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Remote Work Model: ISACA warns on cyber attacks

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The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) has warned the public to protect their systems from potential cyber attacks, saying there could be higher chances of threats with the Remote Work Model (RWM).

Mr Ime Udoko, Director,Research and Marketing of ISACA, Abuja Chapter gave the warning on Wednesday in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency .

According to Udoko, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged the RWM or Work From Home syndrome by businesses, institutions and if precautionary measures are not taken, they can be attacked by cyber criminals.

“The RWM model mandates organisations’ personnel to connect remotely to their respective offices to do their work and access business emails and applications using home devices.

“Unfortunately, most often, home devices are not protected by the corporate firewalls and anti-phishing security controls.

“Most times, connections are made using home routers which are ungoverned, browsers on many computers provided by companies hold sensitive information like User IDs and passwords.

“Already, attackers find these as easy targets to gain remote credentials and perform malicious logins to corporate network.

“With the low level of security awareness, phishing campaigns through email makes employees at home a soft and easy target,” Udoko said.

He further said that some people believed that connections to corporate networks in the Work From Home model were done through Virtual Private Network (VPN) and could be secured.

The director discredited the believe, adding that VPN of a system used for corporate work could easily be manipulated, thereby exposing the organisation to threat.

He recalled that prior to the COVID-19 era, there were already some disturbing statistics about Nigerian internet space by the Threat Intelligence Reports of CheckPoints, an institution monitoring cyber threats globally.

“Typical organisations in Nigeria with internet presence is being attacked 1,292 times per week in the last six months compared to 411 attacks per organisation globally.

“88 per cent of the malicious files targeting institutions in Nigeria were delivered through emails, compared to 66 per cent of malicious files globally.

“The most common vulnerability exploit type in Nigeria is Remote Code Execution (RCE) which is impacting 70 per cent of organisations in the country,” he recalled.

Udoko said that COVID-19 had changed business model thereby creating every avenue to double the rate of attacks which could be blamed on low cyber risks awareness level.

He added that the attacks stated by CheckPoints were being launched on organisations operating 90 per cent physical model and less than 10 per cent cyber dependence.

He advised that government,private institutions should consider setting up a Cyber Risk Management team to evaluate all possible risk scenarios, ensure adequate IT resources to support staff.

“Companies should invest more on creating awareness on the do’s and don’ts while working from home, ensure employees’ devices comply with organisations’ internal policy, have up-to-date security software and security patch levels.

“Ensure all the corporate business applications are accessible only via encrypted communication channels, ensure Data at Rest (DAR) on employee laptops are encrypted to protect against unauthorised disclosure in the case of theft or devise loss.

“Where possible, get full protection from credential theft through phishing or social engineering as well as malware, exploits, ransom ware, and other email-delivered threats, by investing in relevant services.

“Safeguard access to application portals through the use of multi-factor authentication mechanisms, vet Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) such as personal laptops or mobile devises from the security standpoint,” Udoko said.

He also advised inistitutions to ensure policies for responding to security incidents and personal data breaches were in place and as well keep the staff informed.

According to him, the processing of personal data by the employer in the context of remote working should be in compliance with the local legal framework on data protection such as Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR).

Udoko said that employees should be discouraged from sharing the virtual meeting URLs on social media or other public channels, adding that unauthorised third parties could access private meetings and breach business confidentiality.

He warned that citizens should be careful with any emails referencing the COVID-19, as they may be phishing attempts or scams.

ISACA is an international professional association focused on Information Technology governance.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
(NAN)

Ndubisi Ijeoma: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Half of Facebook employees to work remotely in 10 years – Zuckerberg

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Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, says he expects the coronavirus pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on working practices.

Zuckerberg expects that in ten years, about half of the social network company’s employees will be working remotely, he said in an interview with technology news site The Verge.

He emphasised that the 50 per cent figure was his estimate and not an official announcement.

According to a survey of Facebook employees, one in five expressed strong support for working from home permanently, while a further 20 per cent expressed “some interest”.

However, 40 per cent said this would not be practical due to the nature of their jobs.

Zuckerberg expects that in the future, more employees will hired to work from home from the beginning of their contracts.

