AfricanBrains Africa Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Fri, 22 Jul 2016 17:40:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Women’s conference explores ways to uplift communities Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:35:47 +0000 Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor


Pretoria – Women in leadership positions have been challenged to look to the opportunities presented by science and technology to change the fortunes of their communities.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday said there are plenty of innovations that could be used to enhance health care, education, water provision, sanitation, energy supply and agriculture.

The Minister was speaking at the 8th Annual Leadership Development for Women Conference in Johannesburg.

Minister Pandor cited a project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in Giyani, Limpopo, in which scientists and traditional healers are collaborating in studies on rose geranium to develop a network of rural-based oil production businesses.

The DST is working with the South African Essential Oil Business Incubator on the business aspects.

There is a high global demand for rose geranium oil, and the DST project is developing crop for primary production processes that are cheaper and produce higher oil yields of the required quality.

The project is also making use of economic distillation technologies and is rolling out a comprehensive marketing programme to ensure the entry of rural products into mainstream markets, both locally and internationally.

The project, which started out with 85 employees, some of whom are part owners of the business, today employs 250 local people – a clear illustration of how science and technology can be used for local development.

Minister Pandor said South Africa’s national system of innovation is geared to support regional and local innovation systems, with universities central to regional innovation forums and science parks.

“Science parks can be extremely useful in promoting national and regional competitiveness but by themselves do not guarantee regional success. For science parks to succeed in promoting local economic growth, they must be fully integrated into the overall social and economic development strategy and context,” the Minister said.

South Africa’s science parks include the East London Industrial Development Zone, the Innovation Hub in Pretoria and a science park at the Vaal University of Technology.

The DST’s strategic objective is to develop regional innovation forums in each province to help set collective research priorities for the province and to elevate innovation as a driver for economic and social development.

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Pact to tackle Gauteng student housing backlog Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:33:23 +0000 gauteng logoBy–

Pretoria – The Gauteng Provincial Government has signed a declaration of intent with the Department of Higher Education and Training to help address the dearth of student accommodation.

The agreement was signed on Thursday during the Symposium on Student Housing in Pretoria. It is hailed as the first step towards using the provincial government’s R31 billion immovable assets register to help resolve the infrastructure requirements of Higher Education.

The Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department will donate land to universities and technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.

Donations will be made to the University of South Africa (UNISA), University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg and the Vaal University of Technology, among others.

Speaking at the symposium at UNISA in Pretoria, Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development Jacob Mamabolo said the signing of the declaration has the potential to change how government uses its immovable assets to address the problem of student accommodation.

“As government, we will ensure that we stick to our end of the deal. We will make sure that within three months, concrete plans are on the table to make this process a reality.

“Ours is to ensure that we use the people’s assets in the form of our province’s R31 billion worth of property in line with the Constitution and other prescripts of the law to ensure that we dent the legacy of apartheid spatial planning,” said MEC Mamabolo.

He urged all sectors of society, including Higher Education, to make a commitment to protect the assets that are an investment on behalf of the people of Gauteng.

“We cannot afford to continue to deliver infrastructure, only for it to be destroyed by non-caring elements of our society. We therefore plead with Higher Education that they should display the commitment by signing the ‘I Care We Care’ pledge and lead the group of people, who have been saying community property cannot continue to be undermined,” said the MEC.

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Ghana Receives 11.9 Million Euros (GHC 52 Million) from the European Union to Support Decentralisation Fri, 22 Jul 2016 09:17:22 +0000 .

This is the fourth instalment of a programme amounting to a total of 45 million Euros or GHC 198.3 million.

The European Union (EU) has this month paid 11.9 million Euros (GHC 52 million) to support decentralization in Ghana. The grant supports the decentralization reform process of the country that aims to improve service delivery at the district level.

The European Union is working with Ghana to ensure that more citizens get better services at local level such as – feeder roads or social protection.

In the framework of the European Union’s Financing Agreement with Ghana, the amount of 11.9 million Euros, equivalent to more than GHC 52.4 million has been released to the treasury to support the implementation of the National Decentralisation Action Plan 2015-2019. This is the fourth instalment of a programme amounting to a total of 45 million Euros or GHC 198.3 million.

