Earth Finds

Earth Finds

BUA Group Alleged To Be Using Militia To Mine In Dangote Site

The management of BUA Group has been using armed militia, soldiers and policemen to mine marble and limestone in mining sites allocated to the Dangote Group, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has alleged.

In a statement signed by the ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abass, and made available, the ministry said the company had been using a combination of armed militia, soldiers and policemen to obstruct the ministry's team from executing the stop work order issued to the company in October.

The ministry's statement was in response to an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by the company alleging that a minister was involved in sabotaging its operations.

Abass said that in the records of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, the BUA Group did not have a mining lease over the contentious site (No. 2541ML) and was therefore engaged in illegal mining.

He stated, "The ministry stands by the stop work order issued to the BUA Group and signed by the Permanent Secretary dated 17th of October 2017."

"The letter was issued after thorough investigation confirmed that the BUA Group was indeed engaging in illegal mining of marble/limestone at a mine pit located on geographical coordinates N070 21' 47.4' E0060 26' 51.8', while the run-of-mine is stockpiled at an area with geographical coordinates N070 21' 48.4'; E0060 26'37.2'."

"Clarification provided by the Mining Cadastre Office shows that the coordinates of the mine pit and RoM stockpile area fall wholly within the area of mining Lease No 2541ML belonging to Messrs Dangote Industries Limited."

Abass added, "The ministry had earlier in 2015 issued a stop work order on this same disputed site but the BUA Group disregarded the order and went ahead with its illegal mining activities, under heavy cover of armed soldiers, policemen and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps."

"The management of BUA also resisted the enforcement of the latest stop work order issued on October 17, 2017 using a combination of armed militia, soldiers and policemen to obstruct the team from the ministry in effecting the stop work order."

He added that the ministry would not compromise due process in its commitment to promote local and global investments in the Nigerian mining sector.

 

Importance Of Making Early Holiday Preparations

By Cynthia Tumwine

Yes, December is here and the rush has begun. Prices are shooting for everything and yet the festive season still has to be celebrated. The last thing you need is being unable to have a fun time with friends and loved ones because you did not plan ahead.

Here are some of the reasons as to why you need to plan that amazing road trip, getaway or destination holiday in time.

Book the hotel or flight before the prices shoot due to the festive season.
It is always key to book your hotel or flight early enough if you have travel plans to avoid having to pay extremely high rates on hotels and flights. As the days get closer to Christmas and Newyear, everybody starts booking which means demand is high and obviously the prices will shoot up from the original price.


Higher chance of availability in the hotels when you book or reserve early.
As mentioned above, everyone suddenly remembers to book their getaway last minute. This therefore means there is a rush and in this period rooms start to get filled up and flights get overbooked. If you want to stand a chance and avoid disappointment then booking early is important.

Easier to save up for the holidays, than to spend large sums at once.
Everyone can agree that December is usually the most expensive month of the year. It gets so bad that it always has people crying of being broke in January. Sometimes, this could be because they are spending huge sums of money all in one go.

Imagine how much easier it would be on your pockets if you saved up early in the year specifically for all your travel expenses in the festive season. Planning can include even paying ahead, such as for hotel rooms or flights so as to guarantee availability and avoid the high charges incurred as prices rise in this peak season.

The penalty for cancelling hotel bookings can be very high and yet sometimes plans change.
Some hotels have a free cancellation policy. However, for others there is a small fine one incurs when they cancel their booking, and the closer to your check in date you cancel, the higher the fine. So, in the event that your plans change, it is better to cancel early instead of waiting till the last minute.


Getting family and friends together can be tricky.
Going on holiday with loved ones requires meticulous planning. This is because people may have different schedules, break off from work at different times and have different budgets. Therefore, it’s always best to have these discussions prior so as to ensure a successful trip.

All that being said don’t forget to book as soon as possible onJumia Travel for the best rates on Hotels and Flights.

