Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 62

After Darwin's evolution theory, NCERT removes periodic table from Class 10 textbooks

After NCERT's decision last month to remove Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution from Class 9 and Class 10 science textbooks, it has courted controversy once again by removing the periodic table from Class 10 textbooks as well.

By Milan Sharma

After NCERT's decision last month to remove Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution from Class 9 and Class 10 science textbooks, it has courted controversy once again by removing the periodic table from Class 10 textbooks.

This move by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) comes after a period of syllabus rationalisation during the pandemic, where these chapters were temporarily excluded from the curriculum.

Now, however, NCERT has decided to make these deletions permanent. Scientists and teachers have expressed concerns about the long-term impact of omitting these crucial subjects from the syllabus.

Only students who elect to study chemistry in the final two years of education (before university) will learn about the periodic table. Students, though, can still learn about these subjects, but only if they opt for the relevant subject in Class 11 and Class 12.

In India, Class 10 is the last school year in which science is taught as a compulsory subject.


The NCERT has made the deletion of Chapter 5 on the periodic classification of elements and Chapter 9 on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, including topics such as the origin of life on Earth, human evolution, and heredity, permanent.

While the specific rationale behind this decision has not been explicitly stated, it is believed to be part of the ongoing syllabus rationalisation process initiated by the NCERT.

Full story at India Today (June 2023)

Dutch Government to Screen Students Who Want to Study Advanced Chip Tech

Chinese students are likely to be the most heavily impacted if this becomes law.

By Matthew Humphries

(Credit: Getty Images/MF3d)

Chinese students hoping to study advanced technology at universities abroad may soon have their dreams quashed by new legislation that limits their access to degree programs and research opportunities.

As Bloomberg reports, "people with knowledge of the matter" claim the Dutch government is currently working on new laws that ban students from certain Asian nations from joining university programs on "sensitive technologies," like the study of semiconductors or defense.

The Netherlands is home to Dutch photolithography machine maker ASML Holding NV, which manufactures the most advanced chip-making machines in the world. The Dutch government has already agreed to restrict exports of such equipment to China, but now it's looking to go a step further and bar certain students it deems a risk attending its learning institutes.

A statement received by Bloomberg from the Dutch Ministry of Education confirms mandatory screening is planned for students and researchers looking to study "sensitive subject areas." The statement did, however, make it clear that the screening is "country-neutral."

Full story at PCMag (June 2023)

China kindergarten stabbing: Six dead in Lianjiang

China has been rocked by yet another knife attack

By Kelly Ng & Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

Six people including three children have been killed in a kindergarten stabbing in China's south-eastern Guangdong province.

Police said they have arrested a 25-year-old man with the surname Wu in Lianjiang.

The other victims are a teacher and two parents, AFP reported, quoting a local official. One person is also injured.

Police have called this a case of "intentional assault" but not elaborated on a possible motive.

The attack happened on Monday at 07:40 local time (23:40 Sunday GMT), just as parents were dropping their children off for summer classes. The man was arrested at 08:00.

A storeowner who works near the kindergarten told the BBC the surrounding area had been sealed off.

Lianjiang has a population of about 1.87 million.

As videos of the attack spread across Chinese social media, they sparked outrage and shock.

Full story at BBC News (July 2023)

Stanford University president announces resignation over concerns about his research

Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaks to the media at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., on Feb.4, 2016. Tessier-Lavigne said Wednesday, Jul 19, 2023, he would resign, citing an independent review that cleared him of research misconduct but found flaws in other papers authored by his lab. Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement to students and staff that he would step down Aug.31. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group Via AP)

By Janie Har

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The president of Stanford University said Wednesday he would resign, citing an independent review that cleared him of research misconduct but found “serious flaws” in five scientific papers on subjects such as brain development in which he was the principal author.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement to students and staff that he would step down Aug. 31.

The resignation comes after the board of trustees launched a review in December following allegations he engaged in fraud and other unethical conduct related to research and papers that are in some cases two decades old (1999, 2001, 2001).

Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist, says he “never submitted a scientific paper without firmly believing that the data were correct and accurately presented.” But he says he should have been more diligent in seeking corrections regarding his work and he should have operated laboratories with tighter controls.

Panelists found multiple instances of manipulated data in the 12 papers they investigated, but concluded he was not responsible for the misconduct. Still, they found that each of the five papers in which he was principal author “has serious flaws in the presentation of research data” and in at least four of them, there was apparent manipulation of data by others.

