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ICT expert urges govt to promote STEM education in schools

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STEM

Lagos, March 12, 2019 Mr Samuel Atiku, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools to achieve technological advancement.

Atiku, Head of Research at BudgIT, told the News Agency of Nigeria in an interview in Lagos that STEM subjects had proven to be crucial to the nation’s technological development.

He said that for the country to move forward it needs to produce a generation of innovative thinkers in the technology sector.

Atiku noted that to create such innovative minds the government should invest more in the educational sector by deploying teachers that were well grounded in the area of STEM to schools and also build laboratories, research departments, among others.

“Government needs to provide competent teachers to facilitate the teaching and learning of these subjects,’’ he said.

Atiku said that the technologies being used currently were becoming obsolete and to evolve, enough young minds who understood Science and Technology were  needed.

“We need to know that technological and scientific innovations have become very essential in battling some challenges we are facing in terms of globalisation,’’ he said.

Atiku said that if STEM subjects were made compulsory in both private and public schools, children who naturally did not have a flair in the science area would start developing interest.

He said that asides from the government and teachers, the parents also had a role to play in impacting STEM education.

“Parents should also encourage and expose their children, both male and female, to STEM-related activities, because they learn better at home,’’ Atiku said.

Politics

Sexual abuse: Ekiti Assembly passes bill for child-victims to access compulsory medical treatment

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The Ekiti House of Assembly has passed a bill to enable children, who fall victim of sexual abuse in the state, receive compulsory, immediate and adequate medical treatment.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bill was passed at Tuesday’s plenary, presided over by the Speaker, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, in Ado-Ekiti.
The
passage of the bill, entitled “Sexual Violence Against Children (Compulsory Treatment and Care) Bill, 2020, followed the submission of the report of the House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development by its Chairperson, Mrs Adekemi Balogun.
Balogun (APC-Ado I
) had said that the bill, if passed, would guarantee a child sexually abused access to immediate and adequate medical treatment at any registered hospital in the state.
The draft bill also stipulates that any hospital, person in charge of medical institutions and corporate organisations, who fails to receive and ensure access to adequate medical care of children sexually violated, is liable to prosecution.
The punishment for any offender, who refuses to receive and treat victim as well as report the matter to the nearest police station or the appropriate body, ranges from a fine of N500,000 to N1,000,000 or imprisonment upon conviction.
NAN reports that the Assembly, at its Tuesday plenary, also passed the Ekiti College of Agriculture and Technology, Isan-Ekiti Law (Amendment), 2020.
The lawmakers also debated the Ekiti Public Finance Management Bill, 2020.
Contributing to the debate, Messrs Gboyega Aribisogan (APC-Ikole I) and Rapheal Ajibade (APC-Moba) as well as Mrs Olubunmi Adelugba said that if passed, the bill would strengthen the management of public funds in the state.
They, therefore, urged members to give speedy passage to the bill in the interest of accountability and transparency of governance in the state.
Commenting on the bill, Afuye urged the appropriate committee to look at every clause of the draft so that there would not be any conflict with any extant law.
The bill was subsequently committed to the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation for further legislative consideration.
NAN reports the lawmakers, thereafter, adjourned plenary till June 4.


Edited By: Bayo Sekoni and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Foreign

France enters second phase in easing of cononavirus restrictions

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Basking in spring sunshine, restaurants, bars and cafes throughout France reopened their doors to customers on Tuesday morning with tables positioned at least one meter apart, kicking off the second phase of de-confinement in the country.

Museums and parks are now allowed to welcome back visitors, students are returning to schools and people can visit swimming pools, gyms, amusement parks and theaters again in so-called “green” zones where the lockdown curbs are further relaxed.

Unlimited travel is now permitted between the country’s regions, and people can once again enjoy the sun and the sea as the beaches have also reopened.

Like millions of French citizens, Narjess, 41, an English teacher at a training center in Paris, enjoyed this big day after she had been forced to stay at home for nearly three months.