Cynthia Tumwine

PR Manager Jumia Food and Travel

 

Victoria University Exhibits World Class Research In Public Health

By Professor Stephen Lawoko

Having spent 28 years of my life in Sweden, returning to Uganda July 2017, to serve my country was an honor,though with mixed feelings of excitement and uncertainty. Exciting because I felt my experience in research and education in the health sciences domain would be of great value to university students, faculty and community at large.

Uncertain because I had never worked professionally on long-term basis in Uganda, having left the country after completing senior six. I was now to join as Dean of Health Sciences at a young but dynamic University, Victoria University.

For the past 16 years, I had served in different capacities at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, a top notch world class Medical and Health Science University founded in 1810 and therefore more than 200 years old! Now an Associate Professor, my agenda was clear, but what were my expectations of this 7 year old Victoria University?

I had read and heard of over-filled Universities in Uganda with tutor-student ratios way below optimal. On one occasion while in Sweden, I had actually been invited as a guest lecturer at one such University and experienced it. Some proponents had suggested that this was a reflection of popularity while others argued it was mirroring shortage of higher education facilities in the country, amidst high demand.

Whatever the case, Victoria University stood out! What I found on ground upon taking on my new role was a modern culturally diverse cosmopolitan University in central Kampala, with all the environmental recipes for an ideal learning environment! Student-tutor ratios were optimal with lots of spacious classrooms, a fully-fledged library and skills laboratory!

Energetic scholars had just returned from field placements, where they had interfaced with and provided health services to disadvantaged communities during their recess term! Among them where Maria Ssematiko, Winnie Apolot and Irene Samari.

At the university, they mingled freely with faculty and where not shy to share of their experiences with their new Dean. It appeared that student-faculty communication was good. Just like the students, faculty members where from all corners of globe. In general, these conditions mirrored what I had left behind at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, 200 years older than Victoria University!

Five months have passed since I took on the new position as Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the Victoria University. My observations, reviews of past andcurrent strategic plans, interactions with faculty and students, among others, indicate that Victoria University is growing at an exponential pace to become a world class University!

Last week I presided over the defense of three bachelors theses in Public Health Sciences, which is one of four programs offered at the Faculty of Health Sciences. As Dean of the faculty, I had carefully matched each thesis with a set of three appropriate independent expert examiners in line with the University policies and recommendations. The following is a summary of the three important theses Authored by Ms. Maria Ssematiko, Ms. Winnie Apolot and Ms. Irene Samari respectively.

Thesis I

Anaemia, a condition characterized by low blood haemoglobin concentration, is currently a global public health problem that has adverse health consequences. It is a result of iron deficiency in the body, mainly due to poor nutritional practices and is therefore a preventable.

Yet, a striking 40% of the world’s children under 5 years old are affected by the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. Using data from over 1000 women extracted from the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys, Ms. Maria Ssematiko’s thesis assessed the influence of women’s demographic and empowerment features on anaemia status among their children (0-5) years old.

Ms. Ssematiko’s study found the prevalence of anaemia among Ugandan children under 5 years to be as high as 65%, which is 25% more than the global average! Further investigation revealed that maternal illiteracy, teen-age motherhood and residing in rural settings increased the likelihood of having a child with anaemia among Ugandan Women.

In addition, the study identified significant religious and ethnic variations in the prevalence of Anaemia. According, Ms. Ssematiko recommended that interventions to address infant Anaemia should target and be tailored to suit mothers with specific socio-demographic characteristics (identified in her study), if Anemia is to be effectively controlled at National level in Uganda.

Thesis II

Immunization is proven to be the most effective way of preventing mortality of children below five years. Yet, infant mortality remains relatively high in Uganda at 43 deaths per 1000 live births. An understanding of both the demand (i.e. caretaker) and supply (i.e. caregiver) factors can inform effective interventions to reduce immunization related mortality.

The thesis of Ms. Winnie Apolot assessed and identified parental and health facility factors that negatively influence completion of immunization services. Using data generated from 185 mothers in Budumbili west as a case study, Ms. Apolot found poor knowledge of immunization schedules among parents to reduce the likelihood of immunization completion.

