Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 51

Beijing rebukes Hong Kong over history exam question on Japanese occupation

The history exam question has reignited a row over academic freedoms in the semiautonomous city

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters wave the city's old colonial flag during a vigil outside the Pacific Place shopping mall in the Admiralty area on Friday. | AFP-JIJI

Hong Kong – A history exam question asking Hong Kong students to assess colonial Japan’s occupation of China sparked a rebuke by Beijing on Friday and reignited a row over academic freedoms in the semiautonomous city.

The criticism comes as Hong Kong’s schools and universities — some of the best in Asia — become the latest ideological battleground in a city convulsed by political unrest.

China’s Foreign Ministry and state media focused on a university entrance exam question, which appeared in the Diploma of Secondary Education examination on history held Thursday, asked students: “Do you agree that Japan brought more good than harm to China in the period between 1900 and 1945?”

Materials appended to the question included a document saying that in 1912 Japan’s zaibatsu family-owned conglomerates provided funds to the Republic of China interim government as well as a text describing the establishment by a Japanese university of a school for students of the Qing Dynasty.

Nowhere was there any mention of the Japanese military’s invasion of China.

Full story at The Japan Times (May 2020)

China: 39 children and staff injured in knife attack on primary school

Dozens of children and several staff members were wounded in a knife attack at a primary school in south China. The alleged attacker was reportedly a man who worked at the school.

At least 37 students and two adults were injured in a knife attack at a primary school on Thursday, state media reported.

The attack took place at a school in the city of Suzhou in the Guangxi autonomous region, according to reports on Twitter from the Global Times newspaper.

Local authorities later confirmed the attack, saying it occurred around the time when the students would normally arrive for class.

"37 students suffered mild injuries and two adults suffered more severe injuries. All of them were sent to a hospital for treatment, and none of their lives are in danger," the local government said.

Chinese news portal The Paper identified the suspected attacker as a 50-year-old man who works as a security guard at the school, DPA news agency reported. Police have taken him into custody.

Full story at DW News (June 2020)

US military ban locks two Chinese universities out of popular software

• Students at the colleges in northeast China have been denied access to the American MATLAB platform after US authorities put the institutions on an ‘entity list’ over ties to the Chinese armed forces

• Students say they have other options, including open-source technology

By Linda Lew and Yujie Xue

The Harbin Institute of Technology is one of two Chinese universities newly added to the US Department of Commerce’s entity list. Photo: Xinhua

Two Chinese universities with close ties to the military have been banned from using a US-developed computer software platform amid tensions between China and the United States over technology.

The US Department of Commerce added the Harbin Institute of Technology and Harbin Engineering University to its “entity list” late last week, barring them from access to products subjected to US Export Administration Regulations.

MATLAB, which is used in analysis in engineering, science and economics, is one of these products.

A spokesman for the Harbin Institute of Technology said the university learned about the ban last weekend and was investigating its impact, adding that it was not clear how many students and subjects would be affected.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that she was not familiar with the case, but the US had taken many groundless actions on normal exchanges between the two countries.

“I think these actions underline the deep-rooted Cold War mentality of the US and they are straightforward political oppression of China,” Hua said.

Full story at South China Morning Post (June 2020)

George Floyd: Yale student urges Asian-Americans to tackle racism in their own communities

• ‘We Asian-Americans have long perpetuated anti-black statements and stereotypes,’ 20-year-old Eileen Huang says in open letter

• Time is ripe for Asian-Americans to reflect on the roles they play in helping to maintain a system of white supremacy, academic says

By Echo Xie

The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota sparked protests around the world. Photo: AFP

After the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Yale University student Eileen Huang decided to write an open letter to Chinese-Americans in the United States, urging them to support the Black Lives Matter movement and consider the problem of racism in their own communities.

“I specifically want to address the rampant anti-blackness in the Asian-American community that, if unchecked, can bring violence to us all,” the 20-year-old wrote.

“We Asian-Americans have long perpetuated anti-black statements and stereotypes. I grew up hearing relatives, family friends and even my parents make … racist comments.

“The message was clear,” she said. “We are the model minority – doctors, lawyers, quiet and obedient overachievers. We have little to do with other people of colour; we will even side with white Americans to degrade them.”

The letter was published – in English, Mandarin and Korean on, and in Mandarin only on WeChat – on May 31, six days after Floyd’s death and as mass demonstrations were taking place in cities across the US.

Since then, similar rallies and protests have happened around the world , with widespread calls for an end to racism and police brutality.

