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30 women honoured for their impactful research in Africa – University World News


The winners of this year’s L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards included 25 PhD candidates and five post-doctoral researchers, who are spread across multiple fields of research to tackle major challenges to improve the quality of life in Africa and worldwide.

They received their awards, including funding of €10,000 (about US$10,870) to PhD students and €15,000 to postdoctoral students, at the annual ceremony hosted in Kasane, Botswana, on 9 November. They also received training ahead of the ceremony, according to a statement.

“We had informative training on leadership, negotiation, assertive communication, media and harassment. I learned a number of things I never knew and I believe will catapult my scientific career,” said Constance Chingwaru, one of the winners. She is in the second year of her PhD studies at Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe.

University World News spoke to Chingwaru and four of the other winners about their research.

A focus on sustainable development

Zimbabwean entomologist Chingwaru’s research is focused on developing a novel biopesticide from Zimbabwean local plants that will be effective against fall armyworm – Spodoptera frugiperda – an invasive pest that damages more than 350 plant species, including maize.

“A fall armyworm invasion was reported in West Africa in 2016 and, up to date, it has spread to more than 38 African countries, including Zimbabwe. My research is aimed at fulfilling the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 (zero hunger),” said Chingwaru.

She said that, in an attempt to keep the fall armyworm at bay, farmers extensively apply synthetic pesticides which have a plethora of negative effects on human and animal health as well as the environment.

She said the objectives of her study are to establish the current methods being used by smallholder farmers in fall armyworm hotspot areas to control the worms, evaluate the efficacy of the botanical intervention under laboratory and field conditions, and assess the effect of the biopesticide on non-target species.

Chingwaru said that, at the end of the study, she wants to develop a product for Africa by Africans that will effectively reduce fall armyworm populations in maize fields.

Age is not a barrier

Another winner, Aderonke Korede (see picture above) from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria, who is in the fourth year of her PhD programme, said she is pursuing food chemistry studies and is exploring the antioxidant health and flavour potential of ginger and turmeric spices to enhance the stability and sensory attributes of shea olein.

“Shea olein is a soft fraction of shea butter, sparsely used in food industries around the world. The reasons lie in consumers’ perceptions of its poor sensory quality and stability.

“Yet, shea olein is known to be rich in bioactive compounds … [which] react with free radicals in the body to stop the progression of oxidative stress, serving as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumoural agents – as well as being an immune modulator.

“Therefore, we are leveraging the bioactive composition of shea olein and the antioxidant, health and flavour potentials of ginger and turmeric to bring a healthy and antioxidant-rich vegetable oil to the entire African populace,” she said.

“My key interest pursuing this research is to see outcomes transformed from laboratory into marketable products. Hence, in five years’ time, I [want to] see the transformation of shea olein into a healthy cooking oil in Nigeria and other African nations,” said the researcher.

Korede said, considering her roles at work and home as a married woman, her husband greatly encouraged and supported her financially in her science journey. This support is very vital for married women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Being the eldest of the scientists who were honoured, Korede, who is turning 50 in February 2024, said the fact that she was acknowledged suggests to her that age is not a barrier in science, but rather what you have to offer the world.

Korede said this must encourage girls and women to be courageous and to stay focused in their pursuit of science.

Faith Njeru of Kenya (left) and Felicidade Noémia Xerinda Niquice from Mozambique, Images provided

Agricultural focus

Faith Njeru, another winner, is a Kenyan studying food security and agribusiness at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania.

She said her research is aimed at developing a cheap, effective, easy-to-use paper strip test for plant disease detection based on novel molecules obtained from the serum of camels.

The test will be used by farmers, seed companies and plant protection agencies to detect diseases early and initiate early-warning campaigns to help reduce crop loss.

“Early detection leads to less food loss, leading to food security and increased earnings for the farmers and the seed companies,” she said.

Inspired by her mom

Felicidade Noémia Xerinda Niquice, a Mozambican national at the University of Porto-Portugal, is pursuing a PhD in occupational safety and health.

