Johnson’s ‘Success’ blown to pieces!

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All very true!! The highest death-rates in Europe (second only to the USA) can hardly be called a success!!! They need to stop being so arrogant and apologise!!

The Corona Diaries – Day 59

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Well the verdict on Johnson’s attempt at being upbeat is that it was abysmal. All he has done is muddy the waters, give licence to the imbeciles and open us up to more danger. I predict a big second wave. He has put a lot of people at risk!

I played some Billy Bragg – the early strident stuff. It was inspiring.

Today I went for a walk to Lowthorpe to clear my head. It was coldish but no wind. The cloud was low and dark giving a sinister feel to the fields. I thought that was in keeping with the mood of the country.

As I walked a poem came into my head – based on the Billy Bragg song I was listening too.

I came back, did some lunch for the two of us (Liz still can’t put weight on her foot) and did some editing on Star. It’s going slowly.

A bit more editing of the Roy Harper book which is proceeding slowly.

Feeling tired and jaded! Maybe this isolation is beginning to get to me?

Never mind! Plug on!!

Stay safe everyone. Tomorrow is a new day!!

Garrison Keillor: Happy Birthday to Edward Lear and Florence Nightingale!

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On his daily “The Writer’s Almanac,” Garrison Keillor recognizes two important historical birthdays today. I must have read every Edward Lear poem and limerick to my children. His writings gave them a love of language and wordplay, which I believe is a firm foundation for learning..

Today is the birthday of the poet and artist Edward Lear (books by this author) who wrote lots of limericks and nonsense verse, including “The Owl and the Pussycat.” He was born in London in 1812. He was the 20th of 21 children, about half of whom died in infancy. Lear himself survived to the age of 75, but he suffered epileptic seizures and was prone to fits of deep depression, which he dubbed “the Morbids.”

He began selling his drawings when he was 16, and later found work as a drawing teacher, and a sign painter, and an illustrator of medical textbooks. He was hired by the London Zoological Society to produce a series of bird paintings, and he insisted on only painting from live specimens, not stuffed dead birds. His paintings impressed Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby, so much that Stanley asked Lear to come and document the animals in the private zoo he kept on his estate. Lear lived at Knowsley Hall for four years on and off, working on the paintings, which were eventually published in the book Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall (1846). He also befriended the Earl’s grandchildren and began writing poetry for them including “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

It’s the birthday of Florence Nightingale, born in Florence, Italy, to a wealthy English family (1820). Her parents didn’t have any sons, and they gave her advantages that would have gone to a son, though they still expected her to marry and be a wife and mother. When she was 25, Nightingale told her parents that she wanted to become a nurse. Since nursing was a working-class occupation, her parents were horrified, but she believed she had been given a purpose by God.

In London, Nightingale met Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America. Blackwell encouraged and inspired her, and she finally obtained her father’s permission to study nursing when she was 31. And in 1854, with the British Army crippled by outbreaks of typhus, cholera, and dysentery during the Crimean War, she took a group of 38 nurses to Turkey. She became known as “the lady with the lamp,” because she would quietly make her rounds among the patients at all hours of the night. Conditions in the field hospitals were appalling, and she began a campaign to reform them, but the military stonewalled her. She used her London newspaper contacts to publish accounts of the horrible way wounded soldiers were being treated. Finally she was allowed to reorganize the barracks hospitals. She thought that the high death rates were due to poor nutrition and overwork; it wasn’t until after the war that she realized the role that proper sanitation played in patient care.

After the war, she continued to fight for military hospital reform and the education of nurses; she was soon one of the most famous and influential women in Britain, second only to Queen Victoria. In 1860, she founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses. But she had returned from the war an invalid herself, possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and for the last several years of her life, she was in need of nursing herself.

Here is Lear’s most famous poem. Someone set it to music, and we used to sing it together.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Trump incompetence video

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No wonder America is a basket case!


The Monday Peeve 35

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Monday Peeve cat

Smiles and positive posts are all well and good, but sometimes I need to vent a bit. How about you? That’s what The Monday Peeve is all about, a chance to blow off a little steam at the beginning of the week, so then we can go merrily on our way once again (hah). I’ll pick a topic that’s on my mind, but you can vent about whatever you please, here in comments or on your own blog. Grab the photo, use the #TMP tag, and link back to me (or not ~ I dgaf), and Bob’s yer uncle. I do reserve the right to delete any links that offend my delicate sensibilities. So far, none have, but it could happen! I have feelings!


