From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
AANA BULLETIN No. 03/03, January 27, 2003 (c)
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sun, 26 Jan 2003 20:39:38 -0800
AANA BULLETIN No. 03/03, January 27, 2003 (c)
All Africa News Agency
P. O. BOX 66878 NAIROBI, KENYA.
TEL: (254 2) 442215 FAX: (254 2)445847/443241
Editor - Mitch Odero
Acting Editor - Silvie Alemba
Rot That Nearly Brought Education To A Standstill
The jostling for room in primary schools in Kenya has exposed rot that has
in the past two decades nearly brought the education sector to its knees.
Our writer Pedro Shipepechero unveils details of a research carried out
last year on the sector here, that reveal corrupt deals that the previous
regime nurtured within the education ministry.
Since the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) waived all levies in primary
education after it took over power in December last year, enrolment rate in
primary schools has dramatically shot up. Some schools have been forced to
register pupils way above their capacity.
In the process, there have been claims of bribery, with some rich and
influential individuals trying to bribe education officials to have their
children enrolled in schools that are otherwise meant for the poor. This
kind of rush brings to the fore the murky side of the education sector in
Kenya, created by the past regime.
A research carried out last year by the Centre for Law and Research
International (Clarion) shows that misuse of funds allocated to the
Ministry of Education during the previous regime was partly to blame for
the decline in school enrolment over the years.
The decline peaked in 1997 when records showed that more than four million
pupils had quit school to seek employment opportunities.
According to the research, the Ksh1 billion (US$ 12.8 million) allocated to
the Ministry of Education to assist needy children ended up benefiting
those whose parents could afford to pay for their education.
"Even though the money allocated is not sufficient, it ends up in corrupt
hands and is misappropriated," says the eighth issue of the report titled
Kenya: The State of Corruption, published last December.
The report blames the absence of a proper accounting system in government
schools, which it says, enabled officers at the ministry to pinch with
impunity, funds meant for assisting needy children.
The outcome of the pilferage has been a reduction in the gross enrolment
rates. Children who could not afford school levies dropped out. Most of
them, according to the research, ended up being employed as child labourers
on coffee, tea, sisal and sugarcane farms, or became domestic workers.
"In spite of the fact that corruption within the bursary disbursement
regime has often been highlighted in the press, it has not elicited much
attention from the government," says the report, in reference to the
Clarion places the Ministry of Education in third place in a list of
corrupt government departments. The Office of the President and the
Ministry of Local Government are placed first and second in that order.
"The ever declining gross enrolment rates partly signify the crisis the
education sector is facing. Official statistics show that [enrolment] in
primary schools declined from 93.9 percent in 1999 to 91.2 percent in
2001, states the report.
It adds: "Over the same period, completion rate of primary education stood
at 49.8 percent, while progression (transition) rate to secondary education
was at 46.2 percent, reflecting a high drop-out rate."
Last week, an official in the Ministry of Education who declined to be
named, told AANA/APTA that while the content of the report was "authentic",
it was only a tip of the iceberg.
"The mushrooming of private schools in Kenya and the non-expansion of
government institutions reflect the extent to which corruption had eaten
into the sector that is charged with the development of human resource,"
said the official.
According to the report, so unimaginative are the fraudsters at the
ministry that they do not make any attempts to hide their ills. "In one of
the numerous unearthed cases, the fraudsters successfully swindled
Ksh780,000 (US$10,000) by making out cheques in the name of 26 students of
[a school in Coast Province] who had died in a fire tragedy on March 25,
1998," says the report.
The 26 students "received" Ksh30,000 (US$385) each. This money, the report
points out, was part of the Ksh 264 million (US$33.9 million) that was paid
out in questionable circumstances as bursaries in a period spanning four
Translated into real support for schools, the Ministry of Education
official said, that amount of money was enough to construct 1,056 fully
In another instance of theft of public resources by officers in the
education ministry, 10 cheques of Ksh15,000 (US$ 192) each, bearing
consecutive serial numbers, were made out to one student in 10 different
The official further told AANA/APTA that the new government could provide
free education to all children in the country if probity was enhanced in
the sector. He said that officials at all levels should be compelled to
declare their wealth and that of their next of kin, to make education for
all a reality in Kenya.
