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Indonesia starts school year with caution during pandemic

Asia/ Indonesia/ 14.07.2020/ Fuente:

After months of studying from home, students in several parts of the archipelago returned to school on Monday in accordance with the so-called “new normal” protocols in their respective communities.

In the meantime, a number of other regions continued to exercise caution and carried on with their online learning policies as the COVID-19 health crisis has shown no sign of abating anytime soon.

In East Nusa Tenggara, students returned to their classrooms as junior and senior high schools in 13 regencies and cities across the province – including the provincial capital Kupang, East Manggarai regency, Rote Ndao regency, East Flores regency, and Central Sumba regency – were permitted to resume their normal educational activities this week, albeit with a renewed emphasis on physical distancing and personal hygiene.

Despite the high-spirited school reopenings across the province, some parents have conveyed their collective anxiety about their children’s well-being.

Habel Manafe, whose child attends SMA 3 state senior high school in Kupang, called on schools to implement strict health protocols to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other staff members.

“For us, it goes without saying that once schools reopen, they must [enforce] health protocols. This includes implementing physical distancing measures, for instance, by putting some distance between seats in the classroom,” Habel told the press on Monday, adding that students must also be required to wear face masks.

Habel went on to say that having students tested for COVID-19 was crucial as schools adjusted to new norms.

Furthermore, students should also be given practical lessons on health protocols so they can develop new habits to minimize the risks of infection, Habel said.

“Parents shouldn’t simply tell [their children] to wash their hands, but they should also demonstrate how to do it properly,” Habel added.

Similarly, junior and senior high school students in Jambi city, Jambi, were also allowed to return to their classrooms on Monday, reported.

Jambi Mayor Syarif Fasha said the decision to reopen schools in the city was partly because hundreds of students in the region lacked access to online learning technology.

He noted that the reopening was met with enthusiasm among students, as evidenced by the 50 percent attendance rate on Monday. He expected the attendance rate to reach 100 percent by the end of the month.

“For the time being, [studying at school] is not mandatory. If a student has [breathing issues], for instance, they will be allowed to study remotely,” Syarif said.

Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim allowed 104 regencies and cities considered to be “green zones” across the country to reopen junior and senior high schools on July 13, which also marked the start of the new school year.

However, elementary school students are still required to study from home until further notice.

Amid Monday’s reopenings, some other regions remained cautious, with students told to continue studying from home because of health and safety concerns.

The Riau Islands administration, for instance, has prohibited schools from reopening as the threat of COVID-19 has yet to subside in the region.

“Based on our field inspection, schools – specifically senior high schools and vocational schools – haven’t reopened. We will [impose sanctions] if they do reopen,” Riau Islands Education Agency character building division head Adimaja told The Jakarta Post, adding that learning activities had mostly taken place online.

He went on to say that a few vocational schools in Batam had been permitted to allow students to resume outdoor activities, while still adhering to strict health protocols.

Akmal, who serves as a principal at Kartini Senior High School in Batam, said schools could be reopened for in-person learning as soon as the region was declared a “green zone”.

“[The reopening] also depends on the parents’ approval,” Akmal said.

In Medan, North Sumatra, however, students flocked to schools despite the local administration’s restrictions. Based on the Post’s observations, many students were not wearing face masks.

“On the first day of school, we sang together and wrote down our personal information. We had fun,” said Dori, a seventh grader at SMP 4 state junior high school in Medan.

North Sumatra Education Agency secretary Alpian Hutahuruk expressed dismay over the unsanctioned reopenings, saying it endangered students.

“This could put students in peril. We have prohibited [schools from reopening]. No school in North Sumatra may reopen when the COVID-19 [transmission rate] is still high,” said Alpian, adding that the administration would reach out to schools that were found to have violated the regulation.

Separately, national COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said the government had considered allowing schools in “yellow zones” to reopen because of high public demand.

“We are reviewing several public requests to allow [students] in yellow zones to go back to school,” Doni said after a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Monday.

As of Monday, Indonesia had recorded 76,981 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,656 deaths linked to the disease. (rfa)

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Japan’s schools begin to reopen with staggered attendance

Asia/ Japan/ 25.05.2020/ Source:

Schools in many regions across the nation reopened Monday with staggered attendance, in preparation for a full-scale restart of classes, following the government’s lifting of the state of emergency in 39 of the nation’s 47 prefectures last Thursday.

After the emergency closures, schools are welcoming back students while taking measures to prevent infections of the new coronavirus, such as avoiding overcrowding and shortening school hours.

All elementary and junior high schools in the city of Yamagata resumed classes on Monday. At a municipally run elementary school in the prefectural capital, students wearing face masks started arriving at around 7:30 a.m.

