Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes

Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes
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Students begin a “mental and scientific rehabilitation” program in Amman before a planned full reopening of schools. (Supplied)
Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes
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Students begin a “mental and scientific rehabilitation” program in Amman before a planned full reopening of schools. (Supplied)
Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes
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Students begin a “mental and scientific rehabilitation” program in Amman before a planned full reopening of schools. (Supplied)
Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes
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The education ministry said Jordan’s 3,971 public schools opened on Sunday to receive a total of 814,000 students who registered for the compensation Program. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 August 2021

Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes

Pupils return to Jordan’s schools for pandemic catch-up classes
  • More than 800,000 go back to classrooms early for chance to make up for missed lessons

AMMAN: More than 800,000 students began a “mental and scientific rehabilitation” program in Jordan on Sunday, marking an experimental return to in-class education before a planned full reopening of schools.

The Ministry of Education said that the Kingdom’s 3,971 public schools opened on Sunday to receive a total of 814,000 students from grades 1-11, who registered for the “Academic Loss Compensation Program.”

The number of students in Jordan stands at about two million, 1.5 million studying at public schools and 500,000 at the country’s 2,142 private schools.

The program, according to the ministry, seeks to prepare pupils mentally and academically to return to school and make up for the lessons they have missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry said that it trained teachers at the beginning of August on implementing the Academic Loss Compensation Program.

Jordan, which imposed a nationwide shutdown of schools at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened them on Feb. 7 this year but closed them again on March 9 following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Lessons have been given online through the “Darsak” platform, which provides educational content for public school students from grade one to 12.

Without giving a date for the long-awaited reopening of schools, Ministry of Education’s Secretary General for Administrative and Financial Affairs Najwa Qbeilat said that the Academic Loss Compensation Program aims to help students acquire the basic skills and knowledge that they lost as a result of the online education system (that has been in place since March last year).

In remarks to the Jordan news agency, Petra, on Saturday, Qbeilat said that the program targets students at public, private, military and UNRWA schools.

“The program aims to compensate students for academic losses in Arabic, English, math and science subjects,” she added.

She said that the program will be evaluated in September to decide on the timing of the third phase, which will run between one to two years and through which students will be given weekly classes.

However, parents were divided on Sunday, with some welcoming the return to schools, even partially, and others casting doubt on the program being a preparatory step toward a full reopening of schools.

“I want to see my children back to school regardless,” said Haitham Zaidane, a father of four. “One full year of online education was a nightmare for our family. My children even forgot to behave as children, sleeping early and waking up early.”

“Gradual return to schools is even a lot better, given the psychological impact of distant learning on students,” he said.

However, Aysha Al-Amaireh said that she preferred to keep her six-year-old daughter home until a full school reopening is made certain.

“I don’t want another year of education disruption for my daughter. It’s psychologically not healthy. Either unaltered in-person classes or online education from home,” she said.

Alaa Qarallah, a father of three, said that he was sending his children to school because he was certain that the compensation program will be followed by a full reopening of schools.

“This time I think the government will reopen schools with no disruptions. The coronavirus cases have been declining since long, plus officials have been assuring that this year’s education will be in-class,” he said.

Officials have been promising a full in-person education model this year should the epidemiological situation continue improving, but also warned of a blended learning of online and offline classes in case of a pandemic setback.

The Ministry of Education has previously said that schools will be operating within a health protocol guide that includes many procedures, mainly the rapid coronavirus test, which will be carried out by teachers and health supervisors.

It said that schools will be provided with the necessary testing tools and that students with positive test results will be granted a 14-day study leave, during which they can switch to online learning while the rest of students continue their in-class learning.

Other health requirements include keeping a distance between students inside classrooms and wearing masks.


Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW
Updated 7 sec ago

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW
  • This is ‘another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements’
  • Country rocked by ongoing labor strikes, protests over rising pric

LONDON: Iran has arrested several prominent activists on what Human Rights Watch described on Friday as “baseless accusations” amid ongoing labor strikes and protests over rising prices.

Citing news outlets close to Iran’s intelligence apparatus, HRW said the arrested are accused of “contact with suspicious foreign actors,” although no evidence was provided to back the claim bar the assertion by authorities that they had arrested two Europeans earlier this month.

“The arrests of prominent members of civil society in Iran on baseless accusations of malicious foreign interference is another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements in the country,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW.

“Instead of looking to civil society for help in understanding and responding to social problems, Iran’s government treats them as an inherent threat.”

Since May 6, people have gathered in at least 19 cities and towns to protest the news that Iran will experience price-rises for essential goods in the coming months, with MPs saying at least two people have been killed in the protests so far.

In the last week of April, dozens of teachers’ union activists were arrested after calling for nationwide protests to demand reforms of the pay scale system.

HRW said over the past four years there has been a spike in widespread protests in Iran, organized by major unions, over economic inequalities stemming from declining living standards.

It added that security forces have responded to protests with excessive, lethal force, and have arrested thousands, using prosecution and imprisonment based on illegitimate charges as the main tool to silence prominent dissidents and human rights defenders.

Since these latest protests kicked off at the start of May, authorities have heavily disrupted internet access in multiple provinces.

“Iranian authorities have long sought to criminalize solidarity among members of civil society groups inside and outside the country,” said Sepehri Far.

“The intention is to prevent accountability and scrutiny of state actions that civil society provides.”


Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 
Updated 20 May 2022

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 
  • Al-Maqashi highly praised the US administration's efforts to establish peace in Yemen and its support for the government

DUBAI: Yemen’s minister of Defense, Mohammed al-Maqdashi, met with Colonel Mark Rittman, American Military and Security Attaché in the country’s US embassy on Thursday. 

