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China pledges $2B to help developing countries

Also promises to forgive debt owed by countries in greatest need

By Thomson Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Saturday that Beijing will establish an assistance fund with an initial pledge of $2 billion to help developing countries implement a global sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years.

“China will continue to increase investment in the least developed countries, aiming to increase its total to $12 billion by 2030,” Xi told a sustainable development summit of world leaders at the United Nations.

“China will exempt the debt of the outstanding intergovernmental interest-free loans due by the end of 2015 owed by the relevant least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries,” he added.

The fund would help pay for such things as health care, education and economic development.

News courtesy: CBC
Read more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/china-fund-poorest-countries-1.3245286

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Books, not bullets – U.S. politicians have a choice to make: they can either invest in military and war or in education and hope.

By Allison Grossman, Senior Legislative Associate at RESULTS, an international grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to ending poverty.

Books, not bullets. That’s the message that 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate and global education activist Malala Yousafzai brought to lawmakers during her very first visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

“U.S. politicians have a choice to make: they can either invest in military and war or in education and hope. Without education it’s impossible to achieve the peace we all seek. Education for all is the only answer,” she said.

I was lucky to spend the day going door to door on Capitol Hill with Malala, her father Ziauddin, and Malala Fund president Meighan Stone. And I’m lucky do the same work year round with RESULTS and our network of passionate, committed volunteers across the country. Like Malala, they are using their voices to change the world.

Read more » Malala Fund Blog
See more » http://community.malala.org/malala-visits-capitol-hill-to-urge-us-support-for-global-education-1217072849.html

Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

KARACHI: The Sindh education department on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese education department of Sichuan province of China for their cooperation in teaching the Chinese language in schools of Sindh.

The ceremony was held in the committee room of the Sindh Assembly and the MoU was signed by Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechucho and Liu Dong, vice director general of the education department of China. Sindh Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Consul General of China Ma Yaou and other officials also attended the ceremony.

According to the MoU, the teaching of Chinese would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years. Students learning the language will get extra marks, scholarships and foreign visit opportunities for education and skills training in China for those students who would pass Chinese as a subject till matriculation and higher classes.

Take a look: Sindh to teach Chinese language in schools from 2013

Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said that making the teaching of Chinese compulsory was aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in Pakistan as “we have over the years maintained long-lasting culture and economic relations in China”.

Continue reading Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

Malala Yousafzai receives Nobel Peace Prize 2014

The 2014 Nobel Prizes are presented, including the Peace Prize, which has been awarded to Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. This live stream has now ended

By Telegraph Video and PA, video source APTN

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for speaking up in favour of girls’ education, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The 17-year-old, who is the youngest person ever to receive the honour, was handed at gold medal and a diploma at a ceremony in Oslo, joining the ranks of laureates including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The teenager was jointly awarded the peace prize with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for her “heroic struggle” in favour of girls’ access to learning.

Malala began speaking out for the rights of girls at the age of 11, and came to prominence after surviving an assassination attempt in October 2012.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/11284445/Watch-live-Malala-Yousafzai-receives-Nobel-Peace-Prize-2014.html

 

Over 70% teachers in Pakistan believe corporal punishment is useful

beatingOver 70 per cent of teachers in Pakistan agree with the statement that corporal punishment is useful, shows a study launched by the education campaign Alif Ailaan.

This was just among the several findings of the study on teachers in Pakistan, especially government school teachers, about whom very little is known, especially when it comes to the challenges they face and the support they need to do their jobs well.

The Voice of Teachers, the study on Pakistani teachers, highlights the struggles of men and women who are charged with the task of educating this country’s children, often under the most difficult circumstances.

Conducted by the Society for the Advancement of Education (SAHE), in partnership with Alif Ailaan, the study is based on an extensive survey of more than 1,250 teachers and head teachers in government and private schools across the country.

The survey interviewed 1,264 teachers (823 teachers and 441 head teachers) from 634 government and private schools in 15 districts, covering urban and rural areas in all four provinces. Its findings challenge many of the myths surrounding Pakistan’s teaching workforce.

