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Ghana's dancing pallbearers bring funeral joy

Pallbearers are lifting the mood in Ghana with flamboyant coffin-carrying displays.
Source: BBC – Africa

A life left behind

In our series of letters from African journalists, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani considers why women abducted by Boko Haram and then released would choose to return to their captors.
Source: BBC – Africa

Expanded Nations Cup will not 'reduce quality' of play

The Africa Cup of Nations will not suffer in quality after its expansion to 24 teams, says leading Confederation of African Football official Amaju Pinnick.
Source: BBC – Africa

Libya crisis: Rival governments commit to ceasefire

The rivals also express commitment to holding elections in efforts hailed by France as « historic ».
Source: BBC – Africa

Ethiopia urges illegal workers in Saudi Arabia to come home

The Ethiopian government says only 15% of its citizens returned before today’s amnesty deadline.
Source: BBC – Africa

Nigeria has ‘largest number of children out-of-school’ in the world

Girl writing on the blackboardImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nigeria’s government says the country has 10.5 million children out of school.

Nigeria has the largest number of children in the world who are not being educated, the government has said.

Acknowledging the scale of the problem the education ministry’s permanent secretary Adamu Hussaini said it was « sad to note » that Nigeria had 10.5 million children out of school.

This is the first time senior officials have admitted the size of the problem.

Cultural factors have been blamed but critics point to a lack of money going to publicly funded schools.

The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, has been campaigning on this issue as well as a number of other groups.

Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories

On a visit to the country last week, education activist Malala Yousafzai met acting president Yemi Osinbajo and asked him to declare what she called « an education state of emergency in Nigeria ».

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Campaigner Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria last week

Mr Hussaini said those most affected were girls, street children and the children of nomadic groups and added that economic prosperity can only be achieved with an « inclusive and functional education system ».

But BBC Hausa editor Jimeh Saleh says the failure in the education system is due to a lack of government funding, rather than any cultural factors as suggested by the ministry.

« Government funded schools in Nigeria have practically collapsed over the years because of poor funding leaving children from poor homes with nowhere to go but the streets, » he says.

Unicef estimates that 60% of Nigerian children not attending school live in the north of the country.

HIV-prevention ring trial a success

vaginal ring

A vaginal ring to prevent HIV infection is popular with teenage girls, US scientists say.

Women and girls aged 15-24 account for a fifth of all new HIV infections globally. Nearly 1,000 are infected every day in sub-Saharan Africa.

Infused with microbicides, the ring, which sits on the cervix, has been shown to cut infections by 56%.

Experts say it frees women from relying on men to wear condoms and allows them to protect themselves confidentially.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the BBC: « If you can give women the opportunity to protect themselves in a way that is completely confidential – that’s a long and big step to helping them.

« In societies where women are, unfortunately but true, somewhat second-class citizens, that makes women extremely vulnerable to getting infected with HIV. »

The flexible ring, similar in size to the contraceptive diaphragm, releases an antiretroviral drug called dapivirine for a month.

But scientists were unsure it would work in teenagers, who can be notoriously difficult when it comes to health advice.

The six-month US trial gave the ring to 96 sexually active girls aged 15 to 17, who had not used it before.

Data presented at the IAS Conference on HIV Science, showed:

  • 87% of the girls had detectable levels of the drug in their vagina
  • 95% said the ring was easy to use
  • 74% said they did not notice the ring in day-to-day life

There were some concerns before the trial that the girls’ partners would not like the feel of the ring, but it reportedly enhanced pleasure.

Prof Sharon Hillier, one of the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said: « HIV doesn’t distinguish between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old.

« Access to safe and effective HIV prevention shouldn’t either, young women of all ages deserve to be protected. »

There are now plans to test the ring with teenagers in Africa.

If the ring gets regulatory approval, it would be the first method of prevention exclusively for women.

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