The new payment of 11.9 million Euros was disbursed following the good results of decentralisation process monitored in the past 12 months. Key achievements include measures taken in favour of better dedicated staff at the District level, to strengthen local level capacity to participate in planning and budgeting, to have timely disbursement of funds from the District Assemblies Common Fund to the Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and the improvement of the functioning of the feeder roads system.

On the occasion of the disbursement, William Hanna, Ambassador of the European Union said:

“The European Union is working with Ghana to ensure that more citizens get better services at local level such as –feeder roads or social protection. We aim to strengthen local authorities to play their role in better accountability, transparency and service delivery. The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are crucial partners of central government, who should both implement and add to national development efforts. The Decentralisation reform in Ghana is making headway, and that’s why we are backing it with financial support, along with other development partners.”

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Diversification and Industrialisation are Critical for the Integration of African Countries into the Global Economy Fri, 22 Jul 2016 06:30:36 +0000 Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies
Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies

Minister Davies highlighted that the African countries participate in the global economy as mainly suppliers of primary products.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says African countries need policy space to diversify, industrialise and transform their economies in order to integrate into the global economy. Minister Davies was speaking at the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Kenya.

Minister Davies highlighted that the African countries participate in the global economy as mainly suppliers of primary products. It is critical that concerted effort be put to ensure that countries move up the value chains. International trade rules should therefore not constrain policy space required by developing countries, including African countries to industrialise.

Multinationals must pay taxes. Some have exploited tax havens and this is not healthy. I think the issue of taxation remains a major challenge in developing countries.

Davies said providing affordable sources of finance for manufacturing is critical for the survival of African industries in a globalised trade environment. He added that as Africans, we need to create larger continental markets to support our own industrialisation and improve Africa’s prospects of attracting investment. Hence, the importance of the development integration approach adopted by the continent which combines market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development.

Minister Davies stated that in support of this development integration agenda, the African continent needs investment that promotes inclusive growth and contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. As such it needs to attract investors that are committed to good business practices, responsible business conduct and are not involved in illicit financial flows.

“Multinationals must pay taxes. Some have exploited tax havens and this is not healthy. I think the issue of taxation remains a major challenge in developing countries,” he noted.

Meanwhile, last week South African government launched Trade Invest Africa which will provide support to South African businesses doing business in the rest of Africa. As well as the Guidelines for good business practice for companies operating in the rest of Africa which were signed by representatives of government and business at the Roundtable Discussions organised by the Department of Trade and Industry. The aim of this imitative is to promote an investment-led trade strategy in the continent and position South African companies as good partners in the development of the African continent.

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The Ghana-China Friendship Association come together to celebrate new ICT laboratory at Nyankpala, Ghana Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:35:06 +0000 ghana chinaChina have had an incredible influence on Africa’s ICT sector and have donated endless amounts of equipment, training and loans to help assist Africa in their digital and economic development transforming them into a knowledge economy. The Ghana-China Friendship Association (GHACHIFA), aided by the Chinese government have been working together to ensure the children and teens of Ghana have the best educational facilities and learning. It was confirmed today that the Ghana-China Friendship Association have constructed an entire laboratory dedicated to Information, Communication and Technology at Nyankpala (D/A) Junior High School (JHS). The students of Nyankpala are overwhelmed and incredibly excited, this will see the standard of learning rocket and new doors open for the students.

Madam Sun Baohong, Chinese Ambassador said a few words at the inauguration of the new laboratory in Nyankpala (D/A) school told pupils, “Knowledge and experience, is the most valuable wealth of everyone. If you cannot travel, this ICT Centre could be a key and access to the outside world”. With 30 market leading computers and several other ICT learning gadgets the students are now able to adapt to the developments of today’s world and move forward with them. Madam Sun advised the students that they should try and use wisdom, science and technology to transform their lives adding, “I hope you would persist in personal improvement and take social responsibility actively.”

The Regional Minister, Mr Abdallah Abubakari, emphasized that students must take good care of the laboratory and all equipment to ensure that many students after them are also able to benefit from the facilities. The Regional Minister thanked the Chinese Government for the continuous support to the country.

Mr Kojo Amoo-Gottfried, President of GHACHIFA and the former Ghanaian Ambassador to China, made a few remarks at the inauguration stating, “ICT is ruling the world hence the provision of the facility to equip pupils with skills to aid their development.”

