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Published in Print: October 1, 2001, as Dispatches

Dispatches

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BELGIUM

A Is for Ale: A beer society in Belgium recently asked approximately 30 schools to consider serving the malt beverage in their cafeterias—and some have said yes. Inspired by a national study showing that children who drink sugary beverages have an increased risk of obesity and breast cancer, members of the Limberg Beer Friends wrote to schools suggesting they substitute a low-alcohol table beer for high-calorie drinks such as lemonade and Coke.

"Beer is for the whole family," says Rony Langenaeken, president of the group. He dismisses the possibility that kids might overindulge at lunch time: "You'd have to drink five or six liters [around 1.5 gallons] of the stuff to get drunk, and these will just be 25-centiliter or 33-centiliter [about 11-ounce] bottles." One school has already tested the drink among its students (approval rating: 75 percent), and others are planning to offer it at their cafeterias this fall, the Guardian reports from Brussels.


SOUTH AFRICA

Survival Lessons: HIV/AIDS education was the hot topic at a recent conference designed to draft a national sex education curriculum, according to Business Day, a South African daily. ( "Better AIDS Education Mooted," Aug. 21, 2001.)

Pointing out that an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of South African children are infected with HIV by the time they leave middle school, Albertina Luthuli, a doctor and politician, argued that AIDS education should be integrated into elementary classes just like social sciences, art, and languages.

"HIV/AIDS is about much more than science; it is about much more than just sex," she said. "It's about our very survival as a nation." Other speakers, including Education Minister Kader Asmal, echoed this sentiment, and delegates proposed lesson ideas for students as young as 6.


ENGLAND

Job Unsatisfaction: A majority of public school teachers in northern England would rather switch to another profession, and those with fewer than five years' experience are the most disillusioned with their jobs, according to a recent survey on the British Web site "Just for Teachers." (Read the survey results.)

Twenty-two percent of new teachers want to quit outright, and about 50 percent of them are considering applying for work in private education. Why are these teachers so burned out? They're tired of dealing with disruptive and violent students, the survey says. "Unless there are some active steps taken to enhance the perception of value and worth of teaching, the situation will continue," warns John Heslop, an officer with the National Association of Head Teachers.


FRANCE

Bully for Them: French students have a new retort to schoolyard taunting—"I'm insured against you!" Parents can now buy bully insurance to cover ripped clothing, stolen textbooks, and hospital bills for kids attacked by playground tyrants. So far, most claims have been for high-end clothing and shoes, according to media reports. The Education Ministry says there are 30,000 cases of this kind of theft every year.

—Katharine Dunn

Vol. 13, Issue 2, Page 13

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