Sunday November 19, 2017

Teachers on nationwide strike in Malawi: School Children as young as 7-year-old urges Government to meet teachers’ grievances

Police intervened and dispersed the young protesters before they reached the district education office, where they wanted to present a petition

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Students blocked roads and caused traffic jams while backing teachers who have been on strike since Monday in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 14, 2016. (L. Masina/VOA)
  • The children, from schools around the city, were protesting on their own, without being accompanied by police
  • The teachers are pushing the government to pay back salaries owed to those who were promoted in 2013, and for the promotion of other teachers deserving of advancement
  • School children as young as seven years old protested in Malawi’s capital

Malawi, September 15, 2016: School children as young as seven years old protested in Malawi’s capital Wednesday, urging the government to address the concerns of their teachers, who have been on a nationwide strike since Monday.

The children, from schools around the city, were protesting on their own, without being accompanied by police.

Clad in school uniforms, the students blocked roads, causing traffic jams as they chanted songs calling on the government to meet the teachers’ grievances.

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Students protest in support of teachers, who have been on strike since Monday, in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 14, 2016. (L. Masina/VOA)
Students protest in support of teachers, who have been on strike since Monday, in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 14, 2016. (L. Masina/VOA)

Police intervened and dispersed the young protesters before they reached the district education office, where they wanted to present a petition.

“We are fighting for our freedom and education,” said one student, who did not want to be named. “It is not right and fair for someone to get educated and become a teacher and not receive his or her money.”

The teachers are pushing the government to pay back salaries owed to those who were promoted in 2013, and for the promotion of other teachers deserving of advancement.

Teachers Union of Malawi Secretary General Denis Kalekeni says the union has received assurance from the government that it will meet all the teachers’ demands by the end of the year.

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Protesting students march in the street in support of teachers on strike in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 14, 2016. (L. Masina/VOA)
Protesting students march in the street in support of teachers on strike in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 14, 2016. (L. Masina/VOA)

He asked teachers to resume work and “give government the benefit of the doubt.”

However, he added a warning: “[If] government plays dilly-dallying, and thinks that the suspension of the strike can give them the audacity to fail to implement [teachers’ demands], the Teachers Union of Malawi shall have no choice but to revive the strike.”

Kalekeni also stressed a timeline for the union’s demands.

“We need to see that in the month end of September, teachers have been uploaded on the payroll for their arrears,” he said. “We want to see that by October, teachers have been [upgraded].”

Education Ministry spokesperson Manfred Ndovi said officials are committed to meeting the teachers’ demands by November. (VOA)

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The Need to Introduce Music Education in our Schools: Why is it Underfunded?

Most of the Schools don't Include Music Programs due to Budgetary Pressure

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music education
Music programs for schools are essential. Pixabay
  • In the US the music programs for schools are facing budget cuts and is heavily underfunded at other places
  • In India, according to a research paper, it was observed that music education is not available in every school
  • The scenario is far better in countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark that has well-developed and funded music school programs

June 23, 2017: Is ‘Music’ a universal language? Yes, it is! But, the current scenario will stir thoughts and make you think otherwise. Music is cherished worldwide but why people are not motivated enough to introduce it in schools?

Music has been with us for centuries and it is one of the activities that we associate with emotions and passion. We all have some music on our phones which we listen to while driving to work, or at the gym or at times while we are working. It is a composition of many vibrations that refreshes the mind. Music improves cultural integration and music is also used as a motivating factor to people.

Music Education is what is required to make the new generations take music up as a career but sadly, the present scenario of music education is not at its best. In the US, the music programs for schools are facing budget cuts and is heavily underfunded at other places. Countries like England and Australia also face the similar problem of funding of music in schools.

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India too is facing problems in managing music programs at school levels. According to a research, it was observed that music education is not available in every school, it is not for every student, the teaching quality is not satisfactory, no music rooms. Over the years, this has cornered music and now children who are willing to learn, go to private tutors. Unfortunately, this becomes a burden for some due to the financial crisis- it costs high because it is not subsidized by the government.

