#Ontario, #RapidIncreaseOfCovid19; #OntarioSchools; #Elearning; #OnlineEducation
Ottawa, Mar 31 (Canadian-Media): The addition of today's 260 new cases of COVID19 pandemic in Ontario causing its total to increase to nearly 2000 it has been decided by Ontario that all schools would remain closed until May, media reports said.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter
CBC Toronto had been told by a senior government official that elementary and high school students in Ontario will be out of class until at least May.
Schools were initially set to re-open on April 6, but due to the rapid surge of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, it was agreed by booth Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephan Lecce that the closures would need to be prolonged.
An e-learning plan for the province's students during COVID-19 school closures is expected to be announced by Lecce.
The government is also considering online classes while school closures continue.
Publicly-assisted post-secondary institutions would hold online end-of-year exams.
#LibertyUniversity; #Virginia; #US; #COVID19Pandemic; #PublicHealthCrisis
Virginia, Mar 24 (Canadian-Media): Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university, in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States, opened its doors to about 1,900 students at a time when countless universities have sent students home, media reports said.
Liberty University. Image credit: Twitter
During discussion held between the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and other leaders whether to extend spring break and risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus, it was decided it was safer to bring the students back to campus.
Falwell's decision to bring students back to campus was against the guidance provided by state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to statewide order issued by the Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Monday to help slow down the spread of coronavirus, gatherings of more than 10 people and goes into effect just before midnight on Tuesday.
The order also closes non-essential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year.
Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy said she was both surprised and disappointed by President Falwell's most recent decision to allow students back on campus and added, "We are in the midst of a public health crisis. I am concerned for the students, faculty and employees at Liberty University, and I am also very concerned for the residents of the Lynchburg community."
Students had been given a choice by the university whether they wanted to return by filling out an online form with their intent.
Out of the student population of 14,000 to 15,000, about 1,900 students have returned to campus ass of Tuesday afternoon, Liberty University's spokesman Scott Lamb said.
Lamb added that university officials are prepared for about 5,000 students to return to campus.
Although the university said that it was complying with all state restrictions related to COVID-19 following a Virginia Department of Health inspection during its spring break after the state's 10 person limit on restaurants went into effect, however it is unclear if this is the right decision.
#ETFO; #OPSBA; #CTA
Toronto, Mar 21 (Canadian-Media): Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education issued the following statement today regarding a tentative agreement with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), and ETFO Education Workers and the Council of Trustees' Associations (CTA):
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter
"Our Government is pleased to announce a tentative agreement has been reached between the Crown, ETFO teachers and education workers, and the school boards trustees' associations.
This tentative ETFO agreement builds further momentum for deals and progress that students deserve, following last week's tentative agreement signed with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA).
We remain focused on landing further deals, to provide stability and certainty to students, parents, and educators."
#OntarioSchools; #ExtendMarchBreak; #DougFord; #OntarioEducation; #COVID19
Ottawa, Mar 12 (Canadian-Media): It was stated by Doug Ford's government that based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health publicly funded schools across will remain closed for two weeks following March break due to concerns about COVID-19, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter
"We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe," the premier's office said in a statement.
It's unclear child-care centres or other school-based programs would be effected by the extended break.
In an earlier news conference in Toronto on Thursday, health officials advised that anyone returning from travel to avoid public or group gatherings and to monitor themselves for symptoms.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters Thursday afternoon that following the two-week period, the province will evaluate to see what other measures might be required.
In the meantime, extra sanitation resources and personal hygiene products would be provided by the province, Lecce said.
Lecce also said a plan is being finalized to ensure learning continues during this period but did not provide any more details.
With 17 new cases, including one infant, being confirmed earlier today, Ontario has a total of 59 cases of COVID-19.
#Ontario; #DocumentryFilmIndustry; #HotDocs; #HotDocsFilmFestival; #TedRogersCentre
Toronto, Mar 10 (Canadian-Media): Ontario's world-class film and television industry is being supported since 2018 by Ontario's over $928,000 in funding to Hot Docs, including $525,000 in 2019-20 to raise the profile of documentary filmmakers by driving local tourism spending, and build Ontario's reputation as a cultural hub, media reports said.
Hot Docs, an organization dedicated to advancing and celebrating the art of documentary film, is a major economic driver for the Canadian documentary film sector, and plays a key role in Ontario's film and television production industry through its signature annual festival and year-round activities.
The annual Hot Docs documentary film festival is the largest of its kind in North America. It runs this year from April 30 to May 10.
Hot Docs Festival. Image credit: Twitter
According to a recent economic impact study done by Hot Docs, the festival contributed over $39 million to Ontario's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The study also found that business deals struck during the festival are worth just under $10 million.
Nearly 660 jobs and $19.4 million in tax revenue for the province had been generated on a year-round basis by Hot Docs’ activities, including non-festival activities.
Before speaking at an event at part of the Hot Docs - Curious Minds Series, an annual festival that includes a week-long program of inspiring conversations with internationally renowned thinkers, taste makers and bestselling authors, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries toured today Hot Docs Ted Rogers cinema and facility.
"Hot Docs is a proud Ontario success story — reinforcing our reputation for innovation in the creative industries. Investing in Hot Docs is an investment in our province's...boosting our financial bottom line...as well as...our cultural identity and pride of place...I want to thank Hot Docs for allowing new audiences to discover the wonder of documentary film, highlighting how Ontario truly offers the world in one province," said Lisa MacLeod.
#Kashmir, #Holi, #HoliInKashmir
Srinagar (India), Mar 10 (Canadian-Media): Holi festival was celebrated in Gindun Park Rajbagh, Kashmir, India Tuesday by Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Governance in collaboration with Jammu Kashmir Workers Party (JKWP), media reports said.
Holi Festival. Image credit: Twitter
Holi greetings were extended to the people of the country with wishes of happy, prosperous and healthy life to everyone.
"Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs all are under one roof to celebrate the festival of colours and we are happy to see the communal harmony intact and we wish every countrymen on this special day occasion...This shows the unity and brotherhood that is alive in our Valley and I have a great pleasure to extend my greetings and good wishes...This festival fills our lives with happiness and promote national integration," said Mir Junaid, President of Jammu Kashmir Workers Party.
Considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India, Holi is celebrated in almost every part of the country with utmost joy and enthusiasm. It is also called as the “festival of love” as on this day people get to unite together forgetting all resentments.
The vibrancy of colors displayed by this festival brings in a lot of positivity in our lives.
While praying for the equality, Mir urged people to observe this festival of harmony and friendship harmoniously.
#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.
Image credit: Twitter
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 co-ordinated 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.