The two discussed ways they can fight terrorism, in addition to military and security cooperation between the two nations. 

Al-Maqashi highly praised the US administration's efforts to establish peace in Yemen and its support for the government. 

Separately, Al-Maqashi met with the British Military Attaché in the UN embassy in Yemen to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense.


Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’
Updated 20 May 2022

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’
  • The two sides discussed ways “to better serve the interests of their people”

DUBAI: UAE and Russian officials met on Thursday to discuss ways to enhance “strong ties” between the two countries, state news agency WAM reported. 

Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Mohamed Al-Mazrouei, held meetings with Chairman of the Russian-Emirati inter-parliamentary Group, Аrsen Bashirovich Kanokov, in Abu Dhabi. 

During the meeting, which was also attended by Mohamed Helal Al Mheiri, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Chamber, the two sides discussed ways “to better serve the interests of their people,” according to WAM.

Al-Mazrouei highlighted that both the UAE and Russia possess the necessary capabilities to strengthen relations in areas such as trade, artificial intelligence and innovation. 

Kanokov expressed Russia’s keenness to enhance relations with the UAE in addition to strengthening ties between the business community in Abu Dhabi and Russia. He added that the goal is to build on what has been accomplished between the two sides over the years.

Kanokov also extended his condolences on the passing of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, and congratulated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for being elected as UAE President.


Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea
Updated 20 May 2022

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea
  • The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, were repelled by the yacht's security force
  • Lakota, owned by French yachtsman arget is one of sailing world’s most famous boats

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen were accused on Thursday of trying to hijack one of the world’s most famous racing yachts in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah.
Attackers in three fast-moving skiffs and armed with rocket-propelled grenades tried to board the Lakota, a 19-meter sailing trimaran owned by the French yachtsman Philippe Poupon.
The trimaran’s crew repelled the attacks and continued sailing up the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal. The yacht carries a racing crew of five but it is not known if Poupon himself, who has recently been on an Antarctic expedition with his family, was on board.
Yemeni fishermen in nearby waters saw crew on the vessel exchange fire with the attackers. “Several attempts were made to board her,” the maritime intelligence company Dryad Global said. “Reports indicate she managed to get away.”
Satellite-tracking data on Thursday showed the Lakota just west of the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea between Yemen and Eritrea on the Horn of Africa coast.
The racing trimaran, previously called the Pierre 1er, is one of the most famous vessels in the sailing world. Built in 1990, it was once owned by the American tycoon and adventurer Steve Fossett.
Poupon bought the yacht this year for an estimated €250,000 euros ($263,000).
It was on its way from the Philippines to France, from where the yachtsman plans to sail it in the solo Route du Rhum transatlantic race in November, and had docked in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa last Sunday.
Yemeni government officials said they had no doubt that the Houthi militia had carried out the attempted hijack.
“Our information says three armed Houthi boats sailed from Al-Saleef in Hodeidah on Tuesday and were stationed in the sea. They attacked the boat,” one official told Arab News.
The attack on the Lakota came days after the Houthis hijacked another vessel in the Red Sea delivering food to government troops in the city of Medi, in northern Hajjah province.
The vessel, which had three fishermen and two soldiers on board, was sailing from government-controlled Khokha, south of Hodeidah, to the 5th Military Region in Medi on Sunday when it was attacked by armed Houthi boats.
“The crew sent an alert that the Houthis were surrounding them and would arrest them, two hours after leaving Khokha,” a local officer told Arab News.
In January, the Houthis hijacked the UAE-flagged vessel Rwabee with a crew of 11 off the country’s west coast, triggering local and international condemnation.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said the ship was carrying medical equipment from a temporary Saudi hospital on the Yemeni island of Socotra.


Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup
Updated 19 May 2022

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup
  • Thousands of protesters took to the streets, mainly in Khartoum but also elsewhere, to again call for civilian rule in the latest rally against the October coup

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces arrested leading anti-coup figures on Thursday, their party said, during protests by thousands against last year’s military takeover.

“Security forces raided the house of the political secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party Mohammed Mukhtar Al-Khatib,” the party said in a statement.

Another leading party member was also arrested at Khartoum airport, and the two men were taken to an “unknown location,” the party said.

The arrests came despite a pledge by coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan to free political detainees to set the stage for talks among Sudanese factions.

Last month, authorities released several anti-coup civilian leaders arrested in a crackdown.

The Communist Party members were detained following a trip to Juba, South Sudan where they met with rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nour who has refused to sign a landmark 2020 peace deal with the Sudanese government, according to the party statement.

They also visited rebel-held areas in South Kordofan controlled by Abdelaziz Al-Hilu, who also abstained from the 2020 deal, it said.

Thousands of protesters on Thursday took to the streets, mainly in Khartoum but also elsewhere, to again call for civilian rule in the latest rally against the October coup led by Gen. Burhan, according to AFP correspondents.

The pro-democracy Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said security forces fired tear gas “in large quantities” to quell the protests.

Regular mass demonstrations have rocked Sudan since the coup which derailed a fragile political transition set in motion after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar Bashir.

Demonstrations have been met by a violent crackdown which has so far killed at least 95 protesters and wounded hundreds of others, according to medics.

The UN, along with the African Union and regional bloc IGAD, have been pushing to facilitate Sudanese-led talks to resolve the crisis after the northeast African country’s latest coup.

UN special representative Volker Perthes in late March said the country was heading towards “an economic and security collapse” unless its civilian-led transition was restored.

The military leader threatened to expel Perthes for alleged “interference” in the country’s affairs.