Admission for Teacher Training Schools In Lesotho

By | June 28, 2020

In Lesotho teacher training is confined to two institutions: the National Teacher Training College (NTTC) and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) through its Faculty of Education and Institute of Education. Since 1984 primary teacher training has been carried out only by the NTTC. This chapter will therefore focus on the college, the developments that have taken place there, its current courses and practices, and the changes on which it is now embarking.

3.1.1 Early Developments

Initially, there were seven teacher training colleges that were owned and operated by the missionaries with the government assisting in the payment of staff salaries. The churches were responsible for the day-to-day administration of schools, the engagement, transfer, promotion and dismissal of teachers, the maintenance and improvement of facilities, and the supply of instructional materials. The system was in many ways inefficient, not only because the colleges were small (average enrolment was 105), but also because training was done at three different levels:

(1) The 3 year Lesotho Primary Teachers Course (LPTC) which admitted students who had completed and had passed the then 8 years of primary school education;

(2) The 2-year Primary Higher course (PH) which admitted students after junior certificate;

(3) The 2-year Advanced Teachers Certificate (ATC), which admitted students after Matric./COSC.

The Advanced Teachers Certificate course was offered in one college in alternate years. They system of only taking applicants in alternating the years explains why the intake in these colleges was low. At that time the country only trained teachers for the primary schools. Teachers for higher secondary work were recruited from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (U.B.L.S.) or from abroad.

3.1.2 The National Teacher Training College (NTTC)

In the years 1974/75 the seven teacher training colleges owned by churches were amalgamated into one teacher training college: the National Teacher Training College (NTTC). The NTTC was established “to provide a common base of training for Primary and Junior Secondary teachers in the country” (Task Force, 1982). The Lesotho government decided that it would be easier to implement curriculum changes if the seven colleges were merged into one college run by the government. The college would then be in a better position to offer a range of modern both pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes. That way, a college graduate would be in a better position to contribute in meaningful ways to developing the primary and junior secondary school system in the country.

In planning the new establishment, the College planners felt that student teachers must be trained in various aspects of teacher education to enable them to cope with the teaching life after their training. The plan was to provide student teachers with adequate preparation in the subject matter of each branch of study and in the related pedagogy. Student teachers were also to be prepared in other related areas, using all the resources afforded by the social and cultural environment of the college. For example, they were to participate in decision-making processes within the college so that they would be prepared for their future role in the schools and communities that they would serve. Thus, the College was interested in trainees’ personal and professional self-development by encouraging them to have a positive attitude to lifelong education.

3.2 Governance of the College

The National Teacher Training College has been until now an institution of the Lesotho Government, under direct control of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and is administered by a Board of Governors (the highest policy-making body), together with senior staff of the college. The Board of Governors consists of the Principal Secretary of the MOE who chairs the Board, the Director of the College who acts as the secretary and the Dean of the NUL Faculty of Education. Other members of the College Board are representatives of churches and of the teacher associations, as well as the student union. Thus, the secretariats of the three main churches of Lesotho: the Anglican Church of Lesotho (ACL), Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) represent the churches, while member of the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) and the Student Representative Council (SRC) represent their constituencies.

In April 1999, the college was scheduled to become an autonomous institution to be known as the Lesotho College of Education. The debate on the autonomy of the college started as far back as 1987 (see Turner 1987) and is still ongoing at the time of writing.

3.2.1 College Affiliation

The college is affiliated to the National University of Lesotho (NUL) through its Faculty of Education. Academic policies, examination results, academic programmes and many other related matters are presented by the Faculty of Education in the relevant committees of the university for approval. The Director of the College sits in the NUL senate meetings where most of the college matters are presented. The affiliation is intended to ensure that the College maintains high standards. For example, the College has in place committees responsible for academic courses and their development. The operational pattern is that new programmes and courses are generated at the departmental level and discussed in the Academic Board meeting. The procedure requires the College to present new programmes to the Faculty of Education at NUL, which in turn will present it to a Senate Committee, Academic Programmes Committee (APC) and eventually Senate and Council. It should be observed, however, that the Board does not have any representation of serving teachers who should be part of decisions made about programmes offered to future teachers.

