Minister challenges students
MINING Minister, Keketso Sello, has challenged students under the Letseng Diamonds’ educational scholarship programme to excel in their studies and consequently eliminate the need for the country to import specialised skills.
Mr Sello made the remarks at a recent ceremony in Maseru that was hosted by Letseng Diamonds to honour its outstanding sponsees in various fields of study.
The ceremony was graced by the mine’s management, senior government official and family members.
Mr Sello’s remarks echo similar concerns among sections of the society that there were not enough Basotho in senior managerial positions in the fledging mining sector.
Sibongile Matuba-Tuba who completed her Honors BSc in Geology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, walked away with the Best Student and Best Behaved Student awards.
Karabo Khati (National Diploma in Mineral Survey) and Motheo Ntšolo (MSc in Geotechnical Engineering) were also honoured for successfully completing their studies.
Serema Tsietsi, who is currently enrolled in the BSc in Mining Engineering programme at the University of Johannesburg, was adjudged the Best Performing student among the sponsees.
Other continuing students who were also recognised are Tšele Motšoari (BEng in Metallurgical Engineering), Rethabile Thaane (National Diploma in Mining Engineering), Rethabile Molumela (National Diploma in Mineral Survey) and Thulo Sejojo (BHS in Emergency Medical Care).
Speaking to the Sunday Express on the sidelines of the interview, one of the students, Karabo Khati, said it was every Mosotho student’s wish to obtain a Letšeng Scholarship “because it covers all the needs of a student, from tuition fees, books, meals and allowances”.
“This is very helpful because we are then able to fully focus on our studies without worrying about anything else.”
She said hard work and scoring good grades in high school are the key to securing the Letšeng scholarship.
For his part, Letseng Diamonds Acting Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Leaver, urged the beneficiaries to work hard to become good ambassadors for the mine and country.
Letšeng Diamond Mine is jointly owned by British firm, Gem Diamonds, with a 70 percent stake and the government of Lesotho which owns the other 30 percent.
The company committed itself to providing scholarships to deserving Basotho by establishing an educational trust for the payment of scholarships and fellowships to Lesotho nationals. The recipients are supposed to be students in fields that are relevant to the development of Lesotho’s natural resources.
Each year in August, prospective students are invited to apply for scholarships in areas of study determined by the committee governing the scholarships. This is followed by a competitive selection process in which the best applicants, who will be ambassadors of the company and the nation, are chosen.
Since the scholarship’s inception in 2006, 41 scholarships have been awarded to 39 Basotho. Of these, 31 have graduated, 17 have been employed full time by the company. Seven are on internship at the company while six are continuing with their studies.
The educational scholarships form part of the Corporate Social Responsibility and Investment Programme of the company. The aim of the programme is to foster social and economic development that will sustain communities well beyond the life of the mine.
More than M10 million has been spent so far on the scholarships.