Surprisingly, unlike previous studies, Ms, Winnie Apolot’s study did not find any association between general education levels and completion of Immunization. Ms. Apolot concluded that these finding have the implication that generic interventions alone (e.g. universal primary/secondary education) my not adequately address the gap in immunization practices among mothers. The study emphasized the need to complement general education with comprehensive orientation of mothers about the immunization process at the community level,by healthcare providers.

Thesis III

The World Health Organization estimates that 10% of the African population lives with some form of disability. There is broad consensus among researchers that disability influences the mental wellbeing of People living With Disabilities (PWDs).

However, not all PWDs encounter mental health problem, and the research on factors that may distinguish between PWDs who develop mental distress and those who do not is lacking. Ms. Irene Samari’s thesis set out to fill this research gap.

Using data generated from 130 PWDs from CoRSU (Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services Uganda), a facility offering services to people with disability in central Uganda, the study found the prevalence of psychological distress (which is a generic indicator of mental illness) among PWDs to be ashigh as 70%.

The characteristics among PWDs that increased the likelihood of distress included young age, being single, socio-economic disadvantage (reflected in low education and low income), and having another health condition besides the disability (i.e. Comorbidity). Ms. Samari concluded that interventions to reduce distress among PWDs should be comprehensive, targeting the identified risk groups as well as detecting and dealing with comorbid conditions among PWDs.    

The global, regional and community relevanceof these bachelors’ theses cannot be overemphasized. The millennium development goals (MDGs) 3,4 and 5highlighted several aspects related to these works including reduction of high child mortality rates, and closing the gap in health and healthcare utilizationamong disadvantaged populations.

Though tremendous progress was made in the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, significant gaps remained and the research of Maria, Winnie and Irene remain relevant in addressing these gaps. They incorporate an understanding that research on risk factors for ill health, uptake and supply of health services can provide important insight for preventive and curative interventions targeted at specific groups at risk in the communities.

They provide evidence ofbarriers to the effective uptake and supply of health services, emanating from the healthcare supply side as well as the demand side. They underline the importance of a comprehensive approach in addressing these health risk and gaps in delivery, and finally, they exhibit the high level of training and research of relevance for the global community offered at the Victoria University.

Congratulation Maria, Winnie and Irene for your important contribution to global health research! The challenge remains in the translation of your findings from paper to interventions that will transform the lives of the populations you have studied. It is my hope that your research journey has not ended here. You started it; you either finish it or encourage those following you to pick up from where you stopped! Aluta Continua, Victoria University on your journey towards excellence in education, research and community service!

Professor Stephen Lawoko, Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Victoria University

What You Need To Know About Education And Social Transformation

By Kasirye Fred

A lot has been said and documented about education and its potential in transforming society. Indeed this has also been witnessed in many parts of the world and thus the investment people continue to make in education of masses around the globe with the hope of transforming society.

Education in itself is not merely limited to classroom experiences but, aholistic and experiential learning aimedat social transformation. The reason we partake of the challenge is to define ourselves in the wider society where we live as influential contributors to growth and social structuring for better livelihood.

It is therefore rather absurd when you ask a third world student why they enrolled on a course and their answer is “because it’s marketable”. This is not only a misconception of the need to attain education but greatly puts across the question as to whether we all know why we at one point made the decision/ or someone made the decision for us to enroll in school.

The many challenges in the 3rd world should directly respond to the creation of more opportunity. Our reason to go to school should be to end these challenges of poverty, unemployment, famine, drought, corruption and the list goes on depending on where one comes from.

Right form history, innovations, discoveries and inventions the world over largely owe their existence to education and so shall the future without doubt. However, as a community in the third world we continue to graduate engineers that cannot make innovations for social transformation, social workers that fear to engage with the community challenges in the rural areas, public administrators that breed corruption ad divert public funds and the like.

In this case we clearly notice that education indeed can cause social breakdown in some instances such as these. Its then that all of us serving in the education sector need to revisit our purpose, and more so how we conduct day to day business in and outside the classroom. Until we know we are part of the problem as educationists/ academia, and also that we are part of the solution it will not be easy to find a lasting remedy to the ills education breeds for society.

