US AGENCY IN MALAWI
Melania Trump spent Thursday in southern Africa promoting the work of a US international development agency whose funding President Donald Trump has twice proposed slashing by nearly a third.
Lawmakers essentially ignored those requests.
Mrs Trump toured classrooms at Lilongwe's Chipala Primary School, which gets textbooks and other education assistance from the US Agency for International Development.
A batch of 1.4 million books donated on Thursday brought to nearly 10 million the total Malawi has received in recent years under USAID's national reading programme, officials said. Malawi's education minister said the partnership had "significantly" improved pupil literacy.
But the Trump administration sought a roughly 30 per cent cut in funding for the State Department
and USAID in its first two budgets. Widespread bipartisan opposition in Congress averted the reductions.
But none of that was up for discussion as Mrs Trump visited with happy schoolchildren and their teachers in the Malawian capital.
"I wanted to be here to see the successful programmes that (the) United States is providing the children and thank you for everything you've done," the first lady said at a book donation ceremony in the school library.
She had just finished touring several outdoor classrooms. Chipala has more than 8 500 pupils but just 77 teachers, for a ratio of 111 pupils per instructor, according to the US government.
With just 22 classrooms, many pupils are forced to take their lessons outdoors, seated shoulder to shoulder in their uniforms on loose, red dirt. Mrs Trump watched several teachers conduct lessons for the equivalent of second- and third-graders.
"Meeting those children and understanding their different way of life is why I wanted to travel here," Mrs Trump told US Embassy employees at a gathering at the US ambassador's residence.
Her own 12-year-old son attends a private school in Maryland. "I was heartened to spend time with the pupils and was honoured to donate school supplies and soccer balls," she said.
Sudan seizes two newspapers
- Sudanese security agents confiscated the entire print runs of two newspapers on Thursday, their owners said, days after the European Union and Washington pushed for press freedoms in the African country. Agents of Sudan's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) seized copies of AlTayar and Al-Jareeda after their editors attended a meeting held by the EU at its office in Khartoum on Tuesday that urged press freedoms in the country. "They confiscated our newspaper copies without giving any reason," Al-Tayar's owner and Editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani told AFP. "But I had attended the EU meeting, so that could be the reason."
KHARTOUM New condoms for soldiers for safe sex
Uganda’s military has reportedly launched a new condom brand, ‘ulinzi’ (Swahili for protection) for its soldiers "in order to ensure they have safe sex". According to the BBC, Uganda’s military chief of staff Leopold Kyanda said the troops needed to be safe first before they could defend the country. According to Uganda PopulationBased HIV impact assessment UPHIA report of 2016, the east African nation’s HIV prevalence rate now stood at six per cent as compared to 30 per cent in the early 1980s when many Ugandans were getting to know about the disease, reported New Vision. The country had, however, made a lot of progress in the national HIV response, the report said.
UGANDA - Nigeria judge faces sack over bribe
A senior Nigerian judge falsely claimed he had suffered a bereavement to get cash from litigants and lawyers appearing in his court, the country's main judicial body said on Thursday. James Agbadu-Fishim "received various sums of money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him and some influential Nigerians under the false pretence that he was bereaved or that there was a delay in the payment of his salary", the National Judicial Council said in a statement. The judge sits in the National Industrial Court but has now been "recommended for removal by dismissal from office," it added.
PROMOTING: US First Lady Melania Trump visits Chipala Primary School alongside Head teacher Maureen Masi in Lilongwe.