Going to Primary School in 2019

The Dr Titi Mohapi Day Care Centre is one of the facilities of Paballong HIV/AIDS Care Centre. The Centre provides care and support to Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) of two to six years. The children are admitted to the Centre based on criteria that they are vulnerable orphans, or from vulnerable child-headed families, or cared for by old and unemployed grandparents and destitute siblings. The Centre works in close collaboration with local leaders in identifying such children. It started operating in 2013 with 33 children enrolled. The number of children at the Centre varies each year, and in 2018 there were 36 enrolled.

The children are served two nutritious meals every day of the week, and are introduced to an Early Childhood Care Development (ECCD) program to enhance their learning skills in preparation for primary education. In addition, the program organizes social events for the children to interact with others in the area. The events include Moshoeshoe’s Day, Early Childhood Day, rallies, sports competitions and annual graduation ceremonies.

The Government of Lesotho’s policy is to provide free compulsory primary education for all. However, the vulnerability in the Centre’s children’s families always makes it very difficult for the caregivers to buy their children the uniform on graduating from the Day Care Centre to primary school. If these children attend school wearing old, personal clothing, they are different from other pupils and can become isolated as they don’t fit in. This situation in most cases has a negative impact on the child’s performance in class and on his/her personality.

The Paballong UK Trust provided approximately £800 in December 2018 so that 10 children were able to attend primary school in the right uniform. Each child received a pair of shoes, 2 pairs of socks, skirt/trouser, 2 shirts, jersey, warm jacket, a raincoat, a track suit, a school bag, underwear, a belt for the boys, and a lunch box. Seven of these 10 children were girls; 3 were boys.