This video from Ghana is called Teachers’ unions up in arms with managers of ‘Omega’ schools – 4/11/2015.
By Felicity Collier:
Fee-paying schools blight Ghana‘s rural communities
Thursday 4th May 2017
A TEACHER’S union in Ghana is leading a campaign against the widespread privatisation of education in Africa.
Delegates to NASUWT’s annual conference in Manchester [in England] last month heard from David Ofori Acheampong, the general secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers about the worrying epidemic of fee-paying, profiteering “shack” schools.
Since 2009, these makeshift education factories have been set up throughout Ghana’s rural communities — by entrepreneurs.
There have been reports of similar schools across Africa which have been described as “squalid.”
In Kenya, 10 such schools were closed down for failing to meet basic educational standards.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, along with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar run Bridge International Academies in Africa and India, which was condemned by global organisations Education International and Public Services International, as reported recently in the Star.
So troubled are teachers by the situation, they mobilised to urge the World Bank to stop funding the schools. Britain’s teaching trade unions NUT and NASUWT joined the Uganda National Teachers Union and Kenya National Union of Teachers to deliver a letter to World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim last week, calling for high quality public education to be a “primary responsibility of governments, not corporations and entrepreneurs.”
It added that the so-called “low fee” schooling was still unaffordable for most families.
Acheampong said that in Ghana, rural communities are being exploited for their lack of schools and that over the years, the government has not planned properly. The population has tripled, and there is not even enough space to build more schools.
He proclaims that Omega set itself up there without the government’s prior knowledge, offering “pay-as-you-go” schooling.
The idea is that if parents cannot afford school fees on any given day, children do not attend and they are not charged.
The schools run by Omega in Ghana work in secret. “When the union informed the Ghana Education Service,” Acheampong continues, “it had no knowledge of these schools.”
He pointed out that the company had been taking advantage of “the prestige of attending private schools and also where schools don’t exist.”
And while rural communities in Ghana with a population of 20,000 lack schools, the teachers employed by Omega are inexperienced and lack formal qualifications.
“These schools recruit anybody at all,” Acheampong says, which could be high school leavers with just four to six weeks’ training.
“The teachers are recruited from senior high schools students who are unable to make it into the universities. They have practically no training in teaching at all.”
Omega’s website is currently advertising for a Chief Operations Officer, which requires experience in “maintaining the highest operational efficiency and profitability,” which indicates much about its attitude.
Mr Acheampong says that the unions in Ghana work to “draw attention to the harmful effect of these schools on the education of pupils in the communities” — which, he says, has been welcomed by some parents.
The unions in Ghana regularly engage with the district assemblies and and MPs in areas where these schools operate, and encourage district assemblies to set up schools instead. It is gradually succeeding — numbers have dropped from 13,000 to 9,000.
He has also spoken to Ghana’s minister of education about how to regulate these schools. And there is the possibility of going to court to block Omega from starting up more schools, although negotiation with the district assemblies and the members of parliament is proving effective so far.
“We’re still carrying on with the campaign,” Acheampong says. “The real challenge is the absence of state schools in these communities to absorb these pupils should the schools be withdrawn.”
For NASUWT in Britain, the issue about privatisation of schools is the marrying of commercialisation.
Phil Kemp from its executive committee says: “We need to really oppose academisation and all the abuses.
“In 2015, there were 41 teachers [in Britain] earning more than the Prime Minister [£150,000] and it’s appalling.”
NASUWT said that the test for education is whether it promotes equality, transparency and value for money. It highlighted issues such as educational standards, class sizes and staff morale, as well as cost, pay and working conditions, and trade union recognition.
The union is calling for the effect of academisation to be investigated.
Ghana Wildlife Society wins Action of the Year Award
By Jude Fuhnwi, 8 Feb 2017
Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS, BirdLife Partner in Ghana) has been announced the winner of the 2016 Action of the Year contest, for its submission – “A walk with Swallows“. The contest was organised by Spring Alive, an international project to reward actions by BirdLife Partners in 2016 that encouraged children’s interest in nature and the conservation of birds.
