Kankara Abduction: Parents Assemble At School Premises, Keep Vigil       

 

Parents of the abducted Government Science Secondary School students in Kankara area of Katsina State have converged on the premises of the school patiently waiting for their children to return as promised by the government. 

Their gathering is coming less than one week after the abduction took the nation by surprise.

The parents have also been recounting their experiences as they continue to hope for the return of their children.

Speaking to Channels Television, two of the parents said they couldn’t sleep, adding that they will continue to be spending the night at the school until their children are rescued safely.

Upon arrival at the school gate on Tuesday, Channels Television discovered that the Ƙanƙara school is located at the centre of a bush leading to some scattered settlements some of which are Zango and Dansabau in Zamfara border axis.

It also gathered that besides the school fence is a busy road leading to Ƙanƙara weekly Tuesday Market with daily business activities on the increase.

READ ALSO: Katsina Attack: Boko Haram Claims Responsibility For Students’ Kidnap

Earlier today, 17 of the abducted 333 students returned home after escaping from their abductors, leaving 316 of them still in the captivity.

The media aide to Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari said the bandits have warned that security operatives who were monitoring their hideouts with helicopter must stop the action.

This account seems in conflict with reports saying that the terrorist group, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the students.

The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the claim in a voice message, stating that they went for the students to promote Islam and discourage western education.

Tuesday’s claim of responsibility marks a major turning point in the advance of jihadist groups in northwest Nigeria.

Boko Haram, and a splinter group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), are waging an insurgency in the northeast and are thought to have only a minor presence in the northwest.

But concerns have grown of jihadist inroads into the region, especially after fighters claiming to be in the northwest released a propaganda video pledging allegiance to Abubakar Shekau earlier this year.

Millions Return To School In Italy After COVID-19 Closure

Pupils wait behing floors markers prior to enter the Luigi Einaudi technical high school in Rome on September 14, 2020 for the start of the school year, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. – Schools in some European nations were set to open on September 14, 2020 with millions returning to classrooms in Italy, Greece and Romania. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

 

Millions of Italian children returned to the classroom on Monday as most schools reopened more than six months after they were closed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some Italian schools opened earlier this month, roughly 5.6 million students from a total of eight million went back to school on Monday, confronting a new reality of restrictions.

Italy was one of the first in Europe to be hit by the pandemic, which has now officially killed over 35,500 people out of a total of 280,000 cases.

Premier Giuseppe Conte admitted on Sunday that Italian schools faced a difficult situation, including a lack of teachers, single-seat benches and surgical masks.

“There will be difficulties and inconveniences, especially in the beginning,” Conte wrote on Facebook.

He also saluted teachers, who he said had “made an extraordinary effort in the months of confinement to continue lessons and distant learning”.

“We are grateful to you,” he said.

With the country registering more than 1,500 infections a day, Conte also had particular words for youngsters.

“You have to do your part. You have to commit yourselves to the rules of caution that will allow you to protect your health and the health of the people you love,” he said.

Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said more than 5,000 extra classrooms had been created to give pupils more space.

Nevertheless, some southern regions like Puglia and Calabria already postponed the reopening until September 24, over concerns they were not ready to meet all the new requirements.

Italian officials said the back-to-school strategy involved immediate quarantine of those “in close contact” with a student or teacher testing positive.

After a positive result, pupils will be allowed back to school only after returning two negatives, carried out a day apart.

AFP

Millions Back At School In Europe As Cases Pass Four Million

Teachers and nonacademic personnel queue to undergo PCR tests outside the Virgen de la Paloma high school, ahead of the reopening of schools for a new academic year amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Madrid on September 2, 2020. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

 

Millions of mask-wearing European children returned to school on Tuesday with governments determined to get pupils back in class despite still-rising coronavirus infections which surged over four million across the continent for the first time.

Schools reopened in Russia, Ukraine, Belgium and France, where teachers and children aged 11 and older were obliged to wear face coverings, echoing regulations in place across the continent.

