DEVELOPMENT Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane has commended the role played by Letšeng Diamonds in the country’s education sector.
The diamond mine this week hosted an award ceremony for annual scholarship programme beneficiaries studying in South African tertiary institutions.
Under the scholarship which is funded by Letšeng each year, prospective Basotho students are invited to apply for the scholarships in areas of study determined by the committee governing the scholarships.
After a competitive selection process, a few students who can be ambassadors of the company and country are chosen on merit for full funding.
In addition to covering the tuition fees, the scholarship also covers meals, accommodation, travelling and medical expenses among other expenses associated with learning.
While this year only two students were awarded new scholarships in the 13th edition of the annual activity, the mine has to date awarded 43 scholarships to young Basotho students studying in different mining sector related programmes.
And on Monday, Mr Aumane, who spoke on behalf of the Mining Minister Keketso Sello, said the mine’s contribution is vital in the country’s skills development.
Mr Aumane further said that Letšeng’s contribution this year is timely owing to the challenging financial situation that has forced the government to reduce the number of students it grants scholarships to further their studies in South Africa.
Out of over 3 000 applications, he said only 400 students were able to secure government funded scholarships to study in South Africa this year.
“Therefore, the Letšeng Diamond contribution will go a long way in increasing the number of students studying in South Africa,” Mr Aumane said.
For his part, the chief executive of Letšeng Diamonds Kelebone Leisanyane said their social responsibility efforts are not only contributing to address the country’s social challenges of lack of skills within the mining sector but also are also necessary to maintain strong community relations.
He said the company has to date spent over M11 million on educational scholarships, with 43 scholarships being funded since the programme started in 2006.
“Letšeng Diamonds has made an undertaking to provide scholarships to deserving Basotho as provided for in Section 9 (i) of the Mining Agreement.
“The Agreement states that Letšeng Diamonds shall establish an educational trust for payment of scholarships and fellowships to Lesotho nationals selected by the company. The agreement further states that support shall be to students studying in fields that are relevant to the development of Lesotho natural resources,” Mr Leisanyane said.
He said the educational scholarship forms part of the mine’s corporate social responsibility and investment programme.
One of the beneficiaries, Matlali Seutloali, who will study Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Cape Town, said it was an honour to be awarded a scholarship by such a reputable company.
“It feels overwhelmingly amazing to have been awarded a scholarship by such a profound company.
“It is not only a very well-rounded scholarship that covers all the necessities during my period of study but it also gives me an opportunity to a fulfilment of giving back to my country upon completion of my studies,” Mr Seutloali told the Lesotho Times.