Arab News Singapore
Third UK COVID-19 vaccine reaches human trial stage - Arab News
LONDON: A team of scientists at Cambridge University is set to begin human trials for a new vaccine for COVID-19 that could potentially work against other coronavirus diseases. It is the third UK-based project to reach this stage of development, following vac…
NEW DELHI: The writing is on the wall, parents and critics of Indias New Education Policy (NEP) told Arab News on Wednesday, as debate rages on over the governments move to use local languages as the medium of instruction in primary schools, while English is pushed to the back burner. New Delhis announcement on July 30 was the first change in policy after 35 years, and encourages the use of the mother tongue in a childs early learning years. Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least grade five, but preferably until grade eight and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language, the draft NEP says. With a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, the implementation of the policy is expected to take place in a phased manner once schools reopen. Experts, however, argue that the move could backfire, especially in a multilingual country such as India. The first language of the child should be the language of the child which he is familiar with, be it mother tongue or the language the child is exposed to and knows well, Dr. Dhir Jhingran, director of a New Delhi-based NGO, the Language and Learning Foundation, told Arab News. He added that primary school children should be introduced to English and other languages for intellectual growth. We should use English as a link language after initiating the learning through the vernacular language. The best way is to allow language which they know well and then build the foundation of English, he said. This emphasis on local language has agitated parents and experts. No doubt, I want my daughter to learn in her mother tongue, but I would also like her to know English which is important in a country like India, Anjana Kumar, a Delhi-based parent, told Arab News. Its always good that a child learns as many languages as possible. How can you expect the growth of a child without English? she added. It is a sentiment echoed by another parent, Jaiprakash Yadav, from the eastern Indian city of Patna. Hindi is my mother tongue, but I cannot expect a good future for my children just being exposed to this native language. Children need to be exposed to English early in school so that they can have a strong foundation and be confident in facing academic and professional challenges when they grow up, he told Arab News. Some educators argued that the NEP was vague. Vernacular language is important, but it does need to be taught at the exclusion of any other language. India is a country of multiple languages. If all education is done in (a) mother tongue, then it will pose a problem for people who have transferable jobs and belong to a different linguistic group, Gowri Ishwaran, a Delhi-based educator, told Arab News. She added that the mother tongue should not stop me from being proficient in English, which is the lingua franca of India whether we like it or not. However, not everyone agrees, with representatives from a Bangalore-based NGO, the Centre for Square Foundation (CSF) which works for quality school education citing empirical studies showing that learning in a mother tongue ensures better success for children. Research experiments around the world have shown that schooling in the home language of the child is one of the strongest predictors for successful reading outcomes in their mother tongue as well as any other additional language that the child may be required to learn, Akhila Pydah and Avantika Dhingra of the CSF said. It is very challenging to find a common language for teaching that addresses the home-language ideal for all children in most classrooms. The NEPs language policy has also created a renewed sense of fear among several south Indian states as to whether New Delhi wants to impose Hindi on them. The fear was further accentuated when, on Friday, a senior secretary of the Indian government asked non-Hindi speaking yoga teachers and medical practitioners from the south of the country to leave a webinar if they could not understand Hindi. Its extraordinary when a secretary of the Indian government tells Tamils to leave a webinar if they cant understand his Hindi. If the government has any decency, he should be replaced by a Tamil civil servant forthwith, tweeted Shashi Tharoor, a parliamentarian from the south Indian state of Kerala. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a parliamentarian from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, termed the incident an imposition of Hindi and asked the center to take action against all officials who have acted in a manner discriminating (against) our fellow citizens based on language. There are 22 officially recognized Indian languages in the constitution, with all central government job applications issued in these languages. In the 1950s, New Delhi adopted a language policy where the widely spoken Hindi language was given the status of an official language while English was to be used for official purposes. Tamil Nadu had always opposed the three-language formula in schools, and revolted against the imposition of Hindi in the state. I always oppose this policy of imposition of a language on others. People pick up the language according to their interests, why to impose them and create conflict, Ishwaran added.
