Latest education news and opinion about schools, teaching and education

Investment Is Key To India's Goal Of Becoming Global Education Superpower, Says Kofi Annan

posted Feb 8, 2014, 11:36 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Feb 8, 2014, 11:37 AM ]

Nobel laureate and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, says investment is necessary for India's economic growth and for it to become a global education superpower.

BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA (FEBRUARY 08, 2014)  (ANI) -  Nobel laureate and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said that investment is necessary for India's economic growth and for it to become a global education superpower.

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Annan was speaking at a ceremony of Infosys Science Awards in India's southern Bangalore city on Saturday (February 08) and felicitated seven winners for excellence in their field.

"India's goal of becoming a global education superpower and its continued strong economic growth cannot be achieved without significant investment and effort. So the government is to be congratulated for its ambitious plans to expand up to 30 percent the number of young people going to the university," said Annan.

During his address, Annan stressed on a number of issues ranging from India's brain drain to providing them opportunities in the country.

He further stated that scientific innovation is underway in India in the form of information technology.

"Scientific innovation can strengthen industry and transform society by facilitating the transition to a high-value, knowledge-based economy. This transition is well underway in India, for decades a leader in the field of information technology," added Annan.

Infosys' founder and chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy and other officials were also present during the event.

Two Million Yemeni Students Sit On Floor As Schools Face Chair Shortage

posted Dec 22, 2013, 6:23 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Dec 22, 2013, 6:24 AM ]

Two million Yemeni students are left with no seats in overcrowded classrooms and are forced to receive their education on the floor as state schools face a shortage of chairs and benches.

SANAA, YEMEN (REUTERS) - The Yemeni government has been stepping up efforts to raise awareness about child labour, in a country where thousands abandon their education to help support their families.

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Since the start of an initiative in June the number of children in schools has increased by 10 percent, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

But as more children are encouraged to enrol in education, they find themselves squeezed into overcrowded classrooms with limited seating capacity.

Hail Said, a school in the capital Sanaa, is one of the state schools that is struggling to provide a good educational environment in its classrooms.

Its desks, which are designed to accommodate two students, are now squeezing in up to four children.

But for many at the school, even the squeeze is a luxury. When the chairs run out, tens of other students are forced to sit on the floor.

Yemeni education minister Abdulrazaq al-Ashwal says this is now the case for large numbers of students across the country.

"One of the challenges we face is that there are two million students without class seats, they don't have a seat to sit on to exercise their right to education. The constitution states that every student has the right to education, and the law has stressed the right to education. Despite this, the student goes to school and finds no seat in the class, so he sits on the floor," he said.

He blamed the previous government for failing to introduce policies to tackle the problem.

"The reason for this problem is the policies. The former government could have applied some policies in order to tackle this problem, such as not building new schools without providing enough class seats and calling on the municipalities to supply schools with seats as part of their budget investments," al-Ashwal said.

In Yemen, only five percent of the government budget is spent on education, according to figures from the Basmat Shabab Foundation, a civil society organisation in Sanaa.

School staff say they need more input from the government.

"If more seats were made available to us, we could provide those who sit on the floor with seats, but even if we have enough seats, the classroom will remain packed with students," said the school manager, Muhammad al-Habashi.

The school's deputy manager Muhammad al-Hamzi said the huge numbers of children in each classroom put a strain on the little equipment the school did have.

"Because the desks accommodate more than their capacity - where sometimes four students sit at one desk- the desks last for a week before they break. We take them back to fix them but they break again. The ministry supplies us with 150-200 desks once a year, sometimes once in two or three years. This makes the educational process more difficult during the academic year," he said.

Yemen is the second poorest Arab state after Mauritania, with a third of the 25 million people living under a poverty line of $2 a day and unemployment is estimated at around 35 percent - with youth unemployment at 60 percent.

The country badly needs to invest in education, infrastructure and health and the government is now considering cutting fuel subsidies to make more funds available.

