There are six parts to the Children's Programme: Breakfast Club, Pre-School, Homework Club, Weekend Programme, Holiday Programme and Lepoqong Home Care Programme.
Every day 80 children come to the Breakfast Club at Action Lesotho. Children arrive at the Breakfast Club before school, at the weekend and during holidays. Their teachers and carers notice that this aids their development and helps them concentrate at school. Due to the intense poverty of the country many children come from homes where there is nothing to eat. Malnutrition in early years leads to developmental learning problems and health difficulties. Primary school children in Lesotho get a government sponsored lunch at school but for many these meals are all they will eat all week.
The most urgent needs are for food, income and healthcare.
The goals of the Children’s Programme range from providing food to the support of learning in subjects such as English, mathematics and computer skills. We are working with the most vulnerable children in the community and there is much to be done. A key aspect of it is the engagement of the children themselves, cognizant of age and capabilities, in the direction and planning of activities.
Our Pre School Teaching Programme is based on the Aistear curriculum framework and its four principles of Communication, Exploring & Thinking, Wellbeing & Identity, and Belonging. This has been highly effective in supporting and expanding academic ability as well as confidence, life skills and a sense of community in the children.
The Homework Club provides space and learning support for older children. The children help each other and are developing a love of learning. We have seen good improvement in their exam results over the past years. Staff liaise with school teachers to ensure the programme connects closely with curriculum expectations.
The Weekend Programme runs from 10am until 3pm and includes a healthy lunch. It gives the children an opportunity to play together in a safe space and to enjoy creative activities, games and fun and engage in the planning and direction of the programme activities. We also teach the children horticulture, including taking care of the vegetable beds: we have recently planted spinach, rape, carrots, beetroot, etc. Sometimes the children also help elderly people in the village with their gardens.
When the schools are closed Action Lesotho’s Holiday Programme provides a stimulating range of activities, help with their studies and provides them with regular food.
Lepoqong Home Care Programme
Some needy children live too far away to attend the centre at Ha Maqele. At present fifty-one children in Lepoqong receive food packages which are delivered to their homes at the end of every month.
Our biggest challenge now is the children who don’t go to school because the parents are not able to pay school fees in time. Currently, these children must stay at home until the parents can come up with a plan to pay the fees.