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The Chinese Ambassador Dr. Sun Xianghua Received a Interview From Lesotho's Mainstream Media

On 11 January 2017, the Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Sun Xianghua received a exclusive interview from the Lesotho TV and the Public Eye, during which Dr. Sun detailed the recently completed China-Lesotho Friendship Middle School project as well as elaborated on the bilateral relationship between China and Lesotho. On 13 January, the Public Eye reported the interview as follows:


Our Co-operation is holistic-Chinese Envoy

Atop the Thuathe Plateau, popularly known as Sehlabeng sits yet another landmark donation from the Chinese government to Lesotho, a China-Lesotho Friendship Middle School.

The school which according to the Chinese ambassador is a fruit of the the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) covers a total area of 59 000 m2 with a floor space of 5730 m2.

The Chinese government injected a total of M110 million Maluti towards the construction of the school.

With four main sectors of a teaching area, Dormitory zone, sports facilities as well as the auxiliary buildings, the school accommodates 560 students.

Public Eye (PE) journalist Lerato Matheka speaks with the Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Sun Xianghua (SX) about the history of the construction of the school, its features and benefits to the ailing education sector of Lesotho

PE: The Chinese government has constructed a school to be donated to Lesotho, can you please give a general picture of the new school?

SX: The school's name is China- Lesotho Friendship Middle School.

An agreement was signed in 2014 between the Chinese side and the ministry of education Lesotho.

The project started in August 2015 and it has just been completed.

This aid project comes as a response to the request of the Lesotho government.

The school comprises of four parts: the teaching area which has 15 classrooms-nine classrooms for the secondary school and six classrooms for the high school, a 24 meters spanning state-of-the-art lecture hall which accommodates 312 people, library and three laboratories for physics, chemistry and biology which are fitted with sufficient apparatus and equipment.

The dormitory zone consists of two single floor apartment blocks which consist of seven apartments for teachers and administrators.

The sports facility offers four basketball courts which may interchangeably be transformed into volley ball, netball and tennis courts.

The auxiliary building are made up of washing sink, high water tower and a self-contained guard room with shower toilet and security administration area.

After its completion and the handover from us, the school will become one of the best high schools in Lesotho.

In my personal view, this middle school will be an ideal place for the Lesotho government to implement its strategies on education for coming years and decades, and also I believe that this middle school will be a place where thousands of Basotho children's dreams will come true.

This school will become a platform for China- Lesotho cooperation and exchanges in the field of education in the future.

There are two points I want to emphasise on the school; one is the quality of the construction.

The engineers and technicians from China put in extra efforts in making sure the school has the best quality. You must be aware that the Thuathe Plateau experience harsh weather including strong winds, so the roofing of the school is the integral part of the whole structure.

On the walls, the engineering have buried a glass fibre under the marsh to avoid over expansion and cracks during hot weather; the school will be standing for years to come.

PE: The construction of the school has been completed; when it comes on stream, desks and chairs, teaching equipment and digital apparatus are necessary, does the Chinese Government have any consideration on this?

SX: The Chinese government is responsible for building the school and provide al classrooms with furniture, Multimedia equipment and books at the library.

According to the agreement, the Lesotho side is responsible for the landscape of the area.

The school also has a dining room which will also be fully furnished by the Chinese government.  

PE: During the construction of the School, how many local workers did the construction team employ? Were these local works be trained with any special skills?

SX: During the construction of the school, more than 200 Basotho were employed and they received training in different field.

I was informed that 85 were trained in Brick laying, 30 in carpentry, 20 in painting and 8 in welding so after their employment at the construction, we are confident that they are well equipped for their future employments.

PE: Will the Chinese Construction Team leave immediately after the school being handed over to the Government of Lesotho and how can Lesotho grasp the techniques and ability to well maintain the school?

SX: Some of the key engineers and technicians will stay behind for at least one year to maintain the building and they will work with relevant ministries to train the local staff.

After the one year maintenance period, we will have Basotho technicians to maintain the facility, but if in the future we encounter some problems, the Lesotho government can approach us for further maintenance of the school.

Just like the convention centre which was handed over to the Lesotho government over 20 years ago, it became dilapidated and last year a group of engineers and technicians arrived in Lesotho to refurbish the building at the request of the government of Lesotho and it reopened again last year July.

PE: How is the School expected to impact on Lesotho's education?

SX: It will impact the education in Lesotho many ways.

Lesotho is still experiencing a process of urbanisation, the population in Maseru is becoming bigger and bigger and there is a need for more schools required.

The dropout rate is also alarmingly high among high school, many kids cannot go to school because of financial challenges but also because most high schools are overcrowded, so the school will give Basotho students a chance to go to a good school.

The school is going to relief the financial burden on the government of Lesotho on the education sector because it is a grant and not a loan.

It will become of the cooperation between China and Lesotho. In the future once the school is put into use, we can study the possibilities of varies corporations including teaching materials, activities and teaching functions.

I also hope that in the future the school to be a model for other schools to come and learn from the school because of with its teaching model and functions.

PE: Besides the school, what other projects or practical cooperation on education and human resources training between China and Lesotho in the recent years.

SX: The capacity building cooperation between China and Lesotho have been progressing smoothly and fast.

In the field of education, each year the government of China provides about 30 government scholarships to Basotho and it is well received by Basotho who go to study in different areas every year.

Apart from this roughly 60 Basotho people go to study in China in different universities paying for themselves; this means China has become an academic attraction for education improvement.

After seeing this, the embassy has recommended to the Chinese government for more scholarships, so in the future the number of scholarships will increase.

In the field of training, about 200 government officials go for training in China every year.

To date over 2000 government officials have received training in China.

PE: It is the beginning of New Year, how do you evaluate last year's bilateral relations between China and Lesotho?

SX: Our relations are at the historical best, politically speaking, our mutual trust has been enhanced dramatically.

Economically speaking we have been in talks with the Lesotho government on implementing the FOCAC projects. Until now two research teams have visited Lesotho to study the projects which will be funded by China and the feasibility of the projects.

We are looking at the four areas; the Public Health Sector, Road infrastructure, Energy and Water sector which is directly linked to agriculture so major projects will kick off in Lesotho under the framework of the FOCAC.

Last year in the first three quarters, the export of Lesotho to China has reached 16 Million dollars, an increase of 15 percent.

I hope the wool and mohair exported to China will increase in the near future.

PE: What is your view on the future of Lesotho-China relations as well as the bilateral practical cooperation?

SX: China and Lesotho have very similar experiences. China used to be colonised by foreign powers, it used to receive foreign aid from other countries so as a developing country we know the taste of poverty tastes like and kind of foreign aid we wanted, it's the same with Lesotho.

Our cooperation with Lesotho is a South-South cooperation or a cooperation of a developing country and a developing country so we understand each other very well.

Our important principles with other African countries are very unique. Our corporations are without political strings, we don't interfere with African partners' political affairs.

When we develop our relations we have a principle of initiation by African countries, agreement and control by the African countries; this means that when we want to develop within our African friends, we listen to their ideas, we don't force programs but rather let African countries to suggest developments, this is to avoid financial burden to our Chinese friends.

Our Corporation is in holistic without being choosy because the poverty is caused by lack of infrastructure, experience and financial muscle.

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