3.3 College Programmes

The college, since its inception, has been offering both pre-service and in-service programmes. The pre-service programmes are usually of a three-year duration. The first programmes led to the Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC), the Advanced Primary Teacher Certificate (APTC) and the Secondary Teacher Certificate (STC). In 1980 NTTC introduced a new programme aimed at training teachers in technical subjects for secondary schools by providing a teacher training course to those persons that held trade test certificates; this led to the Secondary Technical Teachers Certificate (STTC).

However, new developments have taken place and the College has had to phase out and/or upgrade some of its programmes. For example, there is a move towards replacing Certificates with Diplomas and in 1991 the College replaced the STTC programme with a Diploma in Technology Education. In the same year, the APTC programme ceased recruiting. In 1994, the College launched a Diploma in Primary Education (DPE) programme aimed at providing the PTC holders with higher credentials. The next step is the introduction of a Diploma in Education (Primary), which will eventually replace both the PTC and the DPE.

3.3.1 Admission Requirements

Admission into the various NTTC programmes is stated under each programme in terms of minimum entrance qualifications, though those with higher qualifications have precedence. The trend is towards raising the entry standard.

The Primary Teachers Course (PTC)

Originally, this required a good pass in Junior Certificate (JC). Applicants who had taught before and held the required certificate at the level of pass were also considered for admission; those with in-service qualifications were given opportunities as well. In 1992, the entry standard was raised; instead of a minimum of second class pass in JC, applicants were required to have a minimum of GCE: two (2) credits plus two (2) passes translated into four (4) subject passes.

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The Advanced Primary Teachers’ (Administration) Course (APTC)

Entrance into this programme was a teacher’s certificate with post-training teaching experience. This criterion was important since the course was aimed at training principals of primary schools.

The Secondary Teachers’ Course (STC)

Admission into the secondary teachers’ programme was a high school certificate with a good pass. The college also considered certificates offered at the Agriculture College, as well as Home Economics institutions, provided a student had at least a good pass at JC. Currently, applicants are required to have a Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) with 4 credits.

The Secondary Technical Teacher’s Course (STTC)

Entrants into this programme were also expected to hold a Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC). The programme requirement was a pass in a Technical Subject taken at COSC level or a craft Certificate (in a relevant Craft Study taken from a recognised Technical Institute).

3.3.2: Diploma in Primary Education

When the programme was launched, a first class pass in PTC or APTC with three years teaching experience was the requirement for admission. Currently an applicant with a minimum of a second-class pass in APTC, PTC or Lesotho In-service Education for Teachers (LIET) level 6 is admissible. Teaching experience is still considered an important element of the admissions criteria.

Diploma in Education (Primary)(1998 entry)

Entry requirements for this new diploma are the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate with credits in four subjects and a pass in a fifth subject. Since the programme is intended for high school leavers, teaching experience is not a requirement.

There is also a general admission regulation concerning the English passes. In the Lesotho context English is one of the subjects, which students of all levels of education have to pass in order to proceed to the second level of study. One of the college admission regulations, therefore, is that applicants with a pass, or credit in English Language or in English Literature have higher chances of being admitted into the college programmes.

In addition, all entrants undergo an Entrance Selection Test, the objective of which is to measure the candidate’s aptitude for Teacher Education. The College administers an oral test in order to ensure that the admission policy is fully implemented.

3.4 Enrolment

Table 3.1 indicates enrolment patterns for selected years and shows an overall increase in student numbers. The gender balance during the academic years 1992 to 1997 has fluctuated (see table 3.2) but on average, the intake of students over the past five years has been 24% males and 76% females. The tendency to have more females in various sectors of life in Lesotho is very common. (Chapter 8 provides reasons for the gender imbalance).

Table 3.1: Enrolment at the National Teacher Training College for the years 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1997 by course and sex

NAME OF COURSE1993199419951997
Dip. In Prim751850159022131
Dip Tech. Ed.72128

Table 3.2: Summary of Enrolment Tables by Sex


3.4.1 Completion rate

The academic years 1990 to 1994 figures show a very low failure rate. For example, as table 3.3 shows, the total number of students from 1990 to 1994 was 1068 and only 18 students failed the examinations outright. There is a need to investigate this issue further in order to establish the reasons that might have contributed to this low failure rate in the years 1990 to 1994 and to find out whether the pattern persists. The assumption is that this might be a result of entry requirements and the quality of the tutors.