"The resources are there, only that they are poorly managed, denying would
be beneficiaries an opportunity to develop their talents" he noted.
Although education bursaries were meant to pay for the education of needy
children in primary and secondary schools, the report says some college and
university students with connections within the ministry also benefited
from the scheme.
In one such circumstance, notes the reports, a former Nairobi town clerk
paid university fees for his two daughters with money illegally secured
from the bursary fund.
Given this kind of scenario, says the report, "The general perception is
that it is next to impossible to win such scholarships unless one has
'connections.'" In some cases, political considerations take precedence in
the awarding of bursaries, most of the time going against procedure.
An example outlined in the report is a case in which a former Nairobi mayor
helped himself to Ksh1.5 million, which he donated during a funds-drive as
a campaign strategy.
The money was withdrawn from the Nairobi City Council bursary account.
Despite such blatant breach of procedure, he was not apprehended, let alone
The findings reveal that officers at the education ministry headquarters
unprocedurally allocated money to undeserving students, mostly sons and
daughters of their relatives and friends, who in return "kicked-back" with
gifts and money in appreciation. In some cases, the money was allocated to
what the report calls "ghost students," only to end up in the officers'
Despite the rot, which had been brought to the attention of senior
education officials, the past government had been lethargic in putting in
place measures to correct the mess.
The move initiated by former president Daniel arap Moi to audit public
primary schools in 2002 to rid the sector of corruption and exploitation
by head teachers, never got far. To date, accounts of more than 5,292
institutions in the country have not been audited.
Are Africans Guinea Pigs In Genetic Research?
The issue of Genetically Modified (GM) foods recently generated unpleasant
exchanges between the West and Africa, when food donations from the USA to
starving countries in southern Africa were found to be genetically
altered. Africa accused the West of attempting to use its unfortunate
population as guinea pigs in pursuit of scientific research. But what
really are GM foods and why is there so much controversy around them? While
seeking to answer this, AANA Correspondent Joyce Mulama highlights opinions
expressed by the Church and those put forward by scientists.
In simple terms, scientists define GM foods as products of a process of
genetic engineering involving artificial transfer of genes from one
organism to another, in an attempt to improve yield, quality and taste.
But because the process involves interference with the natural genetic
make-up of organisms, it has been viewed with lots of suspicion,
particularly by third world states.
A good reference point would be the recent controversies surrounding
donations of GM foods in parts of southern Africa, where a food crisis in
countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland,
elicited international attention.
Severe famine in the region darkened the lives of about 15 million people,
forcing their governments to turn to western nations for aid. Western
relief agencies are said to have responded with quick donations of
foodstuffs a few months back.
These however, turned out to have been genetically modified substances,
creating bitter exchanges between the affected countries and the western
While the starving countries maintained their ground that they would not
accept GM foods, the donors are reported to have given them ultimatums
amounting to "either make use of GM foods or starve to death".
An interesting case in point is a complicated agreement signed between USA
and Zimbabwe three months ago. In the agreement, Zimbabwe was expected to
swap naturally grown maize with genetically modified maize from USA.
According to media reports, the agreement was to enable 17,000 tonnes of
genetically modified maize from USA to be exchanged with the same quantity
of naturally grown grain from Zimbabwe.
But Zimbabwe quickly made an about-turn and objected to the issue, arguing
that the GM food was unfit for human consumption. In any case, Zimbabwe
was faced with insufficient stocks of maize.
Zambia is also undergoing a similar experience. With its population of ten
million, about 2.5 million people are facing starvation. Over 21,000 tonnes
of food is required monthly to feed them.
Mid last year, President Levy Mwanawasa sent out an appeal for food aid to
the international community. Again, USA donated GM maize. Regardless of the
starvation, the president rejected the food, describing it as "poison".
The government then set up a commission to investigate validity of the
donated GM foods, a move meant to demonstrate its concern over the safety
of the population.
The commission later came up with findings that concurred with the
president's rejection of the food. It described GM foods as fatal to human
beings, with a high risk of interfering with the local genetic composition
of maize if introduced to the soil.
An interview with a cross section of Kenyans reveals that many people do
not quite understand the technology behind genetically modified foods. "All
I know is that these are dangerous foods which are harmful to the body and
have been introduced in the continent by the West," says one Emmanuel
Others have not even heard of the term. "I have never heard of what you are
asking me, what animal is it, tell me," say Benson Watambi.