Returning after the two-and-a-half-month school closure, some of them happily talked with friends. “I’m a little afraid that I may get the virus, but I look forward to seeing everybody,” said a second-grade boy, age 7.

With this week as a “warm-up” period, the school will offer classes only in the morning on the first three days. A simple lunch, with only bread and milk being served, will be added to the schedule on Thursday and Friday. The school timetable is slated to return to normal next week.

“First, we need to help students correct their rhythm of life (undermined by the school closure),” said an official at the board of education of the city.

“We aim to take the steps needed gradually, including getting students accustomed to new school lunch rules designed to prevent coronavirus infection,” the official added.

In Toyama Prefecture, schools operated by the prefectural government also reopened Monday — earlier than the initial plan for them to remain shut until the end of this month.

To prevent overcrowding, each student is allowed to attend school just once or twice this week.

At Toyama Chubu High School in the city of Toyama, the prefectural capital, third-grade students were divided into two groups. On Monday, students in one group attended school in the morning while those in the other attended in the afternoon.

One student voiced concern over upcoming university entrance exams, saying, “Studying on my own is difficult.”

“We are concerned whether students will be able to take university entrance exams as scheduled, but we will do everything we can” to support them, said Koichi Hongo, the principal of the high school.

In contrast, the city of Kumamoto remains cautious, planning to start staggered school attendance next week or later. It aims to resume classes fully on June 8.

A municipal official in the prefectural capital said that many people found to have been infected with the novel coronavirus in the prefecture are within the city.

“We need to confirm infection numbers after the end of the Golden Week holiday period” earlier this month, the official added.

Kumamoto Prefectural Government reopened prefecture-run schools on Monday.

Yamagata, Toyama and Kumamoto prefectures are among the 39 for which the coronavirus state of emergency was lifted. The other eight prefectures that remain subject to the state of emergency are Hokkaido, Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo.

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Only 38% of schools in Japan began new term amid coronavirus woes

Asia/ Japan/ 14.04.2020/ Source:


Only 38 percent of public and private schools across Japan managed to begin their new academic year this month with students in classrooms in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, the education ministry said Monday.

But in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and four other prefectures placed under a state of emergency by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government last week, the proportion was a mere 6 percent, according to data compiled by the ministry as of Friday.

In Japan, a new school term typically begins in early April. Even before requesting people, especially those in the seven prefectures, to stay home as much as possible, Abe asked nationwide elementary, junior and senior high schools to shut for about one month from early March through the end of the spring break.

The data, covering public, state-run and private educational institutions from preschools through high schools, showed that 55 percent of them in the rest of the country’s 40 prefectures started the new term.

But all public and national schools in the seven prefectures remained closed, while 24 percent of private schools including preschools in the areas opened their facilities.

In other regions of Japan, 52 percent of public, 40 percent of national and 75 percent of private schools opened for the new term.

Of 900 universities and vocational colleges responding to the ministry’s survey, also as of Friday, 85.8 percent said they had decided to postpone the start of the new academic year or were still considering whether to change the schedule.

None of the universities and colleges in the seven prefectures said they would be holding classes as usual, while 4 percent in other regions of the country said they would.

As for online classes, 74.4 percent of national universities said they would hold them, compared to 46 percent of private universities and 32.7 percent of vocational colleges.

In a bid to prevent the further spread of the virus, Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency last Tuesday for the seven prefectures with big urban populations, also including Chiba, Hyogo, Kanagawa and Saitama, which have been grappling with a recent spike in the number of new cases.

The declaration, based on a revised law enacted last month, has given the governors of the seven prefectures the power to call for school and some business closures until this year’s Golden Week holidays end on May 6.

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Coronavirus shuts down nearly 340 schools in S. Korea

Asia/ South Korea/ 03.02.2020/ Source:

According to the Ministry of Education, 245 kindergartens, 53 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, 16 high schools and one special-education school postponed reopening following the month-long winter vacation or halted operations to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.

Most of the schools affected by the virus are in Suwon, Bucheon or Goyang in Gyeonggi Province, Gunsan in North Jeolla Province and in Seoul, where those infected with the virus have come from or visited.

Schools in areas considered to be vulnerable to the spread of the virus are now allowed to make a decision at their discretion on whether to temporarily close doors through prior consultations with regional educational authorities.

Education authorities in Suwon and Bucheon ordered all kindergartens and some elementary and middle and high schools in the cities to close for a week.

Authorities in Goyang recommended closure for all its kindergartens in the city for one week. However, only nine out of 157 kindergartens were closed, which led the ministry to revise the total number of kindergartens from 393 to 245 in the afternoon.

