#UN; #WorldwideQualityEducation; #InternationalDayOfEducation; #UNSDGs
New York, Jan 25 (Canadian-Media): Aligning inclusive, quality education with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was centre-stage on Friday, as the President of the UN General Assembly held a high-level interactive meeting for the International Day of Education, UN news release reported.
Young women return home after classes in the town of Bol in Chad.
Image credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
“The education sector is wrestling with mammoth challenges worldwide”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, in his message for the day.
As a former teacher, I know the life-changing power of education.
Universal access to quality and, now, life-long education is a right, and a necessity. Listing them, he said there was a “precipitate decline” in the quality and standards of education; a widening knowledge gap between students in technically advanced societies and those in developing countries; a crisis of learning in conflict zones; growing school bullying, and “the declining esteem of the teaching profession” overall.
Mr. Muhammad-Bande maintained that today’s education must “bridge the yawning gap” between the modern employment needs for specialized skills, and actual learning opportunities.
“School curricula have yet to anticipate and respond to workplace needs for hands-on, vocational, ICT applications, and sundry technical skills, while still advancing the traditional scholastic pursuits”, he stated.
Moreover, he highlighted, “the significance of the deficits in education outcome becomes obvious when viewed alongside the spiralling population crisis”.
Education in a crisis
The fate of school children trapped in conflict zones deserves even more urgent attention.
According to UNICEF, in 2017, 500 attacks were staged on schools in 20 countries worldwide. In 15 of those 20, troops and rebel forces turned classrooms into military posts.
Thousands of children were recruited to fight, sometimes made to serve as suicide bombers, or forced to endure direct attacks.
“The learning environment may also be rendered unsafe by gun-toting, machete-wielding, gangs and unruly youths, and by sexual predators on school premises”, Mr. Muhammad-Bande said.
And natural disasters pose additional threats to the learning environment.
Fixing the learning crisis - Assembly President recommendations:
“The choices that education stakeholders make have direct impact on various social groups, particularly, disadvantaged groups like rural communities, the urban poor, persons with disabilities, and women”, upheld the PGA, noting that nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are female, mostly in under-developed countries.
Choice also becomes critical in the struggle to elevate the status of the teaching profession, recruit competent and motivated teachers, and expose teachers to innovative techniques.
But there are bright spots he said: “Forward-looking education policies have contributed to the attainment of SDG targets in some countries”, asserted Mr. Muhammad-Bande.
And participants at this year’s International Day of Education are given the opportunity “to share international good practices in inclusive quality education”.
Partnerships are key
Education enhances the “analytical, inventive and critical thinking capacities of human beings”, the Assembly President said, adding that in the process, it accelerates each nation’s technological attainments and economic growth.
“When a society remains perpetually under-developed, it must among other things re-evaluate its education system”, said Mr. Muhammad-Bande. “If the system is dysfunctional or does not facilitate the acquisition of pertinent knowledge and skills, the economy will, at best, stagnate, and at worst, collapse”.
Bearing in mind the “tremendous amount of work” that lies ahead, he shared his belief that partnerships can play an important role in implementing and attaining the SDGs, which is why his office “has placed strong emphasis on engendering partnerships across key priority areas”, including education.
In conclusion, Mr. Muhammad-Bande urged Member States and other key partners to examine the feasibility and value-added support in establishing a network of key existing education networks to exchange information and ideas, "including sources of support, relating to all aspects of education”.
Power of education
“Education has the power to shape the world”, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spelled out at the podium.
“Education protects men and women from exploitation in the labour market” and “empowers women and gives them opportunities to make choices”, she said.
Moreover, it can help change behaviour and perceptions, thereby fighting climate change and unsustainable practices. A quality experience in the classroom helps promote mutual respect and understanding between people; combat misperceptions, prejudice and hate speech; and prevent violent extremism.
“Without education, we cannot achieve any of the SDGs”, Ms. Mohammed flagged.
And yet, with 2030 looming on the horizon, the world is lagging behind, prompting the Secretary-General to issue a global call for a Decade of Action, to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
“The situation in education is alarming…because of the crisis in the number of children, young people and adults who are not in education”, as well as because many who are, are not learning.
And refugees and migrants face additional challenges.
According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the proportion of refugees enrolled in secondary education is 24 per cent, only three per cent of whom have access to higher education.
“We have the power to shape education, but only if we work together and really bring the partnerships that are necessary to provide quality education”, she concluded. “We have a duty to step up our efforts, so that quality education for all is no longer a goal for tomorrow, but a reality”.
Invest in education
Action for “the four Ps on which our future depends”, namely people, prosperity, the planet and peace, is imperative, according to the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO in her Friday message.
