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Kenya: Magoha faults individuals who failed to implement laptop project

Africa/Kenya/16-08-2020/Author: Sarafina Robi/ Beth Nyaga/Source:

Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha has faulted individuals who failed to implement the Government’s laptop project that would have salvaged the current situation.

Magoha who was attending the start of a two-day stakeholders meeting on university reforms challenged institutions of higher learning to invest in online classes and address challenges of funding.

It is at this meeting that the Education CS took a swipe at individuals who he says failed to ensure the implementation of laptops for all school-going children which would have come in handy in ensuring learning continues as the nation battles the pandemic.

At the same time, he challenged universities to invest in virtual learning to ensure learning continues.

Magoha also took issue with what he termed as the flawed funding formula for Universities calling on the stakeholders to deliberate on sustainable financing of the institution as opposed to over-reliance on government financing.

He also called for greater autonomy at universities even as he hailed the move by 70 per cent of universities to adopt key COVID 19 measures as advised by the ministry.

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This comes after two days after the CS announced that 3000 private schools are set to benefit from a Ksh7 billion concessional loan from the government to support infrastructural development in readiness for schools reopening in January.

The loan is to be availed at an interest rate of between 2.5 and 3.5% will support areas like installation of ICT systems to ensure learning continues during the phased reopening of schools.

The loan will also be availed at an interest rate of between 2.5 and 3.5% and will be dependent on the absorption rate of an institution.

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To ensure social distancing during learning, schools will be expected to construct extra classrooms with availed funds.

Schools that will get the money will also be expected procure sanitary and hand-washing stations to ensure the highest levels of hygiene.

With schools expected to reopen in January, the government funds are also expected to cater to ICT infrastructure in readiness for a phased reopening.

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Coronavirus lockdown: The Indian migrants dying to get home

Asia/India/24-05-2020/Author and Source:

Tens of thousands of daily-wage migrant workers suddenly found themselves without jobs or a source of income when India announced a lockdown on 24 March.

Overnight, the cities they had helped build and run seemed to have turned their backs on them, the trains and buses which should have carried them home suspended.

So with the looming fear of hunger, men, women and children were forced to begin arduous journeys back to their villages – cycling or hitching rides on tuk-tuks, lorries, water tankers and milk vans.

For many, walking was the only option. Some travelled for a few hundred kilometres, while others covered more than a thousand to go home.

They weren’t always alone – some had young children and others had pregnant wives, and the life they had built for themselves packed into their ragtag bags.

Many never made it. Here, the BBC tells the story of just a handful of the hundreds who have lost their lives on the road home.

Sanju Yadav and her daughter Nandini

Rajan Yadav and his family's file photo
Image captionRajan Yadav, his wife Sanju and their two children wanted to make it big in Mumbai

Sanju Yadav and her husband, Rajan, and their two children – Nitin and Nandini – arrived in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, a decade ago with their meagre belongings and dreams of a brighter future.

Her children, she hoped, would thrive growing up in the city.

«It was not like she didn’t like the village life,» Rajan explained. «She just knew that Mumbai offered better opportunities for all of us.»

Indeed, it was Sanju that encouraged Rajan to push himself.

«I used to do an eight-hour shift in a factory. Sanju motivated me do something more, so we bought a food cart and started selling snacks from 16:00 to 22:00.

«She pushed me to think big, she used to say that having our business was way better than a job. Job had a fixed salary, but business allowed us to grow.»

Two years ago, all the hard work seemed to be paying off. Rajan used his savings and a bank loan to buy a tuk-tuk. The vehicle-for-hire brought more money for Sanju and her family.

But then came coronavirus.

Image captionThousands of people have left the cities

The couple first heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk about the virus on TV on 19 March. A full, three-week lockdown was announced less than a week later.

They used up most of their savings to pay rent, repay the loan and buy groceries in March and April. They were hoping that the city would reopen in May, but then the lockdown was extended again.

Out of money and options, they decided to go back to their village in Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh state. They applied for tickets on the special trains that were being run for migrants, but had no luck for a week.

Desperate and exhausted, they decided to undertake the 1,500-km long journey in their tuk-tuk. The family-of-four left Mumbai on 9 May.

Many were travelling with small children
Image captionMany were travelling with small children

Rajan would drive from 05:00 to 11:00. He would then rest during the day, and at 18:00 the family would be back on the road until 23:00. «We ate whatever dry food we had packed and slept on pavements. The prospect of being in the safety of our village kept us going,» he says.