Mr Adam Issah, the headmaster of the beneficiary school Nyankpala D/A expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government for their generous contribution and support to improving the educational outcomes of the school.

Madam Sun closed the inauguration by reiterating how much China values its relations and friendship with the country and ensuring that the Ghana-Africa relationship will continue to work closely together to bring about more opportunities such as this for the children of Ghana in order to transform and work towards Ghanas agenda’s.

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Leadership, Peace and Security Take Centre Stage at Symposium and Photo Exhibitions on Nelson Mandela Day Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:19:05 +0000 .

July 18 every year was declared by the UN General Assembly in November 2009, as the ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself” – Nelson Mandela

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership” – Nelson Mandela

The above two quotations by Nelson Mandela captured the mood and the focus of the symposium, film screening and photo exhibitions organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos; the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA); the South African Consulate General, Lagos and the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) as part of activities marking the 2016 Nelson Mandela International Day in Nigeria.

July 18 every year was declared by the UN General Assembly in November 2009, as the ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. Whilst the General Assembly (UNGA) resolution of 2009 recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity; the UNGA resolution of 2015 on the Nelson Mandela Rules extends the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to also promote humane conditions of imprisonment, to raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance. No doubt, the Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of a legend who embodied the highest values of the United Nations.

As over 150 participants comprising of representatives of NGOs, media organisations as well as university and high school students were conducted around the exhibitions; and as they were also later treated to very instructive presentations during the symposium, they took some good lessons on Mandela’s leadership. The unwavering commitment of Mandela to his promise to serve for a single term as the South African president was flagged as a leadership lesson for African leaders. Similarly, his decision to forgive and reconcile with his jailers even when he became the President was noted as a major step responsible for a stable and peaceful post-apartheid South Africa.

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.

The photo exhibition titled, ‘Life and Times of Nelson Mandela’ and held at the front lobby of the NIIA, Victoria Island Lagos, was curated by one of its Deputy Directors, Mrs Pamela Mamah. Over 60 exhibits of photographs and newspaper cuttings were on display. The exhibition, declared open by the Consul General of the South African Consulate General, Lagos, Mr Darkey Africa, touched on his early childhood, the period of the struggle, his incarceration, his release from the prison and his ascendancy to the presidency of South Africa. Similarly, two short films were screened to the admiration of the audience. They were ‘Nelson Mandela’s Life Story’ and ‘Nelson Mandela: Carrying On His Legacy’.

The symposium chaired by a former Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia, Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya, featured four key presentations: International Terrorism and Maintenance of Global Peace by Prof Charles Dokubo; Nelson Mandela as a ‘Great Personality of Peace’: Lessons in Leadership for Global Peace and Security by Mr Sunday Olubejide; Awareness and Prevention of HIV/ AIDS: The Role of International Personalities by Dr Chinwe Nwanna as well as presentations on ‘Students and Maintenance of International Peace and Security by a student each from Leads University, Ibadan Oyo State, Lagos State University, and the University of Lagos.

In his presentation, Professor Dokubo of NIIA advocated for a stronger cooperation between the international community especially the United States, and the African Union (AU) to hone a national or bilateral counter-terrorism strategy that offers comprehensive solution to tackle contemporary terrorism.

Mr Olubejide also of NIIA, noted in his presentation that Mandela was supposed to be released in 1985, but he refused because the terms and conditions of such freedom was to cage his liberation struggle and never to return to the African National Congress (ANC), and therefore released a statement through his daughter, Zindi saying, ‘What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remained banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner can never enter into contracts.’

Presenting a paper on “Awareness and Prevention of HIV/AIDS”, Dr Chinwe Nwanna of the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos acknowledged the significant contribution of Nelson Mandela to the fight against HIV/ AIDS. At the international AIDS conference in July 2000, according to Dr Nwanna, he issued a passionate and powerful demand asking the world to get on with the use of tools such as information, life skills, abstinence, safe sex and condoms which have been proven to save lives.

Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day, remembered Nelson Mandela as a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement who worked tirelessly for peace and human dignity. The message was delivered by the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja.

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Students and adult leaders from Cumbria are taking part in this year’s Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link visit to Tanzania Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:46:18 +0000 tanzaniaOn 19 July British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose welcomed a group of sixth form students to Tanzania. The 18 students and adult leaders from Cumbria in the north of the UK are taking part in this year’s Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link visit to Tanzania.

