BASOTHO students who are studying in China have hailed the support that they have received from the host government since the coronavirus outbreak in January this year.
Lesotho has about 150 students across China while some are in Wuhan City, one of the hardest hit cities.
The city has been on lockdown for weeks and over 100 000 cases of infections worldwide have been reported. At least 3 000 people have died from the virus.
Some of the Basotho students are self-sponsored while others are sponsored by the Chinese government and others by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
The students say the Chinese government has provides them with three meals daily.
Napo Mohapi, a PhD student at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in Wuhan told the Sunday Express yesterday that they were grateful for the support but also encouraged the Lesotho government to increase their stipends.
“The Chinese government has since January taken care of us in a way that we are satisfied with and they continue to do so,” Mr Mohapi said.
Mr Mohapi however, said the students need urgent financial intervention from the government to supplement their food as some of the students are allergic to some of the foods provided by the Chinese government. He said they also need to buy some basics like toiletries as some are also allergic to those provided by the state.
“This has caused strain to some of the students because they end up having to order food online and it is brought to their rooms.
“This has strained our finances because when we were last given the allowances, it was before the coronavirus broke out and we had no problem meeting our daily needs. Now the prices have risen repeatedly, so we request for assistance in the form of an increase in our allowances so that we can easily meet our daily needs.”
He lamented that the government had taken too long to respond to their plea for assistance only setting up a task team with personnel from the ministries of Health, Development Planning and Foreign Affairs. He said this was a striking to other African countries that had responded to their students earlier.
He attributed the delays to political gimmicks by government officials that he said were putting their lives at risk.
Although some students had expressed their desire to be evacuated from China, Mr Mohapi said it would be a wrong move if Lesotho gave in to the demands.
Apart from the expensive airfares, said it would also put their families and the entire country at the risk of infection with coronavirus as Lesotho does not have quarantine facilities from which to monitor them when they arrive.
He also said they have commenced their studies online. Therefore, if the students return home, that would also disrupt their studies as some of their study applications do not work outside China.
Mr Mohapi also said the government must speed up its response to their needs instead of taking the painstaking route of appointing a taskforce.
“There is no need for such a long process of appointing a task force. The Prime Minister must instruct one office to do that. Besides the ministries of Planning, Health and Finance, the country has the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) and this is a disaster… the government is just wasting…
“Let’s wait and see what they will do… Many African students received money a long time ago. What makes their governments think faster than our own,” Mr Mohapi said.