Rwandan Woman's Body Found In Canada River; Sudan Rebellion Worsens
It's Thursday March 1. These are the major stories making headlines in East Africa's top media outlets.
Stiff Cut-offs Await S6 Leavers
After the celebrations over the results end, students and parents now face the tedious journey of getting admitted to their coveted university or even course of choice.
An analysis by Daily Monitor of admission trends to public universities indicates a high likelihood of even stiffer cutoffs this year compared to the previous year.
Of significance is the fact that more students according to the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) performed better than the 2010 lot.
Secondly, more girls performed better in Arts courses than boys and given the bonus affirmative action 1.5 extra points awarded, boys are likely to be outcompeted in choice courses like law, one of the few that still attract government sponsorship.
Fewer students pursued science courses and even fewer passed them living the greatest competition to the Arts Courses which also had the majority students.
Hard pressed for space public universities will be keen to keep numbers low. Makerere, the biggest University, has for years been pursuing a policy of gradual reduction in the number of students it admits in a bid to match learners with facilities, at the same time government has skewed its offer of university scholarships towards Sciences at the expense of Arts courses at a ratio of 75:25, meaning that competition for Arts courses whose subjects were better done will be very stiff.
The cutoff points for admission into a particular programme are determined by the lowest score of the last person accepted into that programme. There is an affirmative action of an additional 1.5 points to female students, though it has received criticism of recent. People with disabilities, talented athletes, and the children of university staff are also beneficiaries.
Alfred Namoah, the Makerere, University academic registrar yesterday said it is hard to determine whether universities will raise the cutoff points since the admission board had not sat.
In the last three decades, higher education grew so fast in enrolment that the state could not afford to pay the bill for all students nor provide sufficient facilities for those admitted.
For instance, the number of students has grown from 5,000 in 1970 to about 173,369 in 2010. According to Prof A.B K.Kasozi of National Council for Higher Education, the average percent growth of enrolment from 2000 to 2006 was 30 per cent.
“From 2006 to 2010, the growth has an average of 15 per cent yet the income per capita of Ugandans has not changed, which means the ability of most people to pay for higher education has not improved,” prof Kasozi said in a statement last year.
To utilise the available resources, public universities have consistently raised entry points for the highly-competitive government-sponsored courses in the last academic years.
A list of 2009/10 cutoff points showed that 85 of the 93 courses had their entry marks raised compared to the 2008/9 academic year.
The stiffer cutoff mark is said to have been prompted by the education ministry’s directive to Makerere to lower intake in an attempt to reduce overcrowding.
The university academic year begins in August. Last year, to be admitted for the Bachelor of Laws programme at Makerere University on government sponsorship, one had to have a cumulative total of 54.9 points compared to the previous year’s 54.3.
2,900 Denied Results Over Cheating
Highest number of schools involved are from Garissa county, followed by Nairobi, Mandera and Mombasa, reports Daily Nation.
The results of 2,927 candidates in 154 schools have been cancelled due to cheating.
The highest number of schools involved were from Garissa county (18) followed by Nairobi (15), Mandera (14) and Mombasa (8).
Others were Wajir (8), Kisii (7), Migori (6), Makueni (6), Bungoma (5) and Homa Bay counties (5).
This is a significant increase given that the cases had dropped by more than half last year, from 1,711 in 2009 to 534.
“These numbers may appear low when compared to candidature. However, it is a painful experience to hear even one candidate was involved in cheating,” Education Minister Sam Ongeri said on Wednesday.
Eleven counties, including Nyeri, Turkana, Laikipia, Busia and Taita Taveta, did not have any case of cheating.
Others are Tana River, Nyandarua, Machakos, West Pokot, Nyamira and Trans Nzoia.
Prof Ongeri noted that cheating had taken different forms in every national examination but collusion among teachers, parents and candidates continued unabated.
“We are working to track down the culprits involved in the irregularities by identifying the weak link in the exam distribution process,” he said.