Tessier-Lavigne said he was aware of issues with four of the five papers but acknowledged taking “insufficient” steps to deal with the issues. He said he’ll retract three of the papers and correct two.

The papers were published before Tessier-Lavigne became Stanford president.

Full story at The Associated Press (July 2023)

Education Dept. Opens Civil Rights Inquiry Into Harvard’s Legacy Admissions

An inquiry into admissions preference for family of alumni and donors began after the Supreme Court’s decision last month limiting affirmative action.

The Harvard University campus last month. The Biden administration’s inquiry comes at a moment of heightened scrutiny of college admissions practices. Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

By Michael D. Shear and Anemona Hartocollis

The Education Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Harvard University’s legacy admissions policy, inserting the federal government directly into a fierce national debate about wealth, privilege and race after the Supreme Court gutted the use of affirmative action in higher education.

The inquiry into one of the nation’s richest and most prestigious universities will examine allegations by three liberal groups that Harvard’s practice of showing preference for the relatives of alumni and donors discriminates against Black, Hispanic and Asian applicants in favor of white and wealthy students who are less qualified.

The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights has powerful enforcement authority that could eventually lead to a settlement with Harvard or trigger a lengthy legal battle like the one that led to the Supreme Court’s decision to severely limit race-conscious admissions last month, reversing a decades-long approach that had increased chances for Black students and those from other minority groups.

The move by the Biden administration comes at a moment of heightened scrutiny of college admissions practices following the ruling, which has resurfaced long-simmering anger about the advantages that colleges often give to the wealthy and connected.

Harvard gives preference to applicants who are recruited athletes, legacies, relatives of donors and children of faculty and staff. As a group, they make up less than 5 percent of applicants, but around 30 percent of those admitted each year. About 67.8 percent of these applicants are white, according to court papers.

After the court’s decision, President Biden said legacy admission policies expand “privilege instead of opportunity.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, tweeted that the practice is “affirmative action for the privileged.” Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina and a presidential candidate, called for Harvard to eliminate “preferential treatment for legacy kids.”

Full story at The New York Times (July 2023)

Germany’s University of Erlangen-Nuremberg stops accepting state-funded Chinese students and researchers over spying fears

• Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg told staff it has stopped taking researchers funded by the state-run China Scholarship Council
• The German government backed the move, citing espionage fears, but some academics fear more Chinese students could be targeted in future

By Dannie Peng

Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg will no longer accept students funded by the China Scholarship Council. Photo: Handout

A German university’s decision to stop accepting researchers funded by a Chinese government body has prompted warnings that further restrictions or even bans may be imposed as relations between the two countries continue to cool.

Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in the state of Bavaria, told staff in an internal message that it had decided to suspend collaboration with holders of scholarships awarded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) indefinitely as of June 1 “to reduce the risk of industrial espionage”.

The message, which has been seen by the Post, pointed to a contract that students sign with the CSC, which is controlled by China’s Ministry of Education. Students who sign the contract pledge allegiance to the state, promise to stay in touch with the Chinese embassy and return to China after finishing their studies.

The university said these promises violated Germany’s Basic Law as researchers were unable to fully exercise their academic freedom and freedom of expression.

It also warned: “The political landscape has changed significantly in recent times and topics such as protection against scientific and industrial espionage, data security and safeguarding intellectual property also post a challenge for our FAU.”

It further said its previous collaboration with the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei – which has been blacklisted by the United States and excluded from several Western broadband networks over security concerns – had been the cause of growing international concern. It said that as a result it would not sign any more research or partnership agreements with the firm in future.

Full story at South China Morning Post (August 2023)

South Korean teachers stage walkout over harassment by parents and students

Thousands of staff attend rally in Seoul demanding better protection amid spate of teacher suicides

Teachers attend a rally in Seoul, South Korea, calling for better rights for teaching staff, and mourning colleagues who have died by suicide. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

By Raphael Rashid

Teachers in South Korea have staged a mass walkout in protest at widespread harassment by overbearing parents and unruly students, which has led to some staff taking their own lives.

The problem of bullying and violence among students in the country has been well-documented. But teachers are now demanding better protection for themselves amid growing outrage about teaching staff being mistreated, including being accused of child abuse for disciplining students.

An elementary school teacher named Koh told the Guardian: “Teacher rights are just as important as student rights. We too are being bullied by parents and students, and this must stop.”

An estimated 15,000 people dressed in black attended a rally on Monday outside the national assembly in the capital, Seoul. Some in the audience shed tears as speeches were read aloud on stage. Other rallies were held across the country.

