It also includes various forms
of passing on the information. However, education has been defined as:
‘training and instruction designed to give knowledge and develop skills
(Hornby, 1990:385).
Underlying the definition of education is the idea of deliberate
direction and training, which means that those who effect education
are themselves educated or experienced. The definition also denotes
and attempt to shape the development of whose who are educated: this
may be through formal, informal or non-formal strategies.
Higher education, on the other hand, is considered throughout the
world to be the key to both individual and societal aspirations. For
individuals, education beyond the secondary level is assumed to be the
way to social esteem, better paying jobs, expanded life options,
intellectual stimulation and frequently a good time in the pursuit of
any or all of the above. For societies, higher education is assumed to be
the key to technology, productivity, and the other ingredients of
international competitiveness and economic growth. Higher education
also shapes and preserves the values that define a culture. And it is
believed to be a major engine of social justice, equal opportunity and
democracy (Johnstone, 1993). In many countries, higher education
courses are generally above the standard of GCE A-level or National
Vocational Qualification (NVO) Level 3. They include degree courses,
post-graduate courses and Higher National Diplomas. Higher
education takes place in universities and higher education colleges, and
in some further education colleges. However, UNESCO gave a more
comprehensive definition of higher education, and it is this definition
that will be adopted for the purposes of this paper. UNESCO (1998)

22 Christopher Chitereka
notes that higher education includes ‘all types of studies, training or
training for research at the post-secondary level, provided by
universities or other educational establishments that are approved as
institutions of higher education by the competent State authorities.’
EDUCATION IN LESOTHO
French missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society first
introduced Western formal education to Lesotho during the 1830s. The
schools were few in number and in enrolment, Schools concentrated on
teaching reading and writing at a very elementary level and also taught
simple vocational skills for boys, and house crafts for girls. In the
second half of the nineteenth century, Roman Catholic missionaries
settled in Lesotho and also opened schools. During the 1930s,
Catholicism expanded, and by the middle of the 1980s the Roman
Catholic Church and the Lesotho Evangelical Church, the successor of
the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, each enrolled the country’s
primary school student population. The focus in the early days was on
religious and economic necessity. Secondary schools only came into
being in 1948. Examinations for junior and senior secondary schools
were, however, set and marked in South Africa until 1961 when the
senior schools switched from the South African Matriculation to the
Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC).
Thus, for more than a century, education was almost exclusively the
domain of the missionaries and even tough Lesotho was a Protectorate,
the British had no real interest in the education of the Basotho. Until
after Independence in 1966, the missionaries were responsible for most
aspects of educational organisation, curriculum provision, payment of
teachers’ salaries, and provision of facilities. Much of the time, church
halls were used as classrooms, and often teaching was conducted in the
open air. As time went on though the Government of Lesotho became
much more involved in educational matters especially on policy issues.
Poor as it is, Lesotho is committed to quality education provision for
its people. The Lesotho third five-year development plan indicated that
Lesotho’s primary resource is its people whom the national effort is
designed to benefit. The education system, which includes both formal
and non-formal activities is the basic means by which the quality and
productive capacity of the population is affected. Literate, trained
manpower is the end product of educational activities, and turn the
driving force in successful development.
Gill (1994) indicates that the policy of Lesotho government is basic
education for all, and the provision of sufficient numbers of people with
appropriate qualifications and technical and managerial skills to
ensure the development of the modern sector of the economy. This is all
clearly captured in the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) of 2005.
The Education Sector Strategic Plan’s vision is to ensure that all
Basotho should be functionally literate with well — grounded moral

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 23
and ethical values, adequate social, scientific and technical knowledge
and skills by the year 2020. The mission is to develop and implement
policies, which ensure acquisition of functional literacy among all
Basotho and development of a productive, quality human resource base
through education and training. Its major objective is therefore to
improve access, efficiency and equity of education and training at all
levels.
The government has ratified international agreements relating to
education such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child, UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education and
UNESCO Recommendation concerning Education for International
Understanding. Cooperation, Peace and Education relating to Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Provision of education in Lesotho is offered by the government, the
churches and the community, and it is, therefore, concentrated in five
areas, namely, pre-school provision, primary schools, secondary
schools, university and various technical and vocational schools, and
schools catering for children with special needs. However, for the
purposes of this article, emphasis will be on higher/tertiary education.
BRIEF HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN LESOTHO
According to Ntimo-Makara (2008), the origins of higher education in
Lesotho go back to April 8, 1945, when the National University of
Lesotho was born out of the small Catholic University College (later
known as Pius XII University College), which was founded by the
Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Southern Africa at Roma. In 1954, the
college was granted associate college status by the University of South
Africa (UNISA), giving it more responsibility for tuition and
examinations. From the late 1950s, well into the 1960s, the college
experienced very serious financial problems. By the early 1960s, Pius
XII turned into the University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland
Protectorate, and Swaziland (UBBS). UBBS came into being in 1964.
At this time, the student body had grown to about 190 and was just
about 20 per cent female. With the three high commission territories’
attainment of Independence in 1966, UBBS became the University of
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). The tri-national character
of UBLS disintegrated in 1975. The National University of Lesotho was
established as an independent entity on the Lesotho campus of the
UBLS on October 20, 1975, by the National Assembly through Act No.
13 of 1975 and remains the only university in the country.
Originally, teacher training was done in colleges governed by the
missions. In 1947 there were three colleges, and this number was
increased to seven by 1959. In 1975 the National Teacher Training
College was established. This was later transformed into the Lesotho
College of education. Missions were equally concerned with vocational
training, and industrial schools were founded to teach students

