Lesotho introduced free primary education in 2000, which has
created more demand for secondary education.
The story of Fusi Secondary School goes back to 2003 when Andrew Uglow spent a gap year in Lesotho, teaching at Ha Fusi primary school. While he was there, he found a small group of secondary students being taught at the primary school. They could not afford to go to secondary school and the primary school teachers were trying to help as much as they could.
Like many schools in Lesotho, Ha Fusi primary school is a church school, run by the Anglican Church of Lesotho. When Andrew returned to England, he set about raising funds so that the church could open a secondary school at Ha Fusi. The village chief gave land for the school and eventually a three classroom school was built. This video, taken in August 2008, shows the view around the school, which sits on a hill outside the village - no problems here with students nipping out to the shops!
In summer, Lesotho experiences dramatic storms with, at times, quite frightening thunder and lightning so a lightning conductor was an essential part of the construction.
Digging pits for the toilets was not easy in the rocky ground - and just two were built, for the use of both staff and students.
Later in 2008, water was brought to the school by drilling down to the water table and putting in a pump - again no easy task in the rocky ground, and the first drill hole was dry. But now there is water at the school - if you pump the handle for long enough.
Secondary schools provide three years of education up to Junior Certificate (High Schools provide two more). With students starting their Form C in 2009, the teachers would no longer have a spare classroom to use as a staffroom. So, towards the end of 2008, a small building was constructed to provide three rooms: a staffroom, a Principal's office and a third room which is currently used as a storeroom
The school staff was joined at the start of January 2009 (school years are calendar years in Lesotho) by Elizabeth Dunford. A Maths teacher from England, Elizabeth has taken early retirement to work as an unpaid volunteer at the school - teaching Maths, but also working to develop the school and get it firmly embedded in the local community. Elizabeth and the four other teachers in 2009 are shown standing outside the new staffroom.
The current curriculum comprises the four core subjects in Lesotho - Maths, Science, English and Sesotho (the local language) - plus Geography, Business Education and Agriculture. They are also taught Life Skills and given Religious Education. In Lesotho all secondary education is in English, as are the examinations. Fusi Secondary is also an English Medium School - which means that students should only speak English while they are at school, with the aim of improving their command of the language. In 2009, the school started to acquire books in English and establish a small library. This is expected to become a large library in 2010 with a gift from the African Library Project.
Until the beginning of 2009, the school relied on desks borrowed from the primary school, but the school then bought brand new desks - although it will need more as numbers increase in January 2011.
The big news of 2009 came in July when the school was registered by the government. Andrew Uglow took part in the opening ceremony together with Philip Mapetla, the Chief Education Officer for Secondary Schools.
Until a school is registered, the government makes no contribution to its costs - and, not unreasonably, NGOs in the country are also generally unwilling to give their support.
So, apart from a small income from student fees, the school has had to rely on the donations from supporters - for everything. Not just for the building work, but importantly for the salaries of the teachers - and even the teachers' textbooks and the chalk.
Registration should mean that, in due course, the government will contribute to the teachers' salaries. Students will also be able to participate in the government's loan scheme for textbooks.
For the time being the school is still reliant on the generosity of donors but we hope that it will not be too long before its day-to-day running cost will be covered by government grants and fees that are affordable to the local people.