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Translated by Ben Krasner, Accademia Britannica, Arezzo

London, 23/04/07 

The use of wireless computers in United Kingdom schools has become widespread, but some teachers’ unions are afraid that the magnetic fields produced by the networks could be harmful to health. The BBC reports that the unions have asked for tests to ascertain what risks may be involved with the use of this technology. According to the Health Protection Agency in charge of British health matters, wireless networks are less dangerous for health than the widespread use of  cellular telephones.

Bangui, 21/04/07 

The civil war raging in the Central African Republic is casuing mass evacuations from towns and cities. According to the press agency MISNA, this situation is especially serious in the country’s northern regions where one million people are homeless and without access to food supplies or schools. And this is happening in a country where more than 50% of the population is illiterate.

Berlin, 19/04/07 

The lessons on ethics which are held in Berlin schols are considered an essential part of the school curriculum. A student and his family tried to have ethics declared an elective subject on the grounds that it tended to promote atheism, but, as the weekly Der Spiegel explains, the German Constitutional Court found against the complainants.

Rio Gallegos, 16/04/07 

Teachers in the Argentinian province of Santa Cruz are up in arms. They are on strike and demanding that schools be better organised and that they be better paid. It seems that the strike will not be resolved for some time and the question has arisen as to how to finance the strikers. An article in the daily newspaper La Naciòn reports that a highly original solution has been proposed: raising money through the sale in front of schools of cakes and biscuits.

Paris, 12/04/07 

“Parents are not part of the school system,” announced Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative candidate for the French presidency. The indignant reaction of some parents’ organisations was reported in Le Monde.  One of these believes Sarkozy will destroy 40 years of work within the system and run the risk of an “educational war”. Other organisations believe he simply committed a gaffe, and they have asked him to clarify hus policy.

New Delhi, 01/04/07 

After an experimental phase, the Indian Minister for Development and a number of educational bodies have begun work on a definitive national program of distance learning. The news comes from an article in the Times of India. This program would be based on audiovisual and computer technologies and should be an ideal solution for meeting the educational needs of this huge Asian nation.

London, 14/03/07 

BBC Jam is an online educational program broadcast by the BBC. Hardly had it started up when private broadcast companies and program providers protested. They appealed to the European Commission and had the program suspended. The BBC, in announcing this decision, expressed regret and apologised to the audience. The program was aimed at using audiovisual methods to integrate study courses for students aged from 5 to 16 years.

La Paz, 22/02/07 

Evo Morales is the first ever indigenous president of Bolivia and this will provideis just a first step in bringing equal opportunities between the indigenous peoples and the rest of Bolivians. The Spanish daily El Mundo reports that inequalities are especially serious in the field of education. For example, only one tenth of Bolivian indios ever complete primary school.

Buenos Aires, 1/10/06 

Public or private? Lay or religious? Full-time or part-time? These are some of the dilemmas facing parents when they have to choose a school for their children, and the Argentinian daily paper, La Naciòn, has advised them to follow certain criteria. They should ascertain what goals a school is aiming to achieve and then choose one which ensures a balance between the humanities and the sciences, between the arts and sports. But, above all, parents should maintain an ongoing relationship with the school they choose.

London, 29/09/06 

Pacifist songs and shouts of abuse have greeted the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, during some of his recent visits to secondary schools, and the strength of this opposition has aroused angry protests in the United Kingdom about how citizenship and civics should be taught in schools. The BBC  thinks that the aims need to be defined more precisely: are we preparing students to become acquiescent citizens or to be active and critical towards government policy?

Luanda, 29/09/06 

Many children are found among the 80,000 Angolans who have been injured, and sometimes seriously mutilated, by anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. Frequently these children are simply left abandoned, with no help and no education. The news agency MISNA reports that these figures are really to be considered as only provisional, since the protracted civil war in Angola has left behind at least 7,000,000 landmines scattered throughout the territory.

Paris, 28/09/06 

Only a small minority of French teachers took part in the strike called by union leaders in protest against the massive reductions to public school personnel envisaged in the 2007 budget proposals. According to the news agency France Presse this does not indicate a lack of interest, but rather an attitude of wait-and-see related to next spring’s presidential elections, now only seven months away.

Washington, 27/09/06 

American students are wearing t-shirts bearing slogans that attract attention for their whimsicality, their capriciousness and their not so uncommon clear allusions to sexuality. School authorities are finding themselves in a problem zone about what is acceptable and what is in good taste. As the Washington Post points out, schools face the usual dilemma between tolerance and strictness, between how to safeguard their responsibility to defend the decorum of the school environment and the free expression of the individual.

Detroit, 14/08/06 

The scholastic year was late in starting for the 130,000 public- school students of Detroit. They had to wait for the end of a longstanding teachers’ strike related to a serious dispute over contracts and conditions. CNN reported that many parents were considering the pros and cons of transferring their children to private schools where the fees come to around $700 per month.

