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Friday, April 3, 2015

After Nigeria, could voters boot other African leaders?

In becoming the first Nigerian to defeat a sitting president through the ballot box yesterday, Muhammadu Buhari's victory turned into a political flashpoint for African hopefuls determined to set the same precedent in their country.
In Kenya, five democratic elections have yet to see an opposition candidate successfully unseat a sitting president. But Raila Odinga, who lost in 2007 and 2013, said the outcome of Nigeria’s election gives him hope. Buhari, who is 72 years old, lost elections three times before his successful campaign. Odinga will be the same age when Kenya holds its sixth presidential elections in 2017. Yesterday, he was quick to congratulate Buhari and note the importance of his victory to democracy across the continent. 

THE recent UN Climate-Smart Agriculture conference in Montpellier, France, warning about the alarming levels of starvation Africa faces if actions are not taken to stem climate change.
On the positive side, the conference noted that all the solutions and science needed to solve the problem are all around.
There are however, some changes in the continents’ land that no one can stop - though, fortunately, they might not affect food security.
The African continent is splitting in two and the result will eventually be a huge new continent, leaving Africa without its Horn. The reason is a geologic rift which runs down the eastern side of the continent which will eventually be replaced with an ocean.
This phenomenon is all down to the geography that you may remember from school. 
The Earth’s crust is divided into different sections called tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are the huge rocky slabs made up of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. These massive sheets are continually being pushed around by movements in the mantle (one of the three main layers of Earth, consisting of hot, dense, semisolid rock) which is shifting millimetre by millimetre, re-shaping the Earth’s surface over millions of years. 

Second grade students in Sidama, Zone in the Southern Nations,
Nationalities and Peoples' State of Ethiopia, are learning to read
with the revised curriculum developed by USAID and the Ministry
of Education to improve reading for 15 million children.
(Robert Sauers, USAID Ethiopia)
If a given student does not know the subject matter he/she is being taught only because the course is offered in his/her non-mother tongue, what other reasons could be mentioned than this to put quality education in jeopardy? And what other reason is there to turn to for the academic failure of the student if not the medium of instruction that is alien to the learner?
Unless the mother tongue, that is used in the teaching-learning process, is commonly understood both by the teacher and the learner, how can quality education be attained?
This writer is in the opinion, no matter how the school environment is crammed with best teaching learning equipment and no matter how the school is praised for having brilliant teachers, in addition to other good qualities, combined together, they won't be solely fruitful unless lessons are offered in mother tongue of the learners if the goal is to bring forth quality education.
In parallel to the aforementioned point, Global Campaign for Education Policy's Brief on Mother-tongue education illustrates the issue further. It reads, “Literacy is not simply being able to decode what is on a page: it is the intellectual process of gaining meaning from text; an achievement only possible in a language that is understood.”
Moreover, the offering of education in the second language is condemned for throwing students into confusion. According to the brief, children in remote rural areas, who speak one language at home and have no contact with the school language outside of the classroom, often have the biggest problems in gaining any understanding of the language taught at school.
Here is a real life incidence that paints a picture of how children will be separated from the reality they live in, if not taught in their mother tongue. Once a friend of mine who was a teacher told me about his experience. He was a tutor for a grade three student in a well to do private school. Once the tutor asked his student what ‘rehab’- Amharic term for hunger means. The student, as my friend told me, was puzzled and reiterated back to the tutor saying, is there an Amharic word called ‘rehab’? In the discussion following what happened with the tutor, we found out that it was the responsibility of that private school 'policy' the kid attends. “Because the school's medium of instruction is English—a language that is not the mother tongue of the boy.” Needless to say, it has become a trend in many of the private schools to ban learners speaking any of their mother tongue but English.
I was quite surprised to find a place where they brew their own beer [Bera] out of Addis!!! I am a big fan of beer and bera is one of the finest beer I had. If you visit Awassa, you should visit this place. It is located around Hawassa-Menaheria which is a few hundred meters from the old Lewi.


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