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International

Dispatches

March 01, 2003 2 min read

MALAYSIA

Science Diction: In January, after months of contentious debate between the government and opposition groups, Malaysian schools began conducting science and mathematics classes in English, the Straits Times reports. Chinese and Malaysian nationalists object to the move because they fear it will contribute to the demise of local languages, but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad maintains that students need English skills in those subjects to succeed in an increasingly global economy. To help with the transition, the education ministry is issuing nearly $224 million worth of new textbooks, supplementary software, and equipment such as overhead projectors and audio-enabled laptops. One feature of the software: Teachers can click on words like “luminous” and “Bunsen burner” for on-the-spot translation.


SWEDEN

Cash Incentive: In the face of growing truancy rates nationwide, administrators at one Stockholm high school are hoping to convince their students that it pays to stay in school—literally. Beginning next fall, the Falkenberg tourism school will give 500 kronor (about $58) to each student with perfect attendance for four consecutive weeks, the Agence France-Presse reports. Principal Bengt Walter, for one, believes that getting kids to show up is half the battle. “We will be able to increase the school’s efficiency because the students will take on more responsibility,” he says. The truancy rate at area schools is about 10 percent.


NEPAL

Certified Fake: Almost 10 percent of the 150,000 educators in Nepal are suspected of forging their qualification certificates. That’s the finding of the country’s Commission for Investigation on Abuse of Authority, which determined during a probe last year that about 14,800 applicants for teaching jobs had false credentials. “A majority of fake certificate-holding teachers are found at schools in the southern tropical Terai belt, where forged certificates can be obtained for $150 to $500,” a CIAA official tells the Agence France-Presse. In response to the findings, the education ministry plans to investigate the qualifications of all current teachers and to act within six months against those with bogus certificates.


KENYA

Coming of Age: Current students aren’t the only ones benefiting from Kenya’s recent move to provide free education, according to the Daily Nation: A 27-year-old man who was forced to drop out 10 years ago re-enrolled in primary school in January. After George Ouma’s father died in the 1990s, his guardian refused to send him to school, and other family members couldn’t afford the fees. He attempted to collect the funds himself by herding cattle, but the little money he earned was taken by his elder brother and mother, the paper reports. Ouma joined the 3rd grade class at Gamba Primary School after the National Rainbow Coalition, which was elected this past December, instituted the free school program.

—Lani Harac

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