Yemeni students will be hoping any money saved will be ploughed into their schools to give them a chance to study in classrooms that can accommodate them all - and provide each of them with their own chair.

Buildings Evacuated At Harvard After Report Of Explosives

posted Dec 16, 2013, 8:20 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Dec 16, 2013, 8:21 AM ]

Harvard University evacuates four buildings on its CambridgeMassachusetts campus after warning students of unconfirmed reports of planted explosives.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 16, 2013)  (NBC) -  Harvard University on Monday (December 16) evacuated four buildings at the heart of its centuries-old campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after warning students of unconfirmed reports that explosives had been planted.

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The Ivy League school said it evacuated the Science Center, Thayer, Sever and Emerson Halls.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the buildings have been evacuated while the report is investigated," Harvard said on its web site.

Harvard and Cambridge Police officials did not immediately return calls seeking further details.

Harvard's campus is located in a crowded urban area adjoining Boston. Students this week were scheduled to take final exams.

The school, founded in 1636, has about 21,000 students.

It was the latest in a series of security scares at U.S. schools and universities. Three days ago aColorado high school student intent on confronting a teacher opened fire at his school, severely wounding a classmate before killing himself.

Late last month Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, placed its campus on lockdown for most of a day, after an anonymous caller warned officials that his roommate was headed to the school planning to shoot people. No gunman was found.

Key To Success Is Failure, Says Nobel Prize Winner

posted Dec 6, 2013, 9:35 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Dec 6, 2013, 9:36 AM ]

The winners of this year's Nobel prize in medicine talk about success and failure as they give advice to students and tell how it is to be a Nobel prize winner.

STOCKHOLMSWEDEN (DECEMBER 6, 2013) (REUTERS) -  The Nobel Prize winners in medicine - Americans James Rothman and Randy Schekmanand Germany's Thomas Suedhof - attended a news conference in Stockholm on Friday (December 6) at the start of the so-called Nobel Week in the Swedish capital.

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The three men won the 2013 Nobel medicine prize for their work on how hormones are transported within and outside cells, giving insight into diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's.

Rothman, who works at Yale University, said the early morning phone call back in October when he was told he had won the coveted prize, was a pleasant surprise.

"A very pleasant wake-up call. I think without a doubt the most pleasant wake-up call that I've ever had. It was... I was surprised," he said.

During the news conference Rothman added some salient advice for the students in the audience - be ready to fail.

"Make sure that every day is spent, as I tell the people in my lab and I'm sure my colleagues do, that it's a day you will never have again so please use is as best as you possibly can, knowing that most certainly you won't have a good result because what we scientists do mostly is fail. You see, the key and I'm not joking, you have to have a high tolerance for failure," he said.

One of the most tangible signs of their success was according to Schekman his own free parking space at the University of California where he works.

"The one tangible recognition that I get from my institution is that they give me a specially designated parking space. Free parking for life which is one big financial incentive that I have for this award." he joked.

Schekman also had some serious advice for young aspiring scientists.

"Well, I always encourage my students to be original, to be daring, to not be risk averse which too many people do, but once you've chosen something you are convinced will be important, it's crucial to focus and not to be diverted by other things that may be appealing at the moment," he said.

Many previous winners of the prize have found getting back to research after winning the prize difficult, but Suedhof, who works at Stanford University, said he was looking forward to it.

"It is a privilege to be a scientist. At least I consider it an enormous privilege. I love the work I do and I've actually tried to keep at least a little bit going even in the last two months which was rather difficult so I'm sure I'll go back and I think it will be a pleasure to go back," he said.

The Nobel Committee that awards the prize said the work of the three scientists had great implications for neurological conditions as well as conditions affecting key organs.

Their work centered on the 'vesicle' system by which cells take up nutrients, move substances around and release chemicals like hormones and growth factors.

Their work is basic science and Suedhof said not enough money was spent on basic science since there was such a pressure to come up with practical applications.

"Because of the pressure to gain benefits for society as quickly as possible, we waste a lot of money on experiments and clinical trials before there is an understanding of the underlying biology," he said.

