Half A Million Children Return To School In Senegal

A High School student at the Lycee Blaise Diagne washes her hands as she arrives for her first day back at school in Dakar on June 25, 2020. JOHN WESSELS / AFP
A High School student at the Lycee Blaise Diagne washes her hands as she arrives for her first day back at school in Dakar on June 25, 2020. JOHN WESSELS / AFP


Half a million Senegalese schoolchildren returned to class on Thursday, under instructions to wear face masks and keep a distance from each other, after three months of absence.  

The government in the West Africa state shut schools in mid-March in a bid to curb coronavirus infections.

It initially intended to open them again on June 5, but delayed the decision at the last minute after several teachers were found to have caught the virus.

Thursday’s reopening affects 551,000 children out of some 3.5 million in Senegal, with only pupils who are sitting exams this year returning to class.

“We have reduced the number of pupils in the classes, some of which have fewer than 20 (people),” said Abdoul Diop, a headmaster in the capital Dakar, where class sizes are often large.

Diop explained that all his students were wearing masks — which the school had made available, alongside hand sanitisers.

Senegal has recorded 6,233 coronavirus cases to date, with 94 fatalities.

The country’s caseload pales in comparison to virus-stricken countries such as the United States.

But as with other poor countries in the region, there are concerns about the government’s ability to handle a large outbreak.

Cases continue to rise, and President Macky Sall went into quarantine on Wednesday after coming into contact with an infected person, according to his office, which added that he had nonetheless tested negative for COVID-19.

Closing schools in March has disrupted Senegal’s normal school year, which usually ends in July. This year, examinations have been pushed back until late August and early September.

Other anti-virus measures, such as shutting universities, closing the land and air borders, and imposing a night-time curfew, remain in place.



Hundreds Skip School In Lebanon To Press For Change

Lebanese students wave national flags as they gather in an anti-government demonstration in the southern city of Sidon on November 6, 2019. PHOTO: MAHMOUD ZAYYAT / AFP


Hundreds of schoolchildren led anti-government demonstrations across Lebanon on Wednesday, refusing to return to class before the demands of a nearly three-week-old protest movement are met.

In the capital Beirut, dozens gathered in front of the education ministry, brandishing Lebanese flags and chanting slogans demanding the removal of a political class seen as incompetent and corrupt.

“What will I do with a school leaver’s certificate if I don’t have a country,” one pupil told Lebanese television.

In the largest pupil-led protest, crowds streamed into a central square in the southern city of Sidon, demanding better public education and more job opportunities for school leavers, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported.

In a school in the resort town of Jounieh, just north of the capital, pupils mobilised against school governors accusing them of banning particpation in the protests.

Other pupil-led protests took place in the southern cities of Tyre and Nabatieh, the eastern city of Zahleh and the northern city of Byblos, according to NNA and other Lebanese media reports.

But demonstrators, who have kept up their protests since October 17, were not blocking key roads on Wednesday morning.

Banks were open and classes resumed at most schools after a two-week gap.

But demonstrators gathered around key state institutions for a second day in a row, in what appears to be a new tactic replacing road closures.

The most significant in the capital was around the Palace of Justice, where hundreds demanded an independent judiciary and an end to political interference, an AFP correspondent reported.

“We don’t want judges who receive orders,” read one placard held aloft by the crowd.

A smaller group of protesters gathered near the central bank, accusing it of aggravating the country’s economic crisis.

Pressure from the street prompted Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign last week. He remains in his post in a caretaker capacity while rival politicians haggle over the make-up of a new government.

The protesters have expressed mounting frustration with the slow pace of the coalition talks.


China Arrests Man Linked To Murder Of Eight Schoolchildren


Eight schoolchildren have died and two others were injured in a “school-related criminal case” in central China, with a 40-year-old suspect arrested, local authorities said Tuesday.

The man was detained by police on the spot following Monday’s incident in Chaoyangpo Village in Hubei province, according to the government of Enshi city.

