NUL students complete mentorship programme

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Mosoatsi Mosoatsi

TWENTY current and former National University of Lesotho (NUL) male students have completed a one-year mentorship programme aimed at encouraging them to respect women and shun gender based violence (GBV).

The Tataiso (guidance) Male Engagement Masterclass Series programme is run by NUL Faculty of Law lecturer, Mothepa Ndumo.

Speaking at the recent graduation ceremony in Maseru, Adv Ndumo said she launched the programme in November 2021 to promote social empathy. It caters for males between 17 and 35 years.

“The male-led coaching and mentorship initiative focuses on engaging young tertiary students in Lesotho on issues impacting on both men and women and how they interact with each other,” she said.

The participants were mentored by Harry Nkhetse and Motseki Lesia.

Adv Ndumo said engaging men of all age groups and giving them personalised attention was important if the country is to defeat GBV, femicide and social exclusion.

She said while the first cohort focused on current and former NUL students, the next programme would include participants from other institutions of higher learning such as Botho University and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

“We’ve received enquiries from students from these two universities wanting to join the mentorship programme. We are yet to engage the Lerotholi Polytechnic College.”

Adv Ndumo said it was crucial to engage tertiary institutions because the mentorship programme met some of their strategic objectives on student welfare and development.

Male engagement also created harmonious campuses and helped reduce GBV and sexual harassment by both students and staff, she said.

Gender based violence is rife in Lesotho. According to a recent United Nations Women report, one in three women and girls in Lesotho have been abused by their sexual partner in the last year. Less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help, the report said.

A Commonwealth report of September 2020 found that violence against women and girls is costing the country at least 5, 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) through absenteeism from work by victims, court litigations, hospitalisation and counselling among other things.

On his part, guest speaker, NUL Vice-Chancellor, Olusola Fajana, said programmes such as the Tataiso Male Engagement Masterclass Series were important because they provided guidance to men so that they become responsible citizens.

“Our focus today is to offer words of encouragement to these participants who have chosen a healing and holistic path in society,” said Professor Fajana.

He said male engagement was on the rise due to, among other things, unintended male marginalisation, disaffection with the modern world, shifting of traditional gender roles and erroneous assumptions in the design of well-meaning girl-child interventions.

“Instead of addressing the marginalisation of the girl child in an equitable way that includes the boy child in some aspects of intervention design, we have unwittingly created an imbalance that has led to a misalignment between the girl child and the boy child with grave repercussions for the stability of the country (including stability and harmony in the homes, communities, the workplaces and the economy and society at large).”

Professor Fajana said the welfare of the Mosotho boy child was critical to the upliftment of the male gender and should continue to receive widespread societal support, “especially now that our hearts and minds have expanded to accept the reality that men need attention too”.

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