The study also delves into issues that have received public attention in recent years: political interference, the role of teachers’ associations, recruitment, transfers and postings. Here too, what teachers have to say is surprising. Most government teachers state that they were hired on merit, with just 20 per cent reporting that their recruitment did not follow official procedures and just one per cent using political influence.

Among the issues that hamper a teachers’ ability to perform effectively are overcrowded classrooms, multi-grade teaching, poor quality textbooks, and the lack of facilities and equipment. For government school teachers, non-teaching duties are a major concern. Teachers in the survey claim that they spend an average of 53 days a year on non-teaching duties.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1145532/over-70-pc-teachers-believe-corporal-punishment-is-useful

#No more ghosts: Facebook campaign sparks revolution in education sector

By Sameer Mandhro

SINDH – KARACHI: What the Sindh government could not do with all its resources and powers, a few concerned individuals have managed to accomplish with a little spark of ingenuity and the help of modern technology.

The campaign against ‘ghost teachers’ that has gone viral on Facebook since it started last month has sparked a kind of revolution in the provincial education sector. The campaign has by now exposed hundreds of prominent figures, including journalists, political and social activists and nationalists who were drawing salaries from public schools but never bothered to attend even once.

The campaign

The major focus of the campaign was on those affiliated with the media. TV channel and newspaper owners were urged to take action against such journalists who were ruining the futures of hundreds of children.
A month on, the campaign has attracted the attention of almost 30 groups of individuals who collect data, including pictures of ‘ghost teachers’ from different areas and share the information on the page under the inscription, ‘He is also a ghost teacher’. The data is then viewed and shared by those subscribed to the page. The remarkable success of the campaign can be gauged from the fact that people from all over Sindh have started posting information on ‘ghost teachers’ on the page.
With the exception of a few, most of the ‘ghost teachers’ are male. They are individuals who are quite prominent in their professions. Interestingly, the moderators of the page claim that the number of female ghost teachers is far higher than their male counterparts.

The profiles are shared from one person to another, and within hours, the accused inevitably finds out that they have been identified. Below the profiles follow a string of comments from users, urging the person to do justice to the profession. The comments are shaming, with the users having carefully picked their words to touch a nerve. ‘Go ghost go’, ‘Don’t destroy the future of our children’ and ‘You are not from among us’ are some of the popular messages to the ghost teachers.

The campaigners

“The first rally for education started in 2012 from Mithi,” recalled one of the senior campaigners, Liaquat Mirani. He is a teacher at a private school and has been threatened several times to stop the campaign. “The campaign has somewhat achieved what millions of rupees spent by the government and donor agencies could not do,” he said, adding that several teachers have started joining their duties after the drive was launched on the social media. “It is a social media revolution.”
Mirani is one of the campaigners who directly shares posts regarding ghost teachers on his personal Facebook profile. He has also asked others to come forward and help him point out those who cheat the nation.

Suhail Memon, who is himself a journalist, is among those who expose ghost teachers on social media. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Memon said that around 40,000 people have been declared ‘ghost teachers’ by the provincial government. “We are also collecting data of how many ghost teachers have been identified on our pages,” he explained.

What they hope to achieve

“Believe me, no one will dare to be absent from schools in the future,” he said. “There will be no compromise on education.” Memon added that the bhatta in the form of salaries taken from the government will not be tolerated. Social media had become the most powerful tool of information in the world. “Its impact is being felt in Sindh now.”

One of the individual campaigners, Shahnawaz Mandhro, remarked that the response was tremendous. “Common people whose complaints were not being entertained by the education department now contact us and share information on ghost teachers,” he said. “The school from where I got my primary education is now closed. It pains me that there is no mechanism to make schools functional again,” he commented.

Interestingly, the provincial education department has requested campaigners to share data with the department, with the promise that guilty teachers would be removed from their jobs after proper scrutiny.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/793902/no-more-ghosts-facebook-campaign-sparks-revolution-in-education-sector/

Should we follow the German way of free higher education?

