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When teaching is a calling



HLOTSE – GROWING up under the inspiration of her Principal at Leribe English Medium School (LEMS), Beata Matasane knew she only had one profession to follow: Education.

“I just loved how she dressed, walked, managed the school and conducted herself. I knew as a kid what career path I wanted to take because of her,” said Matasane, referring to ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, the principal.

Matasane, who grew up in Mankoaneng, said her love to drive positive change and help people also fuelled her love for education.

“I believe education, formal or informal, is vital to everyone and we all need to access it,” said Matasane, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education holder from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Matasane specialised in Sesotho and Development Studies before pursuing an Honours Degree in Educational Management, Leadership and Policy Studies at the same institution.

She further obtained an Honours Degree in South African Sign Language and Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS) where she passed with a distinction.

Matasane also holds a certificate in Lesotho Sign Language and SA sign language and obtained a distinction in both of them. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in South African Sign Language at the UFS.

She was one of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) 2022 fellows and one of the MWF Professional Development Experience Alumni who will be attached virtually at one of the “biggest” institutions in the United States of America.

Apart from being an interpreter, Matasane is a part-time lecturer at the NUL, a businesswoman, a sign language translation and interpreting consultant and Early Childhood Care Development (ECCD) inclusive education officer at the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled Lesotho (LNFOD).

Since 2015, her focus has been to improve access to quality education for deaf students.

“It is a very long journey but I believe that there is hope for tomorrow,” she said.

Her biggest achievement, she said, was being chosen out of about 200 applicant for the Mandela Washington Fellowship to represent Lesotho in the United States.

“Also, being one of the people who assisted in producing the very first deaf student to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in 2022 is one of my huge accomplishments as an interpreter,” said Matasane, who grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table.

“At times, we delayed paying school fees and got expelled with my siblings but we still went back regardless and pretended that nothing had happened. I am super grateful for all those who helped me overcome the challenges that included bullying at school. Had it not been of them, I think I would not have made it this far. I had to grow a thick skin,” she said, adding: “I come from a very hardworking and supportive family. My dad, mother and sisters played an important role and I am here because of their continuous support. It was very easy for me to accomplish my dreams because every time I feel like I am tired and want to quit I have them by my side to encourage me to do more and better.”’

She describes her parents as her “best friends as we communicate almost everything”.

“If I have a beautiful idea or project that I am interested in, I know they will help me make it better. Their hard work and support has turned me into a very hard working woman, someone who is very confident, caring and loving. I have learned that I cannot achieve anything in life unless I work very hard to achieve it.”

Matasane is concerned about the prevailing situation relating to education of people with disabilities due to stigma and other “numerous” challenges they continue to encounter.

“No specific person is to be blamed. We are all responsible for the unsuccessful implementation of the 2018 Inclusive Education Policy,” she said, noting that the policy “only exists on paper.”

“How practical is it? How come there are still a lot of dropouts of students and learners with disabilities?” she queried.

“As society, we are the ones causing people with disability to feel excluded because we fail to meet their needs,” she said, citing that to date, there are no sign language interpreters in centres that offer basic services such as clinics.

“We are causing hearing disability by not engaging professional sign language interpreters in those areas.

“If we do engage them then we will not have any form of disability as the social model of disability concurs with the above statement that disability is caused by barriers in our different communities like access to certain services.

“There is a dire need for sensitisation and it should start within our families such that as parents we should refrain from using words like ‘likooa kapa batho ba phelang le bokooa’ as that is very discriminatory. Rather we should say ‘batho ba nang le bokooa’.”

Matasane added: “We have to teach our children that there is nothing wrong with having a child with disability or playing with them. That way as they play together in schools, it will not be a foreign thing when they see any kind of disability as that becomes normalised.

“We need to engage the organisations of PWDs in all the policy discussions and plans so that they have a say because they are usually left behind. We also need to have strong and strict laws that support and protect people with disabilities.”

She said Lesotho is a member state of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Article 24 of the Convention states that “all member states need to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education and shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”

“However, this does not happen in Lesotho,” she said.

She said Lesotho also has a free primary policy but “to date there are children that do not go to school due to various reasons and no one is held accountable such that we see early child marriages and child labour challenges”.

Matasane said she shifted from education to being a sign language interpreter because of her love to effect positive change. “I take pride in being part of the people that bring happiness to segregated groups.”

She said she has observed with agony the “very low” school enrolments of deaf people.

“Then I asked myself how I can assist and that is when I decided to be a sign language interpreter. Also I am someone who is very curious to learn about exclusion.

“I am super happy with my choice as I see light at the end of the tunnel and I am glad to be part of the people bringing that light,” said Matasane.

For the past seven years she has been practicing as an interpreter, Matasane describes one of her biggest challenges as “being challenged in different ways by some of the people I serve as there are so many untold stories that I face as I interpret”.

“Despite it all, I soldier on because I love what I do and have a vision for the deaf in Lesotho,” she said.

“I am already working with different organisations and individuals to increase public awareness either through the interpreting I do on my Youtube channel, on LNBS, NUL or any platforms. Sign language is heading to a more inclusive side where we will see different sectors having interpreters to accommodate the deaf.”

Matasane said currently people living with disability face common challenges. These include access to information, access to buildings, dealing with unqualified support staff, a non-flexible curriculum, lack of relevant assistive devices and attitudinal barriers.

“I feel like education is everyone’s responsibility for the betterment of our citizens. As such, political will has to be there to fully support the inclusive education policy by resources, finances, reviewing the existing policy and engaging organisations of people living with disabilities,” said Matasane.

“The best way to solve these issues is to fully engage organisations that represent people with disabilities, their families and the community at large in any decision making as well as the need to fully practice what is in the policy,” said Matasane.

’Mapule Motsopa

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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