Spring Alive announced the results of the competition on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, about a week after voting was closed.
Voters chose the best action out of three from Zimbabwe and Ghana. Final results gave “A walk with Swallows” by GWS 47% of total votes.
“I cannot express the joy I feel at the moment. To the sponsors, organisers and judges I say ‘thank you’. To my fellow SA [Spring Alive] partners and especially those who took time off their tight schedules to vote for Ghana, we at Ghana Wildlife Society say ‘we are very grateful’ and we look forward to another successful year in 2017 with SA,” said Louisa Kabobah, Conservation Education Officer at Ghana Wildlife Society. Louisa championed the action that won the 2016 contest and said she felt very happy and excited that her effort was rewarded.
“A walk with swallows” gave a group of teachers, school children and volunteers the opportunity to develop interest in conserving swallows and other migratory birds. They were taught how to identify and observe birds at the Pambros salt mining industries on the western part of the Greater Accra Region in Ghana. The children put in practice knowledge acquired in classrooms. They also learned some unique facts about nature and the life of birds.
Apart from barn swallows, a variety of other bird species were sighted. They included the long tailed cormorant, western reef egret, common greenshank, pied kingfisher, black winged stilt, royal tern, little egret, pied crow, whimbrel and the laughing dove. The event gained a lot of publicity online and on national media.
After announcing the winner, Hannah Rachwald, the global coordinator of the contest and Communication Officer of OTOP (BirdLife Partner in Poland) praised Louisa’s submission mentioning the impact it made for the benefit of nature.
“I sincerely congratulate Louisa and her team in Ghana on victory and winning a prize – a photo camera. We will be in touch with the winner about delivering an award. Thank you very much for all your initiatives undertaken for the benefit of nature, for encouraging people to be involved in Spring Alive and for sharing your experience with us!” said Ms Rachwald.
Spring Alive is an international campaign that encourages children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds and to get them to take action for birds and other wildlife as well as to participate in events organized by BirdLife Partners.
This video says about itself:
African Grey Parrots in the Wild
23 June 2008
Grey Parrots (Psittacus erythacus) foraging and flying in Cameroon, Africa.
Ghana’s Grey Parrot population may soon cease to exist
By Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, Mon, 11/01/2016 – 08:08
In the last two decades Ghana has lost 90-99% of its Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) population. This is according to a recently published study by a team of researchers from Ghana and the United Kingdom associated to Manchester Metropolitan University and BirdLife International.
The population decline of the Grey Parrot, a heavily traded bird species, is evidenced by among others, the near-total loss of the major roosts known in 1992. Further evidence indicates an almost a ten-fold reduction in bird encounter rates observed in the 1990s compared to 2014, as well as the perceptions of 96% of the almost a thousand residents that were interviewed during the study.
“Dedicated searching, including visits to roosts which previously had as many as 1,200 individuals 20 years ago, yielded just a handful of Grey Parrot sightings”, said Nathaniel Annorbah, a Ghanaian graduate student of the Manchester Metropolitan University, and the lead author of the scientific paper published in Ibis an international journal of avian science.
“Grey Parrot populations in Ghana have declined catastrophically and the species is now very rare across the country”, added Dr Nigel Collar from BirdLife International.
The authors of the paper titled, ‘Trade and habitat change virtually eliminate the Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus from Ghana’, attributes the population decline to four main factors: trade, overall forest reduction, silvicultural practices and farmland timber harvesting.
“Illegal trade must surely have contributed to the post-1990 declines that we report. This is affirmed by the fact that in the years 1991–2012 when trade was outlawed and Ghana’s reported exports of Grey Parrots totaled just 35 individuals, the population in the country still declined by 95%”, emphasized Dr Stuart Marsden from Manchester Metropolitan University.
