WORLD Vision Lesotho (WVL) has urged government and other stakeholders to pay greater attention to nipping illiteracy in the bud especially among vulnerable groups to ensure they do not lag behind.
This was resolved at a WVL stakeholder strategy review meeting held on Monday at Lehakoe Recreational Centre to assess the progress made in the organisation’s 2013-2015 strategy and to explore possible areas of cooperation in the implementation of their new five-year strategy.
World Vision is an international Christian, relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with vulnerable children, families and their communities to support them reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.
According to WVL Quality Assurance Manager, Destaw Berhanu, the meeting assessed the challenges encountered in the past three years in the arenas of education, health, food security and advocacy on child protection and thereafter made recommendations.
On the education front, Mr Berhanu bemoaned the low functional literacy of children even at the age of 11 years. He said among the seven WVL Area Development Programmes (ADPs) assessed for functional literacy, children in four ADPs were below 50 percent of the functional literacy level.
“There are many high school dropouts due to initiation schools and early marriages as well as a low emphasis on and limited availability of locally-relevant reading and learning materials in schools, community reading and learning centres as well as in formal schools,” Mr Berhanu said.
He urged government and other stakeholders to address the challenge through the provision of training for teachers on inclusive education.
“There is also need to scale up the Citizen’s Voice and Action model beyond the three ADPs and engage government to accelerate policy implementation,” said Mr Berhanu.
On the health sector, Mr Berhanu said due to poor nutrition, 33 percent of children in the country had experienced stunted growth with incidences highest in the districts of Mokhotlong (48 percent) and Thaba Tseka (40 percent).
He also noted that there were 363 526 vulnerable children in the country, of which 221 000 were orphaned.
Mr Berhanu stressed the need for stakeholders to focus on infant and young child feeding to address the problem of under-nutrition, while also calling for the strengthening of existing community structures and establishment of associations to support orphans, vulnerable children and people living with HIV and AIDS.
“There is need to focus on infant and young child feeding by strengthening nutrition education advocacy for people living with HIV and AIDS so they can receive the appropriate Antiretroviral treatment,” he said.
On the issue of livelihood, he said the country was saddled with such problems as food insecurity, environmental degradation such as soil erosion and lack of improved inputs and farming practices.
Among the recommendations mooted was food diversification through the strengthening of homestead gardening, key-hole gardening using green houses and small-scale irrigation schemes.
Mr Berhanu also called for synergies with research institutions and universities to come up with appropriate models for smallholder farmers.
The WVL strategic plan also commits to improving the well-being of 550 000 vulnerable boys and girls and the quality of life of 210 000 households in the targeted communities by 2020.
They also set out increase access to quality basic education for both boys and girls, improved maternal, new born, child health and nutrition as well as reducing the prevalence and impact of HIV/AIDS.