Other major tech firms, including Twitter, had previously announced their employees could continue to work from home even after social distancing restrictions brought in during the pandemic eased.

Prior to the pandemic, the focus of big U.S. tech companies had been to have all employees working together at huge headquarters, some including Facebook, offering employees bonuses to live nearby.

Facebook had expanded its Menlo Park headquarters with a huge hangar-style campus built by star architect Frank Gehry.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Science & Technology

UNICEF, Airtel partner to provide remote learning for children in Africa

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The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says it has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide access to remote learning for children in 13 sub-Saharan countries.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Field Results, who made the disclosure on Wednesday said they would also provide cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.

King said that UNICEF and Airtel Africa would use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The partnership aims to benefit children and families in Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“The adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented.  Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost or even reversed completely.

“In most poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.

“Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF’s response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home,” he said in a statement

King noted that Airtel Africa would zero-rate selected websites hosting educational content, which would provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.

According to him, COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale and worldwide, most children are not in school.

He said that children not going to school could lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks.

UNICEF is partnering with Airtel Africa to deliver better outcomes for children and families affected by widespread closures.

“The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region.

“This includes many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from suspension of income-earning activities.

“This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” King said.

Similarly, Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa, Chief Executive Officer, said that some effective ways to cushion families from the effects of the crisis was by providing free internet access to selected educational websites.

He said this would help children keep up with their learning during the school closures.

“Alongside various other COVID-19-related initiatives and support that we are providing to governments and the community, we are glad to also collaborate with UNICEF to support children,” Mandava said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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U.S. House to vote on remote proxy voting on Thursday

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The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on a major, but temporary, change to the chamber’s voting rules to allow for proxy voting.

This is because travel and large gatherings continue to pose public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are expected to have to return to Washington this week to vote on an update to coronavirus pandemic aid for small businesses.

House leaders also planned to use the session to also approve an emergency proxy-voting procedure in response to the health crisis.

The change would allow an absent lawmaker to designate a colleague to vote on House floor matters on their behalf.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, announced late Monday that the House could meet as soon as Thursday, when a proxy-voting resolution may be brought for a vote.

House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern floated the proxy-voting and rule change proposal last week.

It was in response to calls from within his caucus for leadership to establish a system for remote voting to allow the House to continue pressing legislative business during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many lawmakers thought that technology could be the solution to allow remote voting.

However, concerns about cybersecurity, outside intrusion and lack of time for testing led McGovern and House leadership to move forward with a low-tech proxy solution.

House members who remained in their districts would send a letter, electronically, to the clerk to authorise another member to vote on their behalf and would provide exact instruction on how to vote.

The authorisation could be updated as procedural or other unexpected votes arise during the session.

Members able and willing to vote in person on their own behalf could still do so. Members physically present would be eligible to cast votes on behalf of their colleagues.

The procedure will be different from the proxy-voting description laid out in a March report from the Rules Committee.

The most recent proposal will not include a “general proxy” to allow minority and majority leaders to serve as proxies for members of their respective parties for a verbal roll call vote.

Illinois Representative Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, told CQ Roll Call in a statement that the changes to voting procedure should not be made in haste.

“A change of how Members of Congress vote cannot be made overnight, as we saw from the three-year process it took the House to implement the electronic voting system currently used in the House Chamber,” said Davis.

Davis serves on the Select Committee on Modernisation of Congress.

“We must first mitigate risks, test the process extensively, and consider the overall integrity of a vote by proxy system,” Davis said.

No legislative text for the rule change has been released. Davis said Democrats must keep their promise to ensure that changes to House voting practices be done in a bipartisan way.

“I hope they will stick to their word and work with us for a safe, bipartisan voting solution amid this pandemic,” he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told fellow Republicans on a conference call Sunday he had not yet taken a position on McGovern’s proxy-voting proposal, according to a member on the call.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Features

COVID-19:  Can working remotely be sustained after lockdown?

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COVID-19:  Can working remotely be sustained after lockdown?

, News Agency of Nigeria

Remote Work Model (RWM) that allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment is not new. It is predicated on the fact that work does not need to be done from the work place or permanent environment.

When President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29, ordered lockdown of activities in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, to check the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), it was imperative that workers of many organisations, public and private would work remotely.

