Teachers, parents fret over health risks as schools prepare to reopen

first_imgTody Yusuf, 35, said he became worried upon hearing that his child’s kindergarten in East Lampung may soon reopen.The regency is among the few regions that was labeled a “green zone” by the national COVID-19 task force as of June 7, meaning that it has the lowest risk of infection.Tody, who works as an official at the East Lampung Planning Agency, had yet to hear about any updates from the school as of Wednesday, but he said he would check the premises himself during the planned reopening to gauge whether or not to allow his children to go back to school. Around 90 cities and regencies across the nation are considered green zones, Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said during an online press conference on Tuesday.The number of students in those areas is roughly equivalent to 6 percent of all students in the country, while the remaining 94 percent must continue their education through online learning modules.The minister said schools could be closed again if there was any COVID-19 transmission in the areas, or if the risk status of the area had changed to yellow, orange or red.Nadiem said he would hand over the final say to reopen schools in green zone areas to their respective regional administrations, but added that schools must still fulfill strict requirements and health protocols before they can reopen. All students are also still required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.Read also: School reopening raises concerns as health risks loomDespite the gradual easing of restrictions, people who live outside the designated green zones are worried that the government might be making a big mistake.Adithya Eka Putra, 38, a private sector employee from South Tangerang, said that the reopening plan did not convince him to allow his 5-year-old child to go back to kindergarten, even if officials decided to resume activities.The reason, he said, was that the number of COVID-19 infections was still high in his area. South Tangerang recorded 355 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, the second-highest in Banten province, according to infocorona.bantenprov.go.id.“I would rather have at-home learning until the government can absolutely ensure that the situation is conducive [to going back to school], even though we don’t know when that will happen,” he said.Teachers have also raised concerns.More than half of all school administrators across the country said they were not ready to resume face-to-face learning or usher in the so-called “new normal” period, mostly due to a lack of infrastructure and funding, a recent survey by the Federation of Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) revealed.Read also: Indonesian schools not ready for ‘new normal’: SurveyIn South Tangerang, kindergarten and playgroup teacher Ellisa Tisbiawati, 37, said that building awareness among her students to follow and maintain health and safety measures would be a major hurdle – the younger the student, the more challenging it would be.“That task is hard because many of us parents may get carried away by our busy schedules, while [us teachers] are either overwhelmed or not ready to respond positively or wisely to this situation,” she said.Health experts have also weighed in on the situation, concerned that the government’s decisions may have wider implications than can be predicted.Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Griffith University in Australia, urged the government to delay learning activities at school until the end of 2020.He advised both the central and regional governments to consult the relevant experts should they insist on reopening schools, even for areas that are in green zones.The current zoning system and the data provided were “relatively unreliable”, he said, owing mostly to limited testing capacity preventing any real-time observation.“The fact remains that our situation in the pandemic has yet to reach its peak, and that [effective] control has yet to be optimized,” Dicky said.Instead, schools and the government should still keep the option to learn from home on the table to cater to parents who won’t allow their children to go back to school.Online and long-distance learning or door-to-door teaching in small groups may have their own merits given the circumstances, he said.[RA::Teachers go extra mile to teach students as schools remain closed:https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/06/08/teachers-go-extra-mile-to-teach-students-as-schools-remain-closed.html]Andreas Tambah, an education expert from the National Commission on Education (Komnas Pendidikan), supported delaying the reopening of schools, given the probability that COVID-19 will continue to spread and that some segments of the general population still lack the discipline to follow health protocols.He urged schools to clearly communicate what health procedures would be enforced to appease parents and calm fears over the heightened risk of transmission.“Reopening schools is very risky,” he said. “Family backgrounds vary – some will obey [protocol] while others won’t, but the students will [intermingle all the same].”Forty-five-year-old Eko Purwanto, a civil servant from East Lampung, said he was happy to hear that his children could go back to school, as long as health protocol was observed.“We feel sorry for our children; they say they are already tired of [learning from home], and they always ask me when they can go to school again,” he said. “Indeed, East Lampung is in the green zone, but we don’t know what will happen in the future,” Tody said.His worries echo the concerns of many other parents in Indonesia following the Education and Culture Ministry’s decision to allow a gradual reopening of schools located in COVID-19 low-risk areas beginning in July.According to the ministry’s updated official academic calendar, the 2020-2021 school year will start on July 13.Read also: Indonesia to allow phased reopening of schools in COVID-19 ‘green zones’: Ministercenter_img Topics :last_img read more

