Telecommunications giant Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) through its philanthropic arm the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation (VCL Foundation) has funded the St. Bernadette Resource Centre for the Blind with a monetary injection to the tune of M650 000.
The donation came about following the Centre’s request for assistance to the company as part of outreach initiatives to help any way they can to the struggling home in order to keep it going following its near-collapse destitution last year.
The centre which housed more than 80 pupils, has been struggling to stay afloat especially in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era which even led to about 20 of its learners throwing-in the towel for lack of resources.
Speaking at the fund awarding ceremony held at the Centre in Maseru earlier this week, the Board Chairman of VCL Foundation, John Matlosa explained that, the foundation is committed to helping in Lesotho’s education as one of its main mandate hence they did not hesitate to fund the centre. He indicated how the Centre has been doing such an amazing job that it has seen some of the people holding import positions in different industries come out of the Centre.
Matlosa encouraged the centre teachers to keep doing the good work they have been doing, adding that, as a foundation, the will now work in partnership with the centre to ensure that the learners have everything they need to get the best education.
The money will be used to cover the Centre’s operating expenses including electricity and water bills as well as paying the salaries of the extra staff members engaged. The centre will also buy needed braille facilities which will make the special needs teaching much easier.
For her part, the Principal of St. Bernadette Resource Centre, ‘Mamoliehi Tamako stated that, the centre was hit hard by Covid-19 which made it so hard to operate that they were even considering closure.
Tamako said the centre with its five teachers, caters for learners from Grade 1 up to 3 with those from grade 4 up to 7 being enrolled in the St. Bernadette Primary School with sighted learners, pointing that since they have special needs they still have to be catered for with such resources as brailled material.
Meanwhile, Board Chairman of St. Bernadette Resource Centre, Borenahabokhethoe Sekonyela lauded the foundation for quickly reacting to their cry for help as they have been knocking on different doors. He mentioned that, the centre does not have sufficient funding to cover all their responsibilities.
Sekonyela highlighted that, there is a huge need for facilities as well as teaching materials at the centre. He also said they are working towards bringing the students who dropped out due to Covid-19 and improve the school boarding home in order to accommodate more students.
The centre was established in 1971 through the funding of Sentebale as Lesotho’s only school for the blind then later being taken over by the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development. The centre has an intake of pupils from the age of six years and an all-year intake of students with five special education teachers as well as the support staff.