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Chinese community lends helping hand

by Lesotho Times


Nthatuoa Koeshe

MOKHOTLONG – Basking in the sun on a typically chilly morning in the mountainous district of Mokhotlong, Mateboho Lengolo can afford a rare, albeit weary smile.

The year-long school fees assistance her grade eight child has received courtesy of the China-Lesotho People-to-people Friendship Action Fund (CLPPFAF) has lifted a heavy load off the mother-of-two’s shoulders.

This knowledge keeps Ms Lengolo and nine other parents of underprivileged learners buzzing ahead of the handover ceremony at Seeiso Griffith’s High School.

During the handover ceremony last Saturday, CLPPFAF donated M75 000 to cover tuition fees for 50 vulnerable students attending Sekonyela High School, Mapholaneng, Seeiso Griffith’s, St James and Mokhotlong high schools.

Ten underprivileged students from each of the schools were identified as beneficiaries of the assistance, with CLPPFAF also donating satchels, sanitary towels, basketballs and soccer balls as well as pencil kits.

CLPPFAF was established by the Chinese community in Lesotho with the support of the Chinese Embassy. Over the years, the fund has provided assistance to learners around the country.

Ms Lengolo, whose child learns at Sekonyela High School, told the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of the handover ceremony that the school fees assistance could not have come at a better time.

Given that she is not formally employed, and subsists by providing laundry services, Ms Lengolo indicated that she was failing to make ends meet.

“I already owe school fees for my other child who is in grade nine at Mapholaneng High School for the last quarter,” she said.

“So, I am very grateful for this assistance from the Chinese community. “At least now I can only worry about my other child because this one is covered for the whole year.”

Addressing the gathering, which also included Education and Training Deputy Minister Ntoi Rapapa and Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Sun Xianghua, Seeiso Griffith’s High School Principal Thokholi Nyapisi said the assistance would go a long way in improving the learners’ education standards.

He said in addition to covering the beneficiaries’ tuition fees, the assistance would enable the schools to feed them and cater for other needs.

“Our schools have very high numbers of orphans and that is one of the main challenges we face,” Mr Nyapisi said.

“As a result, the vulnerable children are unable to afford fees and thus fail to get the education they deserve.”

He also indicated that public schools were failing to maintain infrastructure and educational standards due to a 2012 policy to subsidise tuition fees.

“There was a promise that after the rationalising of fees in 2012, schools would receive financial support from the government.

“The expectation was that the money would be used to bankroll the construction of classrooms and school toilets as well as the acquisition of desks and chairs. Unfortunately, all this did not happen because we never received those funds.”

Mr Nyapisi also urged the government to improve its supervision of schools.

“A new curriculum was introduced for grade eight students after the Ministry of Education held consultations with schools.

“However, the schools outlined the financial challenges they were facing that included lack of classrooms, lack of teachers and lack of facilities,” he said.

“The government did not address these challenges and unless something is done, the curriculum might fail.”

Prof Rapapa said he had taken note of the principals and teachers’ concerns.

“In Lesotho, we have a fairly large number of schools, but they face a number of challenges. For instance, some lessons are still held under trees and hopefully such challenges will be addressed soon,” he said.

“Teachers also need to undergo continual training to ensure that this new curriculum is implemented well.”

For his part, Dr Sun said some of the beneficiaries received the assistance for faring well in their studies, while for others it was due to the fact that they were unable to pay their fees.

“I think the help from the China-Lesotho People to People Friendship Action Fund has come at a right time and its impact will be far reaching,” he said, adding that the assistance would not only help the 50 learners but their families and Mokhotlong in general.



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