Even before the lockdown ordered by Buhari, many states had done the same in order to check the spread of the COVID-19.

Mr Jide Awe, the Managing Director, Jidaw Systems and an Information Communication Technology expert, said that remote working is universally embraced because of its flexibility.

He listed: Voice calls, e-mails, messaging applications, cloud-based productivity applications,  audio conferencing, meetings through desktops and mobile devices, as tools that enhance remote working.

Awe said that individuals and organisations decide their remote work model based on their needs and capacity, and responsibilities and tasks that can be done out of the office.

“Affordability and availability of technology tools for remote working are key. The large and sophisticated organisations in Nigeria are able to go the whole hog, utilising all the digital resources, including advanced video conferencing and online collaboration.

“Smaller businesses, which are in the majority, tend to limit themselves to lower end resources, such as telephone calls, e-mail and messaging services such as WhatsApp.

“Some organisations adopt a mix of technologies that change with the tasks at hand according to requirements and culture, because there is no size that fits all models.’’

According to him, it should be expected that remote working after the pandemic will still persist as organisations will change their structures to realign with the reality that certain work activities are better performed remotely.

“More employees and employers will embrace the benefits of more flexibility at work, better work-life balance and reduced physical costs that produce quality work.

“There will be a new trend that will see organisations continue to use remote work and learning tools. We are at a turning point that will change how we work and learn forever.

“Organisations will however need to invest to support remote working.’’

Awe, however, made a case for remote work policies, and also stressed the need for a full buy-in and alignment among all stakeholders, which would help in growing relevant fields within the IT sector.

According to him, this will require greater investment in technical equipment and services.

He regretted that most of the technology companies in the likes of Microsoft, Slack, Google, Zoom, leveraging on remote working and providing enabling tools are foreign-based, with little local companies’ representation.

Awe said that there will be better local value on remote working and learning, if processes of organisations are digitised, adding that the IT sector needs to galvanise resources to promote this emerging requirement.

“Technology innovation can help to address current limitations of remote work, to further enable the remote workforce, which the major development will be innovations for jobs and work activities that currently cannot be done remotely.

“It is both a challenge and an opportunity for the IT sector, but the future of work is upon us, as we `re-imagine’ how to work more productively.’’

He emphasised that lack of digital inclusion, access to digital equipment, quality internet services, broadband penetration, infrastructure development, cost of technology tools and cyber security, are some of the bottlenecks needed to be addressed for RWM to thrive.

Mr Akindayo Akindolani, Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Zariah Foundation, said massive adoption of remote working is long overdue, adding that it is having encouraging impact on organisations that never engaged in RWM before the pandemic and lockdown.

Akindolani observed that such organisations are migrating from the diverse challenges associated with the model, which ranges from network hiccups to adapting to change and are finally embracing the new model.

According to Akindolani, talents, skills sourcing with no location barriers, smaller physical office spaces and boosting of internet facilities by providers, will change in the work place and enhance remote working.

“Now we know that from being afraid of embracing change, to getting confused and now enjoying full remote work, remote working is about to disrupt the work place, even in ways we may not envisage at the moment.

“With remote working, demand for larger office spaces will drop to accommodate only a few support and administrative staff, that may necessarily need to come to a physical office.

“Internet service providers will need to look at suitable pricing model for remote work, because it relies heavily on exchange of information through multiple means such as text, image and video.

“The role of human resources managers is expected to change, as they will need to start thinking of benefit, packages that will make staff work effectively and efficiently remotely.’’

He, however, agreed that every leap that brings change in the activities of humans, have a downing effect which will require time for readjustment.

Akindolani opined that having smaller physical office spaces will affect real estate practitioners and contribute to loss of jobs.

Mr Ime Udoko, Director, Research and Marketing, Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), said that RWM may encourage upsurge in cyber attacks if organisations fail to protect their work space remotely.

Udoko noted that most home digital devices are not protected by corporate firewalls and anti-phishing security controls and connections.

He said that in the office space, browsers on many computers provided by companies hold sensitive information like user IDs, passwords and they are already susceptible to attacks.

He added that some people believed that connections to corporate networks in the work from home model were done through Virtual Private Network (VPN) and could be secured.

