Lesotho College Of Education Overview
The Vision of the autonomous Lesotho College of Education is to play a vital role in the development of the nation, as a centre of education excellence and leadership in teacher education, research and services relevant to the changing needs of the community.
The primary mission of the College is to train and produce competent teachers for the school system of Lesotho who are also able to offer necessary services in the community. Thus, the philosophical basis of the College encompasses the principles of life-long education and continuous professional growth and development of practitioners in education.
The Lesotho College of Education began its life in 1975 under the name of National Teacher Training College (NTTC). UNESCO assisted in the initial planning of the institution. The Government decided to establish this public college to replace three denominational teachers’ colleges, owned by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lesotho Evangelical Church and the Anglican Church of Lesotho. Nevertheless the three churches mentioned above were given representation in the Board of Governors and in the teaching staff of the College: an arrangement that continues today. The NTTC was made a department of the Ministry of Education and therefore operated under the rules and regulations of the civil service. The Government, assisted by many international development partners, provided human and material resources as well as infrastructure that the College needed to operate successfully. The College opened its doors with seventy-eight (78) students under the guidance of twelve (12) local lecturers and five UNESCO advisers. By the 1990s, there were three academic divisions: the Primary, Secondary and In-service Divisions.
Until the 1993 the College offered programmes leading to certificates. It developed both pre-service and in-service programmes for primary school teaching and a pre-service programme for secondary school teaching. In the period from 1994 to 2002 the certificate programmes were gradually replaced by diploma programmes of similar duration.
In the course of its development the College has received considerable guidance and assistance from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with which it still has close relationship, while also developing necessary and relevant links with other institutions of higher learning in the region and internationally. On 31stJuly 2002 the College was granted autonomy and renamed the Lesotho College of Education (LCE). Since then the College has had the authority to determine its own programmes and strategic plan and to allocate its own resources internally. It continues to be a public institution, financed by a subvention from the Government of Lesotho. The autonomous College (LCE) reorganised its pre-service academic section into three Faculties and eight Departments. The new Departments contain staff from both the former pre-service Divisions (Primary and Secondary), in the interest of more efficient deployment. The In-Service Division developed into the Distance Teacher Education Programme (DTEP), whose academic staff continues to operate, for most purposes, as a separate unit.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES
Since 2002 the College has substantially increased the enrolment in DTEP, from 500 to about 2054, thus helping to meet the immediate needs of primary education. In order to meet the national need for a larger number of qualified teachers in the longer term, the College has also taken steps to expand and improve its pre-service diploma programmes. Studies at a second campus, in Thaba-Tseka, began in 2006. The pre-service programmes have been revised so that their second year will be entirely school-based—and this one-year internship started in 2008. In addition the College has established, as from June 2007, an in-service Certificate in Early Childhood Education (CECE) programme and Advanced Diploma in Special Education (ADSE) launched in January, 2009.
The College has benefited from various externally funded projects and has become more active in research.
Many challenges lie ahead as the College embarks on a new strategic planning exercise in 2009. Further diversification of programmes is necessary in order to meet national needs and calls for creativity and adaptability on the part of our staff. Another goal is to offer a B.Ed. programme in primary education leadership. The College must also work to consolidate its recent revision of the pre-service programmes, to sustain the CECE programme and to adapt DTEP to the changing needs of the educational system. Efforts to access external funding and to maintain creative partnerships with other higher institutions will continue to be important for the development of the College.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COLLEGE IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM OF LESOTHO The College is at present the sole provider, in Lesotho, of basic pre-service teacher education to the diploma level, intended for teaching in primary schools and for teaching in the of secondary schools. It also provides in-service, part-time distance teacher education to enable unqualified and under-qualified primary school teachers to become qualified to the diploma level. In addition to these central tasks, the College participates, as needs and opportunities arise, in research, consultancy and evaluation work relevant to the educational system, in the formulation of educational policy, and in the provision of short training courses for teachers. It is increasingly providing consultancy services to the education system as may be commissioned from time to time.
In June 2006, the College opened a new satellite campus at Thaba-Tseka to be a Science and Technology Centre. The campus operations started with Diploma in Education (Secondary) students in 2006 who were later joined by Diploma in Education (Primary) students in 2007. Since its inception, Thaba-Tseka campus annual enrolments have been gradually increasing from 53 to 243. Currently, the campus can only offer specialisations in Languages (English and Sesotho) and Sciences ( Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics) to Diploma in Education (Secondary) students. Challenges still lie ahead to expand and capacitate this campus especially on infrastructure, that would possibly enable it to offer all courses and programmes as in the LCE Maseru campus.