#OntarioSchools; #PinkShirtDay; OnlineSurveyLaunched; #BullyingExperiences
Toronto, Feb 26 (Canadian-Media): The launch of an online survey was announced by Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, on today's Pink Shirt Day, learn about the bullying experiences from students, parents and guardians, and school staff of Ontario schools, media reports said.
Pink Shirt Day. Image credit: Twitter handle
Pink Shirt Day is being observed in Canada on Feb 26 and on this day people wear pink shirts to school or work to show they are against bullying.
The focus for Pink Shirt Day 2020 is "lift each other up."
Bullying has been reported by 21 percent of Ontario students in Grades 7-12, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Decisive action is being taken to by Ontario government to combat the common practice of bullying in Ontario's playgrounds, schools and communities, Lecce said, to ensure the protection and respect of every person regardless of their faith, heritage, orientation, race or income.
"Every child deserves to learn in a safe and inclusive school, that is why we are empowering students to have a voice," said Lecce.
The government has updated the Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 to now include mandatory learning about online safety in all grades, including learning about cyberbullying, cyber security, privacy, to build and support healthy relationships, and develop skills to identify, prevent, and resolve issues that may lead to bullying. Implementation of the updated curriculum began in September 2019.
The government has invested $3.18 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year to promote a positive school climate, support healthy relationships, build empathy and address bullying and cyberbullying.
Nearly $40 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year was announced in October by Ontario to advance student mental health in partnership with education groups, with commitments to permanently fund approximately 180 frontline mental health workers in secondary schools.
Ontario's investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years facilitate creation of new mental health and addictions services and expand existing programs.
Five new initiatives were announced by Ontario government November 2019 to combat bullying in schools including: the student survey; assignment of Christina Mitas, MPP for Scarborough Centre and former teacher, to advise the Minister on education on bullying prevention; training for educators in anti-bullying and de-escalation techniques; a review of school reporting practices on bullying; and review of the definition of bullying in ministry policies to reflect of today's realities.
A better understanding of this issue and notions to prevent and report bullying and ways to make schools safer can be gained by this new survey.
Member of Parliament Christina Mitas also stressed the awareness of bullying practices at the classroom levels by online survey would facilitate the prevention of bullying in the schools.
"This will assist us in framing the problem and designing more effective programs - ones that will keep our children safe," said Mitas.
Students, parents and guardians and school staff are encouraged to participate in the survey, which is posted at https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-bullying-ontario-schools.
#Activists; #MalalaYousafzai; #GretaThunberg; #OxfordUniversity; #U.K.
United Kingdom, Feb 26 (Canadian-Media): The moment of Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg meeting for the first time at Oxford University in United Kingdom (U.K.) on Feb 25 was captured in the following photo which is on Instragam feeds, media reports said.
22-year-old Pakistani-born education campaigner, Yousafzai had become the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in 2014 and 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, Thunberg has being nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.
Immediately after Malala posted to Instagram, she tweeted the same picture with the heading: âSheâs the only friend Iâd skip school for.â
Greta also shared a second pic of the pair on her own account, writing: âSo... today I met my role model. What else can I say?â
When Thunberg joined climate strikes in New York City last September, Yousafzai had supported her with the tweet, âIâm so happy to see that young women around the world are leading the climate movement. Thank you to girls like @GretaThunberg for using your voice, speaking truth to power â and encouraging other young people to do the same,â she wrote.
Thunberg then informed Malala through Instagram three days ago to say she would be in the UK this week to join the school strike in Bristol.
The pair coordinated the meeting at the Oxford University, where Yousafzai is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Pakistan-India crossing is a ‘Corridor of Hope’, UN chief says, wraps up visit with call for interfaith dialogue
#ReligiousUnityinPakistan; #Sikhs; #IndiaPakistanBorder; #interfaithDialogue; #Diversity
Pakistan, Feb 19 (Canadian-Media): UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday said he had been moved by the show of religious unity he had witnessed in Pakistan after paying visits to a mosque, a gurdwara and Kartarpur Corridor, the visa-free crossing which allows Sikhs to travel between nearby holy sites on each side of the India-Pakistan border, UN news reports said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres follows the tradition of washing hands and feet at the shrine in Gurdwara Kartapur Sahib in Punjab province in Pakistan.