At last, I can find my daily life as before the confinement. It’s a great pleasure. I’m so happy to see again my colleagues and students, and this fills me with energy,” she said.

She told Xinhua she planned to celebrate “this beautiful day” by joining her friends later in the day for a drink in a bar, a first since March 17.

France had started 15-day nationwide confinement at midday on March 17 to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The confinement was extended twice and ended on May 11, when France cautiously started the first phase in easing some restrictions.

During this second phase, “freedom will become the rule again and bans will be the exception,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said last week when he unveiled his de-confinement strategy.

However, the greater Paris area (Ile-de-France region) as well as the overseas territories of Mayotte and Guiana remains “exceptions.” In these areas, still in the higher-risk “orange” category, restaurants, bars and cafes can serve their clients on outdoor terraces only. People there must wait three more weeks if they want to go to swimming pools, attend concerts or exercise outdoors.

“The reopening of cafes, hotels and restaurants marks the return of happy days! There is no doubt that the French will find this part of the French spirit, our culture and our way of life again,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

About 300,000 restaurants and cafes were allowed to receive customers on Tuesday, 60,000 of them in Paris and its suburbs. Some 500,000 workers in the sector resumed their work, according to Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Since mid-April, the coronavirus situation in France has improved, paving the way for the government to further relax the restrictions, allowing a gradual return to normalcy while maintaining a high level of vigilance to avoid a second wave.

As of Monday, France had 14,288 people hospitalized with COVID-19 infection, 1,302 of them in intensive care. The overall death toll stood at 28,833, with a single day-rise of 31, the lowest daily toll since early April when the pandemic was at its peak and took as many lives as 1,400 in one day.

“This good news should not make us forget that the virus is still circulating in national territory and remains dangerous,” the Health Ministry warned.

To Genevieve Chene, head of the public health agency Sante Publique France (SPF), “the indicators are very favorable.” However, she warned that the virus is still here even if its circulation is slowing.

“We should remain cautious. This is the first time that we see this virus, and this epidemic has produced some surprises, such as the contagiousness of asymptomatic cases,” Chene told France 2 TV.

(XINHUA)

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Czech PM faces fresh accusations of conflict of interest

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Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has been accused of a conflict of interest after insisting an exception be made to the country’s implementation of an EU guideline on money-laundering.

“This is a monstrous exception, tailor made for Babis and his situation,’’ David Ondracka, the country head of Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, tweeted on Tuesday.

Transparency International has accused Babis, the founder of a large business empire that spans areas such as agriculture, food and media, of conflicts of interest in the past.

Babis is said to have transferred his holding company to a trust fund in order to continue to benefit from national subsidies.

The directive foresees the actual owners of companies, foundations and trusts being entered in a national register, but the Czech exception would apply to trust funds, meaning Babis would not be named as the owner.

The draft is currently heading to parliament, where Babis also needs votes from opposition lawmakers as he faces criticism from the CSSD, partners in the governing coalition.

Jan Hamacek, who leads the CSSD, argues that an exception for trust funds is unnecessary.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

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General news

District Head plans skills acquisition centre for subjects

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District Head plans skills acquisition centre for subjects

Skills

Kaigama

Bauchi, Jun.2,2020 Mallam Hussaini Othman, Head, Miri District, Bauchi Local Government Area, Bauchi State, says the district will establish skill acquisition centre for the entrepreneurial development of the people.

Othman made the disclosure on Tuesday in Bauchi when the leadership of Jama’atu Izalatil Bid’a Wa Ikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS)  Wuntin, Dada branch, visited him.

The district head said that such vocational centres would not only facilitate the learning of skills, but put the youths on the path of self-reliance.

He described entrepreneurial skills acquisition as critical to the economic development of every nation.

“Acquiring skill is very important, the things we can do with our hands are capable of taking us to greater heights.

“As a people, we shall encourage our youths to get trained on meaningful tasks and become experts themselves,” he said.