But in the early hours of 12 May – just 200km from their village – a truck rammed into the tuk-tuk from behind.

Sanju and Nandini died on the spot. Rajan and Nitin escaped with minor injuries.

«It all ended so quickly,» Rajan says. «We were so close to our village. We were so excited. But I have nothing left now – just a big void.»

He says he can’t help but keep thinking about the train tickets that never came. «I wish I had gotten the tickets. I wish I had never started the journey… I wish I was not poor.»

Lallu Ram Yadav

Lallu Ram
Image captionLallu Ram Yadav was excited to spend time with his family

Lallu Ram Yadav used to meet his cousin Ajay Kumar every Sunday to reminisce about the village he had left for Mumbai a decade earlier, in search of a better life for his wife and six children.

For 10 years, the 55-year-old had worked as a security guard, 12 hours a day, six days a week.

But his hard work amounted to little once the lockdown began, and the cousins both found their savings quickly ran out.

Lallu Ram called his family to say they were coming home – at least, he would now get to spend time with his children, he said.

And so Lallu Ram and Ajay Kumar joined the desperate scramble to find a way home to the village in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad district, some 1,400km away.

But the price demanded by lorry drivers proved too much. Instead, inspired by the migrants walking home they saw on the television, they packed small bags and began the journey on foot with four friends.

A group of migrants walking on a motorway
Image captionMany migrants say they don’t want to come back to cities

The covered around 400km in the first 48 hours – hitchhiking in lorries along the way. But the journey was more difficult than they had imagined.

«It was really hot and we would get tired quickly,» Ajay Kumar said. «The leather shoes we were wearing were extremely uncomfortable.»

They all had blisters on their feet after walking for a day, but giving up was not an option.

One evening, Lallu Ram started complaining about breathing difficulties. They had just entered Madhya Pradesh state – they still had a long way to go, but they decided to rest for a while before starting again.

Lallu Ram never woke up. When they took him to a nearby hospital, they were told he had died of a cardiac arrest, triggered by exhaustion and fatigue.

Many found it difficult to find food during their journeys
Image captionMany found it difficult to find food during their journeys

They didn’t know what to do with the body. An ambulance was going to take five to eight hours to reach them.

The group had around 15,000 rupees ($199; £163) between them – half the amount needed to hire a lorry. But one driver agreed to take the rest of the payment later. And that’s how they took the body back home.

Lallu Ram couldn’t fulfil the promise of spending more time with his children.

«The family’s only breadwinner is gone,» says Ajay Kumar. «Nobody helped us. My cousin didn’t have to die – but it was a choice between hunger and the long journey.

«We poor people often have to pick the best from several bad choices. It didn’t work out for my cousin this time. It seldom works out for poor people like him.»

Sagheer Ansari

A selfie of Sagheer Ansari
Image captionSagheer Ansari was an expert tailor but had lost his job recently

Sagheer and Sahib Ansari were good tailors. They never struggled to find work in Delhi’s booming garment factories – until the lockdown.

Within days, they lost their jobs. The brothers thought things would go back to normal in a few weeks and stayed put in their tiny one-room house.

When their money ran out, they asked family members in the village for help. When the lockdown was further extended in May, their patience ran out.

«We couldn’t have asked the family for more money. We were supposed to help them, not take money from them,» Sahib says.

They would wait in queues for food being distributed by the government. But, Sahib says, it was never enough and they always felt hungry.

So the brothers discussed the idea of going back to their village in Motihari district in Bihar state, some 1,200km from Delhi.

Sagheer Ansari's family in a file photo
Image captionSagheer has left behind his wife and three young children

They and their friends decided to buy used bicycles, but could only afford six for eight people. So they decided that they would all take turns to ride pillion.

They left Delhi in the early hours of 5 May. It was a hot day and the group felt tired after every 10km.

«Our knees would hurt, but we kept pedalling. We hardly got a proper meal and that made it more difficult to pedal,» Sahib says.

After riding for five days, the group reached Lucknow – the capital of Uttar Pradesh. It had been two days since they had had a proper meal and they were mostly surviving on puffed rice.

«All of us were very hungry. We sat on a road divider to eat because there was hardly any traffic,» he says.

