‘Philanthropic’ billionaires privatise education


British teachers, parents and pupils protest against the academisation of Copland School by the Ark charity

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

PHILANTHROPY IS PROMOTING THE PRIVATISATION OF EDUCATION

‘[In sheep’s clothing]: Philanthropy [and] the privatisation of the ‘democratic’ state: who needs a Ministry of Education?’ ironically ask the authors of a new report which sheds light on the unprecedented role of ‘philanthropic’ actors in education policy-making.

The report, launched by Education International (EI), the global education union confederation, lifts the lid on the activities of so-called philanthropic organisations involved in promoting the commercialisation, marketisation and privatisation of education systems around the world.

A growing number of philanthropic organisations are self-assuming roles, bypassing the scrutiny and accountability that governments and elected officials are subject to. These roles range from the direct provision of education services to the involvement in policy design, as well as network building in order to promote and implement specific policy ideas.

The report, In sheep’s clothing: Philanthropy and the privatisation of the ‘democratic’ state, raises questions about a potential conflict of interest as a result of the dual role of philanthropic organisations as both advocates and beneficiaries of specific educational reforms.

Epitomising this trend, the report puts the spotlight on the practices of UK charity Absolute Return for Kids (Ark) in promoting the privatisation of education in the UK and beyond, including countries such as India, Liberia, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, the Philippines and Brazil.

Following on from its involvement in a controversial privatisation programme in Liberia – in which Ark advised the government in overall programme design and contract structure, Ark is currently advising the Ghanaian government to introduce a similar public private partnership (PPP) programme – the Ghana Partnership Schools project.

The Liberian government’s own commissioned report found that its PPP programme was not cost effective, unsustainable and not without negative consequences to surrounding schools. Thousands of children were pushed out of their local schools as a result of this experiment.

Reports on the development of a similar programme in Ghana have been met by strong opposition from teachers who have served notice they will resist any attempt by the government to privatise, commercialise and commodify public education in the country.

Christian Addai-Poku, President of Education International African Regional Committee, stated: ‘These organisations do not come to Africa for altruistic purposes. ‘With little regard for both local contexts and stakeholders, they seek to impose privatisation agendas by bringing considerable financial and “political” influence to bear upon governments in Africa.’

General Secretary of Education International, David Edwards, stated: ‘Of great concern is the uncritical approach to some policy initiatives and programmes that are being presented by Ark as models to be exported. ‘The academy school model promoted by Ark is not without controversy or scandal in the UK.

‘It is crucial for organisations exporting such policies to deal with criticisms they generate domestically before embarking on moving them abroad.’ The launch of the research In sheep’s clothing: Philanthropy and the privatisation of the ‘democratic’ state by A Olmedo & C Junemann, takes place today, Wednesday, 20th March, at 14:30 pm-16.30pm at UCL Institute of Education, Room W2.05 20 Bedford Way, London WC1.

In addition to Christian Addai-Poku, present at the launch will be David Ofori Acheampong, General Secretary GNAT and Eric Kofi Agbe Carbonu, President NAGRAT who will speak on Ark’s promotion of PPPs in Ghana.

The report examines the rationale and modus operandi of philanthropic edu-business.

The second part of the report focuses on the global activities of UK registered Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), an academy sponsor which runs 38 schools in Birmingham, Hastings, London and Portsmouth.

It analyses Ark’s roles and activities in education systems globally including through the direct provision of education, curriculum development, teacher training, enabling the development of education markets, network building and advocacy, school accountability and more.

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: ‘This important report makes clear that the commercialisation, marketisation and privatisation of education is a global ambition. ‘Ark has been a leading proponent of privatisation in and of education in England through its academy programme, maths mastery curriculum and teacher training initiatives. ‘This report sheds important light on Ark’s involvement in edu-business on a global scale.

‘Education is a multi-billion-pound business opportunity for those who seek to turn a profit. ‘Privateers, hiding beneath the cloak of philanthropy, are a serious threat to the EI’s goal of achieving free quality public education for all across the world. ‘The NEU and its sister unions in EI understand the importance of education for the public good and we will continue to work together to defend the rights of all children to a high-quality education, free at the point of use, and untarnished by corporate greed.’

• Commenting on the results of a YouGov survey commissioned by More than a Score, released on Monday, which shows the level of school leaders’ frustrations with the government’s assessment regime, Dr Mary Bousted, the other Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: ‘The results of this survey demonstrate that the assessment system imposed on primary schools is neither liked nor trusted by school leaders.