Othman listed skills expected to be passed on to the youths to include, hair dressing, fashion designing, automobile mechanic, electrical works and mobile phone repairs, among others.

He said that the centre would also teach skills on small scale business management, adding, “we need our youths to be meaningfully engaged”

Earlier, Ustaz Salisu Jibrin, leader of the delegation, commended the district head for fostering unity, harmony and cooperation among the people.

Jibrin said the Islamic group was willing to support efforts of the district to promote morality, discipline and and decency among youths in the area.


Edited By: Azubuike Okeh/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Foreign

German diocese to pay victims of abuse up to € 75,000

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The Catholic diocese of Augsburg on Tuesday agreed to pay victims of sexual and physical violence at the hands of Church members up to 75,000 euros (84,000 dollars) each.

Bishop Bertram Meier said in a statement that it was time to “put the people concerned at ease,’’ adding: “It is my priority to send a clear signal and show that we are taking responsibility.’’

The decision came as a result of a unanimous decision taken by the German Bishops’ Conference.

Augbsurg is the second German diocese to make such an announcement.

It provides for one-off payments, which depending on the severity of the case amount to up to 25,000 euros.

A monthly support payment that will not exceed 75,000 euros in total is also possible.

The funds will not to come from tax money collected for the church.

The Augsburg diocese emphasized that only Holy See money will be used.

Also on Tuesday, German prosecutors charged a priest from the diocese of Wuerzburg with two counts of child sexual abuse.

Prosecutor Axel Weihpracht said the cases dated back about a decade and are based on statements from the alleged victims.

The priest, who has been barred from clerical duties pending the investigation, has declined to comment on the allegations.

According to a report commissioned by the church, which was released in September 2019, 1,670 priests  or 4.4 per cent of Catholic clerics  abused 3,677 people between 1946 and 2014 in Germany, Most of the victims were boys.

Following revelations of sexual abuse of children by priests around the world, German bishops last spring announced a reform process called the `synodal path’ that would examine topics including power structures, sexual morality, celibacy and role of women.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Foreign

Moscow city to ease COVID-19 restrictions

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A worker wearing a face mask trims bushes at VDNKh (The Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) in Moscow, Russia, on June 1, 2020. Moscow city, worst hit by COVID-19 in Russia, eased restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic from Monday. (Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Xinhua)

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Commentary: Cold-War-style visa restriction detrimental to United States interests

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Under the pretext of national security, Washington has recently announced new restrictions on visas of certain Chinese graduate students over unwarranted “espionage” suspicions.

The decision has exposed once again the deep-seated zero-sum game mindset of some U.S. politicians who have been desperate to divert public attention at a time when the U.S. administration is grappling with the double crises of a raging coronavirus pandemic and fast-spreading protests against racial discrimination.

Over the last few years, Washington has been abusing background checks and additional vetting of Chinese students over ill-founded national security concerns, triggering doubts over the legitimacy of those measures, as well as worries over whether the age of McCarthyism is hovering back.

The New York Times pointed out that U.S. officials had acknowledged that there was “no direct evidence that pointed to wrongdoing by the (Chinese) students who are about to lose their visas.” U.S. universities are wary of a possible new “red scare” that “targets students of a specific national background and that could contribute to anti-Asian racism,” according to the newspaper.

Last year, Yale, Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) released several statements to support their faculty of Chinese descent and reaffirmed their commitments to global scientific collaboration. “An automatic suspicion of people based on their national origin can lead to terrible consequences,” UC Berkeley said in its statement.

Washington’s latest Cold-War mentality plot has reflected America’s profound lack of self-confidence in the areas of scientific research and development and talent competition. Those zero-sum gamers in Washington have based their decision on assumptions that China has stolen technologies from the United States, and seem to believe that as long as they shut the door to China, China will stop moving forward.