Image Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
“This is a very emotional moment. It is wonderful to see interfaith dialogue” said the Secretary-General, on the last leg of his three-day visit to Pakistan, where, since Sunday, he has pressed for climate action, and praised Pakistan’s compassion for hosting Afghan refugees, as well as the South Asian country’s major contributions to UN peacekeeping.
Speaking to the media at the town of Katarpur his stop at the Corridor, the UN chief said: “It is wonderful to see in the same shrine today Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, maybe Hindus — all worshipping in harmony and in peace”.
Kartarpur is a town located in the province of Punjab (Pakistan) on the right bank of Ravi River. It is said to have been founded by the first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak in 1504 AD, where he established the first commune. The name means “place of God”.
To facilitate visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims, Kartarpur Corridor was established in September 2018.
This so-called “Corridor of Peace” was inaugurated on 9 November 2019 on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The Corridor links Gurdwara Kartarpur Saheb with Gurdwra Dera Baba Nanak, across the border in India.
Echoing this sentiment of religious unity and tolerance, Mr. Guterres called the Kartarpur Corridor a “corridor of hope.” He also visited a gurdwara, or Sikh Temple, and the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, he added: “When we see so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion, it’s necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine”.
‘Diversity is a blessing not a threat’
The Secretary General has long advocated the importance of interreligious dialogue and interfaith harmony achieve peaceful societies.
“This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world in which there is mutual respect and there is the acceptance of what is different” Mr. Guterres told reporters today, stressing that “diversity is a blessing, a richness, not a threat”.
The Secretary General took the opportunity to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community the world over: “I’m a Christian, but I feel very much at home when I am in a Sikh shrine and where I can pray to God here together with the Sikh community.”
UN committed in helping Pakistan to eradicate Polio
Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General visited kindergarten in Lahore where he participated in the first nationwide polio campaign of the year, highlighting the importance of eradicating polio from the country.
At the school, he met Dr. Yasmin Raashiv, Minister of Health for the Punjab Province, along with several health workers. While there, the UN chief appealed to all leaders, including religious and community leaders, to fully support the Government of Pakistan, and other governments around the world, in making sure that polio can one day be fully eradicated.
He also administrated polio drops to three students.
Pakistan, with the help of international agencies and donors, has made strides in the eradication of polio. However, 110 reported cases since January 2019 have caused concerns.
Mr. Guterres later tweeted: “Important gains have been made, but we need a concerted push to eradicate this awful disease.”
UN 75 Dialogue in LahoreAmong his other activities today was a lively discussion with the students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
There, he highlighted the importance of the UN 75 dialogues that will be taking place over teh coming year, noting that for the Organization’s seventy-fifth anniversary, he wanted to reach out and hear from youth.
From January 2020, the UN75 campaign will initiate the dialogues in all settings – from classrooms to boardrooms, parliaments to village halls. The aim is to reach as many people as possible: to listen to their hopes and fears; and learn from their ideas and experiences. Anyone can join the global conversation - physically or online, individually or as a group, in every region of the world.
Mr. Guterres stressed that over the next year, the UN wants to make the voices of young people “count in the ways decisions are made , in which strategies are established, policies are defined and actions are implemented.”
He also stated that the aim is not merely a dialogue during the Organization’s anniversary year, but “to establish within the UN mechanisms of institutional dialogue and institutional participation allowing the youth to have an influence in the way the UN shapes its interventions, decisions and strategies”.
“And why is it so important that young people effectively participate in the way we shape decisions today? The main reason for me is because my generation has failed in many aspects, but they failed essentially, in three basic questions that will determine the future,” said Mr. Guterres, citing failures on climate change, on making globalization work for all, and in making sure that new technologies are a force for good.
Finally, he said: "I believe that the youth must have a fundamental voice, but not only a fundamental voice, a fundamental role in the shaping of our common future. And I want to make the UN75 anniversary the moment in which I will try to talk as little as possible and to listen as much as possible.”