Against the international trend, Germany has announced it will abolish tuition fees and higher education will once again be free for its citizens. Could the same happen in Australia?

In a shortlived experiment, Germany’s public universities – funded by state (Länder) governments – introduced fees in 2005. But as early as 2008, following public outcry, individual states started backtracking. The last two of the Länder still levying them will phase them out this year.

Fee-reversal could happen in Australia. We have only one government funding 37 public universities, compared to Germany’s 16 Länder funding more than 100. But perhaps the question for Australia is: should higher education be free?

The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights supports the implementation of free higher education on the basis that higher education should be equally accessible to all. But free doesn’t necessarily mean equal.

What’s the point of having a free education if only a few can access it? Or if the quality of higher education is sub-standard? On the other hand, what if a country charges high student fees, but ensures that anybody needing financial support gets it?

Read more » theconversation.com
http://theconversation.com/should-we-follow-the-german-way-of-free-higher-education-23970

Kenney says Canada can learn from Germany on skills training

By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canadians have much to learn from Germany’s famed apprenticeship system despite doubts it could succeed in Canada, Jason Kenney said as he wrapped up a fact-finding mission into how the European powerhouse streams its youth into skilled trades.

“Sure, we can’t pick up the German system and transplant it to Canada — that would be ridiculous,” the employment minister said in a telephone interview, adding it was a “lazy point of view” to be dismissive of the long-established German partnership among government, schools and business.

“Closer collaboration between the education system and employers is so important. Giving kids relevant information about what kind of education is likely to lead to promising careers and remuneration — these things don’t have to be unique to Germany.”

Kenney said Ottawa and provincial governments can also look at “ways of massively expanding paid co-op opportunities for students during post-secondary education” and consider “reinventing” vocational high schools.

The minister has been leading a 30-member delegation of Canadian politicians from five provinces, along with business and labour union representatives, on a trip to Germany and Great Britain to learn about their apprenticeship programs.

Read more » Yahoo News
http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/kenney-points-study-u-democrat-income-splitting-promise-180242293.html

SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

By Reuters

JOHI: In neat rows, the girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted.

“Scream!” one called out. “Bite!” another suggested. “Scratch really hard with your nails!” a third said.

Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in Pakistan.

Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence.

Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organised sex education. In some places it has been banned.

But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project.

Around 700 girls are enrolled in eight local schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. Their sex education lessons — starting at age eight — cover changes in their bodies, what their rights are and how to protect themselves.

“We cannot close our eyes,” said Akbar Lashari, head of the organisation. “It’s a topic people don’t want to talk about but it’s fact of our life.”

Facts of life

Lashari said most of the girls in the villages used to hit puberty without realising they will begin to menstruate or they got married without understanding the mechanics of sex.

The lessons even teach the girls about marital rape — a revolutionary idea in Pakistan, where forcing a spouse to have sex is not a crime.

“We tell them their husband can’t have sex with them if they are not willing,” Lashari said.

The lessons are an addition to regular classes and parents are told before they enroll their daughters. None has objected and the school has faced no opposition, Lashari said.

The eight schools received sponsorship from BHP Billiton, an Australian company that operates a nearby gas plant, but Lashari says sex education was the villagers’ own idea.

Teacher Sarah Baloch, whose yellow shalwar kameez brightens up the dusty school yard, said she hoped to help girls understand what growing up meant.

“When girls start menstruating they think it is shameful and don’t tell their parents and think they have fallen sick,” shesaid.

Baloch teaches at a tiny school of three brick classrooms. A fourth class is held outside because there are so many girls.

Continue reading SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

Olson, Qaim launch basic education programme

Karachi: US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson, joined by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, broke ground in the Korro village of Khairpur on Monday on the first of 120 schools to be built by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its $155 million Sindh Basic Education Programme.

US Consul General Michael Dodman, US Agency for International Development Mission Director Greg Gottlieb, Sindh Senior Minister of Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho and other officials from Sindh’s education department, as well as teachers, students and members of the community, also attended the ceremony.