However, the United States not only has misread China‘s success, but also is poised to lose by rolling out those anti-China moves. One first loss for the country is in economic terms.

At present, about 360,000 Chinese students are studying or working in the United States, roughly a third of the total international student population. By accepting Chinese students, the U.S. educational institutions have been making substantial profits. The Wall Street Journal once commented that higher education has been “an especially successful United States export.” The new visa rules will inflict brain drain and economic losses on U.S. universities.

By disrupting the normal flow of personnel exchanges between the two countries, America’s global competitiveness will also take a hard hit.

Since World War II, the United States has been benefiting from the influx of talents thanks to its openness. Since China‘s reform and opening-up, a growing number of Chinese students went to the United States and some worked there after graduation, who later played an indispensible part in building and cementing America’s technological strength.

Chinese and Chinese-American researchers are not only “exemplary members of our community but exceptional contributors to American society,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif wrote in a letter.

United States China hawks’ idea of slamming the door on Chinese students would only attack “a major U.S. strategic and cultural advantage: the excellence of American science,” Bloomberg said in an opinion piece.

Technological innovation will only prosper in unimpeded exchanges and benign competition across borders. Decision-makers in Washington need to realize that lowering down a technological iron curtain will in no way deter China‘s determination to develop. Also, such an iron curtain will not help the United States preserve its technological edge.

(XINHUA)

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Restaurants reopen in Turkey’s Istanbul amid easing COVID-19 restrictions

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Restaurants and cafes reopened on Monday in Turkey‘s biggest city Istanbul as the government is relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

With full preparations made for the lunchtime, owners of restaurants located in the business quarters of the city were eager to serve the thousands of public workers who also returned to their offices on Monday.

Most restaurant owners planned to call it a day in the afternoon because they believed the streets would be empty after people go off work at six o’clock in the evening.

“I don’t think restaurants will stay open for dinner for a while,” the owner of a small restaurant in the commercial Karakoy neighborhood, who didn’t give his name, told Xinhua.

Restaurants located in the city’s tourist areas tend to remain closed until international flights are resumed.

In Turkey, parks, beaches, daycare centers, kindergartens, libraries, sports facilities, and museums also resumed operation on Monday, and the ban on domestic travel was lifted.

In late May, the Turkish government decided to further ease restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic after infection cases were reported to have dropped over the past weeks.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Roundup: Lao students return to schools as gov’t further eases COVID-19 restrictions

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Most Lao students returned to schools on Tuesday as the Lao government further eased its precautionary COVID-19 restrictions.

Preschools, kindergartens and the remaining classes of primary and secondary schools (whose final-year classes resumed earlier on May 18) have reopened on Tuesday.

Final-year classes at technical colleges, pedagogy colleges and universities have also reopened on the same day, while other remaining classes are instructed to reopen on June 15.

Since May 18, the graduating grade students of primary and secondary schools have gone back to their classrooms, to prepare for tests to gain admission into higher education levels, according to an earlier announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office on May 15.

School administrators must implement precautionary measures to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19, which was recommended by the Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The measures for reopening schools include school administrators keeping their premises clean by cleaning classrooms and grounds and spraying disinfectant around their facilities to reduce the risk of infections.

Administrative staff, teachers and students must wear face masks at all times at school, and parents must also wear masks while picking up their children.

The Lao government also allows normal transport of goods across international borders from Tuesday. Organizations of all forms of sport competitions with no spectators, night markets and cinemas are also permitted to reopen.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the easing of restrictions was temporary and that if further cases of COVID-19 were found, the rules would be reimposed in the province where the infection was detected. If clusters of infections occur in two or more provinces, the lockdown will be re-introduced nationwide.

Restrictions have been further relaxed given that there have been no new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Laos for 50 consecutive days as of Monday. Sixteen of the 19 patients who contracted the virus have been discharged from hospitals.

The Lao Health Ministry announced its first two confirmed COVID-19 cases at its daily press conference on March 24.

(XINHUA)

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