Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Finland has become an educational star by doing the opposite of what's happening in many U.S. schools and school districts. Pasi Sahlberg, an official with Finland's Ministry of Education and Culture, is in Seattle this week to share the story of Finland's success.Forty years ago, Finland was a small, homogeneous country with mediocre public schools. Today, Finland is still small and, although it has grown more diverse, is still much more homogeneous than countries such as the United States. But no one calls Finland's public schools mediocre anymore. In 2000, the Finns surprised the world when their 15-year-olds scored at the top of a closely watched international exam called the PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment. Finland has stayed near the top ever since, while the U.S. scores around the middle. Pasi Sahlberg, an official with Finland's Ministry of Education and Culture, is in Seattle this week to share the story of Finland's success, and what states like Washington can learn from it. Sahlberg's message, although he is too polite to put it so bluntly: Stop testing so much. Trust teachers more. Give less homework. Shorten the school day. Finland, in other words, has become an education star by doing the opposite of what's happening in many U.S. schools and school districts, including many in Washington state. Sahlberg spoke Tuesday at a conference at the University of Washington. He will also give a free talk Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the UW's Kane Hall. Critics often dismiss Finland's success as irrelevant, saying the country is too small and too different for its policies to work here. But Sahlberg, once a junior-high math and science teacher, thinks Finland's experiences can inform and perhaps inspire other countries to consider new ways of achieving their educational goals. In the U.S., he pointed out, education is handled by states, most of which aren't much bigger or smaller than Finland, which has a population of about 5.5 million. Sahlberg has given similar talks all over the U.S. in the past few years, especially following the publication of his book "Finnish Lessons," which tells the story of Finland's success. On Tuesday, in a room filled with teachers, principals, professors, school-board members and policy makers, Sahlberg joked about the Finns' reputation for being a quiet, humble people. When Finland hit the top of the PISA, he said, the biggest disbelievers were Finns. More seriously, he said, Finland never set out to create the world's top school system. Instead, he said, the country decided in the 1970s that it wanted to ensure that a student's success didn't depend on family background. To achieve that goal, Finland relied on cooperation among teachers and schools, rather than on competition. Rather than judging teachers and schools based on test scores, he said, Finland puts trust in its teachers and principals. Teachers develop the curriculum in Finland, and design their own tests. There are no national tests, except one at the end of high school. That's just the start. Along with a shorter school day, Finnish students don't even start school until they are 7 years old. Many primary schools have a policy against giving homework. Teaching is a highly respected profession in Finland, on a par with medicine and law. Teachers don't earn a lot more than U.S. teachers, but the job still attracts the nation's top graduates. The University of Helsinki, Sahlberg said, received 2,000 applications this year from students who want to become primary teachers, and accepted just 120 of them. Sahlberg spoke almost harshly about charter schools, which Washington voters have just approved, saying they privatize the public-school system. In Finland, he said, parents don't angst over where to send their children to school. All the schools, he said, offer the same high-quality program. Not that everyone should simply copy Finland, he said. "I'm not here to tell you that if you just do what Finland is doing, you will be just fine. It doesn't work like that." But Finland, he said, succeeded in part by adapting ideas from the U.S. and other countries. And those countries, he said, can learn from Finland, too.
http://www.rferl.orgMedia reports say that Pakistan has agreed to free several jailed Taliban militants. Pakistani and Afghan sources say the agreement was reached during talks on November 14 between Afghanistan's High Peace Council delegation and Pakistani officials. The Afghan delegation, headed by Salahuddin Rabbani, has been seeking the release of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi in February 2010. It is not clear if Baradar is among the Taliban detainees to be released. The peace process in Afghanistan will mainly depend on possible talks between the Afghan government and leaders of the Taliban insurgency, some of whom are based in Pakistan. Baradar is considered a key figure capable of winning over a large number of Taliban insurgents.
http://www.thenewstribe.comThe Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday discharged contempt proceeding initiated against the Prime Minister for not implementing its order in NRO case. A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali resumed the hearing the NRO implementation case. During today’s hearing, Federal Law Minister Farooq H. Naek informed the apex court that the letter had been written to the attorney general of Geneva through the Foreign Office. The court discharged the contempt proceeding against the PM. On August 08, the top court issued show cause notice for contempt to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in NRO implementation.
http://www.brecorder.comPakistan will be amongst the top five countries in the world which will produce and export high quality motorcycles in the next few years. This was stated by Senior Managing Director of Honda Motor Company Japan, T Oyama, Technology Times Reported. He said that the production capacity will be increased to one million units during the next few years. He said collaboration between Atlas Group Pakistan and Honda Japan is amongst the oldest in joint venture history of Honda Motor Company anywhere in the world. With the support of the government through Economic Coordination Committee, the localization in the motorcycle industry can continue and bring more profits.