“We are committed to supporting education in Pakistan, which is the key to a brighter future for Pakistan’s children,” said Ambassador Olson.

Working together, the US and the Sindh government will improve the quality of and access to education for the children of Sindh.”

In the coming five years, USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools affected by the catastrophic 2010 floods and will support the Sindh government’s policy of consolidating, merging and upgrading schools throughout the province.

According to a statement released by the US consulate general, the programme will develop greater partnerships with local communities to improve school management and increase enrollment for girls, with a goal of improving the reading skills of 750,000 children in target areas of Sindh.

Continue reading USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

Who would have thought this is possible in the USA? Socialist wins seat on Seattle city council

Socialist wins seat on Seattle city council

Kshama Sawant, an Occupy Seattle member, hopes to raise minimum wage to $15 and levy a ‘millionaire’s tax’

Seattle voters have elected a socialist to city council for the first time in modern history. Kshama Sawant, a member of the populist Occupy Seattle movement, ran on a platform of raising Washington State’s minimum wage to $15 and levying a “millionaire tax” to pay for mass transit and public education.

Read more > aljazeera
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/16/socialist-wins-seatonseattlecitycouncilfirstinnearly100years.html

21 September: International Peace Day

“On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect. Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

Read more » UN.org
http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

Sindhi Advocacy on The Hill

(Washington, DC) – August 9, 2013: The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will be raising the awareness for Sindh and the Sindhis on September 10th-12th 2013 on Capitol Hill. We have already scheduled several meetings with members of Congress. These three days will encompass raising awareness regarding the discrimination faced by the Sindhis in Pakistan.

The Three-day Advocacy will focus on Education, Health, and Human Rights issues: Torture, enforced disappearances, marginalization of the religious minority (particularly Sindhi Hindus) and mistreatment of women in Sindh, Pakistan.

Malala speaks at UN, vows not to be silenced

By: AFP

NEW YORK CITY: Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai told the United Nations on Friday that she would not be silenced by terrorist threats, in her first public speech since being shot by the Taliban.

“They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed,” Malala said on her 16th birthday, which she spent making calls for greater global efforts to get children into schools.

“The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, courage and fervour was born,” she said in a speech given several standing ovations.

The passionate advocate for girls education was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she road on a school bus near her home in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 12 last year.

She was given life-saving treatment in Britain where she now lives, but the attack has given new life to her campaign for greater educational opportunities for girls.

Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and UN special envoy for education, hailed Malala as “the bravest girl in the world” as he presented her at the UN Youth Assembly.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1028531/malala-speaks-at-un-vows-not-to-be-silenced

Another good work by USAID

us aidSteps for education: USAID-funded building to open in Sindh University

By: The Express Tribune Report

HYDERABAD: The ground breaking ceremony for a new education faculty building, being funded by the USAID, at the Sindh University, Hyderabad was held on Wednesday.

“The building is part of the $40 million project to establish 14 new faculties of education across Pakistan over the next two years,” informed the US consul-general, Michael Dodman, who was the chief guest at the ceremony. Two other education faculty buildings are being constructed at the University of Karachi and the Shah Abdul Latif University, he added.

The new faculty will accommodate two new teaching programmes including the two-year associate degree in education and the four-year Bachelors of education. “These courses have been designed in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The USAID is working with 110 universities and teacher training colleges in Pakistan to initiate these programmes.”

The new building, to be completed by June 2014 at the cost of Rs23 million, will have 18 classrooms, computer labs, a wi-fi system, a library, an auditorium and a media library. Its eco-friendly structure will be an additional feature.

The three-storey structure is being built over an area of 20,000 square feet, adjacent to the heritage building of the old campus. “We will offer classes in the morning and evening shifts in order to accommodate as many students as possible,” said the education faculty’s dean, Dr Parveen Munshi.

