LIMKOKWING University of Creative Technology (LUCT) and the National AIDS Commission (NAC) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to form a strategic and collaborative partnership aimed at strengthening the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The MOU was signed at the NAC offices in Maseru West.
Lesotho is second to Swaziland in terms of HIV/AIDS prevalence at 25 percent necessitating programmes to fight the pandemic.
The LUCT-NAC partnership will focus on strategic areas including education, training, capacity building, branding, visual and pictorial content creation and marketing strategies development as well as awareness campaigns towards HIV/AIDS initiatives.
LUCT Registrar, Moroke Hoohlo said they had partnered with NAC as it dealt with youths who were the most affected by the stigma. He said this would enable students to gain access to HIV/AIDS education.
“NAC is the coordinator of HIV/AIDS related activities around the country and we believe their mandate is aligned to ours,” said Mr Hoohlo, adding, “Our job at the university is not only to teach and channel students in the direction of their desired professions but also to create awareness of the challenges they will face in future”.
“It is no secret that HIV/AIDS is at the top of the challenges mostly faced by youth and some have little knowledge about it.
“Through this collaboration they will not only learn about it through guest lecturers but also through projects, research and awareness campaigns which they will have to design themselves.”
He added: “The reality of HIV/AIDS is closer to home for us at Limkokwing University as our job is to prepare a workforce that will be the pillar of the economy. But it would not be useful if we prepare a weak team hence the need to incorporate HIV/AIDS knowledge in the students’ lives so that they get exposed to the information about the pandemic at a critical stage.”
He said LUCT was committed to the success of the partnership and would do all in its power to ensure that together “we bring enhanced value to Basotho people, especially the youth”.
NAC also took the opportunity to sign another strategic partnership agreement with African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP) also aimed at boosting the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
For her part, NAC Chief Executive Officer, Keratile Thabana, said that the two agreements would help NAC meet its mandate to “provide strategic leadership and governance as well as coordinate different stakeholders towards the HIV/AIDS response in the country”.
“NAC will focus on a number of strategic areas that include education, training, capacity building and skills development as well as the management of the stigma amongst the youth,” Ms Thabana said.
She commended LUCT for being the first tertiary institution to collaborate with NAC to influence the behaviour of youth towards HIV/AIDS, adding there was need for more partnerships as infections were much higher between the ages of 19 and 39.
She said ACHAP would assist through funding and other necessary resources.