By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – In a bid to aid and enhance Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), Vodacom Lesotho has donated a total of 276 Wi-Fi routers to the Network of Early Childhood Development Lesotho (NECDOL).

This action emanates from a pledge made by private sector stakeholders that vowed to lend a hand to ECCD during a meeting with legendary tennis player Roger Federer earlier this year.

Through the Roger Federer Global Partnership for Education, which is an initiative by the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), a project aiming to address ECCD challenges was launched and it is this initiative that Vodacom Lesotho contributes to the program.

A budget of M2 Million earmarked for devices which is to be disbursed over two years. Vodacom looks to bridge the gap of connectivity in the selected schools. Currently, the project is continuing in the districts of Quthing and Mafeteng.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony held in Maseru yesterday, on behalf of the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, Mr. T’sepo Ntaopane said the nurturing of Early Child Development (ECD) was very important as most of the focus tended to be on children at a much-advanced stage such as ones in Primary schools and High schools.

Mr Ntaopane said with this handing over ceremony Vodacom Lesotho was fulfilling the promise and pledge that they had made to play their part in assisting in Early Childhood Development and improving education going forward.

He said as the Lesotho Government’s National Development Strategy prioritizes education it was of utmost importance to work with other stakeholders in improving education in the country.

“Ladies and gentlemen this noble gesture which we show today in support of education in the country, especially in Early Child Care Development, started from a meeting we had with a legend in the tennis game who visited earlier this year.

“It was in that meeting that in assisting the newly established program for education the private sector and other companies needed to play a part in the progress to ensure its sustainability and success. Through the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation this is us fulfilling that promise,” he said.

“ECDs and nurturing them is of utmost importance as most of the focus is on children in Primary and High schools while children in kindergarten are forgotten. It is important to focus on the education and development of those very young children at that very tender age because if we do so they will develop holistically with no impediments and hindrances.”

“This project is already underway in the districts of Quthing and Mafeteng so as the Lesotho Government National Development Strategy prioritizes education we are optimistic about it spreading to other districts and leaving a positive impact as far as education is concerned.”

On her part in accepting the gifts from Vodacom Lesotho NECDOL National Coordinator Ms Shoeshoe Mofokeng said that they were very thankful to Vodacom Lesotho for their part in child development as the devices would indeed make a difference as nowadays technology and the internet are essential in aiding modern day education.

She said the gift was not only for NECDOL but it was for all of Basotho, adding that through the program initiated by the Roger Federer Foundation, every school was supplied with a tablet that had learning applications to help teachers and children simplify the learning process.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Training, Ms Mats’episo Lets’aba thanked both VLF and NECDOL for child advocacy; saying that as an ECCD manager in the Ministry, they had been crying for so many years for attention to be shown on ECCD.

“We are happy because children will now grow to be fully developed as that nurturing would have started from an early age. We would also like to thank Roger Federer for this initiative.”

Ms Lets’aba added that in aiding the inclusion of disabled children they were working with the Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LANFOD) and UNICEF to ensure implementation of inclusive policies by the government of Lesotho.