Udoko disagreed, adding that VPN of a system used for corporate work could easily be manipulated, thereby exposing the organisation to threat.

He recalled that prior to the COVID-19 era; there were already some disturbing statistics about Nigerian internet space by the Threat Intelligence Reports of CheckPoints, an institution monitoring cyber threats globally.

“Typical organisations in Nigeria with internet presence is being attacked 1,292 times per week in the last six months compared to 411 attacks per organisation globally.

“Eighty-eight per cent of the malicious files targeting institutions in Nigeria were delivered through e-mails, compared to 66 per cent of malicious files globally.

“The most common vulnerability exploit type in Nigeria is Remote Code Execution (RCE) which is impacting 70 per cent of organisations in the country.’’

Udoko said that COVID-19 had changed business model, thereby creating every avenue to double the rate of attacks which could be blamed on low cyber risks awareness level.

He added that the attacks stated by CheckPoints were being launched on organisations operating 90 per cent physical model and less than 10 per cent cyber dependent.

Udoko advised that government and private institutions should consider setting up a cyber risk management team, to evaluate all possible risk scenarios, provide adequate IT resources to support staff.

“Companies should invest more on creating awareness on the do’s and don’ts, while working from home, ensure employees’ devices comply with organisations’ internal policy, have up-to-date security software and security patch levels.

“Ensure all the corporate business applications are accessible only via encrypted communication channels, ensure Data at Rest (DAR) on employee laptops are encrypted to protect against unauthorised disclosure in the case of theft or devise loss.

“Where possible, get full protection from credential theft through phishing or social engineering, as well as malware, exploits, ransom ware, and other e-mail delivered threats, by investing in relevant services.

“Safeguard access to application portals through the use of multi-factor authentication mechanisms, vet Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) such as personal laptops or mobile devises from the security standpoint.’’

He also advised institutions to ensure policies for responding to security incidents and personal data breaches were in place, as well as keep the staff informed.

According to him, the processing of personal data by the employer in the context of remote working, should be in compliance with the local legal framework on data protection, such as the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR).

Udoko warned that employees should be discouraged from sharing the virtual meeting URLs on social media or other public channels, adding that unauthorised third parties could access private meetings and breach business confidentiality.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown popularising the RWM, there is need to come up with initiatives that will accommodate working remotely and boost digital skills capacity building.(NANFeatures).

**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria

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Foreign

Australian university students protesting facial recognition plan for remote exams

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Australian National University (ANU) students have described a plan to use facial recognition technology to prevent cheating during remote exams as an invasion of privacy.

Amid the COVID-19 shutdown ANU has announced that exams would be conducted remotely rather than on campus, with students required to install Proctorio, a remote monitoring program, on their personal computers to guarantee academic integrity.

“To ensure that the examinations are safe, secure, transparent and valid, the university will use Proctorio to invigilate exams remotely,” the university said in a statement.

Proctorio uses facial recognition software to verify and monitor students via their webcam.

It analyses data such as eye movements, background noise and keystrokes to identify possible cheating.

Video recordings of a student during an exam are stored on a server which can be accessed by relevant university staff.

Grace Hill, an ANU student representative, said that asking students to install the program was a “gross” invasion of privacy.

An online petition organized by Hill calling for the university to abandon its plan to use Proctorio has been signed by more than 3,000 students in less than a week.

“There’s increasingly requirements for students to participate in online learning with anti-cheating components,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“But the filming and recording and artificial intelligence monitoring of people’s faces and bodies has been what has crossed the line for many students.”

She cited a mass ANU data breach in 2018 as proof that the university could not be trusted with the information gathered by Proctorio.

In June 2019 the university revealed that it was hit by a massive data hack late in 2018.

The personal details of more than 200,000 staff and students dating back 19 years were compromised.

“The ANU has had a patchy history with security breaches,” Hill said.

“This has been a big area of concern for many students, particularly given the sensitive nature of what is being stored.”
(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Landslide kills 8 in remote Afghan province: official

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At least seven women and a child were killed after a landslide hit a village in remote western Afghan province of Ghor on Saturday, a local official said.

“The incident occurred in Khwaja Sima village of Tolak district Saturday. Three houses were destroyed and an unknown number of people went missing as villagers were still searching for them late in the day,” provincial Governor Ghulam Nasir Khaze told Xinhua.