In Seoul, a total of nine schools — one kindergarten, three elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools — were temporarily shut.

In Gunsan, all kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools were ordered to close for two weeks.

Nurseries in Taean in South Chungcheong Province, Gunsan in North Jeolla Province and cities in Gyeonggi Province — Suwon, Bucheon, Pyeongtaek, Anyang and Goyang — were closed starting Monday.

Amid growing fears over the further spread of the virus upon Chinese students’ return to Korea for a new semester, the ministry said it plans to review whether to delay the reopening of universities this week.

There were an estimated 71,067 Chinese students studying at universities in Korea as of 2019, accounting for 44.4 percent of all foreign students here.

A total of 112 students and school officials are currently in self-imposed isolation after visiting the province, according to a survey of 242 universities by the ministry.

Meanwhile, 21 Korean students and school officials who visited China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the new coronavirus, less than two weeks ago remain in self-imposed isolation, as they are not showing any symptoms of the virus, according to the ministry.

Korea has confirmed 15 cases of the coronavirus that is believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, with 913 people having come into contact with those infected with the virus, according to health authorities.

Starting from Tuesday, South Korea will temporarily ban foreigners who have visited Hubei province within 14 days from entering the country, and everyone who came in contact with those infected with the virus will be required to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 362 people and infected more than 17,300 globally. There are now at least 179 confirmed cases of the virus in more than 27 countries and territories outside mainland China.

One person outside mainland China, a 44-year-old Chinese man in the Philippines, has died. Sweden and Spain reported those countries’ first cases over the weekend.

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Schools urged to capture learners’ details on NEMIS platform

Africa/Kenya/26-12-2019/Author: Rose Welimo/Source:

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha, has directed all schools to ensure that details of their learners are captured under the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) platform.

Magoha says a total of 9,112 public secondary schools and a further 3,915 private schools have been captured under the NEMIS system.

Speaking during the announcement of this years KCSE examination results in Nairobi, Magoha added that 3  million  learners  from public secondary schools had enrolled in the NEMIS data while 112,032 have been enlisted from private secondary schools.

“At the primary school level, 23,705  public  primary schools have been enlisted in the platform data. We have enrolled a combined 6.5 million primary school learners. I wish to ask all parents and teachers to take advantage of the simplified system of issuing birth certificates,” the CS said.

Magoha said NEMIS system had helped in administering the medical insurance scheme for secondary school students, popularly called EduAfya. The system is now critical since the entire Form One admission process is conducted through the platform.

“In January, we expect to capture daily real-time data on Form One reporting and enrolment thanks to the NEMIS system,” he said.

The CS said the Ministry of ICT is upgrading the  internet  bandwidth  from  1  GBPS  to  10 GBPS  that  is  supported  by  the  Government  Common Core Network (GCCN) to enhance the capacity of NEMIS.

He directed the Kenya  Universities  and  Colleges  Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) to immediately put in place mechanisms to start  placing the 2019 KCSE Examination candidates in the various courses they are qualified for.

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How climate change is taught in Canadian high schools — and how it can improve

North America/ Canada/ 29.07.2019/Source:

Curricula lack emphasis on impacts, solutions and scientific consensus, study finds

Most provinces and territories are failing to teach at least some of the basic tenets of climate change, a new study has found.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Plos One last week, found that in some cases, climate change education is not even consistent with scientific understanding.

«[It’s] a good start, but [there’s] room for improvement,» said lead author Seth Wynes, a PhD candidate in the geography department at the University of British Columbia.

Wynes and co-author Kimberly Nicholas of Sweden’s Lund University, studied science curricula and textbooks across the country to figure out what was being taught and how.

They analyzed the documents to look for six essential concepts in learning about climate change:

  • The basics of climate.
  • That temperatures are warming.
  • That climate change is mainly caused by humans.
  • That there is overwhelming scientific consensus about it.
  • That climate change is bad.
  • That we can mitigate it.

«We’d recommend that Canadian curriculum documents ought to cover these basic ideas, these core topics that are important for understanding climate change and also for motivating students and taking action,» said Wynes, who is also a former high school science teacher.

Seth Wynes is a PhD candidate in the geography department at the University of British Columbia. (Submitted by Seth Wynes)

While all provinces and territories teach students about the basics of climate, including topics like ocean currents and the greenhouse effect, there were many gaps across the country.

The researchers found that Saskatchewan had the most comprehensive coverage, teaching all six basic concepts. Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Prince Edward Island taught five of the six, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut taught four of the six, British Columbia, Manitoba and Yukon taught half, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick taught only one of the six.

