Sudan protesters vow to press on after talks suspended

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Sudanese protesters chant slogans and wave placards during a demonstration in Khartoum on May 14, 2019. (AFP)
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Sudanese protesters chant slogans and wave placards during a demonstration in Khartoum on May 14, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

Sudan protesters vow to press on after talks suspended

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters voiced regret Thursday at an army decision to suspend crucial talks on installing civilian rule but vowed to press on with a sit-in despite being targeted in fresh violence.
Army generals and protest leaders had been expected to come to an agreement on Wednesday over the make-up of a new body to govern Sudan for three years.
The issue is the thorniest to have come up in ongoing talks on reinstating civilian rule after the generals took over following the ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar Al-Bashir last month.
But in the early hours of Thursday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling military council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, announced the talks had been suspended for 72 hours as security in Khartoum had deteriorated.
He demanded that protesters dismantle roadblocks in Khartoum, open bridges and railway lines connecting the capital and “stop provoking security forces.”
The Alliance for Freedom and Change, the group leading the protest movement and negotiating the transfer of power with the army rulers, called the move “regrettable.”
“It ignores the developments achieved in negotiations so far... and the fact that Wednesday’s meeting was to finalize the agreement, which would have stopped the escalations such as roadblocks.”
The protest movement vowed to press on with the sit-in and called on its supporters to launch rallies heading to the protest camp later on Thursday after breaking the Ramadan fast.
Protesters said the army was trying to provoke them.
“They want to provoke the people by delaying the negotiations... but the negotiations will resume now that the roadblocks have been removed,” said Moatassim Sayid, a protester at the sit-in.
On Thursday morning, several roadblocks in downtown Khartoum had been taken down, an AFP correspondent reported, adding that troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF) were deployed in some areas.
Roadblocks on key thoroughfares are being used by demonstrators to pressure the generals to transfer power to a civilian administration.
The talks began on Monday and achieved significant breakthroughs, but have also been marred by violence that left five protesters and an army major dead and many wounded from gunshots.
Protesters allege that members of RSF were behind the violence.
But Burhan said there were “armed elements among demonstrators who were shooting at security forces.”
He defended the paramilitary group, saying “it had taken the side of the people” during the uprising that toppled Bashir on April 11.
The British ambassador to Khartoum said Sudanese security forces had fired at protesters on Wednesday when eight were reported wounded near the sit-in, where thousands remain camped demanding the generals step down.
“Extremely concerned by use of live ammunition by Sudanese security forces against protesters in Khartoum today, with reports of civilian casualties,” Irfan Siddiq wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Washington blamed the generals for the bloodshed that left six dead on Monday.
“The tragic attacks on protesters... were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks,” the US embassy said.
The French foreign ministry urged the two sides to resume the dialogue “to establish a transitional civilian government” and to “preserve the peaceful nature of the transition.”
The protest movement said the generals wanted the demonstrators to restrict themselves to the sit-in area.
Protesters are demanding a civilian-led transition, which the generals have steadfastly resisted since bowing to their demands and toppling Bashir.
During the first two days of talks the two sides had agreed on an overall civilian structure, including a three-year period for the full transfer of power to a civilian administration.
They had also agreed that parliament be composed of 300 members for the transition, with around two-thirds from the alliance and the rest drawn from other political groups.
The make-up of the new sovereign council has been the toughest part of the negotiations, with the two sides so far proposing different compositions of the body which is expected to take all key decisions concerning national issues.
The generals want it to be military-led, while the protesters insist on a majority civilian body.
General Yasser Al-Atta, one of the members of the current ruling military council, had vowed earlier this week to reach a deal by Thursday that “meets the people’s aspirations.”
The new council is expected to form a transitional civilian government, which would then prepare for the first post-Bashir election after the three-year changeover period ends.


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.