Hong Kong students protest over ‘brainwashing’ classes

Hong Kong students and teachers protested Tuesday for a sixth straight day against plans to introduce Chinese patriotism classes, as political tensions rise days ahead of legislative polls, the AFP reports. Protesters at the government headquarters said they would not vote for parties that supported “national education”, which they say is a bid to brainwash children with Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

“I feel national education is an important issue because it could affect many generations of children’s education,” second year university student Cheung Nga-lam said at the demonstration, which began on Thursday.

“The new Legislative Council members will definitely have an influence on the issue because whatever they say affects society.”…Read More

Thousands of Canada teachers protest pay freeze

Canadian teachers on Tuesday protested proposals for a two-year pay freeze and curbs to their collective bargaining rights to help pay down Ontario province’s $14.8 billion budget deficit, the AFP reports. Waving placards that read “Stop bullying me,” an estimated 5,000 teachers gathered outside of the Ontario legislature, accusing Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty of “betraying” them, live television showed. Public broadcaster CBC said the demonstrators were joined by peers from across Canada in a massive show of solidarity, while thousands of students in neighboring Quebec province continued raging against tuition hikes. McGuinty won elections in 2003, 2007 and last October with the support of teachers. But more recently he has said the province cannot afford teacher pay hikes and their banking of unused sick days that would cost the province $473 million…

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Nobel writer scorns S.Africa education as ‘a wreck’

Nobel literature prize winner Nadine Gordimer poured scorn on South Africa’s education system on Tuesday as “a wreck” over the failure to deliver textbooks to thousands of public schools, the AFP reports. The scandal has caused a national furor after leaving more than 5,000 rural schools without textbooks for more than six months of the academic year in a damning measure of South Africa’s schooling 18 years into democracy.

“Our education system is a wreck. It’s a shamble. I can’t believe that three-quarters of the year have gone by and so many of our schools, especially in the rural areas, have been without textbooks,” said Gordimer, 88, on SAFM public radio news.

“It is the (education) minister’s responsibility to see that the books are ordered in time and delivered. How can you teach people to read if there are no books to read from?”…Read More

S.Africa claims delivery of books in schools fiasco

South Africa’s education department on Thursday claimed it had supplied nearly all missing textbooks to 5,000 public schools as ordered by a court but doubts remained that the fiasco was over, the AFP reports. A High Court last month gave the basic education ministry until June 15 to supply the missing textbooks and to set up a remedial programme to help students make up for lost time. The department said 99 percent of books had reached over 5,000 schools that have gone without material for half a year in northern Limpopo province as ordered by the court which said the pupils’ constitutional right to education had been violated.

“However, we fear that some of these reports may not accurate,” said public interest legal centre SECTION27 which brought the court action, saying their feedback did not tally with that of the government…

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Microsoft sees ‘rebirth’ with new Windows 8 system

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 series — featuring an upgraded cloud computing service — marks a “rebirth” of its operating systems, chief executive Steve Ballmer said, the AFP reports. Ballmer described Windows 8 as the “deepest, broadest and most impactful” Windows software ever created by the US tech giant, after the current Windows 7 sold at unprecedented rates to businesses.

“It’s really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows… It’s certainly the most important piece of work we’ve done,” he said in a speech to the Seoul Digital Forum.

Windows 8, whose preview version will be released in June, allows users readily to store and share personal data among various devices under the “SkyDrive” cloud computing service. Rival Apple already offers such a service. The new Microsoft system will support a wider range of devices, including touch- and stylus-based smartphones and tablet PCs as well as desktop and laptop machines, Ballmer said……Read More

Poor schools undermining US national security, panel says

The failure of US public schools to thoroughly prepare their students for a globalized world is undermining American national security, a blue-ribbon task force warned Tuesday, the AFP reports. In a 121-page report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York think tank, the 31-member panel said military muscle no longer suffices to ensure a nation’s safety and prosperity.

“Rather, national security today is closely linked with human capital, and the human capital of a nation is as strong or as weak as its public schools,” said the report, titled “US Education Reform and National Security.”

On the whole, “too many schools” are failing to prepare their students to compete in a fast-changing global economy, or even to produce “a sufficiently skilled military or workforce,” it said……Read More

Schools: Fresh scandal embroils US climate science debate

A fresh scandal over climate change has erupted in the United States after leaked documents appeared to show a right-wing funded campaign to influence how climate science is taught in schools, the AFP reports. The internal budget and strategy documents from a Chicago-based non-profit group called the Heartland Institute were made public last week, and showed $200,000 was to be spent on a “global warming curriculum project.” The project would teach that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy” and that climate models’ “reliability is controversial,” according to some of the leaked documents. Others showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from fossil fuel industries and interests, an anonymous donor’s pledge of $1.25 million, and $300,000 to be paid to a team of scientists to rebut UN findings on climate change…

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Nielsen: Tablets replacing TV, teachers and babysitters

Need a way to keep your kids quiet while traveling, entertained at a restaurant or just want to teach them some facts? More and more parents are letting their kids aged 11 and under loose on a tablet device, the AFP reports. A new study by market researcher Nielsen has found that adults
commonly use tablets to pacify their children while they are out of the house. More than half of adults said their children used a tablet as a form of
entertainment while traveling. Two out of five gave their children a tablet to keep them occupied while they were at a restaurant or event…

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Scientist: Education can solve religion-science conflicts

A perceived conflict between science and religion has led Americans to rank nearly last among industrialized countries in understanding
evolution, educators told a major science conference this weekend, the AFP reports. But research suggests that education changes anti-science attitudes among even the most religious of students, while history shows that science can thrive alongside religion, said Kenneth Miller of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Evolution is exhibit A on the cutting edge of the anti-science movement in the US,” Miller told a symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He said the United States placed second to last–just before Turkey–in a recent survey in 33 countries of how well people understood evolution. Widespread rejection in America of climate science, and denial of climate change is linked with the “street fight” over evolution, speakers told an audience of mostly American scientists and educators…

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Jordan public teachers ignore call to halt strike

Jordanian public school teachers on Thursday ignored government calls to halt their strike to press for full annual bonuses, leaving hundreds of thousands of students at home, the AFP reports. Most of the country’s 1.4 million public schoolchildren stayed at home, as a majority of the nearly 100,000 teachers kept away for a fourth consecutive day from the kingdom’s 3,370 public schools. Teachers in the past have received a 100-percent increase in their annual bonus, but the government decided this year to give them a 70-percent raise and pay the remainder in installments over the coming three years…

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