Lockdowns imposed from March meant many children have missed months of education, as well as time with their friends.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time!” 12-year-old Chahda told AFP excitedly as she arrived with her friend at school in the southern French city of Marseille.

However, the largest school district in the United States — New York City — announced a delay to in-person classes at public institutions until September 21, after reaching a deal with a prominent teachers’ union that had threatened a strike over health concerns it felt had gone unaddressed.

In Europe, the decision to forge ahead with school reopenings comes as the virus is spreading rapidly again in many countries, raising fears that more lockdowns and disruption are to come in autumn and winter.

“I am convinced that we can and will prevent a second general shutdown,” Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, unveiling figures to suggest his country has passed the worst of its recession.

An AFP tally of infections, using official data from across Europe, showed that more than four million people have contracted the illness, with Russia accounting for almost a quarter of infections.

The virus emerged late last year in China and has now infected more than 25 million people globally and killed almost 850,000.

The Chinese city at the centre of the initial outbreak, Wuhan, took another leap back to normality on Tuesday when its almost 1.4 million youngsters also returned to schools and kindergartens.

State media broadcast images of thousands of students hoisting the Chinese flag — a daily routine at all public schools — despite warnings to avoid mass gatherings.

– ‘Weird’ tennis returns –

While schools attempt to get back to normal, the virus continues to play havoc with cultural and sporting events.

The US is hosting the world’s first major tennis tournament since Covid-19 emerged, but it has not been plain sailing at the US Open, where one player was sent home after testing positive and other players are grappling with eerie empty arenas.

“It’s a little bit weird to play without fans and without the support and the atmosphere on the centre courts,” said former champion Angelique Kerber.

The Italian city of Venice is also gearing up for the annual film festival, with about half the usual number of visitors expected and no Hollywood A-listers prepared to accept invitations from the organisers.

“It’s a festival without stars because Hollywood is still in lockdown,” Festival Director Alberto Barbera told AFP. “Will there be less glamour? Yes. Will there be fewer stars on the red carpet? Certainly.”

– Blow for Sanofi –

Tuesday also brought bad news for everyone hoping for a swift medical breakthrough that could bring an end to the pandemic.

French pharma giant Sanofi announced that a drug in testing as a treatment for serious Covid-19 cases had proved disappointing and trials will be halted.

The drug “did not give us the results we were hoping for”, said the firm’s research chief John Reed.

Sanofi is also part of the global race to develop a vaccine against coronavirus, with more than two dozen different products being trialled around the world according to the World Health Organization.

In Hong Kong, health authorities are focusing on rolling out a mass testing scheme but have seen their efforts hampered by distrust of officials following China’s crushing of the city’s democracy movement.

Doctors and testing firms from mainland China are involved in the programme, fuelling public fears that their DNA and data will be harvested to create a system of control underpinned by biometrics.

“I think it’s a waste of time,” local resident Emily Li told AFP. “The government can’t convince me in terms of the effectiveness of the testing programme.”

– ‘Bubble within a bubble’ –

Elsewhere, fresh economic data for the second quarter further revealed the extent of the economic devastation caused by the virus’s march around the globe.

Brazil’s economy, the biggest in Latin America, contracted by a record 9.7 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the official statistics agency said Tuesday.

There is uncertainty about whether the economy will recover strongly over the rest of the year because the virus is still wreaking havoc and room is running out to continue the huge government stimulus spending that has softened the blow so far.

On Monday, India said its economy had collapsed by 23.9 percent.

Only China, where the outbreak was first reported, has escaped a recession in the period, according to official data.

AFP

Spanish Children Over Six To Wear Masks At School

Weetbe Mask Osaka face masks are pictured in the Spanish Basque city of Igorre on August 26, 2020. – Spanish entrepeneurs Marcos Fernandez Alonso, Itxaso Domingo and Inaki Mendialdua have created the Weetbe Mask Osaka face mask that is customizable and transparent to improve interpersonal communications. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP.

