'Muso oa Lesotho (The Kingdom of Lesotho) is an enclave in southern Africa and is completely surrounded by South Africa. More than 80% of the country is 1,000 meters above sea level. The population is 2,128,180 and the literacy rate is 84.8%, which is one of the highest in Africa. Sesotho and English are the official languages.
The San Bushmen first inhabited present-day Lesotho until the arrival in the early 1600s of refugees from other areas gradually when they formed a tribe and called themselves Basotho. Moshoeshoe I consolidated the various Basotho tribes, and, in 1818, became their King. The area became known as Basutoland. From 1856-1868, Basutoland was in a series of wars with South Africa and lost some of its territory. After an appeal to Queen Victoria from Moshoeshoe I, Basutoland became a protectorate of Great Britain in 1868. On October 4, 1966, Basutoland was granted independence, changed its name to Lesotho and became a constitutional monarchy.
Education is free and compulsory from ages 6-13. Primary school is 7 years beginning at age 6. At the end of the 7th year, students sit for an external examination leading to the Primary School Leaving Examination Certificate.
Lower secondary school is 3 years. At the end of the 3rd year, students sit for the Junior Certificate Examination. Upper secondary school is for 2 years. At the end of the 2nd year, students sit for an external examination leading to the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate. The Cambridge Overseas School Certificate was replaced in 2014 by the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education.
Post-secondary educational programs are offered at the National University of Lesotho. Lerotholi Polytechnic, and the Lesotho College of Education. Admission to all post-secondary programs require sufficient scores on the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate.
First Cycle, Academic
Bachelor's programs are 4 years. Bachelor of Science (Honours) programs are an additional year following a Bachelor of Science.
First Cycle, Vocational/Technical
Vocational/technical post-secondary programs lead to the 2-year National Certificate and the 3-year National Diploma.
Second and Third Cycles
Graduate programs included a 1-year Post Graduate Diploma and 2-year Masters programs. A Bachelor's degree is required for admission to all graduate programs. Doctoral programs are 2-3 years following a masters degree and require defense of a dissertation.
The Lesotho College of Education offers 3-year programs for primary school teachers leading to the Primary Teacher's Certificate. A Junior Certificate is required for admission, but most students enter after passing the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examination. Lower secondary school teachers are trained in a 3-year program leading to the Secondary Teacher's Certificate. A Cambridge Overseas School Certificate is required for admission. Upper secondary school teachers must hold a Bachelor of Education.