Thousands protest against Algeria’s ruling elite

Algerians gather during an anti-government demonstration in Algiers demanding the removal of the elite and prosecution of the corrupt on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 27 April 2019

Thousands protest against Algeria’s ruling elite

  • President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down after 20 years in power this month
  • “The system must go” and “We are fed up with you,” read banners held up by protesters in central Algiers

ALGIERS: Algerians are massing for a 10th week of protests against their country’s ruling class, calling for the ex-president’s brother to be put on trial. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully in Algiers for a 10th consecutive Friday demanding the departure of Algeria’s ruling elite.
The protest took aim at Said Bouteflika, whose brother Abdelaziz Bouteflika was Algeria’s president for two decades until swelling protests forced him to resign instead of seeking a fifth term. A presidential election has been set for July 4 to choose the successor to Bouteflika, but protesters want his entire ruling entourage gone from power.
President Bouteflika stepped down on April 2, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change.
Said Bouteflika has been a particular focus of their anger, and protesters on Friday accused him of being the “leader of the gang.”
“The system must go” and “We are fed up with you,” read banners held up by protesters in central Algiers, scene of mass protests since Feb. 22.
There was no official count but Reuters reporters estimated the number of participants rising after Friday prayers to tens of thousands, like last week.
“The people want to uproot you,” a crowd chanted, addressing the elite which have ruled the oil- and gas-producing nation since independence from France in 1962.
“We want this system to leave and all the thieves to be judged,” said Zohra, a 55-year-old teacher who traveled some 350 km to attend the Algiers demonstration site with her 25-year-old son, Mohamed.
The protests, which have been largely peaceful, have continued as many demand the removal of the elite and prosecution of those they see as corrupt.
Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of Parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on July 4.
He has been facing demands from the street to quit.
Algeria’s wealthiest businessman and four other tycoons close to Bouteflika were arrested this week as part of an anti-graft investigation, state media said. The investigation is intended to respond to demands to root out widespread corruption.
The arrests came after army chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah said he expected members of the ruling elite to be prosecuted for corruption.
Salah intervened when Bouteflika sought to extend his fourth term, declaring him unfit for office, in a bid to avoid prolonged turmoil.

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.