Head of Research and Development at the All Africa Conference of Churches,
Dr Kunijwok Kwawang feels that the technology of genetic engineering is an
experiment by the west. "The process of experimenting on us has turned us
into guinea pigs," he says.
"This is a continuation of the slave trade in a modern form, including
slavery of the mind, where they have made us believe that West is best", he
Dr Kunijwok says the long-term effect of this technology is not known and
that the West is taking advantage of natural disasters in Africa such as
drought and famine, to "force these foods down the throats of Africans".
He asserts that the West, who are custodians of this project are in
business, and "the human-well being is not considered when people are out
to make money".
Dr Kunijwok underlines the need for the African Union (AU) to come out and
question on behalf of African nations, the safety of GM foods. "This is the
time for AU as a voice of Africa to stand up and save its children," he
Genetic engineering also lacks the backing of the Church as an entity. The
bone of contention is the manipulation of genetic make-up of organisms.
Christians feel that scientists are trying to 'play' God.
Many argue that altering genetic composition of an organism is not the role
of mankind but of God.
A senior pastor of Gospel Lighthouse Church in Kenya, Josiah Syanda says
the Church has a responsibility of standing up for the rights of people and
"The repercussions of these foods have not yet been established... The
Church has a responsibility of investigating until it is satisfied that
people using GM foods are protected from destruction," says Syanda.
He says the Church must rise up and guard against any injustices. "When you
manufacture a product with the intention of gaining at the expense of other
people's health simply because they are hungry and poor, and do not have
the machinery to verify the safety of your products, this is injustice," he
But scientists differ. A biotechnologist at the Kenya Agricultural
Research Institute, Dr Christopher Ngichabe, says genetic engineering is
making rapid entry into agriculture, and that there is need for governments
to disseminate information about the technology. "People need to understand
that this technology has many advantages," he says.
Before the advent of this technology, Ngichabe says, there was so much
spraying of crops with pesticides, irrigation and many more additional
costs. "Sprays are dangerous to the environment as well as to the
user. Irrigation is an expensive business. Basically, genetic engineering
is a much safer, farmer friendly and an easier process," he elaborates.
He goes on: "When we are talking of food security and poverty alleviation,
this technology is the way forward".
Nevertheless, some analysts are of the view that in the midst of the
enthusiasm for genetic engineering, there has been almost no consideration
for critical reflection on whether it is appropriate for African
agricultural systems, and its implications thereafter.
Tracing The Genesis Of Bahutu-Batutsi Hatred
Unknown to many, the mood of intolerance, hatred and animosity begun to
emerge in Rwanda and Burundi in the early 1960's in a very unpredictable
manner. It matured over the years and later resulted in the ghastly
genocide of 1994 in Rwanda. Our writer, Geoffrey H. Kaiza, a Burundian
journalism student living in Kenya, reports that former colonial masters
could have a share of blame for the Bahutu/Batutsi conflict in the two
Eastern Africa countries.
Tribal clashes, carried out in the tiny and twin countries of Rwanda and
Burundi have taken many lives. The weak and the strong, the young and the
old have all not been spared.
The background of deep hatred between Bahutu and Batutsi of Rwanda and
Burundi, is traced back to the colonial times shortly after the Berlin
Conference in 1884.
After the partition of Africa, Germany established colonial rule in both
Rwanda and Burundi. Unfortunately, the defeat of Germany in the First World
War allowed Belgium to take control of the countries. At that time,
Belgian people were well known to be the most divided society.
The Belgian society was stratified into castes. The Walloons were nobles,
whereas the Flemish were considered lower class people. There was hatred
between the two. This was exported and could not be hidden in their
colonies of Rwanda and Burundi.
Meanwhile, around the Sixteenth Century, the kingdom of Rwanda-Urundi was
one of the most organised states in East Africa. Despite being stratified
into three major ethnic groups, there was no ethnic hatred.
The Batutsi, who were pastoralists, formed the royal family. The Bahutu, on
the other hand, were simply agriculturalists, while the small Batwa tribe
were hunters and potters.
Although the ruling class was the Batutsi in Rwanda and Burundi, only a
minority of Batutsi were nobles and rulers. Most were poor and benefited
little materially from the caste system.