They will receive the award at a royal ceremony on Tuesday (December 10).

French Students Demonstrate Over Deported Schoolgirl

posted Nov 5, 2013, 6:36 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Nov 5, 2013, 6:37 AM ]

Around 300 French high school students demonstrate in protest at the expulsion of a 15 year-old to Kosovo.

PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 5, 2013) (REUTERS) - Several hundreds of students demonstrated in Paris on Tuesday (November 5) over the expulsion of a schoolgirl to Kosovo a month ago.

15-year-old Leonarda Dibrani was taken off a school bus during a school outing by French police before she was deported back to Kosovo with her family.

The affair sparked demonstrations by high school students nation-wide with some turning violent.

But after a two-week holiday break, the students mobilisation seemed to have wind down with only between 300 and 400 students demonstrating in Paris' street, according to a Reuters journalist on the ground.

"I found it unacceptable the way Leonarda was deported. I agree with this demonstration because it's important to change the laws. I am very disappointed however by the small turnout despite the (high schools) blockages although I'm not for it really, but it's disappointing because it is even more important to be here today," high school student Anna Ouhayoun said.

Dibrani's expulsion after her family failed to obtain political asylum has tested French President Francois Hollande's ability to handle the issue of illegal migration, a source of increasing public frustration in France.

Malala Vows To Continue To Fight For The Rights Of Children To Be Educated

posted Oct 11, 2013, 3:21 PM by Mpelembe   [ updated Oct 11, 2013, 3:22 PM ]


NVO - Malala Yousafzai, the teen who last year was shot in the head for defying the Taliban's views on women's right to education visited the World Bank on Friday, where she shared her dreams of a world where all children have access to education.

Malala, who was was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, has since become a symbol of defiance against the influence of the Pakistani Taliban.

"Today we are just dreaming of a better world, of a better future. I am just dreaming now to see every girl going back to school, to see every boy not to be working at the workshops, not to be selling ice cream on the way, but going to school. I can see a better future, I dream and I believe that today's dreams become tomorrow's reality," Malala told an audience of largely teenage girls.

Malala has not returned to the Pakistani village where she was attacked, but says she misses it. She says mostly listened to Western music back home in her village, particularly that by Justin Bieber, but now is listening to more Pashto and Urdu music to remind her of home.

The outspoken teen won the European Union's annual human rights award on Thursday, chosen over fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

Lecturers' Strike Cripples Nigeria's Public Varsity Education

posted Aug 19, 2013, 7:04 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Aug 19, 2013, 7:05 AM ]

Nigeria's Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on a nationwide strike for over 40 days, crippling learning in all state and federal owned universities in the country. ASUU declared an indefinite strike on July 2 over issues including non-payment of allowances. The crisis has exposed the decadence in the country's public education sector which has been attributed to the government's inability to rectify the issues that have plagued it for over two decades.

 LAGOSNIGERIA  (REUTERS) -  Psychology student Azubuike Chima is keeping up with his reading while a six-week strike by university lecturers across Nigeria cripples learning in government owned higher institutions across the country.

But the 23-year-old is worried that time lost as the strike persists will be impossible to recover.

"It has actually affected me in the sense that you are now living in a circle, when you wake up, instead of preparing for lectures, instead of preparing for the days academic work, you are only thinking of how to do your house chores, you know, so, it's been bad, I'd like to put it that way, you know, it's been very bad," Chima said.

Nigerian university lecturers have been in a long running dispute with the government over allowances, arrears and funding for the revamping of varsity education in Africa's second biggest economy.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) accuses Nigeria's government of failing to implement a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties.

Universities have been shut since July 2, leaving millions of students out of lecture rooms at a time when they were just two weeks away from sitting their second semester examinations.

The government says it has no "resources" to meet the lecturers' demands.

Ibrahim Usman Yakasai, spokesman for the government's National Universities Commission says ASUU's needs are insatiable.