‘We hear continually from the Department for Education and from Ofsted that they want to improve the quality of primary education and lessen the stress on pupils and teachers. ‘But, as long as government clings on to the discredited SATs-based system, significant change will not be possible.

‘Teachers want to work in schools where pupils are challenged, delighted, supported and engaged by their learning – it is a scandal and a tragedy that government policy frustrates these aspirations.’

• Seven Jersey schools were closed yesterday as teachers belonging to the National Education Union (NEU) went on strike following their rejection of the latest States Employment Board (SEB) offer. Andy Woolley, NEU Regional Secretary, said: ‘We informed the States last weekend that there was an overwhelming rejection of their offer of just the Retail Price Index rise plus 1.3% for 2020 with no change to 2018 and 2019 when the imposed awards were well below inflation.

‘Members have contacted us to confirm that they feel it is unacceptable to still have a fall in their standard of living over the three years.’ Members of the NASUWT sister teachers’ union in Jersey have also overwhelmingly rejected the latest SEB pay offer.

They are particularly angry about the imposition by the SEB of an inadequate pay award for 2018 and 2019 and the SEB’s refusal to even discuss improvements on the imposed award. In the light of the SEB’s intransigence the union has announced a day of strike action on 26 March 2019.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: ‘Our National Action Committee met today and considered the feedback from members on the latest pay offer. The depth of anger about the offer was evident.

‘Despite our best efforts, the SEB has failed to engage meaningfully in the negotiations.

‘Discussions too often are peppered with threats to withdraw offers on the table if certain, unreasonable, conditions are not met.

‘Our members are angry and disillusioned that the SEB does not appear to value their contribution and the work they do for the children and young people of Jersey.

‘In the light of the response from members to the latest offer, we have no alternative but to reinstate the strike action and have given notice to the SEB of an initial day of action on 26 March 2019.

‘The NASUWT is committed to securing a negotiated outcome with the SEB and avoid the disruption to pupils and parents, but they need to come back to the negotiating table genuinely willing to engage on the whole pay award, to have meaningful discussions and to make an improved offer.’

• Tory-led Wandsworth Council in south London are currently ‘planning major changes’ to the way that provision for children with a diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Disorder and/or Social Communication is organised and funded in the borough. The Council wants to cut Specialist Teachers in the Advisory Teams from nine to three, make up to 13 experienced professionals redundant, and require the new team to focus primarily on clearing the backlog of diagnoses rather than supporting children in schools and early years settings.

This will hugely reduce the support available for children, their families and teachers.

Wandsworth Council claim that the same budget will go to the new service as now, but they are forced to acknowledge that the number of children currently diagnosed with ASD has increased twofold in recent years – from one in every hundred children to more than two per hundred.

Canada: Doug Ford’s right-wing … Conservative government has unveiled a plan that in the name of education “reform” makes savage cuts to Ontario’s public education system: here.

Common smoothhound shark on Texel island beach


This video from Jersey says about itself:

Common smooth hound (Mustelus mustelus)

19 July 2015

Chantelle Marie De Gruchy very kindly sent in this video of a Smooth Hound that she saw whilst diving St. Catherine’s breakwater.

The smooth hound is a species of shark found throughout the British Isles which can reach 4 foot in size! They typically eat small crustaceans and molluscs but occasionally take small fish.

Chantelle is currently studying for her master’s degree in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands today:

Shark on the beach – 22-09-2015

A special find on the beach of De Cocksdorp on Texel. There was a common smoothhound on the sand. The female had been dead for a while when she washed up. The eyes were out and there was a really fishy smell. Yet Ecomare has kept the animal; it is not every day that a shark washes up on a Dutch beach. In recent years, there seem to be again more sharks in the Wadden Sea.

Rare

The last thirty years the number of common smoothhound sharks along the Dutch coast has increased. Other shark species at the same time have gone down. This shark species can get quite large, up to 1.65 meters. The shark near De Cocksdorp was 80 centimeters. Smoothhound sharks have flat molars and are harmless to people. They live close to the coast. Usually they swim close to the sea floor where they look for crabs, shellfish and fish. They occur in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and thus the North Sea and Wadden Sea. Along the Dutch coast they are rare.

Sharks in the Netherlands

In the North Sea you can find several species of sharks. The small-spotted catshark is the most common. Besides common smoothhound sharks also school sharks live there. Spiny dogfish is seen in some years as well. You can even encounter basking sharks, nursehounds, porbeagle sharks and Atlantic thresher sharks in the North Sea, but these are super rare.

