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South-Africa

Malawi To Investigate Crippled Education System

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Malawi government has announced that it is setting up a special comittee to investigate reports of poor performance of students in public schools.

The move follows concerns from the general public that the country’s education system has miserably deteriorated.

Education Minister Agnes Nyalonje said the committee will look into how the education standards can be improved. she said the committee will be formed, “soon”.

“The recent decision by Ombudsman to investigate and audit the selection of 2000 Primary Leaving Certificate of Education (PLCE) graduates to form One will contribute to this reform area,” she said.

In January the Ministry stated that the Ombudsman’s office would launch an independent investigation following concerns surrounding the selection process of the PLCE.

The Minister says the government is considering professionalizing early childhood development (ECD), further outlining plans on how to achieve such.

The Ministry also is scheduled to promote evidence-informed policy and decision making, strengthen school and teacher training college governance and management through establishment of local boards and enhance teacher welfare and development.

According to the Minister, transforming the country’s education system is a journey which everyone must participate, adding that there is a need to prioritize investment in areas of greatest need so that the most disadvantaged children and youth’s get a fair chance in life.

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Health

Over 347,000 Eswatini Risk Death Through Starving

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Save the Children an international organization has warned that more than 347,000 Eswatini people risk death by hunger.

The organisation revealed that of these on the verge of starvation  180,000 are children.

“The situation in Eswatini has been rapidly deteriorating and it’s finally reached a tipping point. One-third of the country is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands of children are suffering as a result,” Dumisani Mnisi, the NGO’s executive director in Eswatini was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Many of them have seen their parents lose jobs as a result of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Others have seen their harvests affected by erratic weather in 2020. The combination has led to needs like we have never seen in recent memory,” read the statement.

Being in urgent need of humanitarian support, over 347,000 people are adversely affected by the pandemic, with 60,000 “experiencing emergency levels of hunger, meaning that without immediate action, they could face starvation or even death,” Save the Children voiced.

Eswatini an absolute monarchy has seen over past months a rapid deterioration in food availability due to COVID-19-related job losses, high food prices, as well as erratic rainfall, leading to a poor harvest at the end of last year, it said.

At least 31% of Eswatini’s population are now “suffering from the food crisis, a markedly worse situation than the last hunger assessment in 2019 when 18% of the population was experiencing severe hunger,” the humanitarian group explained.

Save the Children directed an urgent call on donors “to release funds to support the emergency response and stave off a hunger crisis.”

It also called on the international community to take action to handle the issue.

“We are calling on the international community for support as we rally together to face this challenge,” Save the Children urged.

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CORONA VIRUS

Zimbabwe Approves Four COVID-19 Vaccines, Two From China

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Zimbabwe has approved four COVID-19 vaccines, as the second phase of the country’s vaccination program kicks in.

Apart from the Sinopharm vaccine from China, which is currently in use following the launch of the first phase of the vaccination program two weeks ago, the government, through the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, has also approved the use of Sinovac, also from China, Covaxin from India and Sputnik V from Russia.
With the second phase of the vaccination program having been approved, the government has also urged companies intending to buy vaccines for their employees to procure only those that are registered in the country, the state-run Herald newspaper reported Thursday.
The first phase, which covered those in the frontline, was undertaken following a donation by the Chinese government of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, while the second phase will target vulnerable groups, among them people with chronic diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said 34,400 people were vaccinated countrywide in the first two weeks of the rollout program.
Progress made in the initial stages had prompted the Cabinet to approve the second stage, the Herald newspaper quoted the official as saying.
All those intending to procure vaccines for their employees must procure only registered vaccines in Zimbabwe.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will be purchasing the vaccines on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe.
“Cabinet would also like to unveil the guidelines for the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by the private sector in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Following wide-ranging consultations with the private sector, all approved vaccines would be procured through the National Vaccine Procurement Fund managed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

“Organizations, individuals and any partners wishing to donate towards vaccine procurement will do so to the President through the fund. Donations received and pledges made to date will be announced,” she said.

Mutsvangwa said those interested in buying vaccines for their workers would deposit their funds into the National Vaccine Procurement Fund after approval by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

The National Vaccine Procurement Fund will procure on behalf of the organizations guided by the national procurement guidelines.

To ensure safety and efficacy, vaccines shall be kept at the Central Vaccines Stores under the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the National Cold Chain guidelines shall apply.

Only trained and registered health professionals shall be authorized to administer vaccines, and only the Ministry of Health and Child Care shall be responsible for issuing all COVID-19 vaccination certificates, Mutsvangwa stressed.

“All vaccines administered at private institutions will be transported by the Ministry of Health and Child Care medical staff under guard by the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” she added.
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South-Africa

Zimbabwe Train Derails, Kills Driver

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Zimbabwe (NRZ) goods train with 22 wagons traveling from Harare to Beira, Mozambique, derailed near Nyazura killing the driver on the spot and injuring three crew members.

The derailment on Tuesday caused damage to rail infrastructure of about 150 metres, making rail line impassable to traffic.

Nyasha Maravanyika the spokesperson of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), confirmed the incident saying engineers were working round the clock to repair the railway line to allow traffic to pass.

The railway line is used for carrying grain, wheat and fertiliser among others.

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