The curricula were particularly weak in teaching students about the strong scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change.

«That’s important because if students don’t understand these facts, then they are less likely to be motivated to help solve the problem,» said Wynes.

Waves and debris cover the roadway near Nova Scotia’s Lawrencetown Beach after a storm in January 2018.(Submitted by Allan Zilkowsky)

Manitoba’s supplementary materials, for instance, recommend that students read publications produced by Friends of Science — an organization that believes the sun is responsible for climate change and that opposes the understanding of climate change put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Nobel Prize-winning UN organization — and tells students «there is significantly polarized debate» on whether humans cause climate change.

However, there is virtually no scientific doubt that climate change is caused by humans, Wynes’s study notes. A 2013 study of 11,944 peer-reviewed climate science abstracts found that of the papers that expressed a view on human-caused climate change, 97 per cent supported that view.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island encourage students to debate what’s causing climate change.

Wynes said while encouraging students to be critical, evaluate evidence and draw their own conclusions is important, that’s not appropriate for something that has already been settled by scientists.

«We don’t ask students to decide whether or not second-hand smoking causes cancer in health class. And in the same way, we would suggest that probably climate change is a subject where we need to be communicating with certainty that it is happening.»

During the summer drought of 2015, metro Vancouver reservoir levels dropped to 73 per cent below norms.(CBC)

The study found that some textbooks pointed to «positive» aspects of climate change, such as extended growing seasons and the notion that cruise ships could visit the North «so tourists can follow in the wake of Arctic explorers.»

Another area of weakness across most of the country’s curricula was in teaching students that climate change can be mitigated through action, the study noted.

Wynes said he’d like to see more jurisdictions teaching students how to take action.

«I think the health metaphor holds up,» he said. «If we’re talking about healthy eating, we tell students, ‘Look, here are some options for healthy eating.’ … We encourage providing that information to students. It makes sense that we would do the same thing for climate change.»

Firefighters make their way through a flooded street in May in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, a suburb northwest of Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Wynes and Nicholas also examined the curricula in relation to political conservatism and greenhouse gas emissions in each province and territory, but they did not find a relationship between them.

However, they suggest there may be a weak correlation between when the curricula were written and how extensively climate change is covered.

Manitoba’s climate change curriculum was published in 2001, making it the oldest in Canada, with New Brunswick’s 2002 curriculum a close second.

A spokesperson for New Brunswick’s Education Department said staff are in the process of updating the science curriculum, but it may take a few years before changes are implemented. In the meantime, staff are developing resources to help teachers integrate climate change into the current curriculum.

Wynes said he wasn’t surprised by the age of some of the curricula, because developing and implementing them can take a long time. But he said he’s optimistic that climate change education will improve as the issue gains more momentum in the media and politics.

What Nova Scotia education officials are doing

Sue Taylor-Foley, Nova Scotia’s executive director of education innovation, program and services, said despite the study’s findings about the province, the Education Department has incorporated environmental stewardship, climate science and sustainability into the curriculum since at least 2000, from Primary to Grade 12.

She said the province will be renewing the curriculum for grades 9 to 12 this fall.

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Australia: Print Email Facebook Twitter More ANALYSIS The reason NSW has more selective schools than other states combined

Oceania/ Australia/ 23.07.2019/By: Craig Campbell/ Source:

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian made a «captain’s call» in recent months that raised the ire of many parents, teachers and education groups. She announced NSW would build a 49th selective school. It will be the first new fully selective school in the state in 25 years.

Selective schools are public schools that take high-achieving students. They are meant to offer opportunities for any higher achiever, regardless of social class, but research has consistently shown a high proportion of students in selective schools are from more advantaged households.

Despite this, NSW has 48 fully or partially selective schools, which is more than all other states combined. Victoria, for instance, has only four. This is because, over the past 150 years, NSW has responded to the demand for public secondary schooling differently from the rest of Australia.

A history of Australia’s public schools

Australian states have distinct histories when it comes to public secondary education. NSW began such schooling in the 1880s and Victoria not until just before World War I. Queensland also held back founding public high schools, due to the earlier foundation of state grammar schools.

In Victoria there was some successful early opposition to government secondary schooling. The private, then church, colleges were the only available schools for most of the wealthy and professional middle class. Victoria developed a pattern of non-government school loyalty.

