Federer injects M60m into local child learning



MASERU – In support of underprivileged children in Southern Africa, the Roger Federer Foundation aims to give vulnerable children, mostly from rural communities, a good start into formal schooling through equitable access to quality reception classes. The initiative by international tennis star, Roger Federer, commenced in 2020, is planned to here in Lesotho reach vulnerable children in 800 reception class institutions nationwide by 2025, with an investment of US$3 million (M60 million) from the foundation.

The Roger Federer Foundation believes that every child should have at least one year of reception class. The famous tennis star who is the Roger Federer Foundation president and founder visited Lesotho this week where he met with key stakeholders in early childhood care and education and also visited primary schools to learn more about the impact of the School Readiness Initiative by interacting with children in the programme.

Speaking to the press in Maseru on Wednesday this week, Federer highlighted that he visited schools in Mafeteng and Semonkong to see their infrastructure and ascertain if they had proper playgrounds. The star, who has been to 60 other countries, was visiting Lesotho for the first time. He said he loved the teachers’ teaching methods as well as the general atmosphere in the reception classes. The foundation believes in playing more than anything, doing exercises with children and not just staying inside classrooms.

He added that he came to Lesotho to see what the foundation has achieved working together with the government as well as the private sector, which are in partnership with the foundation. He also indicated that he hopes to return to Lesotho so as to add more on what the foundation has already been doing. “When I started the foundation in 2020, there were only about six countries to support including South Africa. I thought why not include Lesotho which is a country not widely known. Only 40 percent of Basotho children have access to reception class. The foundation works in countries where we have a government to cooperate and government that commits themselves, especially with resources.

“There are not so many donors in the country; therefore, by doing so, we are bringing more donors for the benefit of the country and the children. With a small contribution you can make a change. We have about 172 reception classes working with the foundation and are working towards 800 reception classes. The foundation assists early learning and so far we were able to touch 2.5 million children,” he said.

On the other hand, the Minister of Education and Training, Professor Ntoi Rapapa, described the M60 million assistance from the foundation for the children of this country as a huge initiative. Rapapa said that the ministry as well as the Network of Early Childhood Development of Lesotho (NECDOL) will make sure to do very well with this initiative and the government would also contribute towards the betterment of the children of this country.

He urged those responsible to take care of the initiative so that the children of today and those who are yet to come will benefit. He noted that they appreciate the wonderful gesture that the foundation is doing and plans to do for many of the Basotho children.

The Ministry of Education and the Roger Federer Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the School Readiness Initiative, whose aim is to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 and the national education policies, whereby Lesotho committed to ensuring that all children can participate in quality, equitable and organised learning before they start the first grade of primary school, through reception class.

The programme fulfils its mandate through three objectives.

The first objective is to raise the awareness of all reception class stakeholders and capacitate them to fulfil their roles and responsibilities in ensuring quality equitable reception class in 800 institutions by 2025. Its second objective seeks to ensure that at least 800 institutions have age-appropriate play-based learning environments and materials inside and outside classroom, including natural playgrounds built by local communities using locally available resources.

The third objective of the programme is to ensure that reception class teachers have appropriate knowledge and competencies to facilitate play-based teaching and learning that is appropriate for reception class and ensures that the children are ready for their first grade of primary school.

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