Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 66

Philippines heat to reach ‘danger’ levels, hundreds of schools suspend classes

• The index was expected to reach the “danger” level of 42 degrees Celsius in Manila on Tuesday and 43 degrees on Wednesday

• A heat index of between 42–51 degrees can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion, with heatstroke ‘probable with continued exposure’, the weather forecaster said

Students use a cardboard to protect themselves from the sun during a hot day in Manila on Tuesday. More than a hundred schools in the Philippine capital shut their classrooms as the tropical heat hit “danger” levels. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of schools in the Philippines, including dozens in the capital Manila, suspended in-person classes on Tuesday due to dangerous levels of heat, education officials said.

The country’s heat index measures what a temperature feels like, taking into account humidity.

The index was expected to reach the “danger” level of 42 degrees Celsius in Manila on Tuesday and 43 degrees on Wednesday, with similar levels in a dozen other areas of the country, the state weather forecaster said.

The actual highest recorded temperature for the metropolis on Tuesday was 35.7 degrees, below the record of 38.6 degrees reached on May 17, 1915.

Local officials across the main island of Luzon, the central islands, and the southern island of Mindanao suspended in-person classes or shortened school hours to avoid the hottest part of the day, education ministry officials said.

A student uses a portable fan outside a school in Manila on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The Department of Education was unable to provide an exact number of schools affected.

March, April and May are typically the driest months of the year for swathes of the tropical country. This year, conditions have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon..

Primary and secondary schools in Quezon, the most populous part of the city, were ordered to shut, while schools in other areas were given the option by local officials to shift to remote learning.

Full story at South China Morning Post (April 2024)

Boy, 15, dies after attack outside school in France

Teenager was assaulted by several people who fled scene in country’s latest incident of school violence

By Angelique Chrisafis

A TV crew films outside Les Sablons middle school in Viry-Châtillon, where a teenage boy was assaulted on Thursday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

A 15-year-old boy has died after he was badly beaten in a town south of Paris, in the latest incident of school violence in France.

Thursday’s attack comes at a time of heightened tensions in French schools. Earlier this week a teenage girl was temporarily left in a coma after being beaten outside her school in Montpellier, in the south of the country. In that case, three alleged attackers have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a minor, one a girl from the same school.

In the latest incident, which occurred in the town of Viry-Châtillon, about 20km (12 miles) south of Paris, the teenager was attacked by several people as he left school on Thursday afternoon.

The public prosecutor’s office announced the boy’s death on Friday afternoon and said an investigation had been opened into murder and gang assault outside a school.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting a primary school in Paris on Friday morning, said: “We have a form of uninhibited violence among our teenagers and sometimes among increasingly younger ones. Schools needs to be shielded from this. School must remain a sanctuary for our children, for their families, for our teachers.”

“We will be intransigent against all forms of violence.”

Pupils at the entrance of the school on Friday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The schoolboy went into cardiorespiratory arrest, a police source said. He was taken to Necker hospital in Paris.

The prosecutor Grégoire Dulin said in a statement that the attack on the teenage boy happened between 4pm and 4.30pm on Thursday. He said the 15-year-old was “violently attacked by several individuals” and “was discovered by a passerby badly injured in a road near his middle-school”.

The boy was taken to hospital and had emergency surgery on Thursday night, but the prosecutor said he had died on Friday afternoon. An autopsy will be carried out.

Full story at The Guardian (April 2024)

Korea to cut no. of teachers amid diminishing student numbers

By Choi Jeong-yoon

President Yoon Seok Yul visits a classroom at Ain Elementary School in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on March 29, as a one-day special teacher, part of the government's after-school program initiative. (Presidential Office)

Amid administrative efforts to increase the annual enrollment quota for medical schools that sparked the mass walk-out of doctors across the country, the government said it would reduce the number of school teachers going forward, citing a decline in student numbers.

The enrollment quota for teachers' colleges, which has remained unchanged for 13 years, will be reduced by 12 percent, the Education Ministry said. Currently, 13 universities that train aspiring elementary school teachers take 3,847 students every year. Besides Ewha Womans University, the only private school on the list, the remaining 12 schools will be impacted by the reduction plan, which will see the annual quote reduced to 3,390 seats in 2025.