Kenya National Examinations Council boss Paul Wasanga said the use of mobile phones in exam centres was the greatest challenge they were facing in curbing irregularities.
Investigations revealed that teachers played a central role in helping candidates cheat. Some Sh1.3 million changed hands in a web of 120 mobile phones in attempts to access the exam papers, the investigations showed.
Five secondary school teachers were at the heart of the web. A teacher from a Nyanza school reportedly received more than Sh800,000 to supply papers within the network. “We will investigate the matter thoroughly and a decisive action shall be taken against the culprits,” Prof Ongeri said.
Already, some suspects have been arrested and sentenced while other cases are still pending in court.
Six Kenyatta University students, who abetted cheating, have been recommended for suspension while the teachers will have their licenses withdrawn.
Prof Ongeri said some candidates refused to be frisked and to be confined during practical exams.
“When some of the candidates were caught with pre-prepared notes in the exam rooms they resorted to chewing and swallowing them,” he said.
Body Of Missing Rwandan Discovered In Canadian River
Over a month ago, she left her home in the city of Montreal, Canada for what looked like a normal evening walk, but never returned.
Subsequent frantic searches by Police and her family across the vast North American country led to nothing.
But on Saturday, the body of Clémence Umugwaneza, a 26-year old Rwandan woman, who was also a Canadian citizen, was discovered more than 100 kilometres away from her home, floating in the St. Lawrence River.
According to reports from Canada, the circumstances under which she died remain unclear, more than a month after she left her home.
The body was spotted by the Coast Guard on Saturday night near Louiseville, about 115 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
In an interview with The New Times, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Canada, Edda Mukabagwiza, said that the death of Umugwaneza has left the Rwandan community in shock.
“Just a day before the body was discovered, the mother had actually called me. She told me that they were going to meet with the Rwandan community in Montreal as well as well-wishers, but ironically the sad news came in during the same gathering. We are all in shock,” Mukabagwiza said.
She noted that while the deceased was a Canadian citizen, the Rwandan Community in the North American nation felt obliged to stand in solidarity with her family throughout the search and after the tragic news was broken to them.
“We were in touch with the family all this time. They are definitely devastated. We are waiting to get more information from the Police after the post-mortem,” the High Commissioner said.
S. Sudan Rebels Deny Peace Deal And Vow To Carry Out More Attacks
Members of the South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM), an active rebel groups fighting against the government of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has categorically deny the veracity of a peace agreement signed with Juba administration.
The South Sudan’s minister of information and broadcasting, Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced that the agreement was signed by Peter Kuol Chol Awan on behalf of the SSDM and the SPLM’s director general for general intelligence bureau, Thomas Duoth, in Juba on Tuesday.
“We have not signed any agreement with anybody. What the minister of information in thegovernment has said is not correct,” announced John Olony on Wednesday, claiming to be the new leader of the rebel group.
Olony claims the agreement’s signatories defected in early February, prior to the signing, and that they no longer represent the leadership of the SSDM, Sudan Tribune reports.
Olony claimed his group received information from Peter Kuol Chol Awan, who became the SSDM head after the death of George Athor, that he wanted to resign due to health issues. Olony claims Awan informed the rebels that he would be resigning, then signed the agreement, purportedly, on their behalf.
George Athor formed the SSDM in 2010 after losing a regional election he said was rigged. The South Sudanese army, the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), said in December 2011 it had killed him.
"They have responded to the amnesty offered to them by the president Salva Kiir Mayardit by declaring a ceasefire and accepted to lay down their arms. This is a good step which actually indicates that the sons and daughters of this country can resolve difference amicably without external support,” said Marial at a press conference on Tuesday.
Explaining that it was the policy of the government to absorb all ex-militia groups into the national army after reaching a deal in order for them to start a peace process instead of pursuing military options, Marial said the agreement gave the rebels an opportunity to be represented in the national government as well as in the state.
He said if the rebels laid down their arms they would be integrated into the SPLA.
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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