Remarks By Ambassador Matthew T. Harrington at Motete Secondary School Classrooms Inauguration

Delivered at Motete Secondary 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, Minister of Education Ms Mahali Phamotse

Principal Chiefs

Local Chief

Members of the Community Council

Senior Education Officer Mabataung Metsing

Principal Makoaoyane Tsoilike

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 dedicate the new classrooms the community of Motete has 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 in their villages and communities.  Grants are awarded once a year to projects which demonstrate local initiative and sustainable impact.  Projects we have supported across Lesotho include: classroom construction, pit latrines, boreholes, agricultural activities, and construction of health clinics and community centers.  In Butha Buthe, the U.S. has funded several projects under this program:   renovated classrooms for Khatibe Primary School, pit latrines for Butha Buthe Camp Primary School, and construction of two classrooms for Soloane Primary School.

The substantial U.S. support for these kinds of projects over the years is testament to the strong connection between the people of the United States and the Basotho people, as well as our shared commitment to building a prosperous future for Lesotho’s children.

I want to recognize two Embassy colleagues here today for their leadership of our Self-Help grant program – Ann-Sofie Lafortune and Hopolang Senekane.   Their hard work in evaluating the many proposals we get for funding ensures that our limited resources go to those projects which enjoy the most community support and where they will have the most impact.   So, please join me in thanking Ann-Sofie and Hopolang for the great work that they do.

President Barack Obama said not long ago, “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.”  As the son and brother of teachers, I couldn’t agree more.

I hope this new classroom will help the community of Motete by providing a safe and conducive learning environment for students.   And I urge all of you here today — teachers, parents, and community leaders — to continue to build on the good work we are celebrating today.  I know you will nurture and protect the children at this school – and that you will teach them not only about reading and math, but about life skills, how to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS, and civic responsibility.  These children represent the future of Lesotho and all of you have an important responsibility in showing them how to be healthy, responsible adults, who are actively and constructively engaged in society.

And to the students here today, you also have a responsibility in ensuring that your futures are successful and fulfilling.  The critical first step, of course, is to study hard.  Attend class every day, pay close attention, and work as hard as you possibly can.   In this modern day, a good education is more important than ever to creating opportunities for yourselves and having the kinds of choices you want to have in life.   There is a proverb that says, “Teachers can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Let me close by once again congratulating the community of Motete for its hard work on this beautiful school building.  I am proud that the U.S. Embassy was able to partner with you on this impressive achievement and delighted to be able to participate in today’s ceremony.

Thank you.