THE government-suspended youth apprenticeship initiative has helped over 18 000 Basotho youth since its commencement in 2019, with the government currently spending over M4 million per month as a stipend on those who are still participating.
May 11, 2023
3 min read
Govt suspends ‘Lihala-hala’ projects
Scores of unemployed Basotho youth picketing in the street
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Since the programme's inception four years ago, nearly 150 recipients have obtained permanent employment.
The initiative is divided into two categories namely - non-academic Basotho youth (Lihala-hala) and academically qualified apprentices.
The apprentices were placed in government offices as well as large commercial firms, while the non-skilled (Lihala-hala) were assigned to unique community initiatives.
Since 2019, the Lihala-hala scheme has employed around 16 500 Basotho youngsters, with 2 400 continuing working.
The apprentice programme, on the other hand, has deployed 2 048 people since its inception, with 1 200 still in service.
“Those who are still active must continue and complete their contracts because they are already enrolled in the programme. However, they are free to seek permanent jobs elsewhere if possible,” said Kamohelo Nthafa, Chief Economic Planner in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, in an interview with Maseru Metro on Thursday.
After about four years of operation, the government has chosen to suspend the scheme while it is being evaluated. Following the review, the programme may be relaunched, possibly with a new format.
“It has been halted because we were directed to do so by the authorities in order to allow time for it to be reviewed. As a result, predicting how long the review process will take is difficult,” Nthafa said.
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The youth apprenticeship programme is a government of Lesotho effort that aims to combat the country's startlingly high unemployment rate. With a population of 2.2 million, unemployment in Lesotho remains high at 28.0 percent, with youngsters aged 15 to 24 accounting for 43.2 percent of the country's jobless rate.
Poverty levels remain high as a result of high unemployment, with half of the country's population, or 49.7 percent, living in poverty.
Putting the plan on hold is expected to increase the pressure on thousands of young Basotho youth who are already struggling to find work.
Unemployment is certain to rise, and many more people will be pushed farther into poverty.