 

Children above the age of six in Spain will be required to wear face masks at school at all times, the government said Thursday, as it seeks to restart lessons despite a surge in coronavirus infections.

“The use of masks will be mandatory in general from the age of six, even if social distance is maintained,” Education Minister Isabel Celaa told a news conference ahead of schools’ reopening next month.

Spain’s 17 regional governments, which are responsible for health care and education, have in recent days outlined a patchwork of different measures, leading critics to charge there was a lack of coordination.

The northern region of Cantabria’s requirement for children as young as three to wear masks sparked particular controversy.

As well as mask-wearing, pupils will also have to maintain a social distance of 1.5 metres (five feet) from each other, Celaa said, except for young children who will be allowed to mix only with their classmates but not with outsiders.

Other measures include requiring children to wash their hands at least five times a day, regularly ventilating classrooms and taking pupils’ temperature.

The goal is for children return to schools instead of having online lessons as they did at the end of the last school term due to the pandemic.

“We aim for all students to be present,” Celaa said.

Spain’s schools shut in mid-March when the country imposed a strict three-month lockdown to curb the spread of the virus and have not re-opened since.

New cases are growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe and debate has raged in Spain over how to protect children from infection in schools.

Some parents say they will refuse to send their children back to class because they fear it won’t be safe.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain, a nation of around 47 million people, surpassed 400,000 this week. Nearly 29,000 people have died, one of the world’s highest tolls.

Against this backdrop, local authorities have toughened measures to curb the spread of the virus. Madrid city hall announced Thursday that public swimming pools would close on September 1 and parks will be closed at night.

The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, which include holiday hotspots Ibiza and Mallorca, announced Wednesday that beaches would be shut at night.

With nightclubs and bars closed across Spain, many young people have taken to gathering and drinking in parks and on beaches at night.

AFP

Reps Ask Buhari To Allow Unity School Students Write WAEC Exams

In this photo released by the House of Representatives, some lawmakers are seated during one of the plenaries in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Members of the House of Representatives have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that students in unity schools participate in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The lawmakers made the call during plenary on Tuesday at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

WASSCE is a standardised test conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for senior secondary school students in the graduating class.

The lawmakers believe no good will come out of stopping the students in Nigeria from writing the exams scheduled to hold from August 4 to September 5, 2020.

They stressed that the authorities of various schools can handle the exams as long as the COVID-19 protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were adhered to.

The lawmakers warned that failure to allow the students to take the exams could send the wrong signal to the international community and investors that Nigeria was unable to handle the pandemic.

In their resolutions, they urged the President to reverse the decision of the Federal Ministry of Education withdrawing the nation from participating in WASSCE and other similar examinations.

Female Candidates Outshine Male As WAEC Withholds 180,205 Results
A file photo of WAEC logo.

 

The House also asked the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to immediately implement the health safety measures outlined by the Federal Executive Council for the conduct of the examinations, as well as provide soap, hand sanitisers and all other requirements stipulated by NCDC.

It, therefore, mandate the House Committees on Basic Education, Healthcare Services, Water Resources, and Legislative Compliance, to ensure compliance and report back to the lawmakers within two weeks.

The resolutions followed a motion on the urgent need to halt the Federal Government’s withdrawal from WASSCE and other common entrance examinations, and to provide enabling environment for students to write their examinations in accordance with NCDC guidelines.

Nnolim Nnaji, who represents Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency (Enugu State), sponsored the motion which was supported by about six other lawmakers.

On July 6, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, announced that WAEC had fixed August 4 to commence this year’s WASSCE.

Nwajiuba, who spoke at a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, urged states and schools willing to allow their students to take the exams to prepare them ahead.

He explained that as soon as the WAEC examinations were concluded, the government would take up the National Examination Council (NECO) and the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examinations.

Barely two days later, the Minister of Education said the government would not allow any unity school to participate in the scheduled exams until schools were considered safe.