"They wanted autonomy, they were given autonomy, they wanted increase in salary, that was given and some other allowances. This one is called earned allowances that is what they are fighting for and you see you have to earn it, you have to earn something to get it," said Yakasai.

"If you are a lecturer are you not supposed to... What is your job? You are supposed to lecture and examine the students but they get paid for examining the students," he added.

ASUU says it is also fighting for the revamp of Nigeria's education sector and an increase in the annual budget allocation to schooling.

Decades of corruption and inadequate funding have left Nigeria's education sector in crisis. In 20 years, ASUU has gone on strike eight times.

"Revitalization of the universities system in terms of infrastructure, laboratories, library and addressing the issue of brain drain both external and internal; external in the sense that we don't want our members to be going outside the country for lectureship and academic jobs, internal in the sense that we want the very best to be retained in the system," said Karo Obinaka, ASUU chairman for the University of Lagos.

Hundreds of students recently took to the streets of Nigeria's commercial capital,Lagos to protest the government's refusal to meet ASUU's demands, causing traffic to come to a stand still for several hours.

The protests were organised by the Joint Action Front, in support of ASUU's decision.

Achike Chude deputy chairman for the Joint Action Front said their is a greater need to reclaim Nigeria's once regionally sort after learning institutions.

"If we can show government that education is not just about the lecturers and the students but every other Nigerian. If we can drum that into the ears of government, then government will take education much more seriously and accord it its proper place in Nigeria and once they accord education its proper place, the issue of incessant strikes by ASUU, by lecturers and so on will be a thing of the past, so that's what we intend to achieve," he said.

"When this thing started, we believed that ASUU has started again but when we had a closer look to their demands, we know that this thing has to do with proper funding of education and the demand that can make our education system to attain the globally competitive educational system so our faith is that we believe that without pain there is no gain, all we need is to mount pressure on the federal government of Nigeria to properly fund education because that is the only thing they owe Nigerians and that is when the other sectors in the country can have those that are capable to manage them," the Adeyemo Socrates, a a student leader.

President, Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday (August 18) approved the release of 400 billion naira for the infrastructural development of Nigerian universities in transforming them to international standards.

A meeting is currently being held and hopes are high that ASUU if satisfied with the recent development will put an end to the strike.

Squatters Right, Says Student Toilet Designer

posted Aug 1, 2013, 2:38 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Aug 1, 2013, 2:39 AM ]

A British design student has invented a hi-tech squat toilet for the western market, which he believes will provide health benefits for users and lead to the demise of the traditional seated lavatory.

 LONDON, ENGLAND, UK /  (REUTERS) - Peter Codling calls it the Penseur ...a high tech squat toilet he invented in design school. It's where he does some of his best thinking.

A recent graduate of London's Royal College of Art, Codling says the human body was meant to squat when taking care of he decided to re-invent the toilet.


"You have a muscle that's connected to your pelvis that in a sitting position cinches closed your colon and stops you from going completely and quickly, as you should do. In the squatting position this muscle is relaxed and you can go and your colon is straightened, which enables you to go quickly and much more completely."

Squat toilets are uncommon in the Western world, which is why Codling added extra comforts to his hi-tech throne, like a touchscreen that allows a user to choose the perfect water pressure for the bidet and massage functions.


"These pads support the body, for the back and the bottom of the lower thigh, which enables the buttocks to be free, so to put someone in a new position like that and to have it comfortable was a tricky thing to do. So I've had to iterate many times to finally get the position that worked comfortably and I had my 83-year-old grandmother in this yesterday, so I'm quite certain that it works for a larger age range than a current sitting toilet."

Leading bowel expert, Professor Charles Knowles of Queen Mary UniversityLondon, says there's been little research on the benefits of squatting. But he sees potential interest from chronic constipation sufferers.


"I don't think it's going to be a game changer in preventing all known bowel illnesses because of course a great many of them, including colorectal cancer, have a strong genetic component. It doesn't matter what you do with the shape of your toilet, you're not going to alter that risk. I think its greatest perceived benefit will be around the efficiency of defecation, particularly in people who have a problem with that."

