Lesotho Culture

Child shepherds flock to night school

August 31, 2011

In the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, boys as young as five spend months on end tending cattle in the isolation of remote highland country.

For the young, becoming a herd boy is a cultural obligation in Lesotho society, a practice which leaves many children deprived of an education.

Photo by Christo Geoghegan

“It’s a very sorry state of affairs for young boys,” said Prince Seeiso, the younger brother of Lesotho’s King and the country’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

“The matter of herding is centuries old but sadly in the last half century increasingly it’ll be younger men and lately young children that are involved in this traditional practice,” he continued.

Prince Seeiso has co-founded a charity, Sentebale, with Britain’s Prince Harry to help meet some of the challenges that face this remote country. One of Sentebale’s missions is to help provide an education for the herd boys.

The charity says that one third of Lesotho’s school-age boys and young men are working full time tending sheep and cattle at any one time.

In return for work, the boys will receive a cow or several smaller animals, as well milk throughout the year for their families.

Road To Sani Pass, Mokhotlong District, Lesotho

Photo by Christo Geoghegan

Sentebale has opened two shepherd night schools in Semongkong, a village nestling between snow-capped mountains in the remotest part of the country.

The school is open four nights a week and around 60 herd boys, who are at work throughout the day, usually attend. They are given a hot meal as well as classes.

Seeiso says the night schools are the only chance the herd boys have of an education.

Mojafa Makepe is 20 years old and has been a herder since the age of eight. He told Sentebale that he is often away from home for long periods.

“Sometimes I am away from the village for a year, staying near the cattle post on the top of the mountains,” he said.

The Full story written by Emily Wither can be found on the CNN website.

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