British Prime Minister Heath, more child abuse accusations


This video from Britain says about itself:

Edward Heath abuse claims: the investigations

4 August 2015

Three police forces are now investigating historic child sex abuse claims against former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Four forces and IPCC now looking at Heath abuse allegations

Wednesday 5th August 2015

FOUR police forces and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are now investigating allegations that Tory prime minister Edward Heath abused children.

The Star reported yesterday that Heath was at the heart of an IPCC corruption probe into Wiltshire Police, which allegedly dropped the trial of a person arrested on an unrelated charge in the 1990s after they threatened to expose the then-backbench MP who died in 2005.

The probe is being backed up by Wiltshire Police’s own investigation — and now the States of Jersey Police’s Operation Whistle, Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police are also reportedly involved.

Sir Edward Heath does feature as part of Operation Whistle, currently investigating historical allegations of abuse in Jersey,” a spokeswoman for the island’s force confirmed.

Wiltshire Police said that it and children’s charity NSPCC had received “a number of calls” after appealing on Monday for victims and witnesses to come forward.

One man has claimed that the former PM raped him in 1961 when he was just 12 years old, but that when he spoke up about the Conservative MP’s assault he was branded “a liar and a fantasist.”

Whistle was started following revelations about serious abuse at a Jersey care home and now notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile. Detectives on the island said in June that they were looking at 45 suspects, 13 of whom were “of public prominence.”

She said that Jersey officers were working with Operation Hydrant, a Britain-wide scheme that co-ordinates sex abuse probes.

The sprawling web of investigations is yet another indication of a potential cover-up of sex attacks on children by Establishment figures.

The cascade of revelations followed the IPCC’s announcement of its corruption probe into Wiltshire Police.

The force reportedly shelved the trial of a woman who was in charge of a brothel after she threatened to expose Mr Heath.

The Met refused to confirm whether it was looking into Mr Heath. Kent police has confirmed it is investigating a report of a sexual assault committed in East Kent in the 1960s, linked to Mr Heath by the alleged victim.

See also here.

Jersey: Among those who regularly visited the Haut de la Garenne home was the now-disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile. “Jimmy Savile often stayed in the same hotel as Ted Heath,” McGrath Goodman told the dpa news agency, adding that both men were alleged to have taken children from Haut de la Garenne: here.

Gloucestershire Police has said it has received an allegation involving the sexual abuse of a child against the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. It becomes the sixth police force looking into claims against the former Tory leader, after The Met, Wiltshire, Kent, Jersey and Hampshire services: here.

Claims police covered up historical child sex abuse by MPs and officers investigated: here.

Sir Edward Heath WAS a paedophile, says police chief: Astonishing claim is made that the former PM is guilty of vile crimes ‘covered up by the Establishment’: here.

Saving mammal species from extinction


This video, recorded on Jersey island, says about itself:

10 July 2015

In this last vlog from my trip to Durrell I film sections of my Project For Awesome video and also show you a section of interview I conducted with head of mammals at Durrell, Dom. I may also get a wee bit emotional toward to the end.

Thanks for coming with me on this journey!

New toad species discovery on Jersey


This is a Western Common Toad video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

New toad species identified in the UK

Toads on the island of Jersey have been found to be an entirely different species to toads found in the rest of the UK.

The Western Common Toad (Bufo spinosus) – which is also found in western France, Iberia and North Africa – is more genetically different from the Common Toad than humans are from gorillas or chimpanzees. In the UK they are found only in Jersey, which is the only location in the Channel Islands to have toads.

As a new species, the toads will need a tailored conservation programme in place in order to ensure their future survival in Jersey.

“We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey,” said Dr John Wilkinson, Science Programme Manager at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC). “They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”

Conservationists in the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal collaborated in order to correctly identify the toad. Fieldwork was carried out by Wilkinson along with researchers from Jersey Environment Department, and genetic studies were conducted by Dr Jan Arntzen at the Netherlands’ Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and Dr Inigo Martinez-Solano at CIBIO in Portugal.

John Pinel, Jersey’s Principal Ecologist, commented on the discovery: “Conservation of biodiversity in Jersey has always had a high priority; this news will help ensure that toads continue to receive the positive action they deserve.”