Although education is “a valuable resource for humanity”, Director-General Audrey Azoulay pointed out that it is “all too scarce for millions of people around the world”.
A global learning crisis, confirmed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, is a major cause for concern as it is also a crisis for prosperity, for the planet, for peace and for people”, she said, urging everyone to take action for education “because education is the best investment for the future”.
UNESCO has been charged with coordinating the international community's efforts to achieve SDG 4, quality education for all.
“First and foremost”, the UNESCO chief said, “our Organization takes action for people, by making education an instrument of inclusion and, therefore, of empowerment”.
Changing lives, transforming communities
For her part, Mona Juul, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, maintained that education is “the most powerful means to escape poverty”.
“It changes lives, transforms communities and paves the way towards productive, sustainable and resilient societies in which children – girls and boys – can reach their full potential”, she expanded, urging everyone to strengthen their efforts to manifest a world in which every child receives a quality education that allows growth, prosperity, empowerment and so they can “make meaningful contributions to communities big and small, everywhere”.
#GovernorGeneralAward; #TeachingExcellence; #TwoWindsorTeachers; #HiddenCemetries; #EssexCountry; #UndergroundRailroadHistory
Windsor, Jan 20 (Canadian-Media): Stephen Punga and David Brian, two high school teachers who taught about lost black cemeteries in Windsor-Essex in Academie Ste. Cecile International School in Windsor are being honoured for their work Monday by Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, media reports said.
David Brian (left) and Stephen Punga (right). Image credit: Facebook
These teachers were inspired two years ago by a CBC Windsor story which highlighted on the hidden cemeteries scattered throughout Essex County, and the rich history associated with the Underground Railroad.
"I'm kind of in shock...It's really quite an honour. What I think is important isn't so much that we were honoured, but I think that the project was important." said Punga.
Grade 11 geography students and Grade 12 history students were taken by these two teachers for a collaboration called the Lost Cemeteries Project where they collected data on black cemeteries and created an interactive map and database of headstones belonging primarily to settlers of African descent in Essex County.
"One of the reasons I love teaching was that I could learn every day. And Dave...was the catalyst behind it...great opportunity for me to get out there to see how this technology was used," said Punga.
"I think with the work that Steven was doing with his kids and our kids together, it was bringing to the point this is a this is a human story," said Brian, who is now the principal at a secondary school
"I really got a sense of the students had that appreciation because I know for Chinese students there's a great deal of ancestral worship."
#UN; #UNICEF; #PoorerChildren; #LearningCrisis; #DisparityInEducationSpending
New York, Jan 20 (Canadian-Media): A new report from the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, shows that a third of adolescent girls from the poorest households have never been to school, and spending on education is heavily skewed towards wealthier households, UN reports said.
Young women leave school in the town of Bol in Chad after classes.
Image Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The study, “Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children”, was published on Monday to coincide with a meeting of education ministers, gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland: the agency urged world leaders to address ‘shameful’ disparities in public education spending.
Countries everywhere are failing the world’s poorest children and, in doing so, failing themselves. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
Excluding the poorest children from education, says the report, perpetuates poverty and is a key driver of the global learning crisis. Obstacles they face include discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnic origin, and poor infrastructure.
Those who do make it to school may then find themselves faced with large class sizes, poorly trained teachers,a lack of education materials and poor school infrastructure. This, says UNICEF, has an adverse impact on attendance, enrolment and learning.
“Countries everywhere are failing the world’s poorest children and, in doing so, failing themselves,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “As long as public education spending is disproportionately skewed towards children from the richest households, the poorest will have little hope of escaping poverty”.
A ‘crippling learning crisis’ for poorer children
Kres village, Cambodia. 11-year old Loul Bopha makes the short walk from her home to the school. Image credit: © UNICEF/Antoine Raab
The lack of resources available for the poorest children, says the report, is exacerbating a crippling learning crisis, as schools fail to provide quality education for their students.
According to the World Bank, more than half of children living in low- and middle-income countries cannot read or understand a simple story by the end of primary school.
10 countries across Africa account for the highest disparities in education spending: in Guinea and the Central African Republic – countries with some of the world’s highest rates of out-of-school children – the richest children benefit from nine and six times, respectively, the amount of public education funds than the poorest children.
Only five countries included in the study (which looked at 42 countries with available data) ensure that education is funded equally between the richest and poorest households: Barbados, Denmark, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
The paper calls for all countries to follow this example, prioritize public funding for lower levels of education, and provide at least one year of universal pre-primary education for every child.
“We are at a critical juncture” said Ms. Fore. “If we invest wisely and equitably in children’s education, we have the best possible chance of lifting children out of poverty by empowering them with the skills they need to access opportunities, and create new ones for themselves”.