The Secretary-General wrapped up his time at the university by listening to the gathered students and exchanging views with them on issues such as human rights and climate change, and also about the important role of the UN.
#UN; #Iraq; #RightToEducation; #ISILControlledAreas; #psychosocialSupport; #IDPCamps
Iraq, Feb 17 (Canadian-Media): More than two years after the defeat of ISIL in Iraq, some children in areas formerly controlled by the terrorist group still cannot access school or get the necessary documentation required for enrollment, a UN report published on Monday finds, UN reports said.
Seated on a rug atop the dirt ground, two girls complete homework outside their tent home, in the Kawergosk camp for Syrian refugees, west of Erbil, Iraq.
Image credit: UNICEF/Romenzi
The joint study by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN human rights office, OHCHR, is based on interviews and group consultations with 237 children, young people and teachers at six camps for displaced persons (IDPs) in Ninewa governorate and in the cities of Mosul and Erbil.
Several interviewees reported that restrictions on their movement meant they could not move freely in and out of the camps, thus preventing them from attending school and other daily activities.
“Many children who were in school when living under ISIL control are now young adults, making them too old to attend mainstream schools and are left with no alternative options.
These challenges are creating a marginalized generation of children and young adults, many of whom are or will be entering adulthood without any post-primary schooling”, according to the report titled The Right to Education in Iraq: Part One - The legacy of ISIL territorial control on access to education.
As one boy told the authors: “There is no future in the camp anyway, what am I going to do here? Why do I need an education for this life? It has been so long since we were at school, our minds feel closed to learning, some of us can no longer even read and write. We have no support to overcome these things. Even if I could take the exams, I would not pass them. I do n’t see a future for myself.”
Right to education essential
The activities of ISIL, also known as Daesh, have been well-documented.
Since 2014, fighters carried out a campaign of violence, oppression and systematic human rights violations, leaving behind death, destruction and displacement.
Of the approximately 1.4 million people uprooted by the crisis, 658,000 are children, almost half of whom are not in school.
Although ISIL sustained military defeat in Iraq in 2017, some counter-insurgency operations continue. Additionally, families perceived as having affiliations with the group have had wider restrictions imposed on them.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the importance of the right to education for children and young people cannot be overstated.
“Inclusive, quality education is not just a right in itself but it is essential for the full realization of a range of other human rights. Education literally has the power to transform lives and make dreams come true”, she said.
Mohammed, 10, sits on the staircase of the former house he used to hide with his family in Mosul. Image credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed
Education can also protect young people when they are at a particularly vulnerable age, the authors added.
“Children and young adults who are unable to attend school are especially at risk, leaving them on the margins of society and open to radicalization or other criminal activity,” they said.
“The loss of childhood during the ISIL years, including the lack of educational opportunities and the limited access to mental health and psychosocial support, can result in cycles of violence, both in public and private sphere, that directly prevent youth from reaching their full potential.”
Recommendations for the future
The report concludes with recommendations for the Iraqi authorities.
While acknowledging Government efforts to ensure access to education, measures should be implemented to allow people to obtain civil documentation.
The Government should also provide accessible primary and secondary education to all Iraqis, including those in IDP camps.
Measures can include increasing the number of schools and teaching hours, and expanding alternative education programs. Teachers can also be trained in how to teach students who have suffered trauma.
The report was shared with the Government and integrates comments received from the Ministry of Education.
#OntarioTechersToGoOnStrike; #AEFO; #OntarioEducation; #OntarioSchool, #OntarioTeachers; #OntarioStudents
Ottawa, Feb 7 (Canadian-Media): It was announced today by Ontario's fourth largest teachers' union, The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) that it will begin once-weekly strikes starting from next Thursday due to unrest between education workers and the province, media reports said.
AEFO. Image credit: Facebook Page
About 12,000 members, including Ontario's French-language teachers in both public and Catholic boards as well as support staff in French-language workplaces are represented by AEFO.
Several battles are being waged by the teachers union including funding for students with special education needs, said AEFO President Rémi Sabourin.
