Daily podcast, Janury 7, 2010

7th January 2010 By: Amy Witherden

Thursday, January 7, 2010
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Brad Dubbelman.
Making headlines:
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced this morning that 60,7% of matrics passed the 2009 exams. This figure is just less than 2% down from the 2008 pass rate. Motshekga said that although the shift is marginal, it is very disappointing, adding that the National Senior Certificate is an important indicator of the quality of South Africa's education system. The country cannot afford to allow its youth to achieve results that are "average or below average", she said.
KwaZulu-Natal improved its pass rate by 3,5% in 2009, while the Eastern Cape stabilised at 50%. The pass rate in the Free State declined by 2,4% and the Western Cape by 2,7%. In the North West province, the pass rate was down 0,5%, Limpopo saw a decline of 5,4% and the Northern Cape, a drop of 11%. Gauteng province's pass rate declined by 4,6%, while Mpumalanga province, which published its results after a paper-leaking investigation put the credibility of its marks in doubt, had the poorest performance with a decline of 3,9% in its pass rate, to 45,9%.
Motshekga said that the Basic Education Department would put steps in place to ensure that the education system improves.

China announced yesterday that it would give Kenya a $7-million grant to support development projects. The agreement was unveiled during a visit to Nairobi by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation tour of Africa.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said that China's assistance had been substantial in financial terms, with a considerable impact on the country's socioeconomic development.
In November last year, China's government said that it would offer Africa $10-billion in concessional loans over the next three years, as it aims to boost a relationship which is economically booming, to the discomfort of some in the West.

In order to honour South African Communist Party stalwart Joe Slovo and other leaders who suffered for liberty, African National Congress treasurer-general Mathews Phosa said that South Africa must look for ways to encourage business.
Speaking at the Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture in Soweto yesterday, Phosa said that South African companies should have the chance to expand beyond the country's borders, while black economic-empowerment benefits should become "more practical, reciprocal, and less bureaucratic."
He added that the country must fight corruption "without any mercy" and praised Slovo for going into government despite "lucrative alternatives".

Also making headlines:
Nigeria says that new US airport security measures targeting the central African nation, threatens bilateral ties.
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma's address to the ruling party's 98th anniversary celebration on Saturday is expected to map the party's way forward for the year.
The UK pledges £54-million in aid for Sudan ahead of the country's first multiparty elections in 24 years.
And, Guinea's ruling military junta pledges to pave the way for a return to civilian rule, in the absence of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.