Through the Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link, one year students from Rungwe in southern Tanzania visit Cumbria. The next year British students come to Rungwe. This year’s group will spend four weeks in Tanzania from 15 July to 15 August.

I enjoyed meeting the students who are so enthusiastic about coming to Tanzania.

The organisation was started in the early 1980s by a local teacher, Roger Shipton-Smith, who had lived and taught in Tanzania and then returned to West Cumbria and taught in Whitehaven School (now an academy). He had a vision of young people from Tanzania and the UK working together.

A strong link with Rungwe district grew, in part because of a young man from Cumbria. After his first visit to Tanzania, he returned to Rungwe as a university student to do project work as part of his Masters degree. The community links developed, and since 1987 there has been a regular two-year cycle of youth exchanges between Cumbria and Rungwe.

The Cumbria – Rungwe Community Link became a registered charity in the UK in 1992. The group believes it is the longest surviving youth exchange of its kind in the UK, run entirely by volunteers.

After meeting this year’s group of students, the British High Commissioner said:

“I enjoyed meeting the students who are so enthusiastic about coming to Tanzania. It’s great that through the Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link young people from rural areas thousands of miles apart are able to spend time in each others’ communities, learn from each other and gain understanding of the challenges each other face. A life changing experience for young people and a demonstration of UK/Tanzania friendship links.”

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Arts Minister pays tribute to Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan Thu, 21 Jul 2016 11:35:12 +0000 Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa
Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa

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Pretoria – South Africa has lost a formidable activist and writer with the passing of Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan, says Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

Ntantala-Jordan, a teacher and an academic, passed away on Sunday at the age of 96 after an illness. She was the wife of Professor AC Jordan and a mother of four children, which included former Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan.

“Ntantala-Jordan was a writer of note and has been described as a woman of extraordinary intellect. She was unflinching, free-thinking and a feminist. She spoke and wrote the truth about our realities and about herself,” Minister Mthethwa said.

As a revolutionary, she wrote many essays and articles and engaged in public lectures. These include An African Tragedy: The Black Woman under Apartheid’. In the campaigns against the Bantu Education Act in 1960, she wrote the ‘The Abyss of Bantu Education’.

Other essays included ‘The Widows of the Reserve’, ‘Let’s Hear Them Speak’ and ‘The Cruelty of Racism’.

The Department of Arts and Culture said Ntantala-Jordan’s career also extended to being a social worker and linguist.

She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the University of Fort Hare.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to the Jordan family, to all her friends and those who admired her,” Minister Mthethwa said.

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Microsoft’s Bill Gates lauds SA’s HIV response Thu, 21 Jul 2016 09:19:34 +0000 Bill Gates during an interview with the Xinhua News Agency on the sidelines of the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province/XINHUA


Durban – US billionaire Bill Gates, one of the leading funders of HIV prevention programmes, has singled out South Africa as a model of the African continent in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

He has urged the country to continue to do more to curb the pandemic.

Gates said South Africa was doing its best to promote prevention of HIV messages and said the country has great campaigns to raise awareness about the virus.

“We have to make testing more accessible and South Africa is leading by example in this,” Gates said.

He was speaking during a session titled ‘Accelerating the decline of the Burden and incidence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa’ at the 21st International Aids Conference underway in Durban.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2013, an estimated 24.7 million people were living with HIV, accounting for 71% of the global total. In the same year, there were an estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections and 1.1 million AIDS-related deaths in the region.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the leading philanthropic funder of international HIV efforts. In 2013, the foundation provided 49% of all US HIV-related philanthropic funding.

Gates said world leaders needed to accelerate efforts to reduce new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Globally, he said nearly half of people living with HIV are unaware of their status.

Gates said male medical circumcision remains one of the powerful prevention methods. He called for the numbers of medical circumcisions to double by 2020.

More funding was needed for prevention research and development, he said.

Earlier in the day, the Microsoft founder met with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for an hour-long closed meeting on the sidelines of the conference taking place at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

The conference entered its third day on Wednesday and the quest to end AIDS by 2030 has been one that has dominated deliberations at various sessions attended by South African Cabinet Ministers.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi chaired a plenary in the morning where speakers debated the issue of finding an effective HIV preventative vaccine. South Africa has been among the countries that have been conducting trials on a possible vaccine.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe are expected to join the South Africa National AIDS Council (SANAC) this evening to discuss the development of the South African National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs.