The reduction plan comes amid rising concerns over the employment of teachers, as the number of graduates from teaching colleges exceeds the number of teaching places available at elementary schools.

The number of newly hired teachers this year declined by over 50 percent compared to 2014, but the enrollment quota for related universities has remained stable over the same period. The acceptance rate for the appointment of new teachers fell to 43.6 percent this year, down from 63.9 percent in 2018.

This "appointment crisis" comes as more than 150 elementary schools across the nation had no new first graders enrolling this year. Some 369,000 children enrolled at elementary school this year, the lowest number of new first graders since the government started recording such statistics in 1970.

Meanwhile, the reduction plan falls short of the 20 percent cut that the government had originally planned. However, considering the number of freshmen dropping out of school during the semester, the government accepted colleges' requests to have a cutback remain at 12 percent. In 2022, 8.5 percent of teacher trainees left school during their first year of college.

Full story at The Korea Herald (April 2024)

Gifted’ China cat killer rejected by top university despite getting top marks in nuclear science entrance exam

• Videos expose student, tramples on cats’ heads, injures others in dormitory

• University guidelines say applicants need ‘moral and political’ qualifications

By Alice Yan

An academically gifted man has been rejected for admission to a top university in China because of his history of abusing cats. Photo: SCMP composite/Shutterstock/Wikipedia

A educationally gifted man has been rejected by a prestigious mainland university because of his history of extreme cruelty to cats.

The man, surnamed Xu, achieved the highest scores in the entrance test to become a nuclear physics major at the School of Physics at Nanjing University in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

Admission test results released by the school at the end of March revealed that he had not passed the second test, according to a report in the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald.

The School of Physics did not explain why Xu failed, but an official said they had received many complaints about him abusing cats.

Viral posts of would-be nuclear physicist torturing and killing cats sealed his fate. Photo: Shutterstock

According to the university’s admissions guidelines, applicants’ “moral and political qualifications” are taken into consideration and it may not grant admission to those who fail to fulfil that criteria.

“The school paid high attention to the cat abusing incidents. His behaviour might have affected the admission result,” the official said.

At the beginning of March, Xu, a fourth-grade student at Southeast University in Nanjing, was exposed on social media for uploading a series of videos online of him abusing and killing felines in his dormitory.

In one clip, the student was seen putting a cat into a bucket and repeatedly trampling on its head.

After his cruelty went viral online , Nanjing police investigated. Officers educated Xu and his parents, without imposing any punishment.

“Xu said he acknowledged his mistake. He wrote a letter of apology, promising he would not do it again,” a police statement said.

Full story at South China Morning Post (April 2024)

Police arrest scores of pro-Palestinian protesters on US university campuses

By Brad Brooks

Students walk past a protest encampment on the main campus of Columbia University, organized by a group of students in support of Palestinians, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 27, 2024. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

April 27 (Reuters) - Pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested on a handful of U.S. university campuses on Saturday, as activists vowed to keep up the movement seeking a ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas among other demands.

The Indiana University police department in Bloomington said in an emailed statement that 23 protesters were arrested there.

Indiana State Police along with Indiana University police told demonstrators they could not pitch tents and camp on campus. When the tents were not removed, police arrested and transported protesters to the Monroe County Justice Center on charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

"The Indiana University Police Department continues to support peaceful protests on campus that follow university policy," the police statement read.

Pro-Palestinian protests have spread to college campuses across the U.S., stoked by the mass arrest of over 100 people on Columbia University's campus last week.

In addition to a ceasefire, protesters are demanding that their schools divest from companies involved with Israel's military and seeking an end to U.S. military assistance for Israel along with amnesty for students and faculty members who have been disciplined or fired for protesting.

School leaders at several universities have responded in the past week by asking police to clear out camps and arrest those who refuse to leave. While saying they defend free speech rights to protest, the leaders say they will not abide activists infringing on campus policies against hate speech or camping out on university grounds.

Full story at Reuters (April 2024)

Gaza protests: Oxford and Cambridge university students set up camps

Tents were erected on the lawn in front of Oxford's Museum of Natural History

Students and staff at Oxford and Cambridge universities have begun protest camps against the war in Gaza.

