The National University of Lesotho (NUL) in collaboration with Sekhametsi Development Trust launched the Sekhametsi Disability Centre on the 12th September, 2018, at the NUL main campus, Roma.
At the launch, the Chairperson of the Sekhametsi Development Trust handed over a cheque of M930,000.00 to the NUL Registrar and they both signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
In this partnership, Sekhametsi Development Trust has purchased assistive equipment including braille machines, spectacles and computers for students with disabilities.
The partnership is for three years with a possibility of extension depending on NUL’s performance.
NUL Registrar Mrs Liteboho Maqalika-Lerotholi welcomed everyone and applauded the partnership between NUL and the Sekhametsi. When officially opening the launch, NUL Vice Chancellor, Professor Nqosa Mahao shared a story of his recent experience during his interaction with some part-time Education students in the faculty of Education. He indicated that there was one specific lady whose leg is amputated. “The lady was speaking in tears when sharing her experience with NUL due to the not-so-friendly facilities for people living with disability”, he emphasised.
He indicated the vitality of the occasion and how much fulfilling it is because it says that, in a practical way, the university is improving facilities and services for the benefit of both the members of staff and students.
Prof. Mahao further mentioned that the University will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding and designating a building in the university serving people living with disability. “Because of what Sekhametsi Development Trust has done, we are going to name the Building after Sekhametsi. It will now be known as the Sekhametsi Disability Centre”, he emphasised.
Prof. Mahao added that this initiative is done by an organisation which is one hundred percent owned by Basotho, by our people.
“This initiative sends a signal to local corporate entities to support the marginalised communities. Speaking from my office, we are grateful and thanking particularly office of the Pro Vice Chancellor for putting this together. I thank you”, Prof. Mahao concluded.
On behalf of the Sekhametsi Development Trust, Dr Moneoang Leshota, took the audience to where this initiative started. She indicated that this started in 2016 where there was a panel discussion on albinism on campus and some of the students and staff who attended the occasion talked about and the challenges of living with albinism on campus.
“After I was selected a chairperson of Sekhametsi, as we were at the stage of looking for projects that are meaningful, I thought of this project that will help students living with disability at NUL”, Dr Leshota described.
The money given to the university is from the Sekhametsi Investment Consortium. A member of the Consortium, Dr. Matjato Moteane, indicated that they are a group of Basotho entrepreneurs with diverse interests in telecommunications, banking, property development and micro-lending.
“This is where Sekhametsi comes from. We give Sekhametsi Trust fund money with a mandate that says ‘GO TOUCH LIVES’, Dr. Moteane indicated.
The partnership is in recognition of the NUL Strategic Plan 2015-2020 to become a comprehensive institution, and provide inclusive education through support of relevant assistive facilities for learners with disabilities. In the Strategic Plan 2015-2020, the University has identified Disability and Special needs as some of its key strategic activities. It is therefore a clear commitment on its part to enhance teaching and learning that improve the quality of the learning experience that is universally accessible (Strategic Plan #1.3).
When officially closing the launch and presenting vote of thanks, NUL Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Manthoto Lephoto thanked the Sekhametsi Development Trust adding that it is the responsibility of the institution to ensure universal access to education by all and providing a unique learning experience for all students regardless of their type of disability.
“Today, we are proving beyond reasonable doubt that this is what we do and also thanking Faculty of Education for having a Special Education as one of their programmes. I can proudly assure Sekhametsi Development Trust that NUL is going to make you proud by using the equipment for the intended purpose to open more doors for our learners with disability. “Let me also thank Sekhametsi, our partners, and say LONG LIVE THE NUL SEKHAMETSI PARTNERSHIP”, she concluded.
The launch was attended by representatives from Sekhametsi Trust Fund, NUL Senior Management Team, staff and students (comprised of able-bodied and students with disabilities) of the University. People with disability have special kind of discrimination when it comes to accessing services or participating in a fully-abled social or work-space.