Table 3.3: Summary of results for all courses (1990 – 1994)

No. of candidates1812832032091921068
No. of Distinctions2917314747171
No. of passes 1st74531269595443
No. of passes 2nd30110381516209
No. of passes 3rd9511198
% passed*73.597.296.675.682.886.2

(* Does not include successful resits for which data is not available)

Table 3.4: Certificates awarded at the National Teacher Training College, the total number of candidates and the percentage that passed for years 1991 -1994 for each course

Name of Certificate1991 Candidates1992 Candidates1993 Candidates1994 Candidates
No.% passNo.% passNo.% passNo.% pass
Dipl. In Tech. Ed.966.7757.15100
Change (%) from previous year56.423.7-28.3-0.63.0-21.0-8.17.2

(Notes: Candidates sat the examination in 1993 and were awarded the certificates in 1994; and the number of passes includes residuals from the previous year)

3.4.2 Certificates Awarded

Table 3.4 shows the total number of candidates and the percentage passes in each course for the years 1991-1994. Missing from this table is any information about students who dropped out during the course or had to re-sit examinations.

3.5 Alternative Pathways for Untrained Teachers to Become Trained

The history of teacher education in Lesotho shows that in 1975, when the NTTC was established, there were 4,250 primary school teachers serving in the country; of these 1400 were untrained. At the secondary level, there were 600 secondary school teachers of whom 200 were untrained (Kingdom of Lesotho 1984/85). The Government of Lesotho has, over the years, worked hard to eradicate the situation in which untrained teachers served in Lesotho schools. Teachers were trained through short courses, vacation courses, on-the-job training, seminar workshops and self-instructional materials.

3.5.1 LIET Programme

The Lesotho In-service Education for Teachers (L.I.E.T) was proposed by the NTTC In-service Committee to the Central In-service Committee of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in 1976. (The National Teacher Training College, 1976). The programme took off in January 1978 with an intake of 360 primary school teachers registered for level I. Seven LIET programmes were offered and at the end of each level, a certificate was offered which would serve as an entry qualification to the next level.

At the initial stage of the programme, the college worked in partnership with the Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC) and the entrants were supposed to register and take content courses with the LDTC. Although the English, Sesotho and Mathematics content were for a Junior Certificate student, teachers were not necessarily prepared to write the JC examination. The intention was to improve their content in the Sesotho, English and Mathematics subjects. However, LIET programmes have, like the pre-service programmes, undergone some changes. Since 1993, the college has been offering two LIET programmes instead of 7; LIET 2 was upgraded to PTC while the Head Teachers’ programme was upgraded to Level 6. The PTC programme extends over three and a half years duration while the Head teacher’s programme is still two and a half years.

3.5.2 In-service Training and Distance Learning – Colleges outside Lesotho

The Lesotho government has taken drastic steps towards reducing the number of un-certificated teachers found in Lesotho schools through offering in-service courses at the NTTC. However, progress is slow partly due to the fact that NTTC is the only college, which is undertaking such upgrading work on behalf of the government. The College is not able to admit all teachers who apply for in-service programmes. As a consequence of lack of sufficient teacher education colleges in Lesotho, teachers turn to foreign institutions and enrol for further studies in teacher education:

(a) The College of Preceptors

This college is based in the United Kingdom and it offers in-service training to teachers by distance mode. Teachers register with the College through the Examinations Council of Lesotho (ECOL). Since the course is by distance mode, the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) and private sectors organise tutoring at the local level.

b) South African Colleges and Universities

Teachers register with colleges and universities in South Africa. The university, which most people enrol with is the University of South Africa (UNISA). Teachers who enrol with the South African universities have more advantages compared to those who register with overseas institutions because of proximity, which allows them to freely visit these institutions. The South African context is familiar to the majority of Lesotho teachers and the South African Rand is not as expensive as the foreign currencies especially the British Pound.

(c) American Universities

American universities are also reaching out to offer in-service education to teachers in Lesotho. Lately, there are institutions such as New Port, which offers a degree for primary school teachers. The credibility of this particular institution has been criticised locally due to, among other things, its apparently commercial nature; degrees are offered for a shorter time, yet the courses are questionable for the Lesotho context.

The distance education colleges and universities referred to in this section have one common weakness and that is they do not provide for supervised teaching practice for Lesotho teachers. Most of them seem to be commercial and do not have the needs of Lesotho teachers at heart. However, since Lesotho does not have adequate facilities to cater for teachers’ needs, teachers have no alternative but to turn to these institutions.

