Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 43

School which taught that only Muslims were saved on Noah's Ark is first to be fined for opening illegally

The Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in west London Credit: Ofsted / PA

By Jamie Johnson

An Islamic school which taught that only Muslims and animals were saved on Noah’s ark has become the first to be successfully prosecuted for operating illegally.

The Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in west London marketed itself as a study centre where home-educated children had part-time tuition, but Ofsted inspectors found that almost 60 children of compulsory school age were regularly attending the centre during school hours.

The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service after the centre failed to respond to Ofsted’s warning notice in November 2017.

Director Nacerdine Talbi and Headteacher Beatrix Kinga Bernhardt have now become the first people convicted of running an unregistered independent school and were each given a three-month curfew and ordered to pay a total of £970 towards costs. The school has also been fined £100.

HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman welcomed the verdict and said that it sent an important message to other unregistered schools, some of which she said deny children a proper education and leave them at risk of harm and, in some instances, radicalisation.

Beatrix Bernhardt (left) and Nacerdine Talbi (right) arriving at court Credit: Brais G. Rouco/ Central News

While Ofsted said the centre did not solely teach religious education, photographs on the school’s website appear to reveal a focus on Islam.

One photograph of a child’s homework showed a question sheet about Noah and the ark.

Noah is identified as a prophet of Allah, who built an ark and saved only Muslims and animals. A question which asked why Allah punished the people was answered: ‘they disbelieved’.

Full story at The Telegraph (October 2018)

Chinese parents say boy killed himself after ‘forced’ haircut by school

By Mandy Zuo

A school in northwestern China is suing the family of a 15-year-old boy who blamed it for their son’s death after a teacher took him to get a close-cropped haircut.

On November 2, the boy, identified only by his surname Bi fell from a high building in the residential community where he lived in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province, 10 days after his teacher took him to the hairdresser and forced him to have his head shaved, the school confirmed on Tuesday.

Bi’s parents told the media that he had refused to attend classes at Xidian High School after getting the crop and insisted on staying at home because he believed he looked ugly.

Police have discounted the possibility of murder and are investigating the cause of Bi’s death. The school, which denies responsibility for the boy’s death, said his family was demanding compensation.

A female member of staff at the school said that four relatives had been protesting outside the school on Tuesday – having started the protests on November 5 – and the school authorities were planning to take legal action over the damage to its reputation.

“We are trying our best to keep the school operating as normal … next we’re looking at legal action,” said the woman.

The school said in a statement on Monday that the family had asked for 1.2 million yuan (US$172,000) from the school, as they believed it was the haircut that had led to Bi’s death.

The school had instead offered a 100,000 yuan (US$14,400) “humanitarian compensation”, it said, but they have yet to reach an agreement. It also denied forcing him to get the haircut.

Full story at The Star Online (November 2018)

School bans designer coats to stop ‘poverty shaming’

Pupils whose parents cannot afford luxury brands ‘feel stigmatised, left out, inadequate’, says headteacher

Canada Goose coats range in price from about £275 to £1,400 ( Rich Fury/Getty Images for Canada Goose )

By Harriet Agerholm

A secondary school in Merseyside has banned pupils from wearing expensive designer coats in an attempt to stop “poverty shaming”. After the Christmas break, students at Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead will not be allowed to wear brands including Canada Goose, Moncler and Pyrenex. Canada Goose coats range in price from about £275 to £1,400, while Pyrex and Moncler coats cost up to £650 and £9,175 respectively. Headteacher Rebekah Phillips told The Independent parents had asked the school introduce the ban.

“We are very concerned about the fact that our children put a lot of pressure on parents to buy them expensive coats,” she said.

Pupils were attending classes in coats that cost up to £700, she said, adding “a lot of parents at our school cannot afford that”.

Those pupils who did not have expensive outerwear were upset, she continued. “They feel stigmatised, they feel left out, they feel inadequate,” she said.

Full story at The Independent (November 2018)

This Police Constable Used His Life-Savings To Run A School For Marginalised Children

Left: Arup Mukherjee while managing the busy traffic of Kolkata | Right: Arup Mukherjee with the children at the school

By Ankita Singh

For the underprivileged children of the Sabar tribe, Arup Mukherjee is no less than a messiah who aims to secure their future by running a residential school with his own savings. A police constable by profession, he had a vision of uplifting the condition of children belonging to a marginalized tribe which has often been linked with criminal offences. Surely, he has been successful in building a haven for these ostracized kids who are getting an education and a home to nurture their dreams.

As a child, Mukherjee was acquainted with the pitiful condition of Sabar tribe from his grandfather. He was inquisitive to learn more so as to what led them to commit criminal activities. The Sabar people have been classified as one of the ‘criminal tribes’ under the Criminal Tribes Act 1871 during the British period. Although it was done way back in time, they still continue to live in a perpetual state of poverty and are driven to commit thefts and dacoity. Most of them could be found living in the central Bengal’s area of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore district which has also been a region of Maoist-activity. Till date, they live in a perpetual state of societal prejudice.

“After learning about the plight of Sabars, I wanted to do something to alleviate their condition. I felt that providing education to the children of this community would surely help them to transform their lives. Soon after I started my job in 1999 with the Kolkata police, I saved money every month from my own salary. Over time, as I discussed my idea with others in my village, one of them agreed to lend a small plot of land for this school.” shares Arup Mukherjee while talking to The Logical Indian.

Sabar tribe kids studying in the classroom

The Puncha Nabadisha Model School is situated in a remote part of Purulia district which aims at providing free education to the children of Sabar tribe. Started in 2011 with just 20 students enrolled, Arup initially used his savings to build the school which ran in two-classrooms. Later, as he was recognized for his work, he got funding from a US-based charitable institution and other people. This helped him to ameliorate the facilities which he provides at the school.

“When I was felicitated on a Bengali talk show hosted by former Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly, I received money from the channel and its sponsors which I utilized in building the school. Following this, many people approached me for funding. Many people learn about us through social media platforms and reach out for individual contributions.” narrates Arup to The Logical Indian. Recently in August, he received a special honour at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2018 for his remarkable efforts.

Full story at The Logical Indian (November 2018)

Ohio dad makes girl walk miles to school for bullying on bus

This was the second time his daughter had been reprimanded for bullying on the bus, the father said. (Matt Cox/Facebook)

An Ohio father who made his daughter walk five miles (8km) to school as punishment for bullying has provoked a debate on parenting.

After 10-year-old Kirsten was suspended for three days from the school bus for a second-time bullying offence, Matt Cox decided to teach her a life lesson.

He made her trudge to school on a cold day while he followed behind in a car.

The video of the father's punishment has garnered over 15m views on Facebook and thousands of comments.

In the viral clip, Mr Cox's daughter is seen walking alongside a road, carrying a backpack and school supplies, in 2C (36F) temperatures.

Mr Cox follows behind her in his car in the town of Swanton, offering commentary on entitlement and bullying.

"Bullying is unacceptable," he said. "This is my small way of trying to stop it in my household."

Full story at BBC News (December 2018)

‘Let teachers teach’: SC lawmakers push a ‘Bill of Rights’ to reduce classroom burden

A coalition of South Carolina Teachers met with legislators to discuss a Teacher Bill of Rights that would address key issues including pay raises and funding schools.

By Tracy Glantz

COLUMBIA, SC - As some S.C. lawmakers prepared to roll out a proposed “Teachers’ Bill of Rights” on Wednesday, teachers from across the state warned the situation in their classrooms is dire.

Lexington Middle School teacher Tim Monreal noted many of his Lexington School District 1 colleagues were attending the proposal’s unveiling. “It’s almost a walk out,” he said.

This year, public school teachers have walked out of classrooms from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Monreal said. “They got what they wanted. I think we’re close to having a walk out or a ‘sick out’ here.”

Monreal and about 40 other educators met with state Rep. Russell Ott, D-Calhoun, who was joined by Reps. Seth Rose, D-Richland, and Chris Wooten, R-Lexington, in unveiling the proposal at the State House.

Among other rights, the bill would guarantee S.C. teachers get paid in line with the Southeastern average and get additional compensation when their work stretches beyond the school day. They also would be “free of excessive or burdensome paperwork,” and have at least a quarter of their instruction time set aside for classroom planning, without additional duties.

Ott said he has seen the stress that excess paperwork can put on teachers from watching how his mother, a teacher, has handled the responsibilities the state has placed on her. “She would say, ‘I don’t feel like I taught at all today because I had to fill out this report, that report,’ ” he said.

State Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield, filed the Senate version of the bill Wednesday, saying the basic focus is on “letting teachers teach.”

Full story at The State (December 2018)