Man, this one is sure overdue and I can’t believe I’ve waited until TMP 35 to mention it. I’m sure you know what I mean. Right? RIGHT? I am talking about yours truly. Yep, this peeve is about me, myself, and I, that annoying trio of wishy-washy, say one thing and do another, can’t make up their minds, flippety flopperoos. Gahhh, they drive me nuts! One day they say they’re gonna exercise and there they are again, just blobbing around doing nothing but sit-sit-sitting and making excuses. Another time they’re gonna “work on their novel,” but instead I see them reading blog posts, checking the news, and just generally goofing off. Oh, here’s a good one… they decide to “cook healthy food.” Bwahahaha, don’t make me laugh! Why then is the trash filled with empty boxes of Lean Cuisines? Grrrr, I wish they’d stick to their plans! 😡


Image originally from Pixabay.

©2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Minority communities equally contributing in the fight against COVID-19

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Union Minister for Minority Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said here that more than 1500 Health Care Assistants, who have been trained under skill development programme of Minority Affairs Ministry, are assisting in treatment and well-being of Corona patients. Shri Naqvi said here that these Health Care Assistants include 50 per cent girls who […]

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Source: Minority communities equally contributing in the fight against COVID-19

Preparedness and containment measures taken for COVID-19

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Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare held a high level meeting today with Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim to review the status of COVID-19 in the north-eastern States along with the measures being taken for its containment and management, in the presence of Sh. Ashwini Kumar […]

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Source: Preparedness and containment measures taken for COVID-19

Looking at school sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa on Hand Hygiene Day

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Hand hygiene is the one certain weapon we have against coronavirus. In high-income countries, as we wrote about this morning, multiple reports are emerging of teachers concerned that schools are going to re-open without sufficient hygiene management in place. In sub-Saharan African countries, however, children may be out of school for a while if hygiene management is the criterion for schools to re-open: only 53% schools have basic sanitation facilities and water.


Image: GEM Report/Kate Holt

UNESCO just released a resource Paper on Preparing the Reopening of Schools, saying that the critical aspects around school reopening are timing, conditions and processes.  A newFramework for Opening Schools also produced by UNESCO, but also UNICEF, the World Bank and the World Food Programme says countries must “ensure conditions that reduce disease transmission, safeguard essential services and supplies and promote healthy behaviour. This includes access to soap and clean water for safe handwashing, procedures on when staff or students feel unwell, protocols on social distancing and good hygiene practices.” Just how feasible is this?

Many efforts are already underway in the region to meet these and similar pieces of advice on effective hygiene management issued by the WHO, including reported plans to disinfect every school nationwide in Nigeria before they re-open, for instance. Masks as well as hygiene kits are reportedly being distributed to all schools in Senegal prior to opening again in June as well. UNESCO’s Paper on Preparing the Reopening of Schools has further information from current practices about the most critical aspects around school reopening.

In South Africa, meanwhile, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced that re-opening schools from June 1 was dependent on them being able to implement Covid-19 health and safety measures. NATU, the teacher union, however, has very little confidence they will manage this task. Currently only 78% of schools in the country have basic water facilities.

Similar to the way that the arrival of Covid has shone a light on the work still to be done in education as regards technology access, there should be no under-estimating the size of the task in hand to make all learning environments fit Covid-standards. Uganda’s School Health Policy has been a draft for the past 18 years, for instance. There are six countries in sub-Saharan Africa where fewer than one in five schools have handwashing facilities.

Schools are often far more overcrowded in low income settings, making it hard to replicate rules on small class sizes when schools re-open. Many schools have almost 40 children in a class, for instance, in sub-Saharan Africa. If they’re to maintain social distancing, and only have 15 children per class, that would result in every child only going to school two days a week at most.

Complicating the task even more is the fact that, in some countries, as in Uganda, some schools have been used as quarantine centres, something that is not helping cement the idea that they will be properly sanitary when they reunite.

And we should not forget that this is a region with one of the highest numbers of people displaced due to conflict and unrest in the world, many of whom are now living in camps, where rules on sanitation and social distancing are doubly challenged, including in camp schools.

The world over, children often do not have the same heightened awareness of dangers that adults do, meaning that returning to school opens the door to greater transmission risk than during lock-down. Even outside of official school rules and provided facilities, some factors of hygiene are outside of anyone’s control: children may only rarely wash their uniforms, they may share soft drinks as well as their food utensils, such as cups or bowls.

While we must clearly factor in the extent to which disadvantages are being compounded during this crisis of school closures, providing a safe-learning environment is equally critical to their ability to learn when classes start again. It is not a coincidence that a full target in SDG 4 is dedicated to this issue. This is as good a chance as any to remind policy makers of that fact, and highlight the often pitiful school environments children have to learn in. It is critical we ensure schools are safe, and good quality when they open again, especially when, in current circumstances, their health as well as their education depend on it.

How will Covid-19 affect the internationalization of higher education?