3.5.3 District Resource Teachers

These are teachers recruited from the primary school teachers’ pool who are trained to help in under-staffed schools, or in multi-grade schools. They train untrained teachers in various professional aspects, particularly in teaching methods and ways of dealing with multi-standard classrooms.

At the secondary school level, there is a group of resource teachers who are also engaged in helping secondary schools by offering in-service courses to the unqualified post-primary school teachers. It has to be noted, though, that the kind of short courses offered by the Resource Teachers at either primary or secondary level do not go towards a certificate. They are aimed at providing support to teachers who may need such assistance to cope with their day-to-day teaching assignments.

3.6 Management Structure of the NTTC

The Principal Secretary of Education (Chief Administrative Officer of the whole Ministry of Education) is directly responsible for the NTTC. At the head of the College is the Director, who has two Deputy Directors under him. One Deputy Director deals with academic affairs and is responsible for all the Divisions (Primary, Secondary and In-service) as well as the Library. The other Deputy Director is responsible for administrative matters, dealing with the Registrar, the Bursar, and the Student Welfare Officer.

3.6.1. Divisions and Departments

In the beginning, the primary and secondary programmes were administered jointly and staff used to teach in both programmes. This arrangement was seen not to be conducive to the development of specialised skills for primary teaching among either staff or students and also meant that primary might suffer in terms of resource allocation as a result of the usual perception that secondary has higher status. It was therefore decided that the Primary and Secondary programmes should be run as two separate divisions. In 1991, the College implemented the decision, which led to it being divided into distinct departments. The college currently operates with the following structure:

Primary Division: Departments of Agriculture, English, Home Economics, Mathematics, Science, Sesotho, Social and Development Studies, Music, Religious Education, Arts and Crafts, Health and Physical Education, and Professional Studies.

Secondary Division: Agriculture, Commercial Studies, English, Health and Physical Education, Home economics, Mathematics, Professional Studies, Religious Education, Science, Sesotho, Social and Development Studies, Technology Studies, and Computer Studies.

In-service Division: Agriculture, Commercial Studies, Home Economics, Health Education, Mathematics, Professional Studies, Religious Education, Sesotho, and Social and Development Studies.

3.7 Staffing

In the majority of cases, members of staff in the Primary Education Division are those who have experience of working at the primary school level. This was done to allow a greater concentration upon primary education and a more effective development of a specialised primary curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1992).

Table 3.5: The number of teacher trainers employed in the college during the academic years 1992 – 19972

YearIn-servicePrimary divisionSecondary division

2 Information on the academic year 1996 is missing

(Source: National Teacher Training College)

The college has tried to balance the number of lecturers in all the programmes. According to the table 3.6 below, the credentials of people employed at the college vary to some extent. While the Primary Division has lecturers with qualifications ranging from certificate to Masters degree, the Secondary Division qualifications range from diploma to Masters and PhD.

Table 3.6: Qualifications of college lecturers

Inservice Trainers
YearCertificateDiploma1st DegreeHonoursMastersPhDTotal

(Source: National Teacher Training College)

3.8 Research

The main emphasis of the college, as expressed in its original aims, is the training of teachers, which of course is the essence of any such college. Research has not received much emphasis and yet it is also supposed to be part and parcel of any teacher education programme. However, recently (1996), the College acknowledged the absence of such a critical element of teacher education – engaging in on-going research – and included it in the list of College objectives. Currently the College has a publication in the form of a journal entitled the Journal of Teacher Education, which is the first of its kind in Lesotho. This is a giant step towards encouraging the tutors to become rigorous in reflecting on their academic activities, but also, by including student journals, reflecting on their field experiences, facilitating dialogue and thus becoming a valuable document.

3.9 Future Developments and Important Issues

In 1994 a study of teaching and learning at the NTTC (Burke & Sugrue 1994) recommended that the College should replace all certificate courses with Diplomas, and, in the longer term, develop a four-year B.Ed. for primary teachers. As detailed above, a new Diploma in Education (Primary) is being introduced, and the Secondary Division of the College has also begun to revise and reform their programme in the same direction.

The status of the college has been under discussion for many years. Under recent legislation it was due to become, on April 1st 1999, the ‘Lesotho College of Education’ with autonomous status. Although still funded by the Government, it will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

The main issues, therefore, concern improving the quality of teacher training through raising entry standards and upgrading the levels of all programmes.

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