So-called "liberated zones" were set up at Oxford's Museum of Natural History and King's College, Cambridge, earlier.

The demonstrators called for the universities to cut financial ties with Israel following its offensive in Gaza.

Oxford University has previously expressed "profound sympathy for those suffering in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank".

In the past week, Pro-Palestinian protesters have have set up tents outside university buildings in cities including Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle as well as at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Protesters in Oxford called on the university to cut financial ties with Israel

In a joint statement, Oxford Action for Palestine and Cambridge for Palestine called for the universities to stop lending "financial and moral support" to the Israeli government.

"Oxbridge's profits cannot continue to climb at the expense of Palestinian lives, and their reputations must no longer be built on the white-washing of Israeli crimes," it said.

Cambridge Jews for Justice in Palestine, a group of Jewish students at the University of Cambridge said it was also supporting the demonstration "to oppose Israel's occupation of Palestine".

Full story at BBC News (May 2024)

Police break up pro-Palestine protests at Berlin, Amsterdam campuses

Police dismantle encampment at Berlin’s Free University and more than 100 activists arrested at University of Amsterdam.

A police officer sprays protesters at Freie Universitat (FU) Berlin, as pro-Palestinian demonstrators occupy a courtyard with a protest camp [Annegret Hilse/Reuters]

Police have broken up a protest by several hundred pro-Palestinian activists who occupied a courtyard at Berlin’s Free University, the latest such action by authorities as protests that have roiled campuses in the United States spread across Europe.

The move on Tuesday came after activists had put up about 20 tents and formed a human chain around them to protest against Israel’s war on Gaza.

Most had covered their faces with medical masks and had draped keffiyah scarves around their heads, shouting slogans such as “Viva, viva Palestina.” Police called on the students to leave the campus at the university in the German capital.

Police could also be seen carrying some students away and some scuffles erupted between police officers and protesters. Authorities used pepper spray against some of the protesters.

“The demands of the people were pretty clear, basically saying that it’s time that Germany should take part in the protest movement around the world,” said Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane.

“They demand that the genocide they say is taking place in Gaza be stopped. They also say that students who take part in these protests should not be banned from doing so and should not lose their status as students – that is something that many students who’ve taken part in protests are afraid of,” Kane said, reporting from the scene.

The school’s administrators said in a statement that the protesters had rejected any kind of dialogue and they had therefore called in police to clear the campus.

“This form of protest is not geared towards dialogue. An occupation is not acceptable on the FU Berlin campus,” university President Guenter Ziegler said. FU is the abbreviation for Free University. “We are available for academic dialog – but not in this way.”

Full story at Al Jazeera (May 2024)

Steep rise in student visa rejections ‘scaring applicants away’

By Julie Hare

Temporary migrants are engaging in the equivalent of panic buying as student visa applications from people already in the country increased to an all-time high in March, but rejection rates meant less than one in five were granted.

At the same time, news of the government’s clampdown on student visas and high rejection rates is dampening dreams of study in Australia, with potential students who are still overseas choosing not to stump up the $710 application fee.

In March, new visa applications were almost half that of a year ago.

International student Mai Le says her goal is to achieve permanent residency after she graduates. Dan Peled

A complex picture is emerging of students in their home countries shopping around for the surest study destination, with new research from IDP Education revealing the US is the big winner as Australia, the UK and Canada introduce increasingly restrictive policies to cut overall migration.

The steep rise in visa refusals in Australia has been described as “caps by stealth”, as suggestions the federal government will introduce actual caps, similar to those imposed in Canada, continue to circulate.

“We can see in the numbers that the visa caps-by-stealth approach is clearly beginning to have an impact,” said Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia.

“There is no doubt that high rejection rates are scaring applicants away from Australia.”

Full story at The Australian Financial Review (May 2024)

GCSE pupils targeted by 'manipulative' exam scams

By Kristian Johnson

Shreya has seen scam accounts on Instagram claiming to sell GCSE papers

Social media companies need to do more to "shut down" scammers selling fake GCSE and A-level papers to students, say exam boards.

TikTok and Instagram have said they do not allow the sale of exam papers on their platforms.

