Africa-Press – Lesotho. VODACOM Lesotho has awarded bursaries worth M2 million to 10 students who will study in Lesotho and South African universities. The students are Keneuoe Rasupu, Maureen Nwigwe, Tšebetso Letlema, Montšo Mokake, Thabo Pokothoane, Bokang Lepolesa, Lerato Sibane, Matsoso Leseli, Thato Moji and Nthatisi Sekonyela.
They are the first recipients of the Vodacom Lesotho Bursary Fund. The bursary will cover each student’s full tuition fees, accommodation, registration fees, stationery, meals and travel to school. They also received laptops to aid their studies.
Students will also have access to workplace exposure through Vodacom’s structured work programme, full access to Vodacom’s wellness programme and work readiness skills training to prepare them for the workplace.
To qualify for the bursary students had to be Lesotho citizens by birth, must have obtained a 70 percent average in the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) exams, have an admission letter or be enrolled in a STEM programme in a South African University doing their second or third year.
One of them, Sekonyela, said she was unable to go to school in 2021 due to lack of funding. “With this scholarship Vodacom has given me a chance to pursue my dream of studying for a BCom Investment Management qualification and make something for myself,” Sekonyela said.
She urged her fellow candidates to go and take full advantage of the opportunity they have been given. The Vodacom Human Resource Executive Manager, Bonang Makhasane, said the bursary fund is one of several initiatives the company has directed towards Lesotho’s human capital development.
Makhasane mentioned that to try and minimise the huge gender imbalance they have observed in the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry they have come up with initiatives like Code Like a Girl, the graduate programme and the bursary fund.
“With Code Like a Girl we are encouraging the girl child’s participation in the STEM field by teaching them to code, instill an appreciation of ICT and possibly get them thinking about an ICT career,” Makhasane said.
“The graduate programme gives recent graduates with no prior work experience a chance to learn through a two-year internship at Vodacom Lesotho,” she said.
Mohale Ralebitso, the Vodacom CEO, said the bursary gave priority to females and “those differently able”. However, even though 1 000 applications were received not a single “differently abled” student applied for the scholarship.
This, Ralebitso said, is a reflection of the challenges the education sector is facing in trying to ensure that “differently abled” students also get access to quality education that will enable them to get into university.
The lack of applications from “differently abled” students, he said, has resulted in Vodacom intensifying its efforts towards investing in technologies and creation of an enabling environment for such students to study.
Basotho’s support for Vodacom Lesotho for the past 25 years, he said, is one of the key factors that have made it possible to fund these students. “It is through your support that this M2 million can turn into M4 million or M10 million and more to fund more Basotho youth who have the passion to pursue their studies,” Ralebitso said.
“It is through education that Lesotho will minimise its reliance on textile manufacturing and tap into other sectors driving today’s economic growth and development.
Ralebitso said the call for bursary applications gave them a sense of how dire the situation is on the ground and despite Vodacom Lesotho this year investing M2 million many more students are left without a means to further their studies.
“We are calling to our fellow corporate citizens to also extend a hand to these learners,” he said.
“We are also open to start a crowd funding facility that could fund more students in other field of study who were not absorbed by this bursary if the appetite is there.”