24 Christopher Chitereka
relevant technical skills. The Lerotholi Technical Institute was founded
after the people of Lesotho, in honour of Paramount Chief Lerotholi,
contributed money toward the building costs. During the late 1970s,
Lerotholi Polytechnic was expanded, and vocational subjects were
introduced in a number of schools.
So in a nutshell, higher education in Lesotho is offered at the
following institutions: the National University of Lesotho (NUL), the
Lesotho College of Education (LCE), and Lerotholi Polytechnic and
other technical schools. Teacher training is offered at the Lesotho
College of Education and at the National University of Lesotho. Other
government ministries and churches also offer training programmes at
tertiary level. For example, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare
runs the National Health Training College (NHTC) and three nursing
colleges, while the Ministry of Agriculture runs the Lesotho
Agricultural College (LAC). The Roman Catholic Church also runs St.
Joseph’s School of Nursing at Roma. Ntimo-Makara (2008) also notes
that Lesotho has close to 15 private tertiary institutions. She observes
that most of these private institutions are distance education
institutions based mainly in South Africa. Currently, enrolment in
these institutions stands at around 700. A second category is composed
of South African institutions that do not have agencies in Lesotho, but
are in direct contact with students who study part-time and go for block
residential periods on the main South Africa campus.
It is against the above background that the next section of this paper
is to discuss the accessibility and affordability of higher education in
Lesotho.
ACCESSIBILITY OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN LESOTHO
According to UNESCO (1998), in keeping with Article 26 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, admission to higher education
should be based on merit, capacity, efforts, perseverance and devotion
showed by those seeking to access it, and can take place in a life-long
scheme, at any time with due recognition of previously acquired skills.
As a consequence, no discrimination can be accepted in granting access
to higher education on grounds of race, gender, language or religion or
economic, cultural or social distinctions, or physical disabilities.
Educational institutions must be physically accessible to everyone.
Physical accessibility means that education has to be within safe
physical reach, either by attendance at some reasonably convenient
geographical location or via modern technology. Therefore, when
discussing the issue of accessibility, this should be taken into account.
In Lesotho, higher education is generally non-discriminatory because
each and everyone has a right to go to any institution of higher learning
provided they meet the entry requirements. Access to higher education
in Lesotho is based on Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC)
obtained after seven years of primary and five years of secondary

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 25
education. Holders of the General Certificate of Education (GCE) and
adults over twenty-five having successfully passed the special entrance
examination also gain entrance to university under certain conditions.
However, Lesotho’s curriculum remains rooted in the Westminster
inspired curriculum. For instance, English remains the most important
subject that pupils are expected to pass before proceeding to tertiary
education. In order to be admitted at the National University of
Lesotho in a Bachelor of Arts Programme, one has to have at least a
second-class pass with credit in English. This then means that those
who do not meet these entry requirements will not be able to access
higher education.
On the issue of physical accessibility, looking at Lesotho’s
topography, one may argue that higher education is generally not
accessible to all Basotho. This is because tertiary, technical and
vocational institutions are not evenly distributed throughout the
country. Most of these higher education institutions are found in the
lowlands of the country particularly in Maseru where there is better
infrastructure. This then makes it difficult for people from other parts
of the country (especially the mountainous rural areas) to physically
access higher education. For instance, Lesotho College of Education is
located in Maseru while the National University of Lesotho is located in
Roma Valley.
Furthermore, institutions of higher education in Lesotho are very
limited in number and, as a result, many Basotho have to go to
neighbouring countries in search of higher education, which is very
expensive for the country. This also means some potential students do
not have access to higher education, since there is only one university in
the country. This negatively affects the country’s development. As
UNESCO (1998) rightly observes, without adequate higher education
and research institutions providing a critical mass of skilled and
educated people, no country can ensure genuine endogenous and
sustainable development, and in particular, developing countries
cannot reduce the gap separating them from the industrially developed
ones.
Access to higher education is limited for children with special needs
in Lesotho. This is particularly true in respect of deaf people. There are
no facilities to cater for these people in the country’s institutions of
higher learning. Again this disadvantage the individuals concerned as
well as the country. UNESCO (1998) observes that access to higher
education for members of some special target groups, such as women
and those who suffer from disabilities, must be actively facilitated,
since these groups as collectivities and as individuals may have both
experience and talent that can be of great value for the development of
societies and nations. Special material help and educational solutions
can help overcome the obstacles that these groups face, both in
accessing and in continuing higher education. However, it should be