Export gloom sours Pakistan’s prized mango season

first_imgTopics : Dwindling harvests, drooping demand and export supply chains hit by the coronavirus are biting into Pakistan’s mango industry, with producers of the prized fruit battling to weather a disastrous season.Across Pakistan’s “mango belt” in Punjab and Sindh provinces, farmers say a long winter and changing rain patterns have slashed production by up to half this year – just as virus shutdowns sparked border restrictions and spiraling export costs. “There are multiple problems that mango farmers are facing,” said Rana Muhammad Azim, whose family has been producing the fruit in Punjab for generations.  “The situation is extremely worrisome for us. The mangoes are ready, but no exporter is willing to take the risk and place orders,” he said, adding that he was already suffering from a 40 percent decline in the harvest.Pakistan produced more than 1.5 million tons of mangoes in 2019 – and exported a record 115,000 tons worth US$80 million – making it the sixth-largest exporter of the fruit in the world.But Waheed Ahmed, head of a produce association in Pakistan, said exports have dropped around 40 percent compared to the same period last year, with just a few months left of the season.Known in South Asia as the “king of fruits”, the mango originated in the Indian subcontinent with two dozen varieties grown in Pakistan.center_img The country’s most treasured variety is the greenish-yellow Chaunsa, known for its rich, unique flavor and juicy pulp.The fruit also helps sweeten diplomatic relations, with Pakistan sending crates of its best produce to India’s prime minister every year, regardless of the political climate between the hostile neighbors.It has also earned a place in recent literary history, with renowned Pakistan author Mohammed Hanif longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for “A Case of Exploding Mangoes”, a comic novel based on an unexplained 1988 plane crash that killed former president Muhammad Zia ul-Haq.Rotting fruitsWith much of the world’s air traffic grounded by the coronavirus, exports of the best prime, ripe fruit by plane to the United States and Europe have been particularly hard hit, but ground transport has also been badly affected.Dozens of trucks piled high with the yellow fruit were stranded at the border with Iran last month, their precious cargo rotting in the searing 40-degree heat.Even where trading has continued via sea to the key Middle East market – which accounts for 70 percent of exports – demand has plunged.Since the virus took hold shoppers are making fewer outings to supermarkets and are wary of spending on luxury items, while Pakistani migrant workers who relish the fruit have returned home. The domestic market brings far less revenue.In one bright spot, harvests were at least spared the ravages of the worst locust plague in 25 years, which wiped out entire vegetable and cotton harvests.As flights resume and border restrictions are eased, growers hope to increase exports in the second half of the season to avoid a complete lost season.”The situation has forced us to think of new solutions,” said producer Muhammad Ali Gardezi, who for the first time has taken his business online, delivering door-to-door in the age of social distancing.last_img read more

PWRI voted top pension fund in the Netherlands

first_imgThe €431bn civil service scheme ABP received the Communication Award for the insight it offered its participants into their accrued pension through their “personal pension pot”.The judges also deemed the Dutch general pension fund of Unilever the best large scheme, describing it as “all round solid”. PWRI, the Dutch pension fund for disabled workers in a sheltered environment, has been proclaimed the best Dutch pension fund for 2019.The €9bn scheme took home the golden award at the annual conference and awards hosted by Dutch pensions publication Pensioen Pro last week.PWRI received the award for its efforts as an investor to encourage firms in its investment universe to employ people with a disability. The judges said this was an entirely exclusive way of engagement benefiting the scheme’s participants.The €1.5bn pension fund for electronics firm Thales Netherlands won the silver award for best scheme with assets under €5bn, in particular for excellence on policy, performance, governance, communication and client satisfaction. Source: Tilburg UniversityLans Bovenberg, professor at Tilburg University and co-founder of NetsparLans Bovenberg, economist and co-founder of Dutch pensions think-tank Netspar, was also recognised for his outstanding contribution to the Dutch pensions sector.The judges said that Bovenberg, who co-founded Netspar in 2005, was an “original thinker, innovator and bridge builder as well an a connecting force between science and the sector”.Bovenberg had, for example, developed the concept of improved defined contribution with collective risk-sharing, which is one of the alternative options currently being considered for a new pensions system in the Netherlands.last_img read more

Total U-20 AFCON: Ghana loses 1-0 to Mali to exit tournament

first_imgGhana’s Black Satellites lost 1-0 to Mali on Saturday in their final Group B match of the ongoing Total U20 AFCON being played in Niger.The Satellites needed to avoid defeat to give them passage to the semi-finals of the tournament and a place in the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland.The first half went by without any major activity even though the Malians looked more lively than their Ghanaian opponents.However, the Malians found the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Hadji Drame  nodded home a cross from just inside Ghana’s penalty area.Ghana coach Jimmy Cobblah made changes with Saliw Babawo coming on for Enock Agyei and Ibrahim Sulley replacing Sabit Abdulai but not even these amendments could turn the tide for the Ghanaians.The result means that Ghana finishes 3rd in the group on 3 points with Senegal on 9 and Mali on 6.Africa will thus be represented by Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and South Africa in the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland. –By: Citi Sportslast_img read more