28 December 2017

African Press Review 28 December 2017

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Anguish and blame over Kenya's failing education system. And, who will be Liberia's new President?

Today's Kenyan papers continue to anguish over failures in the country's education system.

In its editorial - the Standard declares bluntly that "Politicians should keep away from education management."

"Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i is a man under siege," the paper says. "The release of the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results in a record three weeks appears to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Not only did the results reflect a big drop in overall performance, the teachers who marked the examination papers have claimed that the marking schemes had errors."

The Standard says some MPs won't approve if he's nominated to the new Cabinet: some are threatening a vote of no confidence.

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Union of Teachers - equally aggrieved by the transfer of several head teachers, has threatened to call a national strike, the paper says.

"At the root of the Union's complaints is the fact that Matiang'i has not consulted them on virtually every reform he has undertaken in the ministry. This includes curriculum change, transfer of teachers, and a new textbook acquisition system.

"Politicians insinuating themselves into the issue of teacher transfers are insincere and, no doubt, pursuing selfish goals. Many schools that used to top the charts a few years back are pale shadows of their former selves, the reason being that leaders took their tribal politics and simplistic solutions for complex problems," the Standard believes.

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The Star reports the same story in greater detail.

"NASA MPs have demanded the audit of KNEC results saying Education CS Fred Matiang'i's approach indicated possible interference by the Executive," the paper says.

The Cabinet Secretary is accused of messing up the sector through hurried reforms and of being unfit to head the ministry.

As well as what critics are calling "the "shockingly serendipitous massive failures by candidates," Matiang'i under fire for transferring 557 school principals following the exam results.

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The Daily Nation casts its net wider - reporting that "With five days left for schools to reopen for the new academic year, publishers have asked for more time to produce the textbooks that will be used."

Kenya Publishers Association said they'll need two weeks after schools open on Tuesday before they can deliver the books.

In its editorial - the Nation considers Nursery education - saying - "Early Childhood Development Education teachers who do the job of shaping the minds of preschoolers and introducing them to the formal education system have for a long time worked without a formal pay structure, promotion path or job grading.

"The consequence of that is an unmotivated workforce desperate to keep a job but toiling without hope of career progress, let alone formal recognition.

"Thankfully," the paper notes "the new scheme of service now gives the teachers a clear career progression path determined by the level of education and a standard salary structure.

"The counties, which run the nursery schools, must show commitment by honouring their part of the bargain through appropriate budgets and follow-up plans."

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Last but not least - the papers in Liberia are wondering who'll be the country's next President.

"Is it President Weah?" asks the lede headline in New Dawn.

"Some partisans of opposition Coalition for Democratic Change have begun jubilating - there's a word - over preliminary elections results being announced by some broadcasters here that appear to be favouring the CDC's candidate George Weah."

The paper cautions that "The jubilation is happening ahead of official provisional results announcement by the National Elections Commission which is the only institution authorised to declare a winner."

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The Daily Observer has similar thoughts : "Though official results are yet to be released, it is reported that Senator George Weah has been receiving congratulatory messages from several individuals and prominent persons.".

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Finally - Front Page Africa has the headline "George Weah Prepares to Go to 'Drawing Board' to Form New Government."

Be interesting to see if the papers have made the right call.

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