new Guinea-Bissau president sworn in

Raimundo Pereira, former speaker of Guinea-Bissau, has been sworn in as the new president of the West African nation. As speaker, Mr. Pereira was next in line to succeed the president, who was assassinated on Monday by suspected agents of the military. President Vieira was assassinated only hours after the army chief of staff, his political rival, was also killed by a bomb in his office.

The new president urged the international community not to forget Guinea Bissau. The impoverished nation of 1.5 million has seen slow recovery from a disastrous civil war in the late 1990s. With a per capita GDP of $ 213 ($ 600, PPP) it still has a long way to go. It is heavily dependent on farming and fishing, with cashews being the major crop. One can only hope that the new president will offer some change. I doubt this though. After the circumstances of former president Vieira’s death, it is obvious that president Pereira will be beholden to the generals in the military, at least  until elections are held in 60 days – if they ever get held.

more on the kcse: PB-Riruta 1st, Mang’u 4th nationally

Many thanks to the Nation. The newspaper reporters tabulated the mean scores of several schools and came up with a tentative list of the top schools in the country in last years KCSE exams. Top of the (unofficial) list  is Preciosu Blood-Riruta. In second place is Starehe Boys Centre. Alliance Boys is third. Mang’u High School, last year’s best performing school is in fourth place with a mean of 10.2350, a drop from the school’s leading average of 11.2634 (out of 12) last year. The other leading schools according to the Nation’s tally were Kenya High, Moi Girls Eldoret, Bahati Girls, Maseno School, Strathmore and Nairobi School respectively. Among the top ten schools, only one, Strathmore, is a day school. Four of them are girl schools and none is a mixed school.

As pointed out by Prof. Ongeri (edcuation minister), this year’s performance was less than ideal. The pass rate, those with C+ and above (hence technically qualified for university) was 24%. Only 0.27% scored straight As. 34 percent scored Ds and Es.Yes, 34%!!!

The minister for education blamed the poor performance on last year’s post-election violence and the strikes that affected several schools during the mock exams season.

I say this is hiding from the truth. The fact of the matter is education in Kenya continues to be grossly under-funded. I know this for a fact because even in my high school – a well regarded National School – the PTA had to step in through fundraisers to pay for improvements of the facilities and extra motivation allowances for teachers. You can only imagine what other schools without such enterprising PTAs have to contend with.

My question to the minister is: who should we hold accountable when a whole 76% of high school students cannot score C+s in the KCSE ??????

And here is a piece by Philip Ochieng’ on the Kenyan education system….

ICC issues arrest warrant for Bashir

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir. It is the first time that such a warrant has been issued for the arrest of a sitting head of state. The ICC is accusing Bashir of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in the genocide in Darfur.

This particular warrant will be a real test. Being a sitting president, it is hard to see how he can be arrest since the warrant itself will be delivered to the government of Sudan. Furthermore, al-Bashir now has every incentive to remain president and to clamp down on the opposition. Some members of the Sudanese civil society have criticized the idea of attempting to arrest al-Bashir, arguing that it will only make him dig in and reverse any progress that they have made in terms of being granted civil liberties and political space.

The government of Sudan is yet to officially respond to the arrest warrant although the BBC quotes a government official as terming the warrant as “neo-colonialist.”