An overcrowded lorry
Image captionMany migrants have had to travel in overcrowded lorries

But then a car came out of nowhere, hitting the barrier and striking Sagheer. He died in a hospital a few hours later.

«My world came crashing down,» Sahib says. «I had no idea what I was going to tell his two children and his wife.

«He used to love home-cooked food and was looking forward to it. He died without having a proper meal for days.»

Sahib eventually reached home with his brother’s body, brought by an ambulance. But he couldn’t mourn with his family for long, as he was put into a quarantine centre right after the burial.

«I don’t know who to blame for his death – coronavirus, hunger or poverty. I have understood one thing: I will never leave my village. I will make less money but at least I will stay alive.»

Balram and his friend, Naresh Singh

Naresh Singh's family photo
Image captionNaresh Singh with his wife (standing to his right) and children

Jaikrishna Kumar, 17, regrets encouraging his father Balram to come home after the lockdown started.

Balram was from a village in Bihar’s Khagadia district, but was working in Gujarat – one of the states worst-hit by the coronavirus – when much of India closed down in March.

He and his friend Naresh Singh, a maintenance worker for mobile phone towers, were both working hard so their sons back in Bihar could have better futures. Balram wanted Jaikrishna to go to college, Nikram wanted his sons to become government officers.

They started their journey on foot, but about 400km into it, policemen helped them and others to hitch a ride in a lorry.

The «ride» involved them all being precariously perched on top of cargo – a common sight on Indian highways.

Two migrants hanging on the back of a truck
Image captionPeople have taken extreme risks to get home

But this time, the driver lost control in Dausa town in Rajasthan state, ramming the lorry into a tree.

Both Naresh and Balram died in the accident.

Now Jaikrishna Kumar says he will probably have to quit studying and find a job to support the family.

«The accident took away my father and my dreams of getting an education. I wish there was another way. I don’t like the idea of going to a city to work, but what other option do I have?

«My father wanted me to break the cycle of poverty. I don’t know how to do it without him.»

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Homeless people use Tippy-Tap hand-washing techniques in Windhoek, Namibia

Africa/Namibia/19-04-2020/Author(a) and Source:

Homeless children wash their hands using the Tippy-Tap hand-washing techniques outside temporary tents in Windhoek, Namibia, April 14, 2020. The Tippy-Tap is a common practice in informal settlements where people do not have access to running water. The technique is strongly advised as an attempt to assist the Namibian government with its lockdown efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)


A local Himba mother takes her child out of a temporary tent in Windhoek, Namibia, April 14, 2020. These tents were donated by Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) in an attempt to assist the Namibian government with its lockdown efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)


Homeless people wash hands using the Tippy-Tap hand-washing techniques outside temporary tents in Windhoek, Namibia, on April 14, 2020. The Tippy-Tap is a common practice in informal settlements where people do not have access to running water. The technique is strongly advised as an attempt to assist the Namibian government with its lockdown efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)

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Kenya: Coronavirus: Govt issues guidelines on protection of children

Africa/Kenya/12-04-2020/Author and Source:

The state department for social protection has released a raft of measures that are meant to protect vulnerable children against the Coronavirus pandemic.

The measures include educating children on coronavirus such as how they can protect themselves from it and their online safety.

Turkana County Children Officer Julius Yator said the messages are also meant to ensure that parents and caregivers have sufficient information on how to handle their children as well as how government officers should handle street-connected children and those in refugee camps like Kakuma.

“We have emphasised the need for handwashing with soap, also telling children that it is safe to play with their siblings while indoors as well as helping them deal with misinformation about the COVID-19 disease by discussing what they read and hear with their parents,” said Yator.

Yator underscored the need for parents and caregivers to supervise what their children access online adding there is a need to limit the children online time.

He added the ministry has also provided guidelines regarding how charitable children institutions can send the young persons to their home or arranging to be independent.

“They must ensure that the young person has a place to live before leaving the charitable institution and facilitate them with clothing, hygienic supplies and other basic needs. They must also discuss and prepare a virtual monitoring plan for the young person through phones, email and  WhatsApp on a weekly basis,” he said.

However, he added that depending on the unique circumstances of a case, the institution should consider delaying the transition until it can be done in a manner that is safe for the young person.

Government and civil societies must ensure that information on Coronavirus reaches children on the streets and ensure they are not discriminated against during the curfews.

