THE United States Embassy in Lesotho, through its US Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund, awarded seven local schools with grants worth $55 000 (M613 000) at the American embassy in Maseru yesterday.
The US Embassy awards grants once a year to projects that it says demonstrate “local initiative, high-impact and self-sustainability”. It funds such projects as the construction of classrooms, installation of pit latrines, provision of school furniture, construction of boreholes and supply of solar heating and power.
This year, seven schools benefited from the grant. Bokang Secondary School got a grant of M52 000 to purchase school library furniture, Butha Buthe Camp Primary School M78 000 to construct ventilated pit latrines, Letšaba Primary School M110 000 to construct two classrooms, Linakaneng Primary School M56 000 to construct two classrooms, Matlaong Primary School M120 000 to construct two classrooms, Motete Secondary School M81 500 to also construct two classrooms while Orange River Hoek Secondary School will get M500 for their school furniture.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, US Embassy Maseru Chargé d’Affaires, Elizabeth Pelletreau described the grants as a “unique opportunity to celebrate a strong partnership between the people of America and Lesotho as our partners”.
“We are committed to help improve the learning conditions of Basotho and we will be sending over $50 000 (about M554 000),” Ms Pelletreau said.
“It is through projects of this nature that we are trying to bring the education system closer to different communities as most people in remote areas travel long distances to get to schools or do not even have the opportunity to get there. There is no greater way to support the future than through education.”
According to Ms Pelletreau, the Special Self-Help Fund was launched in Africa in 1954 to assist in the construction of classrooms, water systems and their other basic needs. She also urged the community to be engaged in the projects as they are the ones in the vicinity of the areas needing attention.
Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Butha-Buthe Camp Primary School’s Principal Hlompho Mpati expressed gratitude for the initiative.
“We thank the US Embassy for this great gesture they have shown,” Mr Mpati said.
“Our schools have been struggling for many years to meet the demands of the students. The grants will make a positive impact on our schools which will soon be evident for the US ambassador and her team to see every time they visit.”
In her remarks, Minister of Education and Training, Makabelo Mososthoane, urged the grantees to use the funds for what they are intended for.
“I hope these funds you will be awarded will be used for what you initially promised the US Embassy to do and not any needs that may arise along the way,” said Ms Mososthoane.
“You should consider yourselves very lucky as it is not every school that gets blessings of this nature which will improve your schools. They will not only benefit the school but the communities within your vicinity.”
“I learned through a television programme I watched yesterday that we still have students being taught under trees here in Lesotho and the US Embassy has lifted a burden off my shoulders, I am really grateful for their initiative,” she said.