Coedcae School in Llanelli is the 21st school in Carmarthenshire to connect with classrooms in Lesotho as part of an international learning programme.
Surrounded on all sides by South Africa, Lesotho is known as the Kingdom in the Sky – it is set above 1,388 metres and has the highest low point of any country in the world with many of its villages still hard to access other than by foot or on horseback.
There are many differences between life in Wales and Lesotho, but focusing on shared priorities such as climate change, raising aspirations, and promoting bilingualism ensures the links benefit learners in both countries; and they develop a better understanding of the wider world and their role in it as global citizens.
Coedcae geography teacher Victoria Colbourne, on behalf of pupils from the school’s Eco Committee, said: “Here at Coedcae we are very excited to have the opportunity to join our classrooms and communities, and to work on projects that will allow us to discover first-hand about Lesotho’s country, culture and values.
“We can’t wait to share ideas, learn from each other and make friends along the way. This couldn’t be more important during these challenging times. We can’t wait to get started.”
Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning is a unique global education programme brought to schools by the British Council in partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
By developing and networking with thousands of teachers across the world, it aims to help young people develop the knowledge, skills and values to live and work in a globalised economy.
Schools in Wales and Lesotho also benefit from additional support from Dolen Cymru Lesotho, who help to organise longer-term exchanges through its teacher placement programme.
Glan-y-Môr School in Burry Port has maintained a successful partnership with Moyeni High School in Lesotho since 2008 and although the COVID-19 pandemic presents huge challenges in relation to exchange visits, schools have been quick to step up to the mark, adapt their plans, move collaboration online, and change the focus of their projects. Glan-y-Môr for example worked with their cluster of local schools to create a toolkit of activities, aimed at improving resilience skills for learners in both countries.
With schools in Lesotho having been closed since March, the teachers there have appreciated the opportunity to take part in online training provided by the British Council.
Mampheng Elane, teacher at Bocheletsana High School, partner school to QE High School, Carmarthen, said: “I have learnt that international learning is very significant.
Really our learners are going to benefit a lot due to new teaching skills and techniques we have acquired.”
The successful partnerships of schools in Carmarthenshire will be included in Dolen Cymru Lesotho’s online education conference on November 19, which is celebrating 35 years of this unique country to country link.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services said: “It has never been so important for our young people to understand the big issues that shape our world and these partnerships will help to provide them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to make a positive contribution.
“It will also help to promote and encourage respect for diversity, as well as help our schools to prepare for the new curriculum.
“I hope more schools will take advantage of the opportunities to connect and learn through this unique learning programme.”