By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP) and Samsung South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance the technology sector through the Samsung Innovation Campus (SIC).

Samsung Africa’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bumsuk Hong said the institution’s School of Engineering is aligned with their objectives, saying it was an enabler for this partnership.

“It is a source of pride for us to be partnering with this Institution [LP],” he said.

“The Samsung Innovation Campus aims to provide an opportunity to deserving, previously disadvantaged youth to gain skills in Coding and Programming, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. We aim to play a role through initiatives and partnerships such as this one, to empower future generations to achieve their full potential through education.

“The programme is designed to have educational themes that combine future core technology capabilities with soft skills and job preparation,” he said.

The President and CEO said the move will make bolster efforts in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

LP Rector Prof Spirit Tlali hailed the signing as a “significant milestone” and a “truly strategic and remarkable partnership”.

“The Samsung Innovation Campus is a welcome development in changing our higher education landscape in the dynamic world we live in today of promptly changing technology. We, therefore, as a country and as an institution, need to adjust and become adaptable to these changes in order to stay relevant and competitive.

“The best part of this act is that it targets the youth, our students, who are significant game changers and whose impact will be almost immediate as they are versatile, more open to change, curious and eager to learn new things,” he said.

The LP Rector further highlighted that this initiative will not only benefit the students but also the lecturers by enhancing learning within the technology industry.

Prof Tlali added that this programme is going to sharpen their students to become competitive and enhance their academic aptitude.

He pleaded with the government to accord them the necessary support to enable them to realise the objectives of this programme.

The SIC programme is envisaged to equip students with the tools of trade to learn and exploit benefits of coding, software programming, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

He said it enhances the chances of the students to become market ready, also pointing that the LP staff is also set to benefit from this partnership.

“Let us work together and explore more opportunities,” he said expressing their commitment to work with the technology giant company.

School of Continuing Education (SoCE) Dean ‘Mapitso Masakale said the programme will enter into force once all necessary logistics have been covered.

SoCE’s Dean said they will choose high-flying students who qualify for this programme and when they succeed, they will proceed to study Big Data.

She said Samsung will sponsor the beneficiaries and ensure that there is equipment to facilitate seamless learning.

For his part, the Minister of Education and Training (MoET) Prof Ntoi Rapapa said the Ministry welcomes this investment, saying it is commendable and accelerates change by enabling technological infrastructure.

He said for Samsung to have identified LP is a “humbling” move, adding that the beneficiary must be beyond the students and their staff.

Prof Rapapa urged the LP management to identify a task force to oversee this initiative and take youth on to tour of duty by enlightening them on the importance of this programme.

The Minister said this project has to be audited separately, further committing to protect it. 

The Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism Hon Mokhethi Shelile pledged his Ministry’s commitment to help this partnership to have sustainability.

He said they will mount the innovation hub “soon” and have earmarked US$12 million, about M207 million.

Among the participants in the signing were the Ambassador of South Korea to Lesotho Chull-joo Park, LP Governing Council, delegation from the South Korea Embassy, former Deputy Prime Minister Hon Monyane Moleleki and senior government officials.

Samsung is one of the global leading companies and it produces information and communication technology (ICT) products and appliances.

It is headquarters are in Seoul, South Korea.