A 12-year-old Khubetsoana girl has been stuck at home for the past four years, with schools in the neighbourhood allegedly refusing to accommodate her due to her disability.
According to the girl’s mother, Mapulane Makatisi, none of the schools are willing to take the child because she is wheelchair-bound.
“The excuse at one of the schools was that because my daughter is wheelchair-bound, she would not be able to move around because classes are held on different floors,” Ms Makatisi said.
“At another, I was told she could not be accommodated because the road leading to the school was in a terrible state, and so she would not be able to manoeuvre her wheelchair.
“I am a single parent and unemployed; my husband left when he realised that the child was disabled. These past four years have not been easy for me because my child was supposed to have been at school but due to her disability, this has not been possible.
“I can’t take her to a special school because I don’t have the required funds for her fees, so I am appealing for help from well-wishers to make sure this innocent child is not denied her right to education.
“Each time she sees the other kids going to school and can’t join them, she is reminded of her disability. I can’t bear to watch the suffering on her face; it breaks my heart.”
According to Ms Makatisi, her daughter was only able to attend a special pre-school, and dropped out six months into Class One as she owed school-fees for one year.
“I was then lucky to have my daughter admitted at a government school, where I didn’t have to pay anything, but my mother-in-law had a fight with one of the teachers over how the child was being treated.
“I was told not to bring my daughter to the school again, and she has been at home since,” Ms Makatisi said, adding when she sought help from the Depart of Social Development, she was referred to the Ministry of Education and Training.
“An Education Officer told me that there was no reason why my child could not go to a normal school. But when I started looking for a place, that’s when I got stuck with excuse after excuse about why she could not be admitted.
“It can’t be my fault that my daughter was born like this, and I don’t know why people would want to increase the pain by denying her the chance to be with her age-mates at school.”
According to the Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) Projects Coordinator, Rabasotho Moeletsi, what this child has been going through is unacceptable as the country’s constitution guarantees the rights of every single citizen.
“We have the Education Act of 2011 which states that every child should have access to education.
“I wish the relevant government departments could help Mrs Makatisi as she has been through a lot as she tries to get the best for her child,” Mr Moeletsi said.
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Times this week visited two of the schools which allegedly refused to accept Ms Makatisi’s child.
At one of the schools, the principal said she was not aware of “such a case”, while there was no-one “authorised” to speak to the Lesotho Times at the other.
There was also no immediate comment from the ministries of education and social development.