What is needed to change this country?
LESOTHO is a landlocked country entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa and therefore imports most of its requirements.
The population of Lesotho is currently 1.8 million with a very high unemployment rate. It is against this economic background that there is a vital need to transform the economy and maximize the untapped industry opportunities.
With the discovery of diamonds and harnessing of its vital water resources, Lesotho’s economy is on the growth path.
There is therefore a need for manpower development to leverage its human capital to produce innovative products and services to add value to the economy.
Lesotho needs a more developed economy to compete globally. At the moment, the government is the main employer in the country. There is therefore a need for the private sector to play a key role to generate employment.
Every year, it is estimated that 25 000 job seekers enter the market which can only generate 10 000 jobs a year. The situation must improve to arrest the high unemployment rate.
Also, there is heavy reliance on the South African economy to generate net income from abroad through Basotho working in South African mines.
The creation of more jobs will result in more income being sourced within the country and make Lesotho less vulnerable to external factors
Education is an important key to building human capacity for the dynamic changes ahead because it will empower young people with the knowledge and skills to take advantage of new opportunities or to start off as new and innovative entrepreneurs.
In this regard, higher learning institutes should be ready to play this part. As a matter of fact, they should introduce an entrepreneurship acceleration platform for Lesotho as a value-adding strategy to develop entrepreneurship skills.
These platforms should be tailormade to suit the pressing needs of graduates to acquire the necessary skills and experience to become entrepreneurs on their own, as well as enhance their employability in the marketplace.
It has come to my realisation that one of the major challenges in the country, that is affecting children’s vulnerability and progress in finding ways of trying to solve issues as getting aid to the right people at the right time, is the fact that we are not getting the orphan and vulnerable children registered.
It needs to be implemented and needs to be done quickly. An es- timated 180,000 children are orphans in Lesotho, out of which 100,000 have been orphaned by AIDS. They say a portion of them are in school, but we want to know what has happened to the rest.
I think it would be of great importance that all those whom are invisible to be taken to the surface and given a chance to join their fellow youth in school.
As young people, we feel that we deserve full access to education, protection and health care services.
We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts that the government has taken to ensure that every child has access to education through the Free Primary Education programme; access to post primary education through the Ministry of Education’s bursary scheme to meet the needs of orphans and vulnerable children who also benefit from the recently introduced programme on loaning text books to students.
The government should now ensure that education becomes compulsory, that every child must stay in school especially considering the vulnerability of children nowadays and how easy it is for an orphan to drop out.
Statistics indicate that about 10,087 males and 11,221 female children have been counted as disabled in the 1996 census data.
The number is probably higher now, hence a need for replication of centres that cater for disabled people such as St. Angel at Ha-abia Maseru, all over the country.
We would like to see already existing schools cater for the disabled, such as St. Bernarderd primary and St. Catherines High schools.
Most young people do not have access to sexual health advice, condoms and other forms of contraception, or voluntary counseling and testing.
More often young people are deliberately deprived of these life saving services and information because adults deny that sexuality is a normal and healthy aspect of growing up.
Reproductive health services are seldom geared towards the needs of young people, who therefore tend to avoid them, putting themselves and their partners at huge risk of HIV infection.
I would request that youth friendly services should inform young people about their sexual and reproductive health rights and provide wider access to voluntary counseling and testing.
Health services should be affordable, cater for minor or unmarried youth, offer low-cost or free condoms and provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
I also would recommend that health services must offer privacy and should guarantee confidentiality. More flexible opening hours (to cater for young people who work and study), would make a difference.
Cost effective and affordable care should be made accessible to all young people with HIV/AIDS and HIV related illnesses at all levels. Good nutrition habits should continue to be promoted, including information on vitamins and minerals by health care givers.
One of the key factors which contribute to the growth of the country includes the violence towards children domestic workers and herdboys.
To support their selves or their families, some children have to find jobs or are rented out by their relatives to other households in order to contribute, mostly as domestic workers or herd boys.
They are often abused in their work environments, sexually and/or physically. This is still taking place even though it has been stated that the child has the right to be protected from work that threatens his/her health, education or development and the minimum age of employment set by the Government being 18 years of age.