26 Christopher Chitereka
mentioned that in Lesotho, women more than men access higher
education. Actually, they are more educated than their male
counterparts — which make their situation unique in the world. This is
mainly because most Basotho men do not normally pursue further
education, as they prefer to work in the mines in neighbouring South
Africa. Other disabled people, for instance, the blind, have access to
higher education in Lesotho. The current Student Representative
Council President at the National University of Lesotho is a blind man.
There is also lack of technology in Lesotho. This prevents those
people who would want to enrol in the institutions of higher learning
which still working to further their studies. If technology like
computers were accessible and affordable to every Mosotho, it would be
possible for institutions to provide on-line education for those working
full time. UNESCO (1998) notes that higher education is being
challenged by new opportunities relating to technologies that are
improving the ways, in which knowledge can be produced, managed,
disseminated, accessed and controlled. Equitable access to these
technologies should be ensured at all levels of education system if
development is to be realised.
Diversifying higher education and recruitment methods and criteria
is essential both to meet increasing international demand and to
provide access to various delivery modes and to extend access to an
ever-wide public, in a life-long perspective, based on flexible entry and
exit points to and from the system of higher education. UNESCO (1998)
rightly observes that institutions should be able to offer a wide variety
of education and training opportunities: traditional degrees, short
courses, part-time study, flexible schedules, modularised courses, and
supporting learning at a distance. The concept of bridging programmes
should also be promoted to allow those entering the job market to
return to studies at a later date.
AFFORDABILITY OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN LESOTHO
Nowadays education is in greater demand, both from individual
students and their families, for the occupational and social status and
greater earnings. It is also presumed to bring social, cultural, political,
and economic well-being of countries. However, the fees and other
expenses that a student has to incur for getting higher education have
increased to such a high level that good, higher and technical education
have reached outside the budget of most middle and lower income
families.
Johnstone (1993) observed that for all its importance, higher
education throughout the world is increasingly troubled by costs that
are high and rapidly rising and that seems to be outrunning available
revenues. Governments are cutting outlays to universities and other
institutions with consequent loss of staff, deterioration of plant and
equipment, erosion of salaries, and loss of capacity to expand to meet

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 27
student demand. Where costs are passed on to students and parents,
debt levels are increasing and access is being threatened, if not outright
curtailed. Todaro (1999) also notes that due primarily to cost-cutting
measures under economic reform programmes, there is a danger that
levels of education expenditure will decline and that parents and
communities will continue to take on more of the funding responsibility
for higher education. Only the wealthy can afford to pay for higher
education. For instance, in Zimbabwe, the government recently
increased fees to be paid by university students dramatically, and a lot
of students have dropped out as they cannot afford the high fees.
In the case of Lesotho, ever since the adoption by the government of
the IMF/World Bank induced Economic Structural Adjustment
Programme (ESAP) in 1987/88, the country has experienced pressing
problems of unemployment, crime, poverty and increased
socio-economic vulnerability for the poor. Due to ESAP, massive
budgetary cuts have been experienced in the social sectors, particularly
in health and education. In fact, there has been a curtailment of
investment in education. As a result many people, especially the poor
cannot afford educational fees. According to Gill (1994:109), secondary
schooling, which is the pre-requisite for higher education in Lesotho, is
regarded by parents and students as expensive. The average fee is
around M600 but with uniforms and books, it normally costs around
M1000 per year to send a child to school. In addition there are
examination fees to be paid. There has been reported to be a big
wastage in terms of school dropouts because of the increasing costs of
education per child. At the National University of Lesotho, an
individual has to pay close to ten thousand Maloti per academic year.
Therefore, enrolling in a programme that takes four years means
paying close to forty thousand Maloti. Not every person in the country,
who wants to further his or her studies at the National University of
Lesotho, can afford this amount of money. It is even more expensive for
students who repeat, as they do not get assistance from the
government.
Nevertheless, since the cost of education is very high for individuals
and parents, the government of Lesotho assists Basotho with funding.
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Tim
Thahane, in his 2004–2005 budget speech to parliament, indicated that
the government of Lesotho puts education high on its priority list and
would assist students entering higher education. However, he noted
that due to spiralling costs of higher education, the government had to
reduce its funding. This clearly shows some potential students were be
affected by this policy. Through the National Manpower Development
Secretariat (NMDS), Basotho, who want to further their studies, are
offered bursary loans with low interests. Unfortunately, not everyone
can automatically access these loans. Those who want to embark on
post-graduate or graduate studies cannot proceed with their studies