Paris, 6/07/06 

In spite of strong opposition to the French educational reforms and the frequent strikes by teachers and students, France’s scholastic year closed with a record result: three students out of four passed the baccalauréat exam at first try. This is the exam which comes at the end of high school and the precise figure was 73.9%. When announcing the results, the news agency AFP pointed out that, even though last year was much less turbulent, the number was only 68.8%

London, 5/07/06 

High prices and low quality would seem to indicate that there is something not right in the clothing industry which supplies English school uniforms. The BBC reports that the government body which checks correctness in business dealings has opened an inquiry. A monopoly stranglehold on the business is suspected and 10,000 schools have been requested to indicate whether or not they were free to choose a supplier.

Salzgitter, 5/07/06 

Two 15-year-old youngsters have caused a reign of terror in a school in the German city of Salzgitter in Lower Saxony. Over a period of nine months, the pair managed to threaten and blackmail their schoolmates into handing over money and mobile phones to the value of 12,000 euro. The weekly newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the two have been given a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Johannesburg, 4/07/06 

The representatives of 5 nations in Southern Africa (South  Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) met together in Johannesburg to see how to tackle the exploitation of juveniles through child labor. The news agency MISNA  pointed out how serious the problem is in these countries and how it can only be solved through education which should show children how to avoid being trapped into this kind of exploitation.

Washington, 3/07/06 

John Deasy who manages one of the county school systems of Washington has started off a program to get efficiency back into the schools. His advice to the teachers is that they should continuously question whether, as parents, would like their children to be attending their classes. The Washington Post article pointed out how the program will set specific goals for each and every school.

Buenos Aires, 22/06/06 

Even Argentina has problems of overweight and obesity among young children and teenagers. The daily newspaper Clarìn reported how there is now a campaign in the nation’s capital to ban vending machines that sell snack foods or which encourage youngsters to spend in order to receive some sort of gadget. A similar program has been underway for some time in Còrdoba and other cities are planning to do the same.

Cotonou, 5/03/06

Representatives of the governments of Benin and Nigeria have signed a cooperation agreement about trafficking in children and how to prevent it. The MISNA news agency reports that the practice is widespread in this part of Africa. Some time ago, a vehicle inspection on the border between the two countries discovered a cargo of 300 children. Coming from Benin, they had been destined for work in Nigeria.

London, 2/03/06

English youngsters, who habitually consume foods that are too rich in sugar, salt and fat, are increasingly becoming obese.. According to the BBC, a group of experts has now suggested that snack foods and fizzy drinks should be banned from sale in schools. School authorities are working to see if junk food can effectively be banned, starting with the elimination of thousands of vending machines.

Richmond, 3/03/06

The Parliament of Virginia has voted to provide funding for the provision of special teachers to help disabled students in private schools. The Washington Post reports how this vote has led to strong protests because it seems that the result of this measure will inevitably mean fewer resources for state schools. In Virginia, there are 175,000 young people with various types of disabilities who could in theory gain from the funding.

London, 1/03/06

The Education Maintenance Allowance, known as the EMA, is  a system of contributions to help students from low-income families continue at school after turning sixteen. There is an annual lump sum of 500 pounds sterling and a daily payment between ten and thirty pounds. The BBC explains how the EMA is also designed to encourage a more assiduous attendance at classes.

Salt Lake City, 28/02/06

The clash between evolutionists and creationists is continuing in the United States. The Senate of the state of Utah voted in a law requiring schools to explain to students that Darwinian evolution has not been proven empirically, but the House of Representatives blocked the law. CNN reports how the conservatives themselves were afraid that the Senate’s measure could create a precedent with repercussions on other matters, like quantum theory or even psychoanalysis.

Còrdoba, 27/02/06

What is probably the highest school in the world, the Ceferino Namuncarà de los Cerros Institute, is situated at an altitude of 2,400 meters and lies about 150 kilometers from Cordoba in Argentina. An article in the daily newspaper Clarìn reported that the school has 82 students in three different classes.  However, despite its position up among the icy peaks of the Andes, the school enjoys an excellent reputation and its teachers explain that their lofty position  means they can have a view of the whole world.

Srinagar, 17/02/06

The government of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir has launched a far-reaching campaign to annihilate illiteracy. In its report on the matter, the daily newspaper, The Times of India, explained that this initiative will involve all forms of the mass media which be used not only to publicise the program, but also to carry special courses designed to improve literacy skills.

Düsseldorf, 13/03/06

There are not enough places for all children in the kindergartens of the German state of Nordreno-Westfalia. According to broadcaster WDR, the local education minister, Armin Laschet, has proposed reducing the allowance paid to families with children by ten euro a month, so that this money could then be used to finance expansion of kindergarten facilities.