Visitors to the recent design show at Codling's college tried out the toilet for size.


"I would use it, because it's definitely more relaxing and easier to use."


"I think the shape of it may seem now a bit weird to people but that's what it is with everything, so I think it could be the replacement for the previous toilet."

Codling hopes it will only take one sitting for someone to change their lifetime toilet habits..he hopes the Penseur will be on the market within two years and make him flush with success.

Nigeria Islamists Hit Schools To Destroy Western Ideas

posted Jul 15, 2013, 5:36 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Jul 15, 2013, 5:37 AM ]

In a video uploaded to the Internet, Boko Haram's purported leader Abubakar Shekau praises attacks on Western-style schools.

 (BOKO HARAM HANDOUT) - The purported leader of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram praised attacks on schools offering Western-style education in a video uploaded to the Internet on Saturday (July 14).

The video appeared after Boko Haram militants killed 46 students in four school attacks in Nigeria in less than a month, including at Mamudo and Damaturu government schools.

Abubakar Shekau denied ordering the latest killings, saying Boko Haram does not itself kill small children, but he praised attacks on schools.

"We support the attack on the schools in Mamudo and Damaturu and all the attacks in the school of western education; we had promised that we will burn down schools because they are not of God and the prophets; they (the schools) are established to fight against the religion of Islam. But we don't harm children, little boys and girls, our religion does not permit us to kill little children, we don't kill women and old people except for women who disguise and work for secret security agency," Shekau says in the video, dressed in desert fatigues and cradling an assault rifle.

In the last of the four attacks, at Mamudo school near Potiskum in Nigeria's northeast, 22 students and a teacher were killed there on July 6.

Boko Haram, a nickname which translates roughly as "Western education is sinful", formed around a decade ago as a clerical movement opposed to Western influence, which the sect's founder, Mohammed Yusuf, said was poisoning young minds against Islam.

The rebels are fighting to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.

Yet security forces and politicians were the main targets of the armed revolt it started after Yusuf's killing in a 2009 military crackdown that left 800 people dead.

Before June, there had been only a handful of attacks on the Western-style schools it so despises.

An offensive against the insurgents since President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three remote northern states in May, wresting control of the far northeast from Boko Haram and pushing its fighters into hiding, has changed that.

Shekau, in his video message, denied that the group had been pushed into negotiations.

"On the suggestion that that we negotiated ceasefire with the government of Nigeria-- it is a lie. How can we negotiate with a government that is corrupt? A government that is using the book of pagans to run the government? This is a blatant lie."

Schools are a devastating target for an impoverished region suffering a high rate of illiteracy

Recently, Boko Haram has splintered into several factions, including some with ties to al Qaeda's Saharan wing, which analysts say operate more or less independently, despite Shekau's loose claim to authority over them.

Around The World In A Tuk Tuk For Education

posted Jul 11, 2013, 7:23 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Jul 11, 2013, 7:24 AM ]


R Reports - It's the journey of a lifetime for two British teachers and their Tuk Tuk.

Rich Sears and Nick Gough are travelling across the world to raise awareness and promote the importance of education.

With 57 million children worldwide still out of school in 2011, it is an issue close to their hearts.


"And what we are doing is a very small thing, but we hope that it will be able to have some kind of impact in the lives of children around the world."

Racking up an impressive 20,000 miles, they are just over half way through their journey.

As they go, they search out educational projects which they can raise funds for.

One of these is St Matthews Junior School in Kenya. Here school fees are low at $2.50 dollars a month, but many children attend for free as their families can't afford to pay.

Nick Gough explained resources are a big issue for many schools.


"You often have three or four people sharing a pencil, so you have to right down the answer to the question and pass on the pencil and wait for it to come back round to finish the next question of the test."

There have been a few challenges to overcome along the way...

But the two childhood friends feel it is important to follow your passion.


"if everyone thinks, wow I could just go and do something and follow what they are passionate about then real changes could happen and it could be really exciting."

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