Vodacom Foundation hands assistive devices to centre

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Vodacom Foundation hands assistive devices to centre
Vodacom Foundation hands assistive devices to centre

Africa-Press – Lesotho. THE Vodacom Lesotho Foundation (VLF) last Friday injected over M80 000 to help Thuso e Tla Tsoa Kae Centre in Butha-Buthe- the centre that helps children with intellectual disabilities

The Foundation gave out 20 tablets fitted with special software which enables the students with various intellectual conditions to communicate effectively.

The devices further allow them to access information digitally. The equipment was meant for children with autism, cerebral palsy, spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and communication disorder.

The principal of the centre, ’Mamonuku Mofilikoane, said the centre also received special equipment which includes non-verbal student devices. “It’s a tab which allows a student to tap on a picture, and the sound would come out,” she said.

Mofilikoane said there is also a mathematical tablet which assists disabled students, especially those with autism, with calculations. There is a switch device which assists non-verbal students to communicate with others and the teachers as well.

The school further received M23 000 worth of tablet devices. Mofilikoane said the tablets have software which allows them to record all the students’ information in case they go missing.

With just a tab, a student can be able to communicate with a person they meet. Mofilikoane said they also have apps in the tablet which allow students to match words according to their understanding.

“We believe the autistic students have their own intelligence which is beyond our understanding,” she said.

She said it has been a long journey of struggle to get to a common understanding with these students because they want to do things the way they understand, which is different from others.

Once enrolled with the centre, students needed training to use the devices. Mofilikoane said the Vodacom Foundation then hosted a workshop where a speech therapist was invited to train the teachers and students.

She said the equipment is the voice of their students and it will be used effectively in the learning process. She said they are now seeking to provide training to guardians so that students could further use the equipment even when they are at home.

Head of Regulatory and External Affairs at Vodacom Lesotho, Tšepo Ntaopane, said their mandate is to provide everyone with good quality education with the technology that they have.

After taking part in several projects involving disabled people, they thought about what they could do with their technology to assist children with different kinds of disability.

They then realised that people living with disabilities are intelligent. Ntaopane said these people need to be understood and given some support so that they can reach their full potential.

He said they noticed that there is a need for assistive equipment devices for children living with disability. He said they further provided free internet to the centre.

“We want them to access the same education like everybody else,” Ntaopane said. Their mandate is to roll out this programme to other districts so that all the disabled people can access education.

The Executive Director of the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD), Advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi, said Vodacom has served as an example to assist people living with disability.

“This contribution does not only enhance the livelihood of those students but it further makes a contribution in the education sector,” Adv Sefuthi said.

He said children living with disability are the most neglected groups in society. He said this assistive devices will help them to live a normal life like others.

The donated equipment, Adv Sefuthi said, will help reduce the stigma in the community for children living with disability. He said what Vodacom has done is an investment to the future of these students.

Speaking on behalf of the Managing Director of Vodacom Lesotho, Liphethiso Mahanetsa, said their purpose is to connect to the near future. Mahanetsa said they have aligned with their purpose to change the life of these students.

She said this is the responsibility of every company to assist vulnerable people. ’Makutloano ’Nehi, speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, said their mandate is to push for inclusive education. She said the devices will eliminate barriers to education.

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