She told University World News that there are only about 10 occupational doctors in Mozambique, a country with about 33 million people.

Her research focuses on the occupational risk assessment and management of three major bloodborne diseases in healthcare settings (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV), in relation to healthcare workers at hospitals in the Inhambane province of Mozambique.

“These diseases are highly infectious and can be preventable if necessary measures are taken,” she said.

Niquice, who studied medicine as her first degree, said both Hepatitis B and HIV have a high infection burden in Mozambique. She added that, even though there hasn’t been a national study concerning the real prevalence of Hepatitis B, the World Health Organization considers Mozambique a country with high endemicity and, on the other hand, her country’s public health system neither tests nor offers treatment for Hepatitis B and C, hence the importance of her research.

Niquice said her mother has been a role model in her journey. “Both my parents are mechanical engineers, but my mom, Noémia Francisco Xerinda, is only the fourth woman in my country with this degree. I feel a lot of pride and inspiration from my mom,” she said.

School teachers drove her interest in science

Ini Adinya, a Nigerian lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, said her research cuts across mathematics, finance and computing.

She said she ventured into the sciences mid-way in high school years and her physics and mathematics teachers reinforced her interest through their teaching methods and passion for science.

But, she said, she has faced discrimination.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced in pursuing a career in science is discrimination [because I am a woman]. There are times when reactions from male counterparts seem to say: ‘What are you doing here?’ It has taken resilience and hard work to survive this, but it has been very rewarding,” said Adinya.

About her current research, she said: “I am currently investigating financial models with discontinuities in the real options framework for the valuation of investments. [It involves] determining the dynamics for the stochastic variables and appropriate numerical or analytical tools for solving models.”

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Govt overhauls vocational training programmes – NewsDay

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

GOVERNMENT is overhauling vocational skills training at its centres across the country to ensure that graduates meet the demands of the current job market.

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

Machakaire made the remarks while addressing 1 501 graduands from Magamba Vocational Training Centre in Manicaland province.

He said the new framework would facilitate the review of skills training and programmes to modernise the vocational training system (VTS) and transform vocational training centres (VTCs) into modern centres of excellence.

“The framework which was developed through wide consultations will facilitate the review of the skills training system and programmes to modernise the VTS and transform VTCs into centres of excellence,” he said.

“The VTCs are expected to provide relevant skills for youth empowerment and the socio-economic development of the communities which these VTCs serve as required by Heritage Education 5.0.”

Education 5.0 is a five-mission model of teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation.

The VTCs have a mandate to develop an entrepreneurial and self-reliant culture among the Zimbabwean youth.

Machakaire pleaded with industry and commerce to support VTCs in their communities as part of their corporate social responsibility to contribute towards the youth economic empowerment agenda.

“The youth empowerment agenda requires the concerted and collaborative efforts of us all — government, development partners, the private sector and community leadership in general,” he said.

“Vocational training and skills development is one of the youth development and empowerment strategies that my ministry is pursuing as an integral cog in Zimbabwe`s industrial development agenda.”

Machakaire, however, admitted that VTCs were facing various challenges related to underfunding.

“I have been informed that some of your challenges include dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate staff, obsolete tools and equipment including the unavailability of reliable vehicles,” he said.

“This strategic framework which is to be implemented should adequately deal with the above challenges.”

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Muckracker: The sandy journey to democracy – NewsDay

It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

MUCKRAKER, like most patriotic people across the country, is still recuperating from the vigorous exertions of dancing in the sand last weekend.

In case you have been hiding under a rock, probably hiding from sanctions, the absolute geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) organised musical galas recently, which were meant to celebrate the environmental destruction of the country’s longest river, Save.

The Siltation Gala drew thousands of imbibers, who debauched their way through the balmy night and danced away on what used to be a river.

According to the OPC: “Save Beach Bash! Strategic Communications, Presidential Communications, Zimbabwe. Communicating to give impetus to the programmes and projects that contribute to the attainment of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030”.