Sabourin added that for the first time strike action of this scale would be launched since the creation of French school boards in 1997
"School boards and the government seem determined to oppose any possibility of moving forward with bargaining," Sabourin said.
Public elementary teachers are on strike at several Ontario boards today.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) resumes its rotating strikes today, a day after a provincewide walkout.
Union president Sam Hammond has said the key issues include special education funding, full-day kindergarten, hiring regulations and addressing classroom violence.
Stephen Lecce, Ontario's Education Minister says teachers were escalating strikes to advance higher compensation.
#Education; #OntarioEducation; ETFO; #OntarioStudents
Toronto, Feb 6 (Canadian-Media): A statement was issued today by Stephen Lecce, Ontario's Minister of Education regarding continued escalation by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), media reports said.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Facebook
"Our government has put forward reasonable proposals at the negotiating table, including a commitment to maintain full-day kindergarten, and it is deeply disappointing parents are still seeing repeated escalation at the expense of our students to advance higher compensation, including more generous benefit plans.
We firmly believe students should be in class, and we continue to stand ready to negotiate and reach a deal Ontario students deserve," stated Stephen.
#Ontario; #MentalHelth, #Ontario'sMentalHealth; #OntarioPostsecondaryStudents; #OntarioMentalHealthFundingToIncrease; #KidsHelpPhone; #CrisisTextLine; #Good2Talk/AlloJ'écouteservices;
Toronto, Feb 3 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made today by Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, at Ryerson University regarding an additional investment of $1 million to help Kids Help Phone to expand Good2Talk/Allo J'écoute services -- Ontario's bilingual mental health free support service -- to reach and support more postsecondary students.
Ross Romano. Image credit: Facebook page
A total of $16 million in mental health supports and services for postsecondary students in Ontario is being invested by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities in 2019-20 supporting front-line mental health service workers on campuses, counselling and crisis intervention support.
"Helping all Ontario's students maintain their mental health is critical to supporting student resilience and success. We know that over the last several years the mental health needs of postsecondary students have increased dramatically in Ontario," said Minister Romano, "Expanding mental health supports will help reach more postsecondary students so they can succeed in their studies and set themselves up for future success in the workforce."
According to the last National College Health Assessment (2016), within the past 12 months:
46 percent of Ontario’s postsecondary students reported feeling symptoms of depression, and 65 percent felt overwhelming anxiety (an increase of 13 per cent in three years).
Good2Talk is Ontario's bilingual mental health support service, which currently fields more than 2,000 calls per month, with annual demand on the rise, and is available to all postsecondary students 24/7, 365 days a year
This investment will enable Good2Talk to offer help through Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, a platform providing trained volunteer support through text message and ensures students at Indigenous Institutes in Ontario are aware of this free service for all postsecondary students.
"For the past year, we've been travelling the province to hear about the changes Ontarians expect to see in our province's mental health and addictions system," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "Expanding programs like Good2Talk is another example of how our government is listening and delivering more options for mental health services for Ontario students. We are taking a cross-government approach to build a mental health and addictions system and will soon launch Ontario's mental health and addictions strategy - a roadmap toward meaningfully improving the care Ontarians receive."
"Our government is continuing to fulfill our commitment to make mental health and addictions a priority," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Investing in students' mental wellness is part of a broader plan to build a comprehensive, connected and integrated mental health and addictions system that works for Ontarians throughout all stages of their lives. We look forward to working closely with our partners, like Kids Help Phone, to ensure that every Ontarian across the province can be fully supported in their journey towards mental wellness."
"We are incredibly excited to be offering this critical service to postsecondary students across the province, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of students looking for immediate support," said Alisa Simon, Senior Vice-President, Innovation and Chief Youth Officer, Kids Help Phone. "We are proud of the tremendous difference Good2Talk has made over the years and know that by adding Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone to the suite of available services we can end the epidemic of emotional crisis that's affecting millions of young people every single year."
"At Ryerson University, we know that a flourishing university community is one that supports its students in developing and managing their mental well-being," said Ryerson University President and Vice Chancellor Mohamed Lachemi. "We are pleased to see this significant investment into important student focused resources that will support our students, and all postsecondary students in this province, in managing their mental wellbeing."