Many teachers took leave to attend the protests on Monday and some schools were reportedly temporarily closed, despite authorities declaring their actions illegal and threatening legal consequences.

Kim who wanted to be identified only by her surname, said she came to the Seoul rally to show support. She said: “Teachers are instrumental in shaping the future of our children. Schools are supposed to be safe, and not places where teachers are abused.”

The teachers’ movement was sparked by the death of a 23-year-old elementary schoolteacher in July. She was found dead at her school in Seoul in an apparent suicide after reportedly expressing anxiety over complaints from abusive parents.

Teachers nationwide have since been holding vigils and demonstrations every weekend to mourn her death and demand improved rights, leading up to a rally at the weekend in Seoul where as many as 200,000 teachers gathered.

Full story at The Guardian (September 2023)

Distressed School Teachers To Be Given Mental Health Tests, Psychotherapy

A fellow teacher weeps in front of an elementary school in Daejeon on Sept. 8, 2023, after one of the school’s teachers took her own life after suffering from incessant complaints from a school parent for four years. (Image courtesy of Yonhap News)

The government will provide mental health tests to all school teachers who want them and, in the long run, devise an exclusive psychological testing tool to check teachers’ mental health on a regular basis, officials said Friday.

The plan was released jointly by the education and health ministries amid concern about collective depression in the teaching community in the wake of a series of suicides by teachers distressed by abusive school parents and unruly students.

In one of the latest cases, a teacher in her 40s took her own life in the central city of Daejeon in early September after suffering from incessant complaints for four years from the parent of a student she had disciplined for unruly behavior during class.

Under the relief plan, mental health tests will be available for all teachers within the ongoing second semester, and those in need will also be provided with counseling programs at the national treatment centers for teachers or psychotherapy at private medical centers, officials said.

Full story at The Korea Bizwire (September 2023)

Band director Tasered by police after ignoring order to stop performing, video shows

An image from a body-cam video shows Johnny Mims shortly before an officer used a Taser on the band director at Minor High School near Birmingham, Ala. (Birmingham Police Department)

By Timothy Bella

An Alabama band director was shocked with a Taser and arrested after police say he refused to adhere to their requests for his students to stop playing music following a high school football game, according to authorities.

When Thursday’s game between Minor High School and P.D. Jackson-Olin High School wrapped up in Birmingham, both schools’ bands were performing for families and fans as part of what’s known as the “fifth quarter,” a postgame musical tradition usually seen at historically Black colleges and universities and predominantly Black high schools. After police spoke with the schools’ band directors and advised them to stop playing music “so students and attendees would leave the stadium,” the Jackson-Olin band stopped playing while Johnny Mims, Minor’s band director, “instructed his band to continue performing,” authorities said in a statement.

The back-and-forth escalated into a chaotic scene, in which the stadium’s lights were turned off and a physical altercation between Mims and police ensued. Seconds after Mims was heard denying that he took a swing at an officer, the band director was shocked with a Taser, according to a body-cam video released Monday night by the Birmingham Police Department. Panicked screams came from the stands as an officer used a Taser on Mims, according to the video. Both the officer and Mims are Black.

Mims, who has been Minor’s band director since 2018, was treated at a hospital before being booked on charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest, police said. He’s been placed on administrative leave from the school in Adamsville, which is standard protocol.

Full story at The Washington Post (September 2023)

US child dies from fentanyl kept under nursery nap mat

Nicholas Dominici was due to turn two in November

By Max Matza

The fentanyl that killed a one-year-old child at a nursery in New York City was hidden in the nap room under a mat as he slept, police say.

Nicholas Dominici, who had been at the nursery for just a week, died of a suspected drug overdose on Friday.

Three other children were admitted to hospital after being exposed to the powerful narcotic at the daycare centre in the Bronx.

Drug conspiracy and murder charges have been filed against two people.

Police believe the children, ranging in age from eight months to two years old, inhaled fentanyl at the nursery.

Three children were given Narcan, an emergency medication used to reverse opioid overdoses.

Otoniel Feliz, Dominici's father, was quoted by ABC as saying that he is still processing the death of his young child.

"I love him, I miss him, I want him back," Mr Feliz said. "But there's nothing that will give me back my son".

A search of the nursery turned up one kilo of fentanyl that was discovered "underneath a mat where the children had been sleeping earlier", said NYPD chief detective Joseph Kenny on Monday.

Investigators also allegedly discovered three presses used to package kilos of drugs.

Full story at BBC News (September 2023)