Building Furniture for Schools
The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) is one of Africa’s oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Mission society. It is Lesotho’s oldest denomination and currently has several hundred thousand members. The LECSA, partner church of Global Ministries since 1983, has approximately 580 primary and secondary/high schools in the country.
In many LECSA classrooms, it is not uncommon to find multiple students crowded into a single desk, sitting on benches, or sitting on the floor without a place to take notes. Teachers without a table will place teaching materials on a student’s desk. Primary schools are particularly challenged to provide accommodations for more students with fewer resources, and the government has not been able to ensure each school has the necessary pieces of classroom furniture.
The LECSA also operates the Leloaleng Manufacturing Centre (LMC), which has the capacity to build school furniture. Therefore this project provides employment opportunities, in addition to providing school furniture.
The LECSA is seeking funds to provide teacher tables, student desks, and chalkboards to improve learning and teaching conditions, to improve classroom performance, to treat all students and staff with dignity, to increase the community’s pride in their schools, and to provide employment opportunities for employees of the Leloaleng Manufacturing Centre.
- $125 can purchase one teacher’s table or one chalkboard
- $275 can provide seating for eight students
- $1,000 can provide seating for an entire classroom
- $1,250 can furnish an entire classroom
LECSA has completed its first furniture delivery to four schools in Lesotho. With support from donors to this project, LECSA’s Leloaleng Manufacturing Centre was able to build ten pupils’ desks, eight teacher tables, and eight chalkboards. As a welcomed surprise, delivery costs for the furniture were considerably less than expected, which enabled LECSA to save approximately 10% on projected costs for this project. The funds that LECSA saved on delivering the furniture will be used to build more school furniture.
Reisi Primary School, which received the majority of the furniture from this first order, is a rural school located in a remote area. In some classrooms, pupils have been sitting on scraps of broken benches with no writing surface. With the delivery of ten four-seater desks, forty students now have a proper desk at which to work. The presence of these new desks, as well as some chalkboards, has made a significant improvement to the learning environment for both students and teachers.
As word has spread, other schools have submitted requests to the LECSA Education Office for furniture. In particular, there is a heightened request for more pupils’ desks. Global Ministries welcomes gifts in support of providing school furniture throughout LECSA schools.
LECSA recently completed the second installation of furniture in schools. This time, the Mohale’s Hoek LECSA Primary School was selected as the recipient. The furniture order was comprised of 20 four-seater student desks and eight tables for teachers. All of the furniture was delivered in time for the school to open in January.
Mohale’s Hoek LECSA Primary School is located in the town of Mohale’s Hoek. It is one of the best performing primary schools in the country despite the teachers and students being disadvantaged by cramped conditions and a shortage of school furniture. There are more than 1000 students in grades one through seven. In the 2016 Primary School national exams, their seventh-grade students excelled as 62% received a first class result and 26% received a second class result. None of the pupils failed.
Though this delivery of school furniture will not solve the problem of the need for more classrooms, it does reduce the number of children who do not have a proper desk to write on. The 20 pupils’ desks provide seating for 80 or more students.
The delivery of the desks and tables for teachers was an occasion to celebrate! The furniture makes a significant improvement in the learning environment and there were many smiles of appreciation and joy when it was delivered. The principal, Mrs. Maposo, was grateful for the items and said it will further encourage the students and staff to perform well. “Even better results will now be achieved”, she said.
The presence of better furniture should facilitate improved learning and encourage students to come to school knowing they will have a proper place to sit and work.
Global Ministries welcomes gifts to support the continuation of this project and extends thanks to all those who have participated in the realization of these pieces of furniture for students and teachers.
Update: November 2019
In previous years, the main goal of the project was to purchase new furniture for schools of Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) which did not have student desks, tables, or teacher’s desks. However, this year the project has been focusing on refurbishing and redistributing broken student desks to schools that do not have any or enough furniture. This change has proven considerably more cost effective, while also being more sustainable by reusing materials.
For various reasons, some of the LECSA schools have an excess of old desks in storage. In many cases, desks are broken or missing parts. Although this furniture is not in use, it is often made with strong materials that make refurbishment possible and is sturdier than some new furniture being built.
Two schools offered their extra furniture that was required repair for this project (a total of 57 desks). Through professionals in the community, the Education Office hired several individuals to help refurbish desks, which were redistributed to three different schools once fixed. The LECSA Education Office is identifying more schools with broken furniture to continue this project and provide more desks for young students. The LECSA also purchased seven new chalkboards for each classroom of a new primary school.
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