Global News: Teachers, Students Innovate And Protest Amid Education Disparities Worldwide

Disrupted schooling widens learning disparities, inhumane treatment of detained African migrants revealed in Saudi Arabia, Ghanaian fabric designers and South African schools try something new + more.

Speak Patrice Presents: Coronavirus News for Black Folks is an independent newsletter that aims to empower our community by sharing coronavirus (COVID-19) news and stories as they relate to the Black Diaspora. We have 2,049 subscribers as of September 14, 2020. Please consider (1) clicking that itty bitty ❤️ at the top of this email next to my name to “like” us, (2) subscribing, and (3) supporting this newsletter by sharing it with your friends and family.

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Clydeen, here…

Last Tuesday marked the 54th annual International Literacy Day. Established in 1966 by UNESCO to promote the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies, this year’s celebration comes during a global pandemic that has disrupted the education of almost all the world’s 1.5 billion schoolchildren, according to a UNICEF analysis. And at least 463 million of that population lacks access to remote learning. The majority of these students are concentrated in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, a glaring disparity that highlights a series of divides that have long existed and long been ignored.

In South Africa, where the coronavirus pandemic has cut the country's Gross Domestic Product by over 50%, some students have had to move in with teachers to keep up with their schooling. In Uganda, where only 25% of all primary schools remain open, education has been pushed online or towards "radio as learning." Across the Caribbean region, where students have been out of schools since late March, secondary entry exams have been delayed with the start of the school year still jeopardy. Students taking these exams have been offered free access to online textbooks, yet the region represents part of a wider problem across Latin America where, according to the United Nations, more than 150 million students have been stressed by the lack of resources at home.

Twitter/ Usman Dalhatu

But as is often the case throughout Black communities worldwide, these crises have bred resilient innovations. Spurred by the shortage of ventilators on COVID-19 wards in Nigeria, Usman Dalhatu of Ahmadu Bello University built his own portable version to help persons with respiratory problems, a symptom of severe coronavirus infections. The 20-year-old engineering student’s resourcefulness mirrors one of the common threads throughout this week’s newsletter. Thank you for subscribing and sharing Coronavirus News for Black Folks throughout your professional and personal circles.

— Clydeen McDonald, contributing editor of global diaspora news


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In South Africa, some students moved in with teachers to keep up with lessons amid coronavirus lockdowns

“While other children were playing during South Africa's hard lockdown, final-year students at Dendron moved in with their teachers who supervised their studies in small home groups.

‘There are four people in each room and we get lunch there after school,’ said Kopano Lephalala, Dendron's top performing student. ‘It's important because getting a good education — especially in South Africa — it sort of determines where you're going to end up in life, so you need to get a good education so you can get into a good university or even just become someone better.’”


‘We’re storytellers in the designs’: In Ghana, pandemic inspires new fabrics

“‘We challenged our creative team to look out for the silver lining in this phenomenon,’ Mr. Badu says, and to design fabrics that would draw beauty from this dark moment in the country’s history.  

Soon, GTP had come up with several pandemic-related designs. Besides the fabric featuring Mr. Akufo-Addo’s glasses, there were designs featuring padlocks to signify the lockdown and plane propellers to mark the closing of the country’s borders.”

Claims of 'coronavirus death squads' as Colombia is rocked by nine massacres in just two weeks

“‘In various communities throughout Colombia, armed groups have violently imposed their own rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19,’ Human Rights Watch