Double Trouble: To reduce the length of high school in Ontario from five years to four, this spring the province's schools will graduate a super-sized class of kids in grades 12 and 13. But the cost-cutting move has students stressing about their academic futures, the Toronto Star reports. A recent poll by a Toronto-based firm reveals that two-thirds are worried that the size of their class will affect them negatively, including making it more difficult to secure places at their chosen universities and increasing competition for scholarships and financial aid. Students also complain that it's tougher to get individualized attention from guidance counselors, who must advise twice as many pupils this year. One respondent with an A average sums up what many kids are feeling: "The government really screwed us over."
Never Forget: Forty-eight countries throughout Europe have agreed to introduce an annual Holocaust Memorial Day to their education calendars. Schools in the Council of Europe's member states, which include France, Russia, and Germany, will each choose a day to set aside for activities designed to increase students' awareness of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. Simone Veil, a former French government minister and a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, tells the Agence France-Presse that she hopes the day will prevent the "trivialization" of that horror-filled chapter in history.
Away Pay: In an attempt to remove burned-out teachers, the education ministry in Queensland, Australia's second-largest state, is giving each of them a career-change grant of about $28,000. Upon agreeing to leave the state school system for good, volunteers receive the grant, which is intended to help them train for another profession, in installments. The state offered the money to 198 teachers last June, of whom 183 accepted, the Courier-Mail reports. The $10 million program is seen as an impractical extravagance by some, but education minister Anna Bligh argues that it will pay for itself as departing senior teachers are replaced with lower-paid new recruits. And, she adds, it guarantees that "students have the teachers who want to teach."
Hunger Help: While American educators look to increase kids' exercise and trim fat from cafeteria food in an effort to reduce childhood obesity, schools in India are faced with the opposite task: how to ensure that their students are well-fed. With 38 percent of India's children below normal weight, the World Food Program is calling on authorities in urban areas to feed malnourished schoolchildren, according to the Agence France-Presse. In a new WFP report, titled the Food Insecurity Atlas of Urban India, the U.N. agency suggests that promoting good attendance can help by increasing the number of kids present for free, nutritious school meals.
Vol. 14, Issue 4, Page 11Published in Print: January 1, 2003, as Dispatches