“After a successful campaign to ban the trade in Grey Parrots lead by the Wildlife clubs of Ghana, the junior wing of Ghana Wildlife society this comes as a great disappointment”, observes Mr Japheth Roberts of Ghana Wildlife society (GWS, BirdLife Partner in Ghana). “However, it shows us that there are challenges associated with sustaining conservation action and impact over the long term. Having achieved success before, this is the time for GWS and its partners to hit the ground running to arrest and reverse the catastrophic collapse of Grey parrots in Ghana”, he adds.
The situation for Grey Parrot is not only grim in Ghana, but in most of the West Africa region. “Lack of evidence from this and other studies that any Grey Parrot populations in the West Africa region are healthy, suggest that trade in the species must surely be ruled out in the region”, observes Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the BirdLife Africa Team Leader for Species Science.
In fact the authors question whether indeed there should be any further trade in much of mainland Central Africa as well. The IUCN Red List classification of both Grey Parrots, and especially the much smaller-ranged Timneh Parrot (Psittacus timneh) clearly requires re-evaluating.
In 2013/14, the Africa Secretariat of BirdLife International and CITES supported stakeholders in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire to draft national management plans for the Grey Parrot, as well as update an existing one for Cameroon. These management plans including methods for monitoring populations and trade in the species must be implemented without delays.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
A newcomer to the GPS logger research is marsh harrier “Roelof”, an adult male provided last summer with a GPS logger. Roelof returned this spring to East Groningen, with a logger packed with GPS positions. He turned out to have had a highly remarkable journey! …
Roelof returned on April 15, 2015 in East Groningen, where he presented himself at the local antenna network where we can remotely read stored GPS data. …
In the autumn of 2014 Roelof flew via Spain to his first wintering area in Senegal, where he arrived on 27 September. This route falls exactly within the narrow migration flyway which is usual for marsh harriers. Christiane Trierweiler et al. described that harriers do not remain all winter in a single area, but during the winter they move to southern areas as the northern areas get dry. These are mostly trips of several hundred kilometers.
Roelof left his first wintering area on November 10 to land about 500 kilometers to the south in Guinea. To our surprise Roelof did not stay there until the end of the winter, but he left the area on January 26 to fly 1,700 kilometers along the West African south coast, eventually ending up all the way in Ghana! Ghana is really far away for a Dutch marsh harrier, outside the ‘normal’ wintering area.
On the shores of Lake Volta
In Ghana Roelof stayed around the shores of Lake Volta. This huge lake is probably a good wintering place for marsh harriers and the question is how he ever ‘found’ this place. Did he come here in his youth by chance, making the place by now a fixed point in his annual schedule? Or perhaps Roelof has eastern genes telling him that in winter this is the place to be? Monitoring young harriers will be the key to answering this kind of exciting questions.
Roelof left the Volta Lake on February 28, keeping a northwesterly course. Aided by a firm tailwind he was ‘blown’ across the Sahara until he reached the ocean coast in the Western Sahara. From there he continued his journey towards the northeast, where he made two short stops in Morocco (as befits a marsh harrier). From Morocco, he flew straight back to exactly the same reed bed in eastern Groningen …
This photo by Ben Koks shows marsh harrier Roelof, on the left, and his female partner. On Roelof’s back, one can see his GPS logger.
Vardanis, Y., Nilsson, J.-Å., Klaassen, R. H. G., Strandberg, R. & Alerstam, T. (2016). Consistency in long-distance bird migration: contrasting patterns in time and space for two raptors [marsh harrier and osprey]. Animal Behaviour 113: 177–187: here.
The life of G3BGGW – 12 February 2015
No, not a character from Star Wars. G3BGGW is a sanderling which was ringed in Iceland in May 2013. He was found dead on February 1, 2015 on Texel. What makes this bird so special is that he was not only seen several times in the past two years, but he was even seen alive a day before his death. So, the day of his death is very accurately known, something bird researcher Jeroen Reneerkens has experienced only a few times. Such small birds are almost never found when they die, let alone so quickly.
