The use of open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL) initiatives to open up access to education in the context of high HIV and AIDS prevalence rates : the case of Lesotho
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This paper describes the extent of the national HIV and AIDS epidemic in Lesotho and identifies and analyses key Open, Distance and Flexible Learning (ODFL) initiatives currently being implemented to increase access to education including those for vulnerable young people including those affected by HIV and AIDS. The paper draws on documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews conducted with stakeholders from government departments and non-governmental organisations involved in HIV and AIDS and in the NonFormal Education Sector. Despite the high priority attached to education and a national response to HIV and AIDS by the Lesotho Government, a key finding of the analysis is the extent of the challenges presented by the HIV pandemic and of the internal inefficiencies within the education system, leading to high drop out rates, high repetition rates and low completion rates. Several initiatives in the non-formal education sector and those drawing on ODFL are described for their possibilities to open up access to education and address the growing HIV and AIDS pandemic. In conclusion, the paper argues for the possibilities of ODFL to improve efficiency rates in Lesotho and open up access to out-of-school youths, thus taking up the opportunity for the window of hope!