28 Christopher Chitereka
before clearing their previous loans. Students studying part-time are
also not sponsored by NMDS. Those who are repeating their degree
courses have to find their own funding. Over the years, NMDS
sponsorship has been declining. However, Pitso (1985) notes that
overseas scholarship, financial and technical assistance and pilot
programmes have helped to meet the costs of education in Lesotho, and
have been significant factors in improving the quality of education.
Students who would never have the opportunity to further their
education due to poverty have been assisted by countries like Cuba,
China, Malaysia and Singapore as well as Australia to name a few.
There are also some private financial lending institutions/
organisations which provide educational loans to those who cannot
access government loans. For instance, an organisation known as
EducLoan is assisting many Basotho to further their education through
its loan scheme. The loan scheme operates on the basis of lending
money to students and they repay it over a period of time with some
interest. A few NGOs also assist students from poor families to pay
their tuition fees, but they are limited in number and very few people
know about them since they do not normally advertise their services.
This is mainly for tactical reasons, because if they advertise their
services they would not be able to cope with the numbers.
THE SOCIAL WORK PROFESSION AND POSSIBLE ROLES
OF SOCIAL WORKERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION IN
LESOTHO
Higher education has given ample proof of its viability over the
centuries and of its ability to change and to induce change and progress
in society. Owing to the scope and pace of change, today’s society has
increasingly become knowledge-based so that higher learning and
research now act as essential components of cultural, socioeconomic
and environmentally sustainable development of individuals,
communities and nations. Higher education itself is confronted,
therefore, with formidable challenges and must process to the most
radical change and renewal, it has ever been required to undertake, so
that a society, which is currently undergoing a profound crisis of values,
can transcend mere economic considerations and incorporate deeper
dimensions of morality and spirituality.
It is against the above background that the next section of this paper
will discuss the social work profession and the possible roles of social
workers in higher education in Lesotho. But before these possible roles
are discussed, the concept of social work will be explained. Social work
is a helping profession focused on social change, problem solving in
human relationships and the empowerment of people to enhance
well-being. It is a profession characterised by variety and diversity.
Social workers usually work with people viewed as having special
disadvantages, such as persons with low incomes, persons with

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 29
disabilities, elders and persons diagnosed with mental illness. Some
social workers also provide counselling services to middle and
upper-class clients who experience problems in living. Social work
practitioners are found in a variety of settings such as schools, prisons,
rural and urban communities, hospitals, industry, welfare agencies
and new human settlements.
The International Federation of Social Workers and the
International Association of Schools of Social Work (2002) came up with
a comprehensive international definition of social work. They defined it
thus:
The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving
in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of
people to enhance their well-being. Utilising theories of human
behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points
where people interact with their environment. Principles of human
rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.
The work undertaken by social workers vary between countries as
the aims and values of social workers reflect the cultural and social
norms of the society in which they operate, in order to cater
appropriately for the needs of the people they serve.
Like in many other developing counties, the social work profession is a
relatively recent phenomenon in Lesotho. Social work practice was
introduced during the colonial era by the British. It was mainly introduced
to deal with the problems of the minority white population at the expense
of the black majority. The Department of Social Welfare was formed to
deal with the various social problems. To exacerbate the situation was the
fact that there was not social work training in Lesotho until the early
1990s. Prior to the introduction of social work training in Lesotho,
professional social work students were trained outside the country mainly
in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, and
overseas. This was very expensive for the country. Furthermore, these
social work graduates were not enough to cope with various social
problems, which were on the increase in the country such as rural–urban
migration, street kids, juvenile delinquency, poverty, unemployment child
abuse, alcohol and drug abuse as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
A survey carried out by the Department of Social Welfare in 1994
revealed that there were only 24 qualified and semi-qualified social
workers in Lesotho. These were invariably employed by the
Department of Social Welfare, the Probation Service, Prison Service
and Non-governmental Organisations (Nyanguru, 2003). Social work
training was introduced at the National University of Lesotho in 1991
under the Department of Social Anthropology and Sociology. Initially a
two-year Master of Social Work programme was introduced, and an
under-graduate social work programme was introduced at the same
university in 2002. Over a hundred students have since graduated with
social work degrees.

