n Latin American Report - Basic education to empower rural women : the 'mantloane' programmes in Lesotho

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-6060



Adult education is one of the most effective ways to teach women how to cope with the socio-economic challenges of life. A lot of women in Lesotho have been forced to become the head of their families because of the migrant labour system which takes men away from their homes. Since the 1990s thousands of Basotho men have been retrenched from South African mines leading to the loss of a major source of income and remittances to the families of the ex-miners. Because of soil erosion and land degradation, some households are no longer able to depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. As a result of this coupled with persistent drought and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the levels of poverty have increased in rural areas. Women are being empowered through adult education to ensure that they are able to engage in sustainable livelihoods. One of the adult education programmes that empower rural women to tackle poverty and hunger in most Basotho villages is the making of vegetable gardens called 'mantloane' in Sesotho. The term refers to the way children use stones to build play houses imitating the way adults do things. Rural women in Lesotho have been taught to use stones to build these vegetable farms as well as conserving water which is helping a lot of families with the vegetables they use in the house throughout most of the year. The author argues that this programme can be adapted in other rural communities in African countries to combat poverty and hunger. This investigation is a case study which employs the qualitative approach to do in-depth study of two rural communities; Mount Tabor and Ha 'Ngoe-in the Mafeteng district of Lesotho. Thirty women from the two villages were interviewed on the impact of this adult education project on their lives. Over 96% of the respondents indicated that the education programme which started about six years ago has helped their families to deal with the problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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