Saving Mauritian skinks


Orange-tailed skink

From Wildlife Extra:

Critically Endangered Mauritian skinks breeding fast at Durrell

Trio of female Mauritian skinks kick-start breeding programme in Jersey

September 2012. The breeding skills of three female orange-tailed skinks have impressed conservationists and given the new safety net population for their Critically Endangered reptile species a real chance for the future.

16 juveniles and 4 eggs

Over the past four months at the Durrell headquarters in Jersey, the females have produced a staggering 16 juveniles between them, all of which are doing well, and another 4 eggs are currently incubating. This is despite the fact that female skinks produce only two large eggs at one time and the trio were the only females out of 22 rescued orange-tailed skinks that were brought to Durrell a year ago that were able to breed; the others were still too small or male.

Matt Goetz, Head of Durrell’s Herpetology Department, said: “These three orange-tailed skinks have gone above and beyond our expectations for them since they arrived at Durrell a year ago and started breeding in March. When they were rescued from Flat Island in Mauritius following the invasion of the predatory Indian musk shrew, we knew that a safety net population elsewhere was going to be essential as their numbers were critically low.

But even in our wildest dreams, we couldn’t have hoped that the females would get off to such a flying start. They are clearly happy and healthy, and we are delighted that population numbers of the orange-tailed skink in Jersey are increasing so rapidly.”

Tourism development led to local extinction

The invasion of Flat Island by the Indian musk shrew followed the development of tourism there and sadly recent surveys have confirmed that no orange-tailed skinks have survived on the island.

Translocation

Fortunately, fears about the extinction of the species led Durrell’s team, along with staff from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Mauritius National Parks and Conservation Service, to translocate 82 orange-tailed skinks to the Mauritian nature reserve, Gunner’s Quoin, in 2008 and a further 390 in 2010. Unlike Flat Island access by tourists and the public is prohibited.

The restoration of Mauritian endemic reptile communities is one of Durrell’s core conservation projects and in an attempt to establish a safety net population, 22 of the rescued skinks made their way to Jersey in June 2011.

Dr. Nik Cole, Durrell’s team leader in the Mauritian reptile project said: “Aside from the population at Durrell, the only surviving orange-tailed skinks are present on Gunner’s Quoin and it will be years before we know whether the translocation there has been a success or we manage to find a way to tackle the shrew problem. That is what makes the safety net population of this Critically Endangered reptile so important and in turn what makes the news about the breeding trio of females such a delight.”

The first of the females’ eggs were laid after conservationists created the onset of an artificial wet and hot season in the skinks’ new habitat in March. Having produced four clutches each, the females will now rest and the artificial climate will cool down. Towards the end of the year, the Durrell team will initiate another hot, rainy season and by then the remaining skinks will have reached maturity and should start breeding as well.

See also here.

22 endangered Galliwasp lizards born in Jersey


This video says about itself:

The tiny island of Montserrat was devastated by a volcano in the late 1990’s. Over two thirds of its landmass was turned into a scorched moonscape.

From Wildlife Extra:

22 endangered Galliwasp lizards are born in Jersey

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is celebrating the birth of 22 endangered Haitian giant galliwasps at its Jersey headquarters. Galliwasps have been kept at Jersey for the last 18 months, after 19 captive bred animals were given to the trust by Nashville Zoo in the US.

This is the first time that these skink-like lizards have been bred in Europe, heralding a major step forward in the preservation of the Haitian galliwasp’s much rarer cousin – the Montserrat galliwasp.

Montserrat galliwasp

The Montserrat galliwasp is a secretive animal which has only been sighted a handful of times over the last decade, and is classified as critically endangered.

Scientists from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust are committed to preserving the unique wildlife found on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, and it is hoped that their work with the Haitian galliwasp will give them a better understanding of how to approach saving the galliwasp species found on Montserrat.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, Head of Herpetology at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: ‘We were delighted to discover a mini-invasion of galliwasps at the reptile facility – the newborns are tiny weighing just 1.5g but are all in good health. We are hoping that in the future we can replicate our success with this species with the Montserrat gallliwasp and prevent it from becoming extinct.’

The herpetology team have developed special marking, feeding and health screening techniques for the Haitian galliwasp which could also be transferable to other species.

A biodiversity assessment of Montserrat’s wildlife was carried out recently and the Trust is currently devising action plans for each of the island’s critically endangered species, including the Montserrat mountain chicken frog and the Montserrat oriole – along with the galliwasp both species are unique to Montserrat.

Endangered species in Canada: here.