30 Christopher Chitereka
Currently, most social work graduates are employed by the
Department of Social Welfare where they mainly use the casework
method of social work. They mainly deal with the poor who come to seek
assistance. The Department of Social Welfare assists children from poor
families to pay school fees. Unfortunately, this department, in the
author’s view, does not really empower people to be self-reliant. Actually,
it can safely by argued that it encourages dependency among its clients.
Some social workers especially those employed by Non-Governmental
Organisations mainly utilise the group work and community work
methods of social work. They are engaged in developmental social work.
They encourage their clients to be self- reliant by engaging them in
income-generation projects. This, to a certain extent, empowers the poor
economically, and it also enables the poor to send their children to school.
Furthermore, these social workers link poor, but talented students with
organisations which provide scholarships both locally and abroad.
In spite of the above, social workers would play a variety of roles in
higher education especially in the context of Lesotho. Firstly, social work
as a profession is committed to universal access to education, and as such,
is generally opposed to any fee-paying system. Nevertheless, social
workers recognise the constraints faced by government in meeting basic
needs to all Basotho. Their role in this regard, therefore, could be to lobby
government to subsidise the educational fees of the disadvantaged groups
such as the disabled and the poor. Since social workers are front-line
workers who are close to these target groups, they can vet them and
recommend to government the deserving poor and disabled who might
need help. They could appeal for tuition waiver for the most desperate
cases. Furthermore, social workers could also assist these people to apply
for educational scholarships from international organisations.
Secondly, as mentioned earlier on, there are no facilities for deaf
people in Lesotho. Social workers could lobby government to consider
opening institutions, which could cater for the needs of this target
groups. In the meantime, they could assist deaf people to get bursaries
to study outside the country.
Another important role for social workers in Lesotho could be that of
raising awareness on the importance of education in general among the
Basotho. Mobilisation of society to support higher education is crucial.
Mobilisation for this purpose depends on public awareness and
involvement of the public and private sectors of the economy, parliament,
the media, government and non-governmental organisations as well as
institutions, families and all the social actors involved with higher
education. In most cases young boys drop out of school to become herd
boys. They never have the opportunity to complete primary education, let
alone higher education. The nation might be loosing a lot on talent, hence
there is need to harness this talent especially at an early age.
Social workers in Lesotho could also lobby with the government to
consider opening another university so that more people can have

Accessibility and Affordability of Higher Education… 31
access to higher learning. If a conventional university is considered to
be too expensive, an Open University could be another option. This
would facilitate distance education thereby benefiting a greater part of
the population. The people in the rural areas might benefit from this.
Related to this point, computers can also be used for learning
purposes-on-line education.
Another important role, social workers could play, is in guidance and
counselling. They could develop guidance and counselling services in
cooperation with student organisations, in order to assist students in
the transition to higher education at whatever age and to take account
of the needs of ever more diversified categories of learners. Apart from
those entering higher education from schools, further education
colleges, they should also take account of the needs of those leaving and
returning in a life-long process. Such support is important in ensuring a
good match between student and course, reducing drop out. Students
who drop out should have opportunities to return to higher education if
and when appropriate (UNESCO, 1998).
Social workers in Lesotho could also provide information about the
dangers of HIV/AIDS. Many people are dying because of this pandemic
countrywide, and it is sad to lose highly intelligent young people to this
disease. Social workers could also provide counselling services to both
the infected and affected especially at institutions of higher learning.
Finally, social workers could influence policy makers to formulate
policies that are pro-poor especially in the education sector. Education is
a human right; hence everyone must at least have access to and afford it.
CONCLUSION
This article has explained the concepts of education and higher
education. It has also given a general background of education in
Lesotho. Furthermore, the article has discussed the accessibility and
the affordability of higher education in Lesotho. The social work
profession and the possible roles, social workers could play, in higher
education were also highlighted. In conclusion, it can be argued that
although the Lesotho government’s policy is to provide education to all
its citizens, it has resource constraints. As a result, some Basotho do
not have access to higher education and cannot afford it. There is,
therefore, need for government, the private sector, families as well as
individuals to work together and come up with viable solutions if
education for all is to be realised in Lesotho.
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THE INDIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, Vol ume 69, Issue 1, January 2008