Education is free and compulsory between the ages of six and 13 at government schools, with instruction in the Sesotho language at the lower levels and English in the upper classes of primary schools and secondary schools. The government spends up to 13% (stand 2010) of its GDP on education. Most expatriates, however, choose to send their children to one of the international schools in Maseru offering the International Baccalaureate.
Most favored by corporation executives, diplomats and NGO staff is the American International School of Lesotho (AISL), which is independent and co-educational, covering pre-school to Grade 10 and following an American curriculum. Fees are high, at more than1,000 USD per month. Alternatives are Machabeng College, with boarding facilities, and the Maseru Preparatory School, accredited by the Cambridge International Primary School curriculum.
There are two universities in Lesotho – the National University in Roma, a short drive from the capital, and the Limkokwing University in Maseru.
Foreigners living in Maseru are a cosmopolitan, sociable bunch and tend to stick together. You'll meet other expatriates at the gym, shopping, wining and dining in the hotel/casinos, or perhaps over a game of golf, squash or tennis. English is widely spoken but it is useful to learn some of the local language, Sesotho.
The traditional culture of the Basotho people is encapsulated in the town of Morija, 35 km to the south of Maseru. Here there is an art center and cultural museum. An annual Arts and Cultural Festival is held in October.
The Basotho Hat Shop at the entrance to Maseru showcases and sells local arts and crafts in a unique building designed to represent the iconic conical woven hats worn by the locals.
Being set in a mountainous region, most expats enjoy being able to take advantage of outdoor pursuits in the environs of Maseru, such as trout fishing, mountaineering, birdwatching, pony trekking and paragliding.
Endemic poverty and unemployment among the local population in Maseru makes opportunistic crime fairly common, particularly pick-pocketing and petty theft. There are also occasional incidents of car theft and home invasions.
Expatriates and tourists are often targeted, so it is wise to use common sense and take precautions to safeguard your possessions: Avoid walking alone in the city, park cars in well-lit areas, drive with doors locked and windows closed, and conceal any valuables from view.
The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) are tasked with combating crime in Lesotho, but their effectiveness is limited by lack of resources and training. Most foreigners living and working in Maseru hire security companies and guards for their residences, along with alarm monitoring and rapid response services. For emergency services in Maseru dial 123/124 for the police and 121 for an ambulance.