“Government and civil society organisations should ensure that drop-in centres and facilities are designated as essential services and are equipped with child or youth-friendly information,” added Yator.

The ministry has provided helpline 116 to help children who need counselling services.

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Kenya: Online learning resources for kids

Africa/Kenya/29-03-2020/Author and Source:

As the Coronavirus pandemic keeps kids away from classrooms, parents are opting for online learning tools and resources for their children.

Children in Kenyan learning institutions were sent home about one and half weeks ago in a bid to protect them from and curb the spread of Coronavirus. It was an unprecedented move that almost left parents’ heads spinning. So since your kids have been home has their learning and studying stopped? Most schools simply sent them home with assignments but syllabus learning has basically halted. Kenyan parents are now realizing that home and online schooling are a thing and discovering its importance.

We’ve therefore compiled a short list of digital platforms that can benefit your kids’ learning journey and give you as a parent, peace of mind.

1. Longhorn eLearning

Longhorn eLearning is a digital product of Longhorn Publishers Limited. It gives access to primary and secondary school courses, including CBC. So far, over 200,000 learners have signed up to study the variety of 100 courses.

2. Wolsey Hall Oxford

Wolsey Hall Oxford offers homeschooling for kids aged 7 to 18. It has cademically rigorous Primary and Secondary courses, including IGCSE and A Level in a wide range of subjects designed specifically for home-schoolers. Its Online system allows parents to login and monitor their child’s progress and its Tutors are always available when extra help is needed.

3. Google Classroom

Google Classroom is free and offers a paperless way to create, distribute, and grade assignments. It’s available on your computer and as an app on your mobile phone. It’s free for anyone with a google account.

4. Discovery Education

Discovery Education helps you maintain virtual learning especially away from the classroom. It serves more than 50 million earners around the globe.

5. BrainPOP

BrainPOP is a digital platform and perfect solution for distance learning for children. As a parent/guardian, you can keep your kids on track with their learning by joining in (it’s free) and keeping up with the courses offered. The courses offered include science, social studies, math, English, engineering & tech, and arts & music.

6. Beast Academy

Beast Academy offers a rigorous mathematics curriculum, learnt in a fun way. Your kids will grasp math concepts through engaging, comic-book style illustrations.

7. Creative Bug

Creative Bug is especially for the kids with a creative side. It offers art and craft education. Let your kids learn how to paint, knit, crotchet and sculpt.

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Kenya: Over 100 vulnerable children are sexually abused annually

Africa/Kenya/08-03-2020/Author: KNA/Source:

At least 150 children living with disability are sexually abused in Trans Nzoia County every year, according to research carried out by a local NGO, Human Inclusion International organization.

The report says children with mental impairment are worst affected.

Human Inclusion International project officer Janet Nyangweso sexual violence is three times more among vulnerable children.

She notes that Tuwan slums in Trans Nzoia West, Endebess sub-county and Trans Nzoia East sub-county lead in defilement cases.

Under the Ubuntu care programme the organization she says offers protection for vulnerable children but notes the challenge in apprehending and prosecution of offenders.

She called for cooperation between local administrators including chiefs, the police and the judiciary in delivering justice for the innocent children.

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Kenya: Governor Lonyangapuo cautions principals against exploiting parents

Africa/Kenya/19-01-2020/Author and Source:

Lonyangapuo said that the heads have turned learning institutions into business premises where they charge parents high prices for commodities that children need to use in school.

He has warned secondary school heads against doing their private business in schools.

Speaking in Kapenguria after meeting students who performed well in the 2019 Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education [KCSE] and education stakeholders, Lonyangapuo said that he had received complaints from parents that some schools had forced them to buy certain commodities from the school.

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He said that the heads have forced parents of children joining Form one purchase certain commodities at the prices higher than market costs.

The county boss said heads that were posted to the county after delocalisation are at the forefront in dictating that parents to buy everything at school at a fixed price.

Lonyangapuo said he will not allow school heads to kill the economy of the county by engaging in business instead of focusing on their core mandate.

Adding that the functions of the heads are clearly stipulated and they are not allowed to engage in business.

Lonyangapuo called on the Ministry of education to fast tract release of funds to schools.

County education Director Jared Onyiego said that they have put in place strategies to improve the numbers of those joining secondary schools.

He urged education stakeholders to ensure that there is 100% transition of learners from Primary to secondary schools.

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