USAID mission director Grogory Gottlieb said that around 2,500 students and 200 teachers will acquire education from the 14 new faculties every year. Over the last four years, he added, the USAID has rehabilitated around 600 schools, sponsored 10,000 university scholarships and provided training to 12,000 teachers in Pakistan.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/575299/steps-for-education-usaid-funded-building-to-open-in-sindh-university/

Corruption limits educational opportunities for Sindhi Children

Reopening ghost schools a lucrative business in Thar

By Prem Shivani

MITHI: The number of schools in the most-underdeveloped district in Sindh is roughly twice the number of total villages.

According to education department records, there are 4,153 operational schools in 2,484 villages of Tharparkar district.

The schools are ‘operating’ on paper only and are not even remotely related to providing education to children living in these villages. Such schools are used only to embezzle government funds received for their management, Dawn reliably learnt. A couple of years ago, more than 50 per cent ghost schools in the district were got reopened by local influential persons in connivance with officials of the education department.

The schools regularly receive funds, ration for students, stipends and scholarships which the bogus schools management committees — comprising the supposed supervisor, teacher and at times the education district officer and additional district officer — distribute among themselves, according to sources in the education department.

According to regulations of the education department, a primary school has to be opened after every two kilometres. However, since the education officers have a stake in schools funds they have been more than generous in opening as many as 60 bogus schools in a single village, said the sources.

These officials have evaded notice by maintaining fake records for students’ enrolment and semis code.

A school with a semis code receives Rs22,500 per year as school management committee fund, a stipend of Rs250 for every girl student enrolled and the person who opens the school in his locality or village gets the job of a lower staff or a naib qasid. Moreover, funds and wheat, oil and ghee are also given by the World Food Programme and Tawana Pakistan Project for these schools.

According to education department records, there are 61 primary schools for boys and girls and one high school in Vaouridora village in Chhachhro taluka which has a total population of 6,580 people.

Around 3,950 boys and girls — 60 per cent of the population — have been shown enrolled in these schools, also having 182 students who have even studied up to matric. Out of these 62 schools 42 do not even have a building but have been allotted a semi code by education officials.

Meanwhile, 27, 22 and 17 schools have been supposedly functioning in Chhachhro, Diplo and Islamkot towns respectively.

A greater number of schools are operating in several villages of Tharparkar district having a population of less than 5,000 people.

Moreover, 24 schools have been opened in Chelhar, 23 in Karuro, 23 in Charnore, 22 in Thardos, 21 in Kitar, 19 in Kitari, 19 in Sakrio, 17 in Kantio,16 in Udani, 15 in Janjhi,14 in Danbhario,14 in Ranpario, 13 in Jetrar, 12 in Khimejopar, 11 in Pabuhar, 11 in Bhorilo, 10 in Dhaklo, 10 in Jese jo Par,10 in Kaloi, and 9 in Aranro village, state official bogus records.

A senior teacher who worked with the Tawana Pakistan Project confirmed that many schools in Thar maintained bogus records of students’ enrolment.“Wheat and oil obtained for these schools is openly sold in the market of these villages and towns,” he said.

An education official who wished not to be named shed some light on ‘the rationale behind opening several schools in a single village’.

He said that influential persons of various communities used their clout to get as many schools opened as possible because for each school opened in a village, bogus teachers gave a cut of their loot to the school superviser and the influential person who had got the school opened. If a teacher paid Rs1,000 a month to the supervisor then more schools meant more teachers and more money, he explained.

Tharparkar district education officer Abdul Majid Hur said that the matter was being probed thoroughly. He said that he would not hesitate to take a stern decision for putting the educational system in Thar on a sound footing and ensuring that quality education was imparted in schools.

For about two years now, people working in such bogus schools in connivance with the education department have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of stakeholders who are funding these schools.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1023302/reopening-ghost-schools-a-lucrative-business-in-thar

Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013 in Washington, DC

Press Release (3 Jul 2013): The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will be organizing a Three-day Advocacy Campaign, September 10th-12th 2013 at the Capitol Hill for the Sindhis in Pakistan. These three days will encompass raising awareness regarding the discrimination faced by the Sindhis in Pakistan.