China launches its first unmanned mission to Mars - Arab News
WENCHANG, China: China successfully launched an unmanned probe to Mars on Thursday in its first independent mission to another planet, in a display of its technological prowess and ambition to join an elite club of space-faring nations. China’s largest carrie…
WASHINGTON: For the second day running, the US on Friday recorded more than 70,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The worlds hardest-hit country registered 73,795 new cases of COVID-19 with 1,157 additional deaths, the Baltimore-based universitys real-time tracker indicated at 8:30 p.m. (0030 GMT Saturday). That brings the country to a total of 4.1 million infections, which have resulted in 145,324 deaths. A total of 1.26 million people have recovered from the disease. After a drop in the rate of infections in late spring, the US has seen a coronavirus surge, particularly in southern and western states like California, Texas, Alabama and Florida.US President Donald Trump has scrapped next month's Republican convention in Florida at which he was due to be confirmed as the Republican candidate for November's election, saying "the timing for this event is not right."For the past 11 days, the number of new cases being reported each day has topped 60,000. Scientists agree that an increase in death rates follows the spike in infections by three to four weeks. After regularly surpassing 500 deaths a day around the end of June, the daily toll for the past three days has exceeded 1,000.Bolivia meanwhile postponed its general election for a second time because of the pandemic, putting it off until October 18, while South Africa said it was closing public schools for a month from July 27.There was also bad news in China and India the world's two most populous nations as new clusters emerged.Chinese authorities said Friday they would introduce a wave of testing in the port city of Dalian, home to about six million people.The Dalian health commission said the city had to "quickly enter wartime mode" to stop any spread.It announced strict new measures, including on-the-spot nucleic acid tests.Kindergartens and nurseries have been closed, and some communities have been placed under lockdown, according to state-run newspaper Global Times.India's death toll overtook France's on Friday at 30,601. Officials said there were nearly 50,000 new cases of the virus overnight.Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in late March but it has been steadily eased to lessen the devastating economic impact.State governments have now brought in fresh restrictions as cases soar, including in the IT hub Bangalore.UN projections have warned the virus could kill 1.67 million people in 30 low-income countries.Virus restrictions have been bolstered in several other countries this week, including Australia and Belgium, as well as in Hong Kong and the Japanese capital Tokyo. Europe virus spikeAlso on Friday, The World Health Organization expressed concern over a coronavirus resurgence in Europe as Britain joined France, Germany and Austria in announcing tighter mask rules and greater testing.Europe accounts for a fifth of the world's more than 15 million infections and remains the hardest-hit region in terms of deaths, with 207,118 out of more than 630,000 globally since the virus emerged in China late last year.The WHO's European chapter pointed to rising cases on the continent over the past two weeks, saying tighter measures may be needed to curb the spread.Europe like other regions is struggling to balance restrictions to halt COVID-19 against the need to revive economies as people there emerge from some of the world's toughest lockdowns.A three-year-old girl died in Belgium, becoming the country's youngest known coronavirus victim, in a further wake-up call for a continent that has recently lifted shutdowns."The recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases in some countries following the easing of physical distancing measures is certainly cause for concern," a WHO-Europe spokeswoman told AFP."If the situation demands, reintroduction of stricter, targeted measures with the full engagement of communities may be needed."In Spain, health authorities are facing worrying outbreaks in Aragon and Catalonia, where officials have reintroduced local restrictions and urged residents in Barcelona and its suburbs to leave home only for essential trips for two weeks."We have to monitor what's going on, see where we need to take action and act early," said health ministry official Maria Jose Sierra."If the important outbreaks are controlled quickly and if we manage to ensure that there are no (other) outbreaks of such magnitude, we will have a much more contained situation." On -the-spot testsFrench President Emmanuel Macron on Friday met his top ministers to discuss contagion measures, and his prime minister Jean Castex later announced on-the-spot tests would be required for travellers visiting from 16 high-risk countries including the United States.France has yet to resume general travel to and from these countries so the tests will be for returning French citizens and residents.Masks are now mandatory on public transport, in shops and enclosed spaces across France and there are fears that the summer holidays could see a spike in cases with people flocking to beaches and tourist spots.Britain on Friday made it compulsory to wear a face covering in shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, sandwich shops and supermarkets, following the lead of Scotland.Exceptions have been made, including for children under 11 or people with respiratory problems, but others who refuse to cover their nose and mouth risk a fine of up to £100.Germany will offer free coronavirus tests to all returning travellers in new measures agreed Friday.And Austria made face masks mandatory again in supermarkets, food stores, post offices, bank branches and health care facilities along with public transport and pharmacies."It was a mistake to lift mandatory mask use so soon," said one shopper, Andreas Poschenreither.