THE Chinese government on Friday handed over M30 000 to Education and Training Minister Dr Mahali Phamotse meant to sponsor the education of 22 needy high school students at the country’s embassy in Maseru.
In her remarks, Dr Phamotse said the beneficiaries were drawn from the districts of Maseru, Berea, Leribe and Butha-Buthe in collaboration with legislators, counselors and traditional leaders.
“The 22 high school students would otherwise be loitering in the streets were it not for this noble assistance. Therefore, I am gratified by the generosity demonstrated by the Chinese Embassy,” she said.
Dr Phamotse said the government decided to introduce the free primary education policy in 2000, adding that 10 years later the National Assembly enacted a law that made primary education compulsory.
“As a result, the country fared relatively well in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal number three, which seeks to promote universal access to primary education,” said the minister.
“However, a sizeable number of students who complete primary education are not able to proceed to secondary education on account of several factors; the most important which is lack of money for school feeds.”
She added: “Unfortunately, such children often fall prey to all forms of abuse if they fail to proceed with their education. Therefore, as a parent and a minister responsible for education, I always feel I have to do something concrete to rescue these children.
“Some of the practical steps I take include making sacrifices on my salary to pay fees for some children and also approaching good Samaritans like the Chinese Embassy.”
Dr Phamotse also implored the beneficiaries to demonstrate their appreciation by working hard, “and to the parents, I appeal to you to encourage your children to study and also assist them with school work”.
For his part, Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Sun Xianghua said education was the key to a brighter future. He said China and Lesotho signed agreements to help develop the education sector.
“The Chinese government has been awarding scholarships to many students in Lesotho and assisting the needy,” he said.
“We have all been students and faced challenges, but do remember that education is a prerequisite for us to achieve the best in our future and for the country.”