Focusing on the game changers

At the end of your primary leaving examination, your parents congratulate you upon the completion of a landmark level in your education career, aggregate four is awaited and behold if you get it right, the four is in hand a great celebration is in order. But the cycle continues as you go even higher, senior four, senior six and then University where you graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

But why is it that after this investment in the graduate, he/ she stays “unoccupied” and consider themselves jobless instead of moving out to create solutions to the challenges of the world and his/her environs. Largely people will say it’s the lack of jobs and indeed it is a good reason but it is not a satisfactory reason in a community where social problems continue to multiply and require educated brains to solve them.

Just like lifestyle responds to trends, education delivery needs to respond to trends. Today unlike in the past we are building on already existing knowledge and not creating totally knew knowledge from scratch. 20th century teaching methods are unlikely going to impact on the 21st century learner however good the facilitator / lecturer might be or even the information prepared for the class. The method of delivery will determine if learning actually takes place and therefore shall create the future expected of every learner. I shall pronounce a three level effort in the ideal direction.

  1. University funding.

The cream of the country’ educated cannot keep around to nature the young generations for long due to the failure of the local universities to deploy them. Low pay, poor research culture, and low motivation will drive the researchers to greener pastures. A country will need data as a basis to plan but due to the inability to undertake credible researches since the highly educated are off to greener pastures, a gap stays unserved.

While there is a lot of government and NGO funding for primary and secondary schools, for the purposes of engineering social transformation its high time the funding be put to universities to engage in more research and provide a direction. With the relevant researches done, governments will have a partner in education institutions to inform strategy and thus reduce speculative spending thereby supporting social transformation.

  1. Ensuring Learning

It is true that there is huge unemployment in the third world, but it is also true that the actively employed do more than one job in some cases in the same sector. In the education sector it is even worse. A primary school teacher will teach in more than five schools in order to break even. Same for the secondary school teacher they will settle for a multitude of classes, just to live at the bare minimum in their society.

This habit creeped to the universities, and now indeed scholars are in the market place. It is ethically wrong to present as a teacher and fail at your primary role of ensuring learning. In this part of the would education has further been abused to make it a traumatizing experience where learners are humiliated for poor performance, made to repeat classes and are thus embarrassed, and creating an environment of authoritative teacher / submissive student relationship.

This kind of environment builds a cram and answer the exam atmosphere. It doesn’t build a learning culture. The competition created is not healthy and in many cases has caused unnecessary examination malpractices. Why would a school cheat in an examination?

Silently I hear the answer to grow its numbers and confidence in the parents, but it’s a simple principle, trash in trash out, these seemingly small cases will bread the corrupt government officials in tomorrow’s world. Right from the ministry of education down to the education institutions, a culture of learning should be propagated through putting in place structures to ensure learning and not academic competition.

  1. Student / learner support

Basic education provides for laid down teacher/ student ratios for ideal classes, a library for referencing and a staff room for face to face between teachers/ lecturers and the learners. Unfortunately this support to learners is fast taking the exit route. Schools today and even universities will provide space for lecture room but none for staff, and neither for the library.

The explanation will be that the teachers/ lecturers are part time and the library can be obtained virtually. This without doubt is the epitome of neglect of duty. Students / learners would at all-time wish to consult with their trainers, practice what they are learning if they will confidently apply it when off campus. It is an open education secret that learning for transformation can only take place when the student and the teacher appreciate that each has a role to play in this calling.

The student to present themselves for the learning and the lecturer to offer the platform for this learning to take place. Any institution that will not provide for student support mechanisms will take on the comfort of an academic shop and not an education institution.

Conclusion

Education to date has the capacity to transform the communities in which we stay for the better, however as partners in providing education, we must rethink delivery, funding priorities and the learning environment if we are to realize the social transformation we all desire.

Kasirye Fred, is a Lecturer at Victoria University Kampala

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