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Image: Refugee Trauma Initiative © UNHCR/Antoine Tardy

University costs. It didn’t take long after universities closed their doors in the United States, for instance, for students to start advocating to get their money back. Twitter is awash with professors concerned about the impact that shutting universities is going to have on their institutions in the long-term. University is one of the biggest investments many people will make in their lifetime. But why do so when you could be paying a fraction of the price to take part in an online course? What about students and professors shut out of the countries where they are supposed to be studying and teaching? The ramifications are complex, and heavily intertwined with economics.

Many universities reduced or suspended fees in some way. The University of Chicago agreed to freeze tuition for the next academic year. Universities in Dubai slashed their fees and fees were suspended in 52 universities in Thailand. Chile also passed a bill on March 27 to suspend all tuition fee payments for as long as the coronavirus crisis lasts.

Stopping fees doesn’t stop interest related to student loans, though. In the United States, loans amount to a whopping $1.59 trillion. A $2.2 trillion stimulus plan, the CARES Act, will give some relief to some students, but with many exceptions. Student Loan Borrower Assistance, an NGO, estimates that around nine million students have at least one loan that doesn’t qualify for relief under the plan.

Even if tuition fees have frozen and some relief is given for student loans, it’s not guaranteed that the cost of this pandemic for universities will not roll over back onto students when term re-starts. Michigan State University, for instance, announced a 4% tuition increase for the upcoming year at the same time as it announced freezing tuition costs.

Student and academic mobility on lock-down

The blow will be particularly hard for those countries that have internationalized their higher education. Half of all international students move to five English‑speaking countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. This movement brings money, which is important not only for higher education institutions but the whole economy. In 2016, international students brought an estimated US$39.4 billion into the US economy.

Chinese students, in particular, are a large revenue stream for many universities, reportedly spending an estimated US$30 billion a year on overseas tuition. The University of Connecticut, for instance, hosted nearly 3,000 students from China last autumn and is now bracing for international enrolment to drop by up to 75% next year, equal to a loss of up to $70 million.

Australia is also a major destination for Chinese students, who contributed around $8 million to the Australian economy in 2019. Chinese students make up no fewer than one quarter of all students at the University of Sydney, for example.  As early as February, travel bans prevented hundreds of thousands of Chinese from returning to universities where they were studying or were due to begin courses. This saw some institutions in Australia offering Chinese students $1,500 for travelling in from a third country to get around restrictions. These sorts of tricks might start multiplying if lock downs continue.

Travel bans and restrictions will no doubt linger once confinement periods are lifted. A study of students from Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan has estimated that around 40% of students from are changing study abroad plans since the pandemic.

Just as mobility of students will be affected by travel and economic limitations, so will the mobility of academics. The United States hosts the most transient academics, which made up 25% of new academic positions. At Miami University in Ohio, which is bracing for a 20% drop in new students, officials are drafting plans that would cut at least half, if not all, visiting assistant professorships.

Can universities survive the storm?

It is hard to know whether life will return to normal or not once this phase is over. But, just like any company that has been frozen during the lockdown, it is likely that some private higher education institutions will simply not survive this lock-down. The Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities, which represents 27 state and private universities in the country, said that suspending tuition fees would have a ‘serious and insurmountable impact, especially on regional universities’, while the rector of the Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile was a bit more direct, calling it ‘a hair-brained idea’.

The losses for some individual institutions are not insubstantial: Bucknell University in Pennsylvania says it has lost $150 million from its endowment after recent investment losses. Michigan State University has put the cost of the outbreak already at $50-60 million.  The $2 trillion rescue bill in the United States includes $14 billion for higher education, but the American Council on Education, an association of college presidents, called it woefully inadequate saying that $50 billion was needed.

What the future will bring

International higher education is only a small part of the sector: just over 2% of students are mobile. But it is a part that is taking an almighty hit during the pandemic with potential knock-on effects on some host countries’ higher education systems, notably Anglophone countries and those in the Gulf, which increasingly rely on foreign students’ fees. These countries but also others, such as Japan, may spend less time trying to strategise how to recruit international students, as many have been doing recently.

Depending on where you sit, the plight of roughly 2% of the global student population with the luxury of international higher education is not something that should be a priority. Especially when the concerns are mostly about a wobble in a money market associated with education, which has been a worrying growing trend over past years. However, to this we should also remind ourselves of the vital purpose of higher education in society, and the gains in global citizenship we get from student and academic mobility. A wobble in international higher education will ripple across into the higher education systems reliant upon those funds as well, which is a worry for millions of students. Higher education is critical for countries plans for economic and social recovery; it is more than ever essential to invest in research and student collaboration that can help find the answers we need to live in such unstable and uncertain times and now would be a good time for governments and higher education institutions to make that point.