We would like to send out our sincere request for participation in our Sindhi Advocacy Campaign on September 10th through 12th, 2013, 9am-6pm, at the Capitol Hill. The Three-day Advocacy will focus on Education, Health and the human rights issues: Torture, enforced disappearances, marginalization of the religious minority (particularly Sindhi Hindus) and mistreatment of women in Sindh, Pakistan. On the Hill we will be setting meetings with 435 members of the house and 100 senators.

Your support by attending the Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013, would be deeply appreciated and help uplift our mission of amending justice to the Sindhis in Pakistan. Please feel free to contact us at sapac.sindh@gmail.com

‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD, June 20: At the moment, over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and the literacy rate is less than 60 percent. It requires us to declare an educational emergency in the country.

This was said by the state minister for education, Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman, during the launching ceremony of a report, Pakistan District Education Rankings, by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute at a local hotel on Thursday.

He said the literacy rate could not be improved without political will. During the past five years, 45,000 teachers had been appointed in Punjab and most were placed near their villages to assure maximum attendance.“We have decided to establish the National Curriculum Council to introduce a syllabus with a minimum standard for all provinces,” he said, adding that schools would be increased from 10,000 to 40,000 in the first year of the current government’s tenure.

The ranking report showed the huge variation in education standards across Pakistan. One of the goals of the report was to serve as a benchmark against which the performance of politicians and administrators could be assessed.

Continue reading ‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

Schools need new science standards to make U.S. competitive: National Research Council

Science in U.S. schools needs to be more comprehensive, hands on and rigorous to produce more engineers, doctors and inventors to help the U.S. compete, according to groups that are promoting new education standards.

The Next Generation Science Standards, developed by organizations such as the National Research Council and the National Science Teachers Association, were released yesterday. Twenty-six states, including California, New York and New Jersey, took part in drafting the voluntary guidelines and will consider adopting them for state curriculums.

The science guidelines follow a similar effort to create uniform expectations in math, writing and reading, called Common Core State Standards, issued in 2010 and which have been adopted in 45 states. The science standards were devised in part by looking at what is taught in countries that lead international tests, such as Singapore, South Korea and Finland. The U.S. ranked 17th in science and 25th in math in a 2009 assessment, according to the Next Generation Science Standards website.

“The U.S. system of science and mathematics education is performing far below par and, if left unattended, will leave millions of young Americans unprepared to succeed in a global economy,” the group said.

Continue reading Schools need new science standards to make U.S. competitive: National Research Council

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

“Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player”- Mark Lowcock

Politicians challenged to secure Pakistan’s global economic future

Mark Lowcock said:“Pakistan has everything it takes to be a successful, thriving, prosperous Islamic democracy.’

Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player.  It’s a powerful vision which can be realised if there is a focus on economic growth and implementing the vital reforms needed to stimulate and underpin growth a representative for the UK Government signalled yesterday.

Speaking at the Karachi School of Business and Leadership Mark Lowcock, the UK government’s most senior aid official, told business leaders and students that countries succeeding in today’s global race are those reforming the fastest to generate growth and reduce poverty.

Mark Lowcock said:

Pakistan has everything it takes to be a successful, thriving, prosperous Islamic democracy.”

“If you develop a clear and shared vision, sustain a long term commitment to travelling the long road of reform, and refuse to be deterred by the problems that will inevitably arise, then you can transform your country within a generation.”

Citing examples from across Asia and Africa, Mark Lowcock pressed that Pakistan’s stake in the global economy, and future investment potential, could be transformed. It has enormous potential for trade. Population dynamics mean that over the coming decades it could reap a demographic dividend, if the economy develops in a way that creates jobs for all young people.

Mr Lowcock stressed elections as an important watershed in embedding an inclusive political system, emphasised the importance of greater transparency in public operations, and highlighted the need to broaden the national dialogue on economic reform.

Mark Lowcock said:

Pakistan cannot sustain high rates of economic growth without a sufficient, reliable supply of energy…. The sector needs to be put on a more commercial footing, including a regulatory and tariff structure that is attractive to investors.”