Adamu had also asked WAEC and the state governments to reconsider their decision to open for the exams.

Schools Reopen In North Korea After COVID-19 Delays

Primary school children wearing face masks as a protective measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus wash their hands as they attend a class at Hasin Primary School in Sosong District in Pyongyang following the re-opening of schools on June 3, 2020. KIM Won Jin / AFP.

 

North Korean children returned to their classrooms in face masks on Wednesday as schools reopened after the new term was delayed for months by coronavirus precautions.

Pyongyang has not confirmed a single case of the deadly disease that swept the world after first emerging in neighbouring China, but has imposed strict rules, including closing its borders and putting thousands of its people into isolation.

The new school term was originally scheduled to start in early April but was repeatedly postponed. Some universities and high schools were allowed to resume classes in mid-April.

Uniformed students made their way to their schools on Wednesday morning, all wearing red commemorative flowers and face masks.

Some used disposable surgical coverings while others wore pastel-shaded cloth masks, some featuring animal characters.

At an elementary school in Pyongyang pupils wearing backpacks had their temperatures checked as they arrived for lessons.

In the classroom, they lined up to wash their hands using water from red buckets before taking their seats.

“You have to rub your hands,” the teacher told them.

READ ALSO: Italy Reopens To Tourists From Europe

Students wore their masks in class but sat close together as they diligently listened to their teacher — also wearing a face covering — talk about the North’s leadership, maths and other topics.

Portraits of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il — grandfather and father of the current leader Kim Jong Un — gaze down from the wall of every classroom in the country and “Revolutionary studies” is a key part of the school curriculum.

Analysts say the North is unlikely to have avoided infections from the virus, and that its ramshackle health system could struggle to cope with a major outbreak.

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide has risen to more than 6.3 million, with around 380,000 dead across 196 countries and territories.

AFP

COVID-19: Nearly 1.3 Billion Children, Youth Out Of School – UNESCO

This picture taken on April 30, 2020 shows a pupil desk at the Eugene Napoleon Saint-Pierre Fourier private school in Paris, that welcomes medical staff member’s children during the strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

 

School closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic affected nearly 1.3 billion students, according to a new report by UNESCO.

A new set of guidelines issued by the UN agency, in collaboration with the World Bank, UNICEF, and WFP cautioned that the widespread closures of educational facilities present an unprecedented risk to children’s education and wellbeing.

The guidelines also offered practical advice for national and local authorities on how to keep children safe when they return to school.

“Rising inequality, poor health outcomes, violence, child labour, and child marriage are just some of the long-term threats for children who miss out on school,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

“We know the longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to ever return. Unless we prioritize the reopening of schools – when it is safe to do so – we will likely see a devastating reversal in education gains.”

The guidelines note that while there is not yet enough evidence to measure the impact of school closures on disease transmission rates, the adverse effects of school closures on children’s safety and learning are well documented. Gains made in increasing access to children’s education in recent decades risk being lost and, in the worse cases, reversed completely.

READ ALSO: Myth Busters: 19 Wrong Beliefs About The Novel Coronavirus

“In the poorest countries, children often rely on schools for their only meal of the day,” said David Beasley, WFP Executive Director.

”But with many schools now closed because of COVID, 370 million children are missing out on these nutritious meals which are a lifeline for poor families. They are also being denied the health support they normally get through school.

“This could do lasting damage, so when schools reopen it is critical that these meal programmes and health services are restored, which can also help to draw the most vulnerable children back to school.”

Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education, said once schools begin to reopen, the priority would become reintegrating students into school settings safely and in ways that allow learning to pick up again, especially for those who suffered the biggest learning losses.

“This is a critical moment as it is the launching pad for a new normal that should be more effective and equitable. To manage reopenings, schools will need to be logistically prepared with the teaching workforce ready.