Social mobility and intermarriage blurred the caste distinctions. The
division became more of class than ethnicity.
Despite some minor differences, Bahutu and Batutsi coexisted
amicably. Matters of concern were sorted out peacefully by a council of
elders, whose members were drawn from both sides.
When the Belgians came however, they introduced the policy of "divide and
rule" to control and exploit the enormous natural and human resources in
In Rwanda for instance, they introduced education for the Batutsi
only. By so doing, Belgians advanced the Batutsi at the expense of the
Bahutu. Consequently, only learned Batutsi were given good jobs. The
Belgians did this to create hatred between Bahutu and Batutsi. It worked.
The majority Bahutu, who felt oppressed, went violent and expelled Batutsi
from Rwanda during the years of 1959 to 1973.
This can be considered the beginning of an uprising that led to the horrors
of 1993 and 1994 genocide in Burundi and Rwanda respectively. It was a
question of monopoly of power by the minority Batutsi, against the wishes
of the majority Bahutu.
In 1959, events began to run out of control. King Mutara Rudahigwa of
Rwanda died mysteriously while on a visit to Bujumbura in Burundi. In
August the same year, the first political party was formed under the name
Union Nationale Rwandaise -UNAR (Rwandese National Union).
Though it included some Bahutu, it was pro-monarchy, pro-Tutsi, and anti
Belgian. In October that year, UNAR was countered by the formation of the
Movement for Emancipation of Bahutu.
UNAR activists attacked a Bahutu sub-chief who was a key figure in
Permehutu Party. In retaliation, the Bahutu attacked Tutsi chiefs who
belonged to UNAR. Rwanda's communal violence had begun.
Across the country, Bahutu militias armed with machetes and bows and
arrows, set fire on thousands of huts belonging to Batutsi, killing
mercilessly all Batutsi leaders. Women and children were not spared.
Several hundreds of thousands of people died, while many of those who
survived went on exile in neighbouring countries.
Later, the colonial masters switched support to Bahutu through what was
called Bahutu Manifesto, which focused on criticising the social, economic
and political monopoly of the Batutsi elite.
In 1962, the Bahutu staged a revolution and seized power. Many Batutsis
went on exile. Those who managed to reach the border were allowed into the
relatively peaceful Burundi.
From Burundi, they launched several attacks through the armed wing of UNAR
known as Inyenzi (the cockroach) to destabilise the Bahutu regime of
Kigali, Rwanda. Pressure begun to mount between Kigali and Bujumbura.
In 1963, Prince Louis Rwagasore, son of King Mwanbutsa, was shot dead by
Kageorgis, a mercenary hired by the Belgian colonial power. This shocking
event occurred one year after Rwanda and Burundi got their independence.
In 1966, the kingdom of Muramvya in Burundi was attacked by angry Bahutu
armed with machetes and clubs. Six years later, the Batutsi government of
Burundi led by Lt Colonel Michael Micombero, carried out an unprecedented
massacre against Bahutu people. The main target was the educated class.
Thousands of the Bahutu perished in the genocide. The horrors followed an
alleged aborted coup of 1972 masterminded by a group of top Bahutu army
commanders against the Tusti government.
Tension continued to mount between Kigali and Bujumbura. Abusive languages
were aired on radio in Rwanda and Burundi as a result of deep hatred
between President Gregory Kayibanda (Bahutu) of Rwanda and Lt Michael
Micombero (Batutsi) of Burundi.
Conflicts erupted in Burundi with the assassination of President Ndadaye
alongside other government officials.
The Bahutu went on the offensive, tying their Batutsi neighbours with ropes
and hacking them to death. The unforgiving Batutsi soldiers then marched
into Bahutu villages, causing hundreds of thousands of Bahutu peasants to
flee from their homes.
On April 6, 1994, President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien
Ntaryamira of Burundi were shot down in Kigali. They had come from Arusha,
where they had gone to sign a peace agreement between the government and
the Rwandan Patriotic Front-RPF (then a rebel group).
The horror that engulfed Rwanda was about to begin. Bahutu military blamed
RPF and instigated widespread, horrific massacres of innocent
Batutsi. Many believe that what they did was in revenge of what had
happened to them some years ago.
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