Remarks by Ambassador Matt Harrington: SSH Grant Classroom Opening Ceremony at Fika-La-Ts’oene Primary School

Lumelang bo-‘m’e le bo-ntate and welcome.

Before we start please allow me to pay my respects to:

His Majesty the King

The Right Honorable The Prime Minister

Members of Parliament and Senate

Principal Chiefs

Local Chief

Members of the Community Council

Senior Education Officer ‘Mamalebanye Lerotholi

Principal ‘Maletsie Ellen Shoaepane

Teachers

Distinguished guests

Bo-‘m’e le bo-ntate

Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here today — to visit such a beautiful corner of the Mountain Kingdom and to celebrate your great work and enduring commitment to building a better future for Lesotho.

Today, I am honored to officially handover the new classroom the community of Fika-La-Ts’oene has successfully built with support from the American people through the Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund.

The U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund provides grants to local groups and schools in Lesotho that are working to improve the basic economic and social conditions of their villages or communities. Grants are awarded once each year to projects which demonstrate local initiative and sustainable impact. Typical projects in Lesotho have included classroom construction, pit latrines, construction of health clinics and community centers, agricultural projects and boreholes. The U.S. has funded several projects in Mohale’s Hoek District under this program including a layers project for Mohale’s Hoek High School, an agricultural project at Good Shepherd Primary School and pit latrines for Hope High School.

The projects we have supported in Mohale’s Hoek and the successful completion of this new classroom here at Fika-La-Ts’oene Primary School are testament to the strong connection between the people of the United States and the Basotho people and our shared commitment to building a prosperous future where all Lesotho’s children can thrive.

President Barack Obama said, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.” I am confident that this new classroom will help the community of Fika-La-Ts’oene provide a safe and conducive learning environment for its many talented students. And I urge you all, as teachers, as parents, as leaders, and as community champions, to continue to build on the good work we are celebrating today. Nurture and protect the children at this school. Teach them not only about reading and math, but about life skills, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and civic responsibility. These children represent the future of Lesotho and we must cherish both what they are, and who they will become.

And to the students here today, the future is also your responsibility. Study hard and well. As the Chinese proverb says, “Teachers can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Let me close by once again congratulating the community of Fika-La-Ts’oene for having built this beautiful school building. I wish all of you, teachers, students, and community leaders, much happiness and great learning in your new classroom.

Thank you.