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DPS Ghana pips 50 schools to top Cambridge IGCSE exams

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Accra: The Delhi Public School Ghana left behind around 50 schools to top two levels of the 2015 Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations in the west African country.

DPS Ghana, which is part of the Delhi Public School system of India and is present in over 150 countries, came on top in both the 2015 Ordinary and Advance level examinations, school founder Mukesh Thakwani said.

Developed over 25 years ago, Cambridge IGCSE is one of the world’s most popular international qualification for 14- to 16-year-olds. It is recognised by leading universities worldwide, and its curriculum offers a variety of routes for learners with a wide range of abilities, including those whose first language is not English.

“The idea of the school in Ghana is to help build society rather than make money out of an educational facility,” he said.

Thakwani, who is also the owner of the B5Plus Steel company in Accra, said that when the school was established, his dream was to make it the best in west Africa.

Two years after it started, two students won the national mathematics and Spelling Bee competitions to represent the school in Hong Kong and the US.

One of the students, Vishal Thakwani, who won last year’s Spelling Bee, has now been named Ghana’s brand ambassador.

“It is not only the school that is winning laurels, I have been awarded the West Africa Personality of the Year by the West Africa magazine,” Mukesh Thakwani said.

He said the DPS Ghana which started in 2011 with students from the west Africa region only, now has students from 24 countries across Africa.

“This is fulfilling my dream of making DPS Ghana an educational landmark in west Africa to provide affordable education for all.”

When Thakwani arrived in Ghana, his desire, in addition to his steel company, was to build a top class school whose fees would be affordable to all, but with a high level of teaching.

He was able to establish the school 20 years after he arrived in Ghana.

“We took a loan of $16 million with my personal guarantee to ensure that the school is built to an international standard,” he said.

“One can describe it as part of B5Plus’s social responsibility in the country, but it is also my personal belief that when you want to build a society, you must develop the people through education and that is why DPS Ghana must be seen as serving society rather than an economic venture,” he said.

Thakwani attributed the school’s success to the way teachers were committed to their work by providing extra classes to weak students after school.

The school has also built an amphitheatre with a capacity of 2,000 as well as a sports complex as part of its efforts to provide holistic education to its students.

Ghana has a substantial Indian community, numbering about 10,000. Some of them have been in the country for over 70 years. Business activities of Indians in Ghana have led to the country being the second highest investor in Ghana in terms of number of projects.(IANS)(image: urbanpro.com)

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To Exploit Mothers as Labor, North Korea is Reintroducing A Policy of Offering Free Preschool

Many North Koreans view childcare as a necessity, especially in the cities. But the North Korean government has attempted to assert full control over that as well.

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Children
Children attend class at Kyungsang Kindergarten in Pyongyang, North Korea. RFA

 North Korea is reintroducing a policy of offering free preschool classes to its rural citizens over a 10-day period in spring. But sources say the move is not out of benevolence—it is to prevent mothers from using their young children as an excuse to get out of being mobilized as farm labor ahead of the spring planting season.

The program, first introduced in the 1960s, has always been about the mobilization of mothers. In years past, local childcare centers were open to the public between the first and 11th day of the month that coincides with planting season.

Local markets are also closed during the same period. But most of the preschools had been shut down due to lack of funding or as a result of the widespread famine and series of economic crises between 1994 and 1998, now called the March of Suffering.

Estimates have put the death toll from starvation over the four-year period in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions.

Local sources told RFA’s Korean Service that the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party has ordered the reopening of the preschools this year, but many of the rural collective farms are having difficulty complying with the order because funding has not been restored.

 

“Ten-day preschool is coming back to a collective farm here in Yongchon county for the first time in 20 years. It will open later this month,” said a source from North Pyongan province.

The source said that the reason for the resumption of the program is to get the mothers of young children to do farm work. But many of the mothers who in the past have used childcare as an excuse to get out of planting were in fact working in family businesses on the sly.

“County authorities have told each town’s party committees to bring back preschools, but since there’s a lack of funds some of the farms are having difficulty with it,” the source said.

“If they are having a hard time getting oil and grease for farming tools, how are they expected to repair the crumbling preschool buildings and remodel their interiors?” said the source.

The source said that despite the difficulty, two of the preschools in the county have managed to reopen, but only because they are the most likely areas to be audited by higher authorities.

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“A high-ranking official at the farms told the workers that if they leave their children at the preschool, there will be deductions from their fall allotment even for the food their children eat [while there,]” the source said. Pixabay

“[Only] the preschools in Yangso-ri and Tongshin-ri [have been restored.],” said the source. Ri denotes a small village or hamlet in Korean.

“Farm laborers are concentrated in those areas and there’s also the major road connecting Pyongyang and Sinuiju running nearby, so the Central Committee can come by to inspect at a moment’s notice.”

But the source also revealed that those two preschools needed alternative funding sources, as the government is not footing the bill.

“The military authorities collected money from the residents and helped the collective farms restore [the preschools,]” said the source.

While in other countries, the announcement of free childcare services would result in jubilation among parents, the source said this was not the case when a town meeting was called in Yangso-ri to inform the people.

“They told the workers that a daycare center and a preschool will be open for a 10-day period, and that they could leave their kids between the ages of 1 and 7 there to focus on their farming work. Then they threatened [the mothers] saying that they plan to document all child related absences. This created a very unfriendly atmosphere,” said the source.

Meanwhile, a source from South Pyongan province said that the sudden order to reopen preschools without funding them is making the collective farms scramble to do so. But unlike the case in North Pyongan, the source said the farms in South Pyongan are instead docking the pay of farm workers.

“Since the government isn’t providing any food or money [for the preschools,] the collective farms decided to deduct a certain amount of ‘operational funds’ from the fall ‘allotment’ of the farm workers. The workers have expressed their opposition to the decision,” said the source.

This deduction will apparently be more for parents who utilize the preschools, according to the source.

“A high-ranking official at the farms told the workers that if they leave their children at the preschool, there will be deductions from their fall allotment even for the food their children eat [while there,]” the source said.

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An RFA article published in 2014 described how in an effort to ‘standardize the state education system’ the regime ordered the immediate closure of all privately run day care facilities, deeming them illegal. Pixabay

“[The workers] are resentful of the authorities, saying that [the policy] is meant to keep young women work in the farms, and to be able to justify treating them as if they were slaves.”

Many North Koreans view childcare as a necessity, especially in the cities. But the North Korean government has attempted to assert full control over that as well.

Also Read: 7 out of 10 Women Cheat on Spouses in India: Survey

An RFA article published in 2014 described how in an effort to ‘standardize the state education system’ the regime ordered the immediate closure of all privately run day care facilities, deeming them illegal.

But in that case as well, the state had been unable to adequately distribute food and fuel to the schools starting in the 1990s, leaving the schools unfit to accommodate small children, according to sources. (RFA)