The bodies of the victims were recovered from debris.

The provincial disaster management officials were planning to provide assistance for the villagers as many families were displaced following the incident in the mountainous region, the official noted.

The official added that rains had been pounding the region for the last few days. Enditem

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Science & Technology

COVID-19: Glisten academy Abuja attains 99 per cent remote learning,says ED

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The Glisten International Academy, Abuja (GIAA), said it had engaged pupils and students of the school remotely using technology tools which had recorded 99 per cent success during the lockdown period of COVID-19.

Mr Abba Saidu, the Executive Director (ED) of GIAA disclosed this on Thursday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

Saidu said that the school had initially deployed technology tools, solutions such as Vantium, a Nigerian-based educational platform, Khan Academy, drone education, Internet of Things, Lego Robotics and some other modern tools in educating students.

He said that prior to the Federal Government’s pronouncement for schools to be shut down, GIAA already closed and completed its second term academic activities remotely.

The ED also said it was important to engage the students this period because it was a way of developing their minds and initiatives critically.

“In 2019, the school took a giant step of deploying a veritable Learning Management Systems (LMS), collaboration tools that provides over 800 devices for personalised learning both in the school and home remote learning online.

“Using the robust Microsoft platform such One Note, Microsoft Forms and Microsoft Teams, which are generally compatible, the LMS has shown that it is the way forward in transformational education.

“In engaging our teachers, pupils, students, we have an administrative login platform with everyone having their User IDs.

“Teachers drop lesson materials, students can login to access academic materials, interact with teachers when online and we even hold virtual management meetings.

“Using these tools, we have completed our second term activities, we wrote exams while the student were home, have transmitted the results, bills for Third term and it has been 99 per cent productive.

“Our effort is to ensure that we build, sustain a robust education through digital transformation for our students to be able to face future challenges, innovate and compete favorably with their contemporaries globally,” Saidu said.

He also observed that it was impossible for all students or teachers to be connected online at the same time when required, adding that the school’s login platform was automatically accessible between 24 to 48 hours.

He further said that their students had their e-mail addresses to receive information from the school to remain abreast with activities as it should benefit them.

“Presently, we have communicated our teachers to start preparing their third term lesson materials which they will make available on the school’s e-learning platform and students can access them as well.”

According to Saidu, schools across the country can decently engage their students this period through the necessary tools for communication, either via e-mails, telephone communication and Whatsapp messages.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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How countries are using edtech (including online learning, radio, television, texting) to support access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The World Bank is actively working with ministries of education in dozens of countries in support of their efforts to utilize educational technologies of all sorts to provide remote learning opportunities for students while schools are closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is in active dialogue with dozens more.

In support of this work, the World Bank is cataloguing emerging approaches, by country, in an internal database. In case related information may be useful to others, we are sharing excerpts from this database here.

EGYPT

The Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MOETE) announced steps to implement distance learning and assessment during school suspension that began on March 15.

MOETE extended the access to the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB) to students, providing content by grade level and subject (kindergarten through secondary education). Content is available in both Arabic and English to all students, parents and teachers (does not username/password). This site features multimedia (videos, images, d​ocumentary films) to help explain the various lessons, and numerous full text books, including dictionaries. The EKB can be accessed by mobile phone or computer. ​

A digital platform offers a communication channel between students and teachers to enable approximately 22 million students distributed over nearly 55,000 schools to communicate with teachers “as if they were present in the school”, explaining lessons, answering student questions, and taking exams online. Videos explaining how to do this are being developed. Students will receive a code from their teachers to enter a virtual class to continue electronically.

On March 19, Egypt announced it had contracted with the online learning provider Edmodo to deliver remote instruction to the country’s entire K-12 student body.

There is an arrangement with the Ministry of Communication and IT and mobile carriers to make available SIM cards at no cost to students if they have a device.

Assessment: For students at KG1-2 and grades 1-2, MOETE requires parents to make sure students complete the curriculum published on the electronic library and the platform. For grades 3-7 (transition years), exams will not be conducted for students at the end of the current school year.​ Instead, a research project for each subject will be completed on the electronic platform. For grades 10-11, students will take computer-based pilot tests from home using supplied tablets. The pilot test will be conducted (without grades) for grade 11 as a final rehearsal to prepare students for the year-end exam. Tests will not be corrected but will offer students the correct answer to self-adjust. The grade 10 and 11 final exam will be computer-based from home.