“And they will need to have plans specifically for supporting learning recovery of the most disadvantaged students. The guidelines offer a framework for moving forward that the major UN agencies are aligned around.”

 

Gunmen Abduct Five Female Students, Three Others In Niger

 

Gunmen have abducted five female students from a private boarding school in Mariga Local government Area of Niger state.

Also kidnapped were a teacher and two local security guards on duty.

The affected students were taken from the Tular Academy at Moruba in state where one of them already escaped.

The State Police Command said the attack took place late on Sunday, but for lack of communication, it only got the information late on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner, Adamu Usman, has led a combined team of police and Military personnel to Tular Academy school Moruba, in Mariga local Government.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arrests 42 Suspected Internet Fraudsters In Ogun

According to CP Usman, the bandits had taken advantage of poor communication network service to attack the school.

Only reporters from the Nigerian Television Authority and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria were however on the team.

He said the command has deployed additional security measures against further attacks.

“We have since deployed Special Technical Squad and Armed Anti-Kidnapping Squad to identify areas with a view to rescuing the victims unhurt,” he said.

The police boss also expressed displeasure over the porous state of the fence at the school and its location which to him are contributory factors to the attack.

He however solicited the cooperation of the public in volunteering useful information to the police to enhance their investigation and prompt response at all times.

13 Children Killed In Kenya School Stampede

 

Thirteen children died and more than 40 others were injured in a stampede that occurred as they left school in western Kenya on Monday, local police said.

“We have lost 13 children in this stampede and we have others in the hospital with injuries,” David Kabena, the police chief in the town of Kakamega, told reporters.

The crush took place at around 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) when panic broke out as the students went home for the day from Kakamega Primary school.

The reason for the panic is still unclear.

“We have launched an investigation to establish what exactly happened,” Kabena said.

Kenya Red Cross said on Twitter that emergency services were responding to a “fatal stampede” at the school.

Two Decades Of School Mass Shootings In The US

 

Two students were shot dead and another three wounded when a classmate opened fire at their California high school, the latest in the United States’ relentless cycle of school mass shootings.

Here are America’s deadliest classroom gun massacres in the last two decades.

Columbine High School (1999)

Two teenagers from Columbine, Colorado, armed with an assortment of weapons and homemade bombs, went on a rampage at their local high school.

Twelve students and a teacher were killed during the April 20 massacre. Another 24 people were wounded.

Columbine, whose name has become synonymous with school shootings, is one of the first — and still among the deadliest — such shootings in the United States.

Virginia Tech (2007)

A South Korean student at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute opened fire on the Blacksburg, Virginia campus, killing 32 students and professors before committing suicide.

Thirty-three people were wounded.

The gunman had apparently idolized the Columbine shooters, referring to them as “martyrs” in a video, part of a hate-filled manifesto he mailed to police during the shooting.

Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012)

A 20-year-old man with a history of mental health issues killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Twenty children, aged six and seven, were shot dead, as well as six adults. The shooter then committed suicide.

The parents of Sandy Hook victims have led numerous campaigns to toughen gun control laws, but their efforts have largely failed.

Some conspiracy theorists insist the massacre was a government hoax, claiming the shooting involved “actors” in a plot to discredit the gun lobby.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (2018)

On February 14, a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was expelled for disciplinary reasons returned to the Parkland, Florida school and opened fire.

He killed 14 students and three adult staff.

Stoneman Douglas students have become crusaders against gun violence under the banner “March for Our Lives,” lobbying for tougher gun control laws and organizing protests and rallies.

Their campaign has taken off on social media, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of young Americans.

Santa Fe High School (2018)

Ten people, including eight students, were killed when a 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire on his classmates in rural Santa Fe, Texas.

Classes had just started on the morning of May 18 when the shooting began.

Following the tragedy Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled 40 recommendations, mainly focused on increasing armed security on school campuses and stepping up mental health screenings to identify troubled children.

Gun ownership can be a point of pride for many Texans, and even some Santa Fe High School students spoke out against linking the shooting to the need for better gun control.