The Express Tribune NewsWhile law enforcement agencies attempt to control violence and unrest in the city, the most recent spate of firing incidents took five lives in Karachi on Wednesday, Express News reported. Unidentified men opened fire on and killed a man identified as Qari Muhammad Imran at a cell phone shop near Filmistan Cinema on Nishtar Road. The deceased was a muezzin at a nearby mosque. Following the incident, people burned tyres and created an uproar, resulting in halting of traffic from Teen Hatti to Lasbela. A man identified as Shujaat Hussain was killed when unidentified men fired upon him in Orangi Town. Ghulam Muhammad in Manghopir and Maulana Saifullah in Korangi 51/C were killed by unidentified men, while an unidentified man was killed in firing near Bashir Chowk. Uproar on the issue was also seen in the Senate, with lawmakers from the Awami National Party (ANP) demanding an immediate military operation in Karachi and saying that the Sindh government had failed. Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) staged walkouts from both houses to register their protest against the government’s inaction. The unrest has been blamed upon terrorist infiltration into the city as well, with police suspecting a grenade attack to be the work of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Earlier, the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) claimed arresting four members of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s (LeJ) Sindh chapter.
Daily TimesThe Upper House on Tuesday urged the government to hand over Karachi to the Pakistan Army to deal strictly with criminals. The Senate also suggested declaring emergency in Karachi. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted the session against rising violence in Karachi. The senators were of the view that it is the right time for military action, not speeches by the interior minister. After a heated debate, the Awami National Party (ANP) demanded immediate military operation in Karachi while the MQM demanded imposition of emergency in the city. MQM Senator Mustafa Kamal said that the prime minister should take immediate action on the issue. He demanded that the premier should impose emergency in the city. He also suggested that the PM and other top officials of the government should visit Karachi and address people’s complaints. Kamal demanded that the government take action against criminals in Karachi irrespective of their political affiliation. He said, “We are going to walk out from Senate until complete restoration of peace in Karachi.” ANP Senator Ilyas Bilour said that peace in Karachi cannot be restored until army operation was launched in the city. “Enough is enough, we don’t want any further briefing but want action over Karachi unrest,” he added. He demanded that the prime minister brief parliamentarians on Karachi law and order situation. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that his party does not support any operation in Karachi because no operation could be successful in the presence of the government. Only military action could flush out terrorist groups from Karachi. Without military operation there is no way to resolve Karachi situation. He also tried to walk out over Karachi issue but the Senate chairman stopped him to listen respond from law minister. ANP Senator Zahid Khan said it is very disappointing that neither federal nor provincial government accepted responsibility of Karachi law and order situation. He said that the situation would further deteriorate if appropriate measures were not taken. He suggested the government to take up stern action before Muharram. Law Minister Farooq H Naek informed the House that on Tuesday (today) is federal cabinet meeting and he would apprise the PM of the concern of the senators on Karachi law and order situation. In other routine proceedings, the Senate took up the privilege motion of Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash against Punjab Police and sent it to the committee concerned. Standing Committee on Defence Chairman Mushahid Hussain Syed presented report of the committee to amend the Airports Security Force Act, 1975 (The Airport Security Force (Amendment) Bill 2012). The Senate also passed a felicitating resolution over Diwalai for Hindu community. To a question during the question hour session, Naek informed the Senate in a written reply that there was no bar on a citizen of Pakistan having dual nationality for appointment in the judiciary. Asked if there were any officers/officials of the federal and provincial governments against whom cases of corruption were registered by NAB from 2008 to 2011, Farooq Naek said that NAB had informed that necessary information was being collected from Regional Offices of the NAB and the House would be informed as and when received from the quarters concerned. “I will share all details on the next rotta day about this question,” he assured. Minister for Postal Services Sardar Umar Gorgeij told the House that Pakistan Post is providing services in the international sector including Foreign Letter Mail Service which includes Letters, Aerogramme, Postcards, Printed Papers, Small Packets and Cecogramme (Literature for the Blinds); Foreign Parcel Service which include air parcel service, surface air lifted parcel service and surface parcel service; and express mail service. He said that Pakistan Post has computerized 83 GPOs and launching of Central Software Solution (CSS) is under active process to improve performance of Agency Services.