Indeed, in that vision, all rivers would have disappeared. At that time, we will be hosting similar concerts. Where we once had roads, we will host the Pothole Jamboree. We have already turned old train coaches at the National Railways of Zimbabwe premises into low-cost accommodation for those with rather urgent personal needs.

Nothing can stop this vision.

Nothing puzzling

Around the country, many people are still scratching their heads in puzzlement after a former minister complained about corruption. It was reported that Dzingai Mutumbuka, a former education minister, found out to his horror that someone in the Deeds Office had found better things to do with his property, transferring it to someone else for a small fee, naturally.

For some reason, Mutumbuka is making a song and dance about this small issue. In fact, shockingly, he claims to have taken this up with the country’s owner.

“I met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and I congratulated him on his achievements, but I told him he will not achieve much if he doesn’t deal with corruption,” Mutumbuka said.

“I am known that is why I am able to fight my case in the courts. What about those ordinary men and women in the streets who are not known? They easily lose their hard-earned properties to such fraudsters.”

Of course, we are sure that Mnangagwa must have rolled on the floor with laughter at such a suggestion. First, what does Mutumbuka mean by “achievements? Secondly, why does he think “ordinary men and women in the streets”? Are they the vene of the country? When did they start to matter to warrant such needless noise?

This Mutumbuka fellow should crawl back to quiet retirement and let comrades eat in peace.

Human exports

Speaking of achievements, the country continues to excel by increasing exports. Among the biggest exports of the country, are human beings.

Once, our previous deceased owner described Britain as “a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses”. Now, we are told by Britain that Zimbabwe is among the top three countries in the whole world in terms of sending people to work in the UK’s health and care work system.

In total, over the past year, some 40 000 Zimbabweans and their dependents left Southern Africa’s fastest growing economy to go and stay in this “very cold, uninhabitable country” and get jobs in care work.

Other countries are trying to copy us. This week, we heard that Pastor Lazarus Chakwera is being congratulated widely for sending 221 young Malawians to work on farms in Israel. The nation congratulates Zanu PF for this massive achievement in growing exports.

We call upon the geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet’s Communication Department to speedily host another gala, preferably at our shiny new airport, to celebrate this milestone.


Meanwhile, it’s all hotting up over there in the alleged opposition. It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

It was all to do with an account in the name of one Sengezo Tshabangu, the unemployable lout who now claims to be in charge of the Citizens Coalition for Change. In one post, whoever runs the fake account mischievously claimed that Tshabangu had met Biti for a meal at a hotel. Asked to comment, a frothing Biti told NewsDay: “I’m not interested.

That account must be a parody account that was created by Chamisa and his team. Just check it. I have not met Tshabangu and let me repeat that I am not interested”.

We congratulate Biti for always managing to commit political hara-kiri when his opponents need him to. He has a long, tried and tested history in that department.

French honeymoon

According to reports this week, the Mayor of the Former Sunshine City Lovejoy Chitengu and his deputy Rosemary Muronda are leading a high-powered delegation to the tourist resort of Nyanga to eat as much as they can while they still can.

It is reported that the two, accompanied by 23 other chefs, will spend US$24 000 at a strategic retreat to discuss very important things.

“The objectives (of the retreat) are to find new financial and business partners, expand the network to top-level business contracts, discover and learn best practices from leading” as well as learning about “efficiency towards defined goals and standards”.

We are told the seminar’s theme – there is always a long theme for such events – is “Refining Corporate Excellence and Efficiency towards delivering a Middle Income Economy —Vision 2030.”

Yet, you hear ungrateful residents complaining. They are whining about the fact that “city fathers and mothers” are spending money on hotels, leaving behind a cholera crisis. But these people need to zip their mouths.

Since when do we elect people based on competence? Why are we surprised? Did they show you their qualifications when you voted for them? No. so why the shock? Let them eat on your behalf. What else are they there for?

Jobs, jobs, jobs!

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has flighted advertisements calling on people to sign up to work for the government.

“Are you a recent graduate? Are you between the ages of 19-30? Are you looking for a job? If you answer ‘Yes’ to all three questions then mark this date on your calendar and the venue below: December 6, 2023.

Do you want to work for the government?

Come to the PSC Job Fair for a chance to be considered for employment.”

Muckraker suspects there was a genuine, innocent mistake made by whoever wrote that advert.

It is more likely that they meant to say: “We know you are over 30 and never had a job. Are you desperate enough to sign yourself into slavery? Then come and work for the government”.

The “slavery” part there, of course, refers only to low-level workers.

The rest are the slave drivers who drive 4X4s. Those ones do not need to apply through “job fairs”.

Could this be true?

There were shocking revelations in the trial of Marry Mubaiwa, who was once married to the country’s deputy owner, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

According to one report: “Former health and child care deputy minister Dr John Mangwiro testified in court that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, while admitted in South Africa, received treatment from a veterinary doctor at the insistence of his ex-wife, Marry Mubaiwa.

Dr. Mangwiro revealed that he discovered Dr. Peck was a veterinary doctor after initially being presented as a family medical practitioner by Mubaiwa.”

Calling a vet to treat a whole human? We can only surmise that Marry, in her affection, took the VP’s totem a bit too far.

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Mawaba primary school unveils e-learning classroom block – The Zimbabwe Mail

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Thursday, commissioned an e-learning classroom block at Mawaba Primary School in Lobengula West.

The new facility will provide learners with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The classroom block was renovated for US$5,000 through a collaboration between the school and its parents. The classroom is equipped with 45 laptops, which the school won under a merit award from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony held at the school under the theme, “Empowering Learners Through E-Learning,” Ward 14 Councillor Dumisani Netha, who was standing in for Mayor David Coltart, said that the city of Bulawayo strives to be a leading smart and transformative city by 2024. He said that empowering education through e-learning facilities is essential to achieving this vision.

Netha applauded the school and the parents for putting together the resources to convert the classroom into such a magnificent learning facility.

“This is a befitting facility to train our learners in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as set out in the smart city concept, national outcomes and requirements provided for by the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030,” said Netha.

“We might pride ourselves on providing our children with such remarkable facilities for e-learning, this is because it is a powerful tool in the modern-day learning experiences as it is a convenient and flexible platform for individuals to acquire skills.”

Netha said that e-learning has great accessibility potential as it offers a wide range of courses and resources. “This accessibility ensures that no one is left behind and learners have an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills while being flexible in scheduling and pacing,” he said.

He said that, unlike traditional fixed classrooms with fixed timetables, in e-learning, individuals can balance education with other responsibilities such as home, sports, and family chores. This allows learners to take control of their learning journey, resulting in a personalized learning experience and increased motivation.

“In the face of envisaged high breed learning, we congratulate Mawaba school and credit to all schools with such projects or are in the process of putting up their internet classrooms. The Education Sector Strategic Plan demands that all schools have user-friendly facilities including disability ramps, ECD classroom blocks, and libraries among other facilities,” said Clr Netha.

“I desire to ensure all council schools and others in our beautiful city implement these requirements as we strive for a smart Bulawayo,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Provincial Education Director for Bulawayo, Sibongile Khumalo, congratulated the school for successfully venturing into e-learning, saying that it is a powerful way to achieve good results.

“Schools are encouraged to embrace online learning as we might appreciate, it comes with several benefits. E-learning is about being able to access education whenever one needs to and from wherever one is. Our competency-based curriculum has embraced ICT and the concept of e-learning is topical,” said Khumalo.

She said that the curriculum has seen the transition of education from being predominantly a face-to-face approach to digital learning platforms where a teacher has merely become a facilitator.

“Through e-learning, learners should be able to take responsibility for their educational progress and access the numerous Ministry endeavours to expose them to as much educational material as possible. These include such platforms as online catch-up strategies, e-learning passport, imfundo endlini, and blended learning, just to mention a few, which are all digital learning programs,” Khumalo said.

She encouraged all schools and their communities to make e-learning a priority in their school development committee budgets.

Source: Cite

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