#ETFO; #TorontoPublicElementarySchoolTeachers; #Strike; #OntarioEducation; #TorontoEducation
Toronto, Jan 15 (Canadian-Media): A notice has been given by the the union representing public elementary school teachers in Ontario that one day-strike by its members will begin next Monday unless a deal is reached with the province by the end of this week, media reports said.
According to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)'s statement issued Wednesday morning, the public school boards that could be affected by the possible strike on Monday are: Toronto District School Board; York Region District School Board; and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
The key issues that are being demanded by ETFO are: more supports for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools and preserving full-day kindergarten seeking two percent wage increase as against one percent offered by the government.
#Ontario; #OntarioEducation; #AEFO; #WorkToRuleJobAction
Toronto, Jan 11 (Canadian-Media): The following statement was issued today by Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education in response to the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) announcing work-to-rule job action, media reports said.
"Students across the province are being hurt by union-led escalation. The continued and escalating disruption to learning and educational support is detrimental to the student experience and causes frustration and uncertainty for parents.
Parents and students have seen this type of job action every few years for decades. That is why we are calling on the teachers' unions to cease escalation, stop playing with students' futures, and focus on reaching a deal that keeps our students in the classroom where they belong."
#UN; #Education&Culture; #ILO; #ObseesedWithNewOrleansTradition; #CulturalHeritageOfNewOrleans
New York, Jan 9 (Canadian-Media): The International Labour Organization (ILO) marked its centenary in 2019 and as part of the commemoration has launched a photography project called “Dignity at Work: The American Experience”, to document the working life of people across the United States. UN News joined the ILO on a visit to the southern US state of Louisiana, UN reports said.
Henry Lipkis in front of his monumental mural depicting a traditional parade in New Orleans. Credit: ILO Photo/John Isaac
Henry Lipkis is a New Orleans-based artist. His “Third Line” mural in the Bywater neighbourhood of the city, is 150ft long and 35 ft high and took six months to complete. He also paints Mardi Gras parade floats.
“My largest mural in New Orleans depicts the parading tradition. Brass band parades are a central part of the cultural heritage of New Orleans. The First Line refers to the main section, the members of the band or club, who have a permit to organize the parade and march in the city. The people who follow the band members, who join in the parade, are known as the Second Line.
I’ve called my mural the Third Line because it is about all the people who, like me, obsess about the Second Line.
I want my artwork to evoke the magic and majesty that is alive in the world and to see how things can fall apart and grow from the rubble. - Henry Lipkis
The mural itself is a huge crowd of people, dressed in their Sunday best and dancing in the streets. There is a BBQ, there is someone on a horse, people on rooftops, people doing handstands, playing instruments, selling beer.
New Orleans inspired this mural. When I arrived in the city as a travelling mural painter, I heard a tuba playing in the distance. My friend asked me if I had ever been in the Second Line and I had no idea what he was talking about. So, we rushed to the parade and it was a beautiful chaos. The parade peaked under a bridge where the music gets multiplied so there’s an explosion of intensity and people go nuts.
I was blown away in the midst of some of the best music I have ever heard, surrounded by people wearing bright green tailored Italian suits and gator skin shoes. That was the moment I fell in love with New Orleans and I realized I wanted to paint a mural about that culture.
What is special about New Orleans for me is the passion and tradition. I’m very drawn to people who are steeped in tradition, especially those involved in the Second Line and the Mardi Gras Indians, who represent a very old and unique artistic culture in this city.
It was a real honour to be invited to engage with the Second Line artistically. I spent a year getting to know and to understand the community in Bywater and ultimately securing their agreement for me to be able to work on the mural.
Artists Henry Lipkis in his studio in New Orleans in the US state of Louisiana. Credit: ILO Photo/John Isaac
Growing up in California, I knew I wanted to be an artist. All kids are artists, all draw pictures, I just carried on. As a young teenager, I sprayed graffiti and got into trouble a few times. It helped having very supportive parents, which is the biggest blessing.
Work to me, means showing up and putting in the grind. I love all the work I do; some is for money. Painting Mardi Gras floats is my steady work, which covers my rent and bills, and I love doing it. I have one Mardi Gras parade of floats that I design and paint every year and that gives me the freedom to let my other art grow, without me needing to monetize it immediately.
I want my artwork to evoke the magic and majesty that is alive in the world and to see how things can fall apart and grow from the rubble.”
#UN; #UNESCO; #UNCulturalAgency; #ConventionForTheProtectionOfCulturalProperty; #CulturalHeritage
New York, Jan 6 (Canadian-Media): The current tensions across the Middle East and Gulf region and their potential implications for cultural heritage sites were the focus of a meeting on Monday between the head of the UN’s cultural agency, UNESCO, and a senior diplomat from Iran, UN reports said.
Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. Credit: ICHHTO / B. Sedighi
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and Iranian Ambassador to the UN agency, Ahmad Jalali, met in Paris against a background of mounting threats between his country and the United States.
This follows the killing of top Iranian general Qassim Suleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad on Friday carried out by the United States.
In a tweet at the weekend, US President Donald Trump said he was issuing a warning to Iran that if any retaliatory strikes involved Americans or American assets, then Iranian sites, including those of cultural significance, would be targeted.
Ms. Azoulay used the meeting to stress the universality of cultural and natural heritage in promoting peace and dialogue between peoples, and which the international community has a duty to protect and preserve for future generations.
She recalled two UN treaties on protecting cultural heritage, including during conflict, which both countries have ratified.
The 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict is the first international treaty to address this subject.
It was adopted in the wake of the widespread destruction of cultural heritage during the Second World War.
Examples of cultural heritage include monuments and archaeological sites, but also architecture, works of art, books, scientific collections, and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest.
Under the treaty, countries pledge to spare these items from possible armed conflict through protective measures and even sanctions.
UNESCO explained that threats can come from fighting but also any resulting occupation.
“As cultural property reflects the life, history and identity of the community, its preservation helps to rebuild a broken community, re-establish its identity, and link its past with its present and future. In addition, the cultural property of any people contributes to the cultural heritage of humankind. Thus, loss of or damage to such property impoverishes humankind,” according to information on its website.
The second treaty is the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
The most significant feature of the treaty is that it links “the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties” and the need to preserve balance between the two.
Among other items, it stipulates that each State Party “undertakes not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage […] situated on the territory of other States Parties to this Convention.”
#OneDayStrike; #OntarioSchools; #PCParty; #OSSTF
Ottawa, Dec 17 (Canadian-Media): A decision was taken by public high school teachers and education workers of 10 school boards in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to hold one-day strike on Wednesday after the contract talks between Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and the province of Ontario broke off, media reports said.
GTA teachers strike/Twitter
In a statement, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce expressed his frustration and disappointed by the union's coming forward at the bargaining table with no new proposals, no changes to their position, and no ideas on how to advance negotiations.
Progressive Conservative (PC) government had been blamed by OSSTF for the lack of progress in their negotiations affecting the teachers who are without any contract, as their last contract expired at the end of August.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association had told CBC Toronto that negotiations will not begin again until January.
Union said the issues were class sizes, mandatory online courses and funding cuts, where as the Ontario education ministry said the main issue was compensation.
The school boards that will be affected with the strike on Wednesday are; Lakehead District School Board; Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board; Lambton Kent District School Board; Thames Valley District School Board; Waterloo Region District School Board; Waterloo Catholic District School Board; York Region District School Board; York Catholic District School Board; Halton District School Board; and Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Several French school boards are also expected to be affected.
#OSTFStrike; #OntarioTeachers; #Ontario; #OntarioSecondarySchoolTeachers
Ottawa, Dec 4 (Canadian-Media): Public high schools across Ontario are shut down today as the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) launched the strike at midnight Tuesday night following another failed negotiations with the government, media reports said.
OSSTF on Strike/Twitter
This is the first time since 1997 its members have gone on strike, although the union has had difficulty in negotiations with previous provincial governments.
Some 40,000 high school teachers and 20,000 support staff represented by the union walked off the job Wednesday.
Schools shut down by the one-day walkout include those at these boards: TDSB; Peel District School Board; York Region District School Board; Durham District School Board; Waterloo Region District School Board; Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board; MonAvenir Catholic School Board; Thames Valley District School Board in London; Ottawa-Carleton District School Board; Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and Lakehead Public Schools.
The OSSTF has been without a contract since the end of August and started a work-to-rule campaign last week.
Stephen Lecce, Ontario Education Minister has not succeeded so far in reaching a deal with the province's teachers' unions.
#Ontario; #OntarioEducation; #ElementaryTeachersFederationofOntario; #OntarioSecondarySchoolTeachersFederation; #ChildrenToBeKeptInClass
Ottawa, Nov 26 (Canadian-Media): In statement issued today by the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce on the first day of work-to-rule action, Lecce said that he very clearly wanted to get deals that keep the children of this province in school, media reports said.
"It is regrettable the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) have chosen to escalate to work-to-rule action, only hurting our children. This escalation to a partial withdrawal of services, including targeting math supports and report cards, hurts our children the most," said Lecce.
Lecce expressed the hope that with voluntarily negotiated agreement with CUPE, by working together we would be able to reach a deal that provides certainty and predictability to parents, students, and educators to have all the students in class.
Lecce assured that his negotiating team is ready for meaningful, good-faith bargaining round the clock to reach the deals Ontario students and families deserve and put the needs of children first.