By contrast, the middle class in NSW used public secondary education from the late 19th century. Schools such as Fort Street (1849), Sydney Girls and Sydney Boys High School (1883), North Sydney Girls (1914) and North Sydney Boys High School (1915), and later Hurlstone Agricultural and James Ruse Agricultural School (1959), were academically selective from the beginning. They were meritocratic and hardly accessible to everyone.PHOTO: Schools like Sydney Girls High School, established in 1883, were selective from the beginning. (NSW State Archives)

In the 1890s, state Labor parties campaigned for greater educational opportunity for working-class youth and higher, and technical education for youth generally. As demand rose for universal secondary schooling, a parallel system was established from the 1920s for the «less clever» and the «less likely to succeed» with academic subjects.

So central, home-science and junior technical schools were established. These attempted to meet the assumed vocational aspirations of working-class youth (home-making and domestic service for girls, of course). This was the beginning of the great age of vocational guidance, usually based on intelligence tests.

Schools were differentiated, based on high or low IQs. This system gained criticism in the late 20th century for trapping children in educational streams that determined narrow futures. With the economy expanding after World War II, pressure built for more schools and secondary schooling that opened, rather than closed, opportunities.

This led to the introduction of comprehensive secondary schools. These would take in all young people from a defined geographical area (usually zoned) regardless of students’ prior accomplishments at primary school.

In NSW, the director of education, Harold Wyndham, released a 1957 report that recommended comprehensive secondary schools replace the previous differentiated system. All high schools were to be turned into comprehensives.

Through the Wyndham Scheme in the early 1960s, NSW was an early adopter of the comprehensive ideal. The technical schools were subsequently closed. There was also the possibility NSW would no longer have any selective high schools (public) at all, unlike Victoria with its continuing dual system of academically oriented high schools, and technical schools.

But the Wyndham Plan didn’t suit everyone. Old scholar and parent communities associated with the inner-city selective high schools, such as Fort Street, fought hard against their schools turning into comprehensives. Such schools had educated a large proportion of the professional middle class— proportionately more than similar schools in Victoria.

As the Wyndham Plan was progressively implemented in the 1960s, many of the high schools that had selective entrance, including Newcastle High for example, were converted into comprehensive schools. But not all. A rump of selectives survived, usually close to inner Sydney.

Fort Street High, the four single-sex Sydney and North Sydney high schools and the agricultural high schools, James Ruse and Hurlstone, formed an institutional base from which new selective establishments could be justified in the 1990s.

Why the small group of selective schools survived

In the 1970s and 1980s, two arguments shored up the acceptability of the surviving selectives. First, there were too few selective schools to affect the effectiveness of the comprehensive schools. The latter could attract, keep and promote opportunity for the academically able.

Second, the examination results of the selective schools brought distinction to the public education system. It was in the interest of public education that the «best» schools in NSW were public.

In 1988 the NSW Greiner Liberal-National government’s education minister, Terry Metherell, saw an injustice. Why should the mainly middle-class and professional families of the gentrifying inner city and suburbs have access to selective high schools that others in the outer suburbs did not?

He decided that NSW needed more selective schools, at least across the outer suburbs of Sydney and in Newcastle and Wollongong. So, the Wyndham comprehensive project came to a halt. New selective schools were founded, usually through converting former comprehensive schools.

When the Carr Labor government came to power in 1995, it was too late for the democratic vision of the comprehensive high school. The Carr government’s contribution to selection in public education was to stream several comprehensive high schools as partially selective.

Not only would there be selective schools, but separated, selective streams would be created in new dual-purpose schools. For example, Newtown Performing Arts High School had a selective entrance stream, but also enrolled local students in its comprehensive stream.

Historically, the professional and aspiring middle classes have been the most successful in managing their children in ways that ensured their access to and success in academically selective schools.

With the rise in youth unemployment since the late 1970s, the anxieties associated with finding a school that may advantage a child have heightened, initially for the middle classes but increasingly for all.

More recently, traditional Anglo-Australian users of NSW selective schools have been losing the competition to migrant families, many of these from south and east Asia, who have been even more determined for their children to gain selective places.

Whether the young people come from migrant families or other groups, the students in such schools and streams usually come to expect they will enter the more prestigious universities.

A market of schools has been fostered since the 1980s, as federal governments have deliberately increased the number of non-government schools and made access financially easier for parents. State governments have re-introduced differentiation in the public school sector (sports, language, performing arts and visual arts high schools, for instance.)

The ideal of the comprehensive school — a common school with a common curriculum for all youth in a community — has not been sustained. Many so-called comprehensive public high schools in high-unemployment areas have neither sustained enrolments nor a broad or comprehensive curriculum.

The survival of a small group of selective schools in NSW, with strategic and loyal support from left and right in politics and society, enabled the selective system’s rapid expansion from the 1980s, especially as public policy responded to new enthusiasm for markets — not only in schools.

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