“A tax system that collects less than 10% of GDP is unsustainable for any modern country. Without agreement and tangible progress on broader and fairer taxation, Pakistan will be unable to invest in a more prosperous future.”

Pakistan needs to invest in its best asset, which is your own people, especially in health and education to build human capital. It is also critical to promote women’s participation in the economy.  This is an issue of fairness and good governance. But it is also crucially an economic issue.”

Continue reading “Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player”- Mark Lowcock

Language in Sindh schools

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE language dilemma in education remains unresolved in Pakistan because educationists fail to understand how basic language is to the child’s learning process, as also to the psyche of the speakers.

Those who ignore this fundamental truth can undermine national integrity. If they are running schools they cannot maximise the learning advantage of their students. Language has a political dimension as well. When our leaders fail to understand that imposing a language on a people amounts to linguistic imperialism, the consequences can be grave. We know what happened in 1971.

In this context, Sindh should be the last province to pose a problem. It has speakers of mainly two languages — Sindhi and Urdu. Geographically they are broadly divided between the rural and urban areas. Public-sector education follows this demographic feature in the medium of instruction policy. Unsurprisingly, from ASER 2012 (the annual report on the status of education) to be released in January it emerges that 90 per cent of the parents in Sindh want their children to be taught in Sindhi (presuming that is the language of their choice when they said no to Urdu and English and opted for “other” in a survey conducted there).

Continue reading Language in Sindh schools

Canada gets human rights failing grade from Amnesty International

By: Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter

Excerpt;

…. An Amnesty report released Wednesday says that committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture and children’s rights found “a range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” especially for indigenous peoples.

“By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis,” it said. ….

Read more » The Toronto Star

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1304353–canada-gets-human-rights-failing-grade-from-amnesty-international

Canadian Senator Salma Ataullahjan on Pakistan, Pakhtunkhwa & Malala Yusufzai in the Globe & Mail

Malala Yousafzai drew a ‘red line’

BY: SALMA ATAULLAHJAN

I recently met the parents of Malala Yousafzai in Birmingham, England. Malala, who should be learning and laughing and doing what teenaged girls do, is instead lying in a British hospital, recovering after being shot and wounded in Pakistan by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education.

Malala and I are both Yousafzai Pakhtun women, from the same town and the same clan. We are a generation and two continents apart, but the 15-year-old girl’s courage, determination and maturity has triggered hope and inspiration in me at a time when I felt that all was waning in the land of our birth, Pakistan.

When I was 15 in the historic city of Peshawar, in the province of Pakhtunkhwa, my sisters and cousins could never have imagined a day when simply going to school would jeopardize our lives. We were brimming with confidence and optimism. Girls and young women were emerging to take positions of responsibility in government, social development and politics. Our colleges and universities were centres of learning and debate. I studied at a convent run by Irish nuns, and we spoke English and wore Western-style uniforms.

Continue reading Canadian Senator Salma Ataullahjan on Pakistan, Pakhtunkhwa & Malala Yusufzai in the Globe & Mail

The changing sociology of rural Sindh

By Arif Hasan

The media, print and electronic, are full of very important news and its analysis. Pakistan-US relations, the judiciary-executive conflict, the Karachi killings, sectarian strife, the Balochistan “insurgency”, and similar issues are regularly written about and/or discussed by well-informed experts. …….. …….

…….  From the early 70s to the late 90s, I have worked in rural Sindh and documented and published on the processes of change taking place in different areas of the province. After a lapse of 10 years, I visited a large number of rural areas with which I was previously acquainted. These visits were made between 2010 and 2012 and involved meetings with village communities, transporters, arhatis, real estate agents and local NGO staff and Community Based Organisation activists.

The change that I have observed and which has been articulated by the groups I interacted with, is enormous and that too in 10 years. The most visible and important change is the presence of women in development and political discourse. They are employed in NGO offices, they manage development programmes, they are social activists and the majority of them are from the rural areas. In some of the remote villages I visited, there were private schools and beauty parlours run by young village women. Blocking of roads to protest against the “high handedness” of the local landlords, bureaucratic inaction, and/or law and order situations, has become common. Women participate in these demonstrations and in some cases these blockages have been carried out exclusively by them.

