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South Africa’s ANC kicks off 2019 campaign vowing jobs, growth | Elections 2018 News

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South Africa‘s President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to create more jobs, boost economic growth and address racial inequalities as he launched the ruling party’s parliamentary election campaign.

“At the centre of our manifesto is a plan to create many more jobs and ensure that all workers can earn a decent living,” Ramaphosa told tens of thousands of African National Congress (ANC) supporters packed into Durban city’s Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday.

“The most pressing task for our country is to set the economy on a higher path of shared growth and to transform the structure of our economy to provide opportunities for millions of South Africans,” he added.

The vote, in which South Africans will elect provincial representatives – as well as a new president, is expected in May.

It will be a test of whether Ramaphosa has been able to reverse a decline in support for the ANC, which has governed since the end of apartheid in 1994 but has seen its majority wane.

Ramaphosa became head of state in February last year after his allies on the ANC’s executive forced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma to resign, fearing that the corruption affairs and economic stagnation that marked his nine years in power could harm the party’s chances at this year’s election.

Ramaphosa and other top ANC officials have been touring Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) this week, projecting an image of unity despite deep rifts within the party, where a faction loyal to Zuma retains significant influence, despite the allegations.

KZN is important for political parties as the province has the second-highest number of voters.

Ramaphosa is trying to solidify his position in a party where support appears to be split between him and his predecessor, Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller said.

“Some of the biggest regions of the ANC across the country are in KZN,” political analyst Lukhona Mnguni told Al Jazeera.

“It’s very important to understand that if your KZN is weak, divided, it has the possibility to divide the entire nation or to cause massive rifts within the ANC and of course this is the base for former President Jacob Zuma.”

KZN is a former stronghold of the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party. There are concerns that a lack of unity within the ANC, allegations of corruption and poor delivery of services could see the party lose some of its support to its rival.

Some analysts say a resounding victory for the ANC this year could embolden Ramaphosa in his drive to boost investment and tackle corruption.

Others believe he will continue to be constrained by his opponents in Africa‘s oldest national liberation movement.

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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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