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Archive for November 20th, 2009

Kenyan School Benefits from One Laptop Per Child Initiative

Posted by Administrator on November 20, 2009

The US-based One Laptop Per Child Initiative creates educational opportunities for poor children around the world by providing low-cost, durable portable computers. Seven countries in Africa are already participating in the initiative. One school in Kenya has set up a pilot program to test the computers.  Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

They gather around what looks like a bright, plastic green and white notebook.
 
It is their gateway to a new world of learning and wonder.

Students at Our Lady of Mercy Primary School South B in Kenya’s capital have received 16 of these computers from the One Laptop Per Child Initiative.

They have had them since March of this year in a Grade 8 pilot project.

So far so good, says 14-year-old Marvin Oyuke, who says that he has used the laptop for his geography homework. “I learned that Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest [freshwater] lake in the whole world and Lake Victoria is also the second largest [freshwater lake] in the whole world and River Nile is the longest in the world actually and Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest [mountain] in Africa,” he said.

The One Laptop Per Child Initiative was launched four years ago by the U.S. non-profit group of the same name.

Seven countries in Africa are already participating in the initiative.

Kenya is not yet on board, but if the test pilot at Our Lady of Mercy School is successful, Kenya could become the first East African country to join the program.

Sister Agnes Kariuki, headmistress of Our Lady of Mercy South B, says that there has been limited use of the computers at her school.

Security is a big issue in Nairobi’s South B neighborhood. Sister Kariuki says her school is looking for funds to beef up the building and procedures before the computers can be used on a regular basis. “About three times we have had very serious break-ins and they have interfered with the previous computers that we have been using in the offices,” she said. “They have stolen parts of those computers, which means grounding them.”

She also wants to wait until a new computer laboratory is finished being constructed. And, she says, the packages did not come with the proper gadgets to recharge the laptops.

Sister Kariuki says she sees big potential with the laptops, especially once the national syllabus Misingi Pack is installed. “Children are curious. They want to know how to use the computers and to learn through computers,” she said. “They also want to be in the modern technology.”

Students say they are excited about the computers.

Fourteen-year-old Naomi Mudiay says she likes the laptop because she can carry it around with her, and it prepares her for the future. “I just think it is such a good idea to let us to have the opportunity to use the computers so that when we are older, we already know how to use them so that when we want to get jobs, some of them might want us to be more high-tech in the computer learning. We already know it earlier,” she said.

To date, the One Laptop Per Child Initiative has provided more than one million laptops in 31 countries and in 19 languages.

Story By Cathy Majtenyi (Voice of America) Nairobi, Kenya

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UB’s Mutua to be White House Guest of the Obamas for Role in RFK Human Rights Award

Posted by Administrator on November 20, 2009

Release Date: November 20, 2009

Makau Mutua will be a guest of the White House Monday for his role in helping select the recipient of this year's Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Makau Mutua will be a guest of the White House Monday for his role in helping select the recipient of this year's Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — University at Buffalo Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua will be a guest of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, at a ceremony in the White House on Nov. 23 for his role as one of five international and national human rights experts who selected the recipient of this year’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

The award, presented by Ethel Kennedy, will be given to Magodonga Mahlangu and her organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Mutua and the four other judges chose Mahlangu and WOZA for organizing more than 60,000 Zimbabweans in an ongoing campaign of non-violent action against injustice, exploitive social conditions and oppression of women’s rights.

Mutua — who was named dean of the UB Law School in 2008 — is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in human rights law. He is an internationally known scholar who works on human rights issues around the world and serves as chair of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor courageous and innovative human rights defenders throughout the world who stand up against injustice, often at great personal risk. The award includes a cash prize of $30,000 and on-going legal, advocacy and technical support through a partnership with the RFK Center.

Mahlangu has been arrested more than 30 times in the course of her work as a human rights defender. Along with WOZA co-founder Jenni Williams, she has led campaigns with WOZA supporters to address many of the most crucial human rights issues facing Zimbabwean women, including domestic violence and rape, the right to food and education for children, the rights to participation and the right to association.

For more information, visit http://www.rfkcenter.org/node/370.

Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School — the State University of New York system’s only law school — has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation’s premier public law schools.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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Ruto moves to clear name in poll chaos report

Posted by Administrator on November 20, 2009

Agriculture minister William Ruto Friday moved to court seeking to expunge his name from a report linking him to post-election violence.

In an application certified urgent, Mr Ruto says the report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) adversely mentions him as having participated in pre and post-2007 election violence.

He says the report titled: On the brink of precipice: A human rights account of Kenya’s post 2007 election violence accuses him of planning, inciting and financing the violence.

Through lawyer Katwa Kigen, the Eldoret North MP argued that he had managed to get a copy of the report from the KNCHR after his name was subjected to adverse publicity injuring his standing and reputation.

Lady Justice Roselyn Wendo certified the application urgent and allowed Mr Kigen to institute proceedings with a view of quashing the report.

The counsel told the court that the matter was so urgent as to be accorded priority since his reputation and standing had been subjected to adverse publicity. He said by failing to accord the suit a priority, he would continue to suffer irreparable loss and damage.

He faults the report saying it was compiled by KNCHR purporting to exercise its statutory jurisdiction but it ended up affecting his rights and legitimate expectations.

“The compilation is a report and is neither a judgment, nor an order, nor a decree, nor a conviction, nor judicial proceedings falling within a process that can be interpreted so as to fall in a class or resulting in a judgment, order, decree, nor proceedings,” said Mr Kigen.

He complained that Mr Ruto was never served formally nor notified of the existence of the report and the adverse comments on him contained in the report.

He has named the State-owned rights body as the respondent in the case after they re-launched the report on July 17, 2009.

He becomes the second minister after Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta moved to court over the same matter.

Mr Kenyatta, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, was allowed to institute proceedings to quash the findings and a bench appointed to hear the case.

The two-judge bench including Lady Justice Wendo and Lady Justice Abida Ali-Aroni will hear the case in February next year.

Mr Kenyatta has denied involvement in the skirmishes which left over 1,000 people dead and over 600,000 displaced.

He seeks to have his name expunged from that record.

KNHCR made presentations before the Justice Philip Waki-led commission which presented its findings to Mr Kofi Annan.
The Waki report forms part evidence to be further investigated by the International Criminal Court.

In his suit, Mr Ruto says that the commission never sought his response before publishing the report.

He said the implication was reckless as it was not based on any reasonable evidential material and that it was oppressive and unfair.

He denies the allegations made saying that he was instead during the post-election period, involved in asking people to maintain calm and shun violence.

“At all material times, the applicant addressed public rallies where he appealed toe Kenyans to maintain calm and shun the said violence,” he says in a sworn statement.

He cites case in the report where he has been accused of holding rallies allegedly inciting Kenyans. Some of the rallies were held in Kipkelion, Kericho and in the larger Kericho district and Sugoi, Turbo and Burnt Forest in the larger Uasin Gishu district.

Source: Daily Nation

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