What’s in a name?
Thanks to his rings this sanderling was recognizable. When he came in sight of the telescopes of various bird watchers, viewers have noted the series of rings and passed the information on to the ring station. The letters in his name are about the colours: G = green, B = blue, W = white; the numeral 3 indicates that one of the rings is a flag, in this case a green flag, this was on “position 3”: above the rings on the left leg. Bird rings are read from left to right and from top to bottom.
Winter beach guest
Sanderlings are found on Dutch beaches outside the breeding season, so from late July to late May. The largest numbers you see on beaches in the winter months. They breed in the far north. … Those little birds that fast run back and forth with the surf – that are sanderlings. It seems like they are trying to go as close as possible to the water without making their feet wet. But actually they are looking for worms that appear quickly from the sand when the seawater flows over them. In the water there is plankton on which the worms feed. The birds try to catch the worms.
In Iceland G3BGGW was ringed and weighed. He weighed 71 grams and had OK fat stores to fly even further towards Greenland to breed. In winter sanderlings slim to about 50-55 grams. Five months later, he was seen on Texel, north of beach post 12. Then he came back a year later on the island, on November 5, 2014 at beach post 9. Presumably he remained until his death in this environment. Two days before his death he was seen on the parking lot near the beach. That is very strange for such a beach bird. There it cannot find food. The birdwatcher thought that he did not look too healthy there. The next day the bird was seen again on the beach and the next day he lay dead along the road to this beach.
Jeroen Reneerkens for years has been doing research into sanderlings. To do that, he has a large network of people in many countries who help with the rings and retrieval of this species. Except for Iceland also in Greenland, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Mauritania, Ghana and Namibia research teams are involved. There are 6,000 birds ringed and 61,000 observations noted. A chore, but it provides a lot of information on which the survival of sanderlings can be mapped accurately. Furthermore, the scientists discovered that while most sanderlings are worm eaters, they eat shellfish only in Ghana! They swallow them in their entirety and so have strong stomach muscles. The life of bird G3BGGW is not over. Jeroen will investigate this bird further. By viewing its organs and fat, he hopes to find out why the animal died: by disease, age, something else? Such a fresh dead bird is an unique opportunity!
This 15 January 2015 video from Britain says about itself:
Published time: February 08, 2015 16:10
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, said the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake and helped to create the Islamist State militant group. He also blamed regional powers for making the conflict worse.
“I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” Kofi Annan told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. He added that some of these former security force members went on to join the Islamic State.
“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. He added that the country has been unstable ever since and this has proved the perfect breeding ground for Sunni radical Muslims, who have become affiliated with the Islamic State.
The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stunned the world last summer by capturing large swaths of Iraq and Syria, including the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has created what it calls an Islamic caliphate that straddles the Iraq-Syria border.
The Islamic State has advocated the rape and selling into slavery of women they capture. IS rules state that it’s permissible to rape a slave “immediately after taking possession of her” and that it’s okay “to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse.”
“The Islamic State is destroying the diversity and pluralism in the Middle East,” Annan concluded.
In order to halt the spread of extremism, Annan said that governments must do more to tackle problems such as unemployment, rather than just arresting critics of the regimes.
In northern Iraq, the communists have set up their own armed units alongside Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces to defend communities against “fascist” Isis. The Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain (CCCPB) seminar also heard how Nato member Turkey and Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar had facilitated the rise of Isis: here.
‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her: here.
The US invasion of Iraq was based on lies and has lead to unspeakable horrors. It is time for accountability, says former UN representative to Iraq, Hans von Sponeck: here.
Nearly a year after the debacle suffered by US imperialism and the regime it imposed during more than eight bloody years of war and occupation of Iraq—the fall of the country’s second largest city, Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—a similar collapse has unfolded in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province: here.