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From Beijing with love!



Rose Moremoholo



OVER the past four years, Limakatso Lenkoane, 18, has had to deal with the indignity of being excluded from class after failing to pay the M1 300 school fees.

Lenkoane is a Form D student at Molapo High School in Leribe.

Ordinarily, the amount, slightly above what a factory worker earns in a month, should not have presented problems to Lenkoane’s family.

But hers is no ordinary family.

Her parents are both unemployed.

What keeps them going is a small piece of land from which they eke a living as peasant farmers.

When times are hard the family often resorts to selling a sheep or goat to raise fees.

When times are hard, Lenkoane, who is the last born in a family of five, leans on her brother for support.

But over the last four years, he too has found the going tough as he also has to look after his own immediate family.

LIMAKATSO LENKOANE“I used to feel bad knowing I was missing out on school work,” Lenkoane says.

“I used to owe school fees for two quarters and it would be so embarrassing when everyone at school asked me if I had passed and I did not know because the school would not give me examination results,” she says.

That embarrassing episode in her life could now be finally over, thanks to a generous donation by the Chinese Embassy last week.

China’s ambassador to Lesotho, Xianghua Sun, last week gave out scholarships to 22 needy students from six high schools.

Lenkoane says the scholarship from the embassy has given her renewed hope to focus on her education.

Suddenly her future now looks much brighter than before.

“What is left is to work hard and be committed to my school work,” Lenkoane says.

When Lenkoane passed her Form C with a first class last year, her brother and his wife felt a strong need never to disappoint her again by paying her fees on time.

But things did not go according to plan.

“I am glad that a Good Samaritan has answered the prayers of those in need like my sister-in-law,” her brother’s wife, ’Matumelo, says.

’Matumelo says this gift is going to allow her and her husband to concentrate on other things such as paying rent, buying groceries and school uniforms for Lenkoane.

“It means all that she will be expected to do is to work hard and be committed,” she says.

Monaheng Mphana, the Principal at Maluka High School whose students also received help from the Chinese Embassy, says they were very grateful for the help.

“We are very happy that an opportunity of learning has been given to students who are in need. This simply says that their future is now on another level of brightness,” Mphana says.

Xianghua Sun says education is the cornerstone of a successful nation and a key to a brighter future.

“I have only been in this country for two months and since my arrival I have learned a lot about this country,” Sun says.

Sun says the literacy levels in Lesotho have improved drastically since the country attained independence from Britain in 1966.

He says Lesotho has the highest literacy rate in southern African and in Africa as a whole.

“We are joyful to see what you have achieved,” Sun says.

“As you all know China is a good friend of Lesotho and a close cooperating partner, we have signed bilateral agreements, (built on) mutual trust, equal treatment and win-win cooperation,” he says.

China and Lesotho have in the past built some schools in the village and it is currently building a China-Lesotho friendship school which will be opened next year.

The school will host at least 500 Basotho students.

“We have been giving scholarships to young people to study in China and by now more than 2 000 Basotho have studied in China. I have been informed that we have trained 2 000 technicians, experts and government officials from Lesotho,” Sun says.

“We have all been students and we know that when we are in our teens we have different challenges. Remember that education is a prerequisite and precondition to achieve success in a career and to become a contributor to the nation,” Sun says.

“Whatever difficulties or challenges you face do all you can to continue going to school.”

Sun said teachers “are the engineers of people’s souls”.

He says with dedicated teachers he is convinced that Lesotho will never be in short supply of inspired talents, equipped with all knowledge needed in this country.

Sun says he has been moved and touched by Education Minister Mahali Phamotse’s dedication to duty.

“Under her guidance and encouragement I am convinced that the Chinese Embassy and Chinese living here will do more and I am looking forward to seeing concrete results.”

Phamotse thanked the Chinese Embassy adding “it will sponsor 22 students that are needy who would otherwise be loitering in the streets if it were not because of this noble assistance”.

Phamotse says the chosen students were drawn from Maseru, Berea, Leribe and Butha-Buthe districts and have been selected on the basis of need in collaboration with MPs, councillors and chiefs.

Phamotse says the government took up a bold policy decision when it introduced free primary school education for Basotho. She said 10 years later Parliament enacted a law which made primary education compulsory.

“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 fees”.

“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 that I have to do something concrete to rescue these children” Phamotse said.

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