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UNICEF Asks East, South Africa To Reopen Schools2 minutes read

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on the governments in Eastern and Southern African countries to reopen schools.

UNICEF, while making the call on Tuesday, urged that the schools should urgently and safely re-open.

According to UNICEF, across this region – Eastern and Southern Africa-, of the nearly 65 million children remaining out of school, around one in two do not have any form of learning, while millions of children continue to miss what was their one nutritious meal of the day.

Mohamed Malick Fall, Regional Director for Unicef in Eastern and Southern Africa, explained that schools needed to be opened because “generation of children is at risk, and at the most critical time in the continent’s history.”

He said, “Seven months into the pandemic, we must be very clear about the gravity of this crisis: we are at risk of losing a generation.

“We see lost learning, rising violence, rising child labour, forced child marriages, teen pregnancies, and diminished nutrition.”

As the region is experiencing unprecedented population growth, it’s important that this expanded workforce can receive quality learning at school so as to ensure that the potential for increased production could sustain an economic boom to drastically reduce poverty in Africa – where currently 70 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s people live on less than $2 a day, Fall said.

Safely re-opening schools by the beginning of October this year will give scholars a full term and vastly reduce learning losses, he said, adding that it will also reduce losses incurred by both parents and governments.

Unicef’s call to safely re-open schools follows scientific evidence which shows children are not super-spreaders of Covid-19, and are the least affected by the virus in the region, with a mere 2.5 per cent of confirmed cases attributed to kids between five to 18 years.

Most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have seen the rationale of a phased return to schools, starting with exam classes in countries such as Botswana, Eritrea, Eswatini, Madagascar, Somalia, Zambia, and recently Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Bigger countries with larger Covid-19 caseloads and higher student populations – such as South Africa – have re-opened schools for all grades since the end of August.

East Africa News

Malawi: Arsonists Raze Pry School’s Headteacher Office Over Hijab Row

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Unknown arsonists have torched the headteacher’s office in a Catholic school after he refused to allow Muslim students to attend class in hijabs.

The incident happened at Mpiri primary school in Malawi’s eastern district of Machinga.

Eastern region police publicist, Joseph Sauka, confirmed the incident, saying the building was burnt to ashes on Tuesday morning.

The population in the area is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims but most schools are owned by the Anglican and Catholic churches.

The government policy does not prescribe a school dress code, but some Christian schools have always insisted that learners at their institutions should not wear hijabs, a decision that has led to several religious clashes.

The Anglican and Catholic churches have threatened to close their schools in the area in the wake of the recent attacks.

In February, Mpiri Primary School was shut down for over four weeks after the Muslim community demanded that female learners be allowed to cover their heads at school.

Machinga District Education manager, Makina Gama, confirmed the development then but declined to divulge more details arguing that the Education Commission of the Diocese of Mangochi is better placed to do so.

Education Coordinator for Mangochi Diocese Education Commission Felix Masamba described the development as a mere suspension of classes.

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Ex-Uganda Army Spokesman Dies Of COVID-19

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Former Ugandan army spokesman Shaban Bantazira has died after contracting Covid-19.

The retired colonel was admitted to hospital on Sunday morning complaining of chest pain, low blood pressure, diabetes and cough.

Government Spokesman Ofwono Opondo said tests confirmed that he had contracted Covid-19.

This was confirmed by the spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso.

“The UPDF family with great sadness have learnt of the passing on of the deputy Executive director of Uganda Media Centre and deputy government spokesman Rtd Col Shaban Bantariza at Mulago national referral hospital. May his soul rest in peace,” she said in a tweet.

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) described Mr Bantazira as a loyal member of the government and party, which he served until his death.

Mr Bantariza was no stranger to controversy. Last year, he was sharply criticised by some for remarks he made at a retreat of leaders of the NRM.

He said he pitied people who think the NRM government would hand over power, adding that “we” would rather go back to the bush. He then went on to say that he had his three guns on standby in his car.

Bantariza was born in Mitooma district, in 1963. He attended St. Leo’s College, Kyegobe, in Fort Portal, Kabarole District for his O-Level studies before later joining Catholic brotherhood where he trained as an elementary school teacher.

He joined Makerere University in 1985 but later abandoned his studies and joined the National Resistance Army, led by president Yoweri Museveni. Bantariza attended guerrilla bootcamp in the Kabarore area, in foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. He also attended and graduated from the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College, having studied the senior command course offered annually at the college

Bantariza served as the UPDF spokesperson from 2000 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2006. For a period of time, prior to February 2009, Batanzira, at the rank of lieutenant colonel, served as the commander of the Oliver Tambo Leadership School, in Kaweweta, Nakaseke District, in Uganda’s Central Region.

On 26 February 2009, he was appointed commandant of the National Leadership Institute (NALI), in Kyankwanzi, Kyankwanzi District serving in that capacity until he was relieved of his duties on 7 October 2011.

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Parliament in Somalia endorses new PM Roble’s Cabinet

The new Cabinet formed includes eight women – four ministers, a State minister and three deputy ministers.

Bernard Akede

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The new Cabinet formed

The new Cabinet formed last Monday by Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, has been approved by the Lower House of the country’s Federal Parliament.

A list of 71 ministers, State ministers and deputy ministers was presented by the Premier to the legislators, stating that their selection was based on their integrity and capacities.

“I have selected the ministers upon closely examining their abilities to deliver services to the people,” he said in a brief speech.

All MPs present, 188 in number, voted in favour of the new Cabinet by show of hands.

The new Cabinet formed includes eight women – four ministers, a State minister and three deputy ministers. 

While delivering a speech to seek parliamentary approval of his portfolio holders and political programme, PM Roble emphasized the zeal of his government to tackle the country’s most pressing issues, particularly insecurity as well as the smooth running of the anticipated general election in 2020 and 2021.

The return of most of the deposed PM’s Cabinet members had been anticipated by many analysts.

However, in the new Cabinet formed, a number senior ministers lost positions. Among them were the holders of the Defense, Internal Security, Interior, Information and Education dockets.

The ministers of Commerce and Industry as well as Public Works did not appear in the new list.

Those who retained their positions in the cabinet include Deputy PM Mahdi Mohamed Guled alias Khadar, Foreign minister Ambassador Ahmed Issa Awad and Finance minister Dr Abdirahman Dualeh Beile.

Others are Health minister Dr Fawzia Abikar Nur and Planning minister Jamal Mohamed Hussein.

The new Cabinet comprises of 27 ministers, 27 deputy ministers and 17 state ministers.

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