READ ALSO: California Boat Tragedy Kills Eight, Injures 26


FG Has Disbursed N6.6bn For School Feeding Programme – Presidency

FG Has Disbursed N6.6bn For School Feeding Programme – Presidency
File photo

The Federal Government says it has disbursed over N6bn since the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme started in 2016.

This was contained in a statement issued on Monday by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Laolu Akande.

“A total of N6,643,432,789 billion have been disbursed by the Federal Government since the school feeding programme kicked off late last year,” the statement said.

The government said at least 19,000 schools have been covered so far, adding that more schools would benefit from the programme with the commencement of a new academic session in September.

They said more states would be added to the list, in line with government’s target that 5.5 million schoolchildren would be fed by the end of 2017.

According to the statement, a total of 2,918,842 schoolchildren from 19,881 schools in the 14 pilot states of the federation have benefitted from the school feeding programme, which is part of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s N500 billion Social Investment Programmes (SIPs).

“With 3,325 schools, Kaduna State has the highest number of schools so far covered under the programme, as well as the highest number of schoolchildren (835,508) who have been fed.

“It is closely followed by Benue State where 2,220 schools have been covered and 240,827 schoolchildren have been fed. Zamfara State also recorded a high number, with 1,952 schools covered and 198,788 pupils fed under the programme,” the statement added.

The Federal Government said Bauchi State also recorded impressive figures with 1,904 schools already covered, while 307,013 schoolchildren in the state have so far benefitted from the programme.

A total of 1,850 schools have been covered and 151,438 pupils have been fed in Osun State; 1,479 schools have been covered and 171,835 pupils fed so far in Taraba State; while a total of 1,403 schools have been covered in Oyo State, where 107,983 pupils have been fed.

In Anambra State, 807 schools have been covered and 103,742 schoolchildren have been fed so far and 108,898 pupils in 622 schools have been fed in Enugu State.

The school feeding programme has so far covered 1,050 schools and 163,137 schoolchildren have been fed In Ebonyi State, just as 903 schools have so far been covered with 231,660 pupils fed In Ogun State.

“Also, a total of 95,134 schoolchildren in 882 schools have been fed in Plateau State. Delta and Abia states recorded 742 schools each, with 141,663 and 61,316 schoolchildren fed respectively,” the statement said.

21 Schoolchildren, Over 200 Others Killed In Mexico Earthquake

Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers remove rubble and debris from a flattened building in search of survivors after a powerful quake in Mexico City on September 19, 2017 AFP PHOTO / RONALDO SCHEMIDT

At least 216 people were killed when a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, including 21 children crushed beneath an elementary school that was reduced to rubble.

The destruction revived horrific memories in Mexico on the anniversary of another massive quake in 1985, the disaster-prone country’s deadliest ever.

It struck just two hours after the country held a national earthquake drill, as it does every year on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, which killed at least 10,000 people.

One of the most gut-wrenching scenes was at the Enrique Rebsamen primary school on Mexico City’s south side, whose three floors collapsed into one, trapping students and teachers inside.

Twenty-one children and five adults were killed, said Major Jose Luis Vergara of the Mexican navy, who was coordinating a rescue effort that involved hundreds of soldiers, police, civilian volunteers and rescue dogs.

He said another 30 to 40 people remained trapped, while 11 children have been rescued so far.

Emergency workers found a teacher and a student alive beneath the rubble and are trying to get them out, he said.

But the situation was precarious. Late into the night, part of the wreckage collapsed as rescuers continued their search.

Local media reports said soldiers had administered oxygen to one trapped child through a tube.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who rushed to the site, warned the death toll could rise.

“Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives, including children,” he said in a national address.

The devastation struck across a swath of central states and the death toll as of early Wednesday was 216, the head of the national disaster response agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said on Twitter.

In a sign of the ongoing confusion gripping the country, he had at one point put the death toll at 248.

In addition to Mexico City, people were also killed in Puebla, Morelos, Mexico state and Guerrero.