By: Mpho Shelile

In a remarkable display of commitment to education and inclusivity, the United States of America (USA) and JAPAN, prominent countries known for their dedication to social causes, have made sizeable donations to support initiatives in feeding schemes and inclusive education in Lesotho. The USA have generously donated 28 million dollars to school feeding schemes while Japan donated 102 million dollars towards infrastructure that will support inclusive education initiatives.

Minister of Education and Training, Hon. Ntoi Rapapa stated in a press conference held on the 08TH January 2024 that the USA and Japan have donated a substantial amount of money aimed towards making a significant impact on fostering a more inclusive educational environment, breaking down barriers for students with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and needs. The funds will be directed towards various programs and projects aimed at ensuring that all students have equal access to quality education, regardless of their circumstances.

The USA in its passion for empowering communities through education, expressed its belief that inclusive education is crucial for building a more equitable society. Hon. Rapapa emphasized the importance of addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities, diverse learning styles, and those facing socio-economic challenges. “We are to receive 28 million dollars to help feed all the learners from Semonkong and Mokhotlong, for a two to three-year period, while learners with disability and the less privileged will receive monthly food parcels.”

Japan will donate 102 million dollars to four schools that are already practicing inclusive education, namely; Motsekuoa High School, Abia High School, St. Kathrine, and Mount Royal. Japan will upgrade educational institutions and make them more accessible to students with physical disabilities, ensuring they can navigate campuses and facilities seamlessly. Lastly, schools will be supplied with state-of-the-art assistive technology to support students with diverse learning needs, fostering a more inclusive and adaptable learning environment.

He highlighted that by investing in infrastructure, teacher training programs, and accessible learning resources, Japan is helping create inclusive schools that cater to the diverse needs of students. “This not only fosters a sense of belonging among children with disabilities but also promotes a culture of understanding and acceptance within communities. And this progressive initiative reflects Japan’s commitment to ensuring that every child, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has the opportunity to receive a quality education.”

Hon. Ntoi Rapapa further stated that companies that will be awarded the tender to build those schools will be officially announced by the end of January, “this significant donation has come at a crucial time when the global education landscape is evolving; emphasizing the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in learning environments. Japan’s contribution will catalyze positive change in the education sector, inspiring others to join the cause and contribute to creating a more inclusive future.” Said Hon. Rapapa

From the office of the Director and planning,  financial officer Mrs. Lineo Mamonaheng Mokitimi indicated that there are more dropouts in secondary schools than in primary schools because most primary schools offer free education, due to various reasons including financial barriers and more. She promised that her team has come up with ways to ensure that the dropout rate decreases.

Mrs. Mokitimi stated that they are going to recognize and address socioeconomic factors that contribute to dropout rates, such as poverty, housing instability, and inadequate access to resources. Advocate for policies that address broader societal issues affecting education outcomes, and establish mentoring and counseling programs to provide emotional and academic support. Offer career guidance and expose students to various career paths to increase their motivation and prospects.

She concluded by stating that the impact of this generous donation is expected to be far-reaching, influencing not only the educational experiences of current students but also shaping the future of education by promoting inclusivity as a fundamental principle. She then acclaimed Japan’s and the USA’s commitment to fostering equal opportunities for all students to reflect a broader societal shift towards recognizing and addressing the diverse needs of learners. “Japan’s dedication to inclusive education sets an inspiring example for all. By making substantial donations, forging international partnerships, and driving innovation in the field, Japan is contributing significantly to the realization of inclusive education worldwide. As we applaud Japan’s efforts, let us collectively strive to create a future where every child has the opportunity to learn and thrive, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.” She concluded

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