Lebanon Pupils Skip School For Third Day To Demand Change

Lebanese demonstrators wave the national flag during an anti-government demonstration outside the Ministry of Interior in the capital Beirut on November 8, 2019. 
Patrick BAZ / AFP

 

Thousands of high school students across Lebanon skipped classes Friday for a third day in a row to carry on the flame of the country’s anti-graft movement.

Lebanon has since October 17 been gripped by massive cross-sectarian protests demanding a complete revamping of a political system they say is corrupt and inept.

With youth unemployment running at over 30 per cent, school students have joined en masse since Wednesday demanding a better country so they don’t have to emigrate.

In Beirut, a teenage student who gave her name as Qamar was among thousands of pupils chanting slogans outside the ministry of education on Friday.

“So what if we lose a school year compared to our entire future?” she said. “I don’t want to study in Lebanon and then have to travel abroad” to find a job.

Around her, students waved red-green-and-white Lebanese flags, as others set off yellow, green, blue and purple flares into the sky.

“We missed classes to kick your asses,” read one poster in English.

Another poster in rhyming Arabic said: “No studying or teaching, until the president falls.”

Across Lebanon, students protested outside state institutions and banks including in the southern city of Saida, Tripoli in the north and the east’s Baalbek.

What started as a spontaneous and leaderless movement has become more organised in recent days, with protesters targeting institutions viewed as particularly inefficient or corrupt.

Early Friday, dozens of activists and retired army officers for the first time briefly closed down the entrance to Beirut’s port.

Among them, music producer Zeid Hamdan, 43, had come to denounce what he viewed as a customs collection system riddled with corruption.

“As a musician whenever I bring an instrument into the country, I pay 40 per cent of it” to customs, he said, sporting a light beard and wearing sunglasses.

“It stays stuck in the port for weeks. You need connections, to bribe everybody to get it out,” he said.

Lebanon’s cabinet stepped down last week but no official consultations have started on forming a new government, and outgoing premier Saad Hariri remains in a caretaker capacity.

The World Bank has urged Lebanon to form a new government quickly, warning of the threat of a further economic downturn in a country where almost a third of the population lives in poverty.

Govt Shuts Illegal Private Schools In Kaduna

Bandits Kill Two Air Force Personnel In Kaduna

 

The Kaduna State government says it has uncovered over 3,000 illegal and substandard private schools across the state.

Director-General of Kaduna State Schools Quality Assurance Authority, Umma Ahmad, confirmed to Channels Television that many of such schools have been shut down for operating without registration.

She explained that other schools were closed for various offences ranging from lack of conducive learning environment, non-payment of annual levies, and lack of qualified teachers among others.

READ ALSO: Kidnap Suspect Arrested As Police Rescue Boy, Seven Victims In Kaduna

Umma noted that the affected schools refused to register with the government, making it difficult to regulate their activities.

She vowed that the schools would remain closed until they comply with the laid down guidelines and standard procedures.

According to Umma, a joint task force team of officials of the Authority and Kaduna State Board of Internal Revenue Service accompanied by security operatives conducted the exercise on Wednesday.

In the Tudun Wada area of Kaduna metropolis, a school, Obadiah International School was said to have not been registered since it was established over 10 years ago.

The facility operates nursery and primary, as well as secondary school classes all in a dilapidated structure and like many others, it has no science laboratory, library, good toilet facilities, and conducive classrooms.

Umma said the government officials were not happy with what they met on the ground while an argument ensued between them and the purported principal, leading to the closure of the school.

She insisted that the exercise, which would be conducted in the three senatorial zones of the state, was not to witch-hunt anybody or school.

Instead, the director-general that it was aimed at ensuring all private schools operating in the state comply with operational standards as provided by Kaduna State Law No 13, Section 4, of 2017.

A representative of the National Association of Private Schools, Emmanuel Alalade, who was also part of the task force, said it was long overdue.