Delegates are calling for bold actions to emerge from Durban to ensure the 2030 UN target of eradicating Aids is realised.

This week, Deputy President Ramaphosa, who also chairs SANAC, acknowledged that while South Africa had made numerous strides when it comes to treatment and care for those infected with HIV, the fight was not over. Too many people around the world still don’t have access to treatment and the rate of new infections remained stubbornly high.

“In South Africa, we know that adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for 20% of infections last year. We must work harder to provide HIV counselling and testing,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

On Wednesday, Bill Gates echoed the sentiment, saying countries were simply not doing enough to protect women and girls from contracting HIV. He said the conference in Durban must focus on efforts to find a vaccine and research funding will be critical in this regard.

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Marhulana learners encouraged to work hard Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:12:05 +0000 marluhana
President Jacob Zuma handing over blankets and school bags to the learners of Marhulana Primary School, one of the schools in Tembisa as part of Government’s Mandela Month programme. GCIS

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Johannesburg – Marhulana Primary School learners on Wednesday were showered with gifts from President Jacob Zuma to motivate them to work hard regardless of the challenges they face at home and in their school.

President Zuma visited Marhulana School, in Tembisa, near Johannesburg, to donate blankets and school bags to the learners as part of the Mandela Month programme.

The President walked about in the school while engaging with the school management to hear what they need to improve teaching and learning, before engaging with learners and handing out gifts.

The School Governing Body Chairperson Freddie Khoza made a request on behalf of the school and parents to the President to assist with provision of computers for learners, as the laboratory of the school was emptied due to break-ins in the past three years.

He also requested for a netball field in the school premises and for the ground around the classrooms to be paved.

Khoza told SAnews that the school is currently providing education to 697 learners through 20 educators, from Grade R to seven. He said most learners come from poor family backgrounds.

Heeding the call, President Zuma said the Chinese Ambassador Zhong Jianhua — who was part of the President’s entourage together with his delegation on the day — have committed to providing the school with computers.

The President encouraged learners to work hard regardless of their background, as government had plans that needed educated people to execute them.

President Zuma, who paid homage to former president Nelson Mandela, reminded hundreds of learners and parents gathered at the school how Madiba reached out to communities to help the needy in many ways to improve their living conditions.

“Today, we chose to visit this school, to celebrate Madiba’s love and compassion for children. We are also celebrating his commitment to uplifting and improving the lives of the poor. In that way, he inspired the world to follow his example.

“We are also celebrating Madiba’s love for education. Even in his retirement, he still worked with the private sector to get financial resources to build very good schools in underprivileged communities,” said President Zuma.

He said this year, the late Madiba’s birthday marked the 7th anniversary of the International Mandela Day, and that was the reason to bring learners some nice gifts in his memory.

“We are giving you these blankets, which can keep you warm when you study at home. You are also receiving the school bags so that your books can be safe and remain in good condition for a long time.

“We also want to assure the parents that government is working hard to improve the condition of our schools, including this one, and the general conditions under which our children learn. It is important that all of us, including parents, play our roles in this task.”

He commended the SGB of the school for functioning properly and supporting learners. He said the collaboration of various stakeholders, the religious sector, the previous learners from the school, which is now 59-years-old, the district office and the parents, are all a living example that working together more can be achieved.

The school has over the last three years produced above 90% pass rate, except in 2015 when it fell to 86%.

“We are here to encourage you to take the percentage higher again this year, and coming years. We can only succeed if there is cooperation – teachers doing their work, parents and community supporting teachers, learners listening to their parents and teachers, government providing resources, with private companies assisting from time to time,” said the President.

He called on the community to unite and support the school. “When we are united like this, our children cannot go astray. If we stand united, we will also close the door to crime because many schools now have problems of crime, which include drugs, violence and bullying.

“When we are united like this, we are able to pick up the problems quickly and deal with them,” said the President.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has requested learners to practice the reading culture to improve their overall performance and asked parents to encourage their children to read.

She said the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results showed that the core problem with learners is a lack of reading skills.

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