Computers for Masitise High School

Computer education is of growing importance in the educational curriculum in Lesotho. At Masitise High School, computer classes are now compulsory for all the students in the first three years of high school. It is a subject that is now included in the Junior Certificate Examinations of Lesotho ΓÇô these standardized tests are taken after the third year of high school. In recent years, Global Ministries missionary Mark Behle was in charge of the Junior Certificate Examinations and reports that during the crucial computer exams there were frequent computer malfunctions.

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Masitise High School is one of the largest high schools in the country of Lesotho with an enrollment of over 1,150 students. It is located in Quthing District in the southwest corner of the country. As nearly half of the students board at the school, it not only serves the surrounding community but also attracts students from other parts of Lesotho. It is one of many schools associated with the Lesotho Evangelical Church, a partner of Global Ministries.

Computer education is of growing importance in the educational curriculum in Lesotho. At Masitise High School, computer classes are now compulsory for all the students in the first three years of high school. It is a subject that is now included in the Junior Certificate Examinations of Lesotho – these standardized tests are taken after the third year of high school. In recent years, Global Ministries missionary Mark Behle was in charge of the Junior Certificate Examinations and reports that during the crucial computer exams there were frequent computer malfunctions.

Currently there are about 700 students being served by one computer lab with, at most, 50 working computers some of which have limited hardware, including problems with basic things like mice and keyboards. By 2011, the number of students using the computer lab will be 800 or more. With class sizes of 60-75 students, they have to share during class or take turns.

The school now is preparing a second classroom to accommodate additional computers to better facilitate computer training. Currently the school is purchasing second-hand computers from a supplier in Lesotho. Besides additional computers, they also need to upgrade current hardware and software for many of the existing computers and need to purchase a number of peripherals such as printers and keyboards. The school has two computer teachers and a technician who look after the computers, so a system is in place to attend to problems.

The Computers for Masitise Project will provide funds for the purpose of buying additional computers and upgrading equipment in order to better equip the computer labs. Also, with the addition of more equipment it may be possible to provide further education for students in the last two years of high school, following the Junior Certificate Examinations. Computer classes are not currently offered at this level.

The school does not plan to purchase new computers unless they can get a dramatically discounted deal on buying a number of them. Only a handful of computers have internet access but this is not currently a priority.

The Masitise Headmaster is making plans to purchase 50 additional used computers for the new lab. This would bring the total to about 100 computers for the two labs, minus any that need to be replaced immediately. Over the next several years, the intention is to continue to purchase up to about 20 computers per year until all the school’s computers have basic capabilities needed for the required exams and other activities. If there comes a point when all the school’s computers meet the basic needs, the headmaster may seek additional computers so that each lab can meet the needs of an entire class of 60+ students.

Estimated costs for used computers are in the $100-$500 range each.

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