But BBC News has found dozens of accounts falsely claiming to have access to this year's exam papers, with some charging hundreds of pounds.

Students say the accounts are "very easy to find", with one describing the posts as "psychologically manipulative".

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the UK's eight largest exam boards, says it is highly unlikely real papers are being leaked online.

England's exam regulator Ofqual says if students try to cheat, they could lose the qualification they have been studying for, even if the papers they try to buy are fake.

Students at The Commonweal School in Swindon said the fraudulent accounts can be found with "a simple search".

"They’re everywhere," said Oscar. "I found them very easily on TikTok."

Full story at BBC News (May 2024)

Rebecca Joynes: Teacher facing prison after being found guilty of having sex with two pupils

Rebecca Joynes has been convicted of having underage sex with two pupils at the school where she worked

Rebecca Joynes court case Guilty: School teacher Rebecca Joynes at Manchester Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Teacher Rebecca Joynes is facing years in prison after being found guilty of having sex with two pupils at the school where she worked.

The 30-year-old maths teacher has been dubbed a “predator” after she had sex with one of the boys and then started a relationship with the second when she was out on police bail.

At the conclusion of a two-week trial at Manchester crown court, Joynes was found guilty of four counts of sexual activity with a child and two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.

She faces a prison term when she is sentenced in July.

Joynes, a teacher at a Manchester high school, arranged for one of the pupils, known as Boy A, to stay overnight at her home in October 2021.

She took him to the Trafford Centre and bought him a £345 belt, and afterwards they had sex at her flat in Salford Quays.

When the activity came to light, she was suspended from her job and released on bail, and then struck up another sexual relationship with a pupil, known as Boy B.

Joynes took his virginity and ended up giving birth to a child boy B had fathered, jurors were told.

Joynes closed her eyes and grimaced as the guilty verdicts were delivered against her on Friday afternoon. She then began to visibly shake in the dock.

Her mother and father, sat in the public gallery, made no reaction but yards away the parents of the boys stifled cheers as Joynes was convicted.

Full story at The Standard (May 2024)

Students Walk Out in Protest at Harvard Commencement

Anger at the university’s decision to bar 13 seniors from the ceremony in the wake of campus demonstrations over the war in Gaza was a flashpoint for the protest on Thursday.

Students walked out in protest during Harvard University’s commencement ceremony on Thursday. Credit: Sophie Park for The New York Times

By Maya Shwayder, Jenna Russell and Anemona Hartocollis

Hundreds of students walked out of Harvard University’s commencement ceremony on Thursday morning as degrees were conferred, while hundreds chanted “Let them walk!”, a reference to 13 student protesters who were not allowed to graduate after a vote Wednesday by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body.

The walkout was a jarring reminder of continuing unrest on the Cambridge campus, on a day when more than 9,000 graduates and their families were gathered in Harvard Yard for celebration and reflection.

At the start of the ceremony, the university’s interim president, Alan Garber — loudly booed by some in the crowd — acknowledged the turmoil, and the possibility that “some among us may choose to take the liberty of expressing themselves to draw attention to events unfolding in the wider world.”

“This moment of joy coincides with moments of fear and dread, grief and anger, suffering and pain,” he said. “Elsewhere, people are experiencing the worst days of their lives.” He asked the crowd to observe a minute of silence.

Student speakers at the ceremony strongly criticized the Harvard Corporation for its vote on Wednesday to bar the 13 undergraduate protesters from receiving their degrees in the wake of campus protests over the Israel-Hamas war. The move was seen by the students and their faculty supporters as a violation of an agreement made between administrators and students to clear their encampment from Harvard Yard.

Alan Garber, the university’s interim president, asked the crowd to observe a minute of silence. “Elsewhere, people are experiencing the worst days of their lives,” he said. Credit: Sophie Park for The New York Times

The university, which has not provided details of the 13 students’ disciplinary violations, has denied having made any promises about the outcome of the discipline proceedings.

“This semester, our freedom of speech and expressions of solidarity became punishable, leaving our graduation uncertain,” Shruthi Kumar, the undergraduate student speaker, said before acknowledging the students who had been barred from graduating.

“Harvard, do you hear us?” she asked, to thunderous applause.

Full story at The New York Times (May 2024)