Therefore, students feel demotivated enough to choose music as a career option. Also, students who are willing enough to learn music have opted for online music schools but ICT (Information and Communications Technology) but it is not well structured as well.

However, the scenario is far better in countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark that has well-developed and funded music school programs and the students believe their schools take extra measures to develop music programs for schools.

But the scenario in the overall world is precarious because music education is considered not important in the education system though music has a vast scope in the practical world.  One can choose careers in Production, Music direction, Instrument specialists, Music in Tv and Radio, music in journalism, music education jobs and many other things.

One story that recently surfaced was the usage of music as a trauma therapy for the children in Syria. Project Lift works for the benefit of the Syrian children to counter their trauma through creative arts therapy which includes music therapy as one of the measures.

Listening to music has an effect on not just human beings, but also on their surroundings. Even dogs react to music. In 1994, there was an experiment done by a Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, who believed that water reacts to human consciousness in which he observed the formation of ice crystals in water when different kinds of music vibrations hit them.

The results found to have a different composition of formation of crystals in each ice crystal. This means music can influence water and also humans. An average human body consists of 6o percent water and therefore needless o say that music can have a positive impact on the mind of human beings and therefore it is essential to introduce it to children from school levels itself.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

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Over 1,000 participate in walk to raise awareness about Glaucoma that is expected to to hit 80 million cases globally by 2020

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Glaucoma, VOA

Gurugram, March 19, 2017: Over 1,000 people, including school children and youth, participated in a walk organised to raise awareness about glaucoma — an eye disease that is expected to hit an estimated 80 million cases globally by 2020.

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It is often linked to a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

As part of the awareness walk, information leaflets were distributed among the participants to create awareness and take precautionary measures.

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Several government officials, including Commissioner of Police Sandeep Khirwar, took part in the walk.

Face-to-face interactive sessions were also held to impart information to the curious people and to inform them about the importance of regular eye checkups.

“Usually people over the age of 50 are prone to it, and since it has no recognisable symptoms, it can lead to blindness,” said Parul Sony, ophthalmologist and Director of Gurgaon-based Complete Eye Care Centre.

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As per the estimates of Glaucoma Society of India, more than 10 million are suffering from glaucoma and over one million new cases are reported every year.

“To stop glaucoma from becoming an epidemic, creating awareness about it is important. Most of us don’t go to hospital until pain or persisting symptoms occur. This walk indeed helped many get information on how to prevent glaucoma,” said Sony. (IANS)

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Children at 800 Schools, Nurseries and Colleges in London being exposed to illegal levels of Air Pollution: Report

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought

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School children, Wikimedia

London, Feb 25, 2017:  Tens of thousands of children at over 800 schools, nurseries and colleges in London are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that risk causing lifelong health problems, a media report said on Saturday.

A study identified 802 educational institutions where pupils as young as three are being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide that breach European Union (EU) legal limits and which the government accepts are harmful to health, the Guardian said in the report.

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought.

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Khan said the results were devastating and warned that it was the capital’s poorest children who were bearing the brunt of the air pollution crisis.

“It is an outrage that more than 800 schools, nurseries and other educational institutions are in areas breaching legal air pollution limits,” he said.

“This is an environmental challenge, a public health challenge but also – and no one talks about this – it is fundamentally an issue of social justice. If you are a poor Londoner you are more likely to suffer from illegal air.”

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Khan called for the government to introduce a clean air act and for a diesel scrappage scheme to take polluting cars off the road quickly, the Guardian report added.

The study shows 802 out of 3,261 nurseries, primary and secondary schools and higher education colleges, are within 150 metres of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels that exceed the EU legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

A third of state nursery schools in the capital (27), nearly 20 per cent of primaries (360) and 18 per cent of secondary schools (79) are in areas where toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide threaten children’s health.

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Of the further education colleges in the capital, 43 per cent (30) were in areas of illegally toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The study, based on modelling of data from 2013, was carried out by experts from the environmental research group at King’s College London and Aether, the environmental data analysts. (IANS)