Discussions with groups on the issue of free-will marriages were also held. The vast majority of individuals were in favour of such marriages even if they violated caste divisions. However, they felt that it is the parents that have to change so as to make such marriages conflict free. The non-availability of middle schools for girls was also discussed. Surprisingly, the village communities had no problem with the girls studying with the boys in the male middle schools. In addition, discussions with the Sindh Rural Support Organisation’s (SRSO) women groups, which consist of the poorest women in a village, revealed that about 20 per cent of them had mobile phones and almost all of them watched television although around 30 per cent households actually own a TV.

Continue reading The changing sociology of rural Sindh

Long Live Malala Yousufzai, Long Live Pakhtoon resistance. Death to her attackers & to this terrorist mindset. Sindh salutes Malala.

Taliban says it shot ‘infidel’ Pakistani teen for advocating girls’ rights

By Haq Nawaz Khan, By Michele Langevine Leiby

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A 14-year-old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for speaking out for girls denied education under the Taliban was shot and seriously wounded Tuesday on her way home from school, authorities said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on ninth-grader Malala Yousafzai, who officials said was shot in the head by at least one gunman who approached a school bus in Mingora, a city in the scenic Swat valley in the country’s northwest.

Yousafzai was flown by helicopter to a military hospital in Peshawar, where officials said a bullet was lodged near her spine. Surgeons were unable to operate immediately because of swelling in her skull. ….

Read more : The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/taliban-says-it-shot-infidel-pakistani-teen-for-advocating-girls-rights/2012/10/09/29715632-1214-11e2-9a39-1f5a7f6fe945_story.html

Corruption charges hit Pakistani `Sesame Street’

by: CNN, Priyanka Boghani

(CNN) – No more “sunny days sweeping the clouds away” in Pakistan as its version of ‘”Sesame Street” gets its funding cut due to fraud charges, according to Reuters.

The United States has withdrawn funding for the Pakistani version of the American children’s television series known for its educational content and colorful puppets.  The U.S. Agency for International Aid received reports of corruption charges on the production company, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, through an anti-fraud hotline, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Exact details of the graft weren’t provided.

The show, which began airing six months ago, features Elmo with a cast of local characters. The funding cut comes just six weeks after the U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter visited the set of “Sim Sim Hamara,” the Pakistani name for the series, “to reaffirm the U.S. Government’s commitment to children’s education in Pakistan,” according to a USAID press release.

The U.S. had originally allocated $20 million to produce the show and $6.7 million of this has already been spent, according to press agency reports.

According to reports from Pakistan Today, the money was used to pay off Rafi Peer’s debts. The funding was also used to award lucrative salaries to family members, many of whom worked in the company.

Continue reading Corruption charges hit Pakistani `Sesame Street’

Sindh succeeds in wooing US aid for schools, flood victims

SINDH – KARACHI – The hard work of the Sindh government to rehabilitate flood-affected schools has reaped benefits. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has agreed to provide an additional funding of $4 million to the province for further enhancement of flood damaged schools.

USAID was providing the Sindh government with a total of $155 million to support the education sector in Sindh under the Sindh Basic Education Programme.

Under the said programme, the flood-affected schools would be reconstructed in various districts including Khairpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Sukkur, Larkana, Kashmore-Kandhkot, and Karachi.

The Sindh Education Programme will also support in enhancing reading literacy in schools, alleviating malnourishment in children and provide technical assistance to departments in order to increase their capacity. The total funding for this venture is $155 million, sources told Pakistan Today.

The goal of the Sindh Basic Education programme is to increase and sustain student enrolment in primary, middle and secondary schools in targeted geographical location in Sindh…..

Read more » Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/07/07/city/karachi/sindh-succeeds-in-wooing-us-aid-for-schools-flood-victims/