Egyptian students abroad will use the electronic platform and digital library. Examinations will not be taken.

​KENYA

​The Ministry of Education has designed online learning programs and resources. Materials and programs will also be delivered using radio, television, YouTube and other platforms. Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) will broadcast radio programs daily from Monday to Friday. Other broadcast platforms include the Edu Channel TV and EduTv YouTube channel overseen by the Kenya Institute for Curriculm Development (KICD). Learners can also access digital learning resources from the Kenya Education Cloud overseen by KICD.

LIBERIA

Orange Liberia announced that it is granting free access to online educational content to students and teachers while all schools and universities are closed via website called Orange Campus Africa. Orange customers who don’t have data will still be able to visit the web site and enjoy educational materials provided, and those who have data can also visit the website and none of their data balance will be consumed while they browse, read or study from the site.​ The web site includes a host of resource partners including Khan Academy. Other content providers include Wikibooks, Wiktionary, and Wikipedia. While each of these providers has a range of content for all ages, there is also specific content for younger children, including Vikidia which caters to children between the ages of 8 – 1. Project Gutenberg, a volunteer based effort to digitize and archive cultural works, is one of the sites included in the program.

​​Liberia began an educational radio program on March 27.

LIBYA​​

The education ministry struck a deal with local television stations to broadcast “compulsory” lessons for middle and secondary schoolchildren.

MOROCCO

​​The government has decided that learning will happen online. The government put together some content in order to help students with their remote learning. Key resources include a digital learning content repository (in Arabic and French) for primary, secondary and baccalaureate levels, as well as other materials.

The national channel 4 is broadcasting educational classes.

​A MOOC platform (mainly in French) serves university level learners. They have uploaded a content repository from universities of Morocco.

​​​​​​SOUTH AFRICA​

Telkom ZA has zero rated education websites to provide cost free access to learners​. ​​​

TUNISIA

The Tunisia-based Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) launched an e-learning initiative on March 12 that aims to ensure the continuity of learning and teaching during the coronavirus pandemic. ALECSO has prepared a dedicated website aggregating a list of freely accessible Arab educational resources, websites, platforms and applications for use by students and teachers, in collaboration with partners and experts in the field of educational technology. ​Ten North African and 12 Arab countries are to benefit from​ this initiative.

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Doctor under investigation for coronavirus outbreak in Russia’s remote north

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Russia said on Thursday it was investigating a coronavirus outbreak in a remote northern region to check if more than 50 people in a hospital had been infected by a doctor.

Russia’s Komi Republic, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) northeast of Moscow, has reported 56 cases of the virus, more than any other region outside Moscow, its surrounding region and St. Petersburg.

Fifty-five of those cases were related to a single hospital in the district of Ezhva in Komi’s regional capital, Syktyvkar, according to a statement by the regional administration.

A coronavirus outbreak could be difficult to control in a region with a less well-equipped health service than western Russia.

Russian media have reported that a surgeon could have been the source of the infection and the Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said on Thursday it was investigating.

“Preliminary checks were arranged, following media reports that one of the medical workers of Ezhva’s district hospital could have infected a large number of people,’’ the regional branch of the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Russia has reported 3,548 coronavirus cases, 80 per cent of which are in Moscow, its suburbs and St. Petersburg, the most populated areas that have access to more advanced healthcare than the rest of the country.

The checks could take up to 30 days, Svetlana Korovchenko, a spokeswoman for the local investigative committee said.

“I think healthcare infrastructure in Komi is absolutely unprepared for an explosive outbreak of COVID-19,’’ said Ernest Mezak, a lawyer at the Public Verdict human rights group who is conducting his own investigation into the outbreak.

“Neither officials nor regular people were taking COVID-19 as a serious threat in Syktyvkar just a week ago.’’

Last week, Russia opened a criminal investigation into a senior infections specialist in the southern city of Stavropol, who failed to self-isolate after a trip to Spain and allegedly infected several people.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
(NAN)

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