Full story at South China Morning Post (June 2020)

Knowledge a 'treasure' for Italy's oldest student, who graduates at 96

By Guglielmo Mangiapane and Antonio Parrinello

PALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - At 96, Giuseppe Paterno has faced many tests in life - childhood poverty, war and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. Now he has sailed through an exam that makes him Italy’s oldest university graduate.

This week, the former railway worker stepped forward to receive his diploma and the traditional laurel wreath awarded to Italian students when they graduate, applauded by his family, teachers and fellow students more than 70 years his junior.

“I am a normal person, like many others,” he said, when asked what it felt like to be graduating so late. “In terms of age I have surpassed all the others but I didn’t do it for this.”

Already in his 90s when he enrolled for a degree in History and Philosophy at the University of Palermo, Paterno grew up loving books, but he never had the chance to study.

“I said, ‘that’s it, now or never,’ and so in 2017, I decided to enrol,” he told Reuters in his apartment in the Sicilian city of Palermo, which he rarely leaves nowadays due to his frailty.

“I understood that it was a little late to get a three-year degree but I said to myself ‘let’s see if I can do it’.”

Giuseppe Paterno, 96, Italy's oldest student, who is studying for an undergraduate degree in history and philosophy at The University of Palermo, uses his typewriter as he studies for an exam, at his home in Palermo, Italy, November 4, 2019. "Knowledge is like a suitcase that I carry with me, it is a treasure," Paterno said. REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

On Wednesday, he graduated first in his class with top honours, receiving congratulations from the university chancellor Fabrizio Micari.

Full story at Reuters (July 2020)

GCSEs and A-level exams: Teacher estimates to be used for Welsh grades

Emily Mundy will now be able to study medicine in Manchester

A-level and GCSE students will be awarded the grades estimated for them by their teachers, the Welsh Government has announced.

Last week's A-level results were criticised after 42% of grades were lower than teacher assessments.

It came after they had been processed by an algorithm.

Students in England and Northern Ireland will also have their results based on teacher estimates, in decisions taken on Monday.

Pupils in Scotland had their exam results upgraded last week after an outcry.

Despite the U-turn, on Monday Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford defended the original process.

Exams were cancelled across the UK after schools shut in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week's results in Wales were produced by a system known as standardisation - designed to ensure grades were "as fair as possible" and consistent with previous years.

But it was criticised by students and politicians for producing unfair grades for individual students.

The U-turn also affects AS-levels, skills challenge certificates and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

But students who received higher grades than those predicted by teachers will keep them.

Full story at BBC News (August 2020)

Ethnic Mongolian Parents Strike Over China's New Language Policy in Schools

A petition in a campaign by parents and teachers to ask the ruling Chinese Communist Party to reverse its language education policy in Inner Mongolia.

Parents in China's northern region of Inner Mongolia are refusing to send their children to school this semester in protest over changes to the curriculum by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

A directive from the Inner Mongolia education department recently ordered an end to Mongolian-language classes for first-year primary students and an end to Mongolian-medium teaching and materials in favor of the Chinese language, teachers in the region have told RFA.

The move prompted protests from parents in the region's Tongliao city.

Photos circulated on social media of parents holding up cardboard placards on city streets and squares in Tongliao.

One placard read: "Prohibition of learning Mongolian in Inner Mongolia is violating the constitution of [the People's Republic of] China."

"It is the inalienable right of Mongolians to learn the Mongolian language," read another.

Full story at Radio Free Asia (August 2020)

Coronavirus: Lockdown pupils are three months behind, say teachers

Some primary school pupils in England returned to their classrooms at the beginning of June | AFP

By Judith Burns

Children in England are three months behind in their studies after lockdown, with boys and poor pupils worst hit, suggests a survey of teachers by an educational research organisation.

The learning gap between rich and poor pupils grew by almost half between March and July, the National Foundation for Educational Research has found.

The authors also warn a quick catch-up is unlikely.

The government says children must not lose out because of coronavirus.

The new term begins in England and Wales this week, after the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools are already back in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The National Foundation for Educational Research's survey questioned a weighted sample of almost 3,000 heads and teachers in about 2,200 primary and secondary schools across England.

The research was carried out just before the end of term in July - and showed how much children had fallen behind by the end of the last school year.

Almost all the teachers questioned (98%) said their pupils were behind the place in the curriculum they would normally expect for the time of year.

Full story at BBC News (September 2020)