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DRC election: Polls open in long-delayed vote | DR Congo News

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Polling stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s long-delayed election have opened, two years after they were first scheduled to be held.

Voting stations opened at 05:00 (04:00 GMT) on Sunday and will close at 17:00 (16:00 GMT).

There were small queues of voters in the capital, Kinshasa as voting centres opened, because of heavy rain.

More than 46 million Congolese have registered to elect a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the central African country for 17 years.

As many as 21 candidates are competing to succeed Kabila, who came to power following the assassination of his father in 2001.

In Kinshasa, 20 percent of the polling stations did not open due to a lack of voting machines.

Earlier this month, one of the electoral commission’s main warehouses in the city was burned down, destroying more than two-thirds of the voting machines allocated for the city.

The capital is home to four million voters, about 15 percent of the country’s electorate.

Voting is not taking place in at least three cities. Last Wednesday, the electoral commission (CENI) said it postponed the presidential and parliamentary polls in the three cities because of concerns over an Ebola outbreak and ethnic violence.

Voting in Beni and Betumbo in the eastern North Kivu province has been delayed until March next year, due to the ongoing Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 330 people.

Voting will also take place in March next year in the western city of Yumbi in Bandundu province, after ethnic violence claimed the lives of at least 100 people this month.

The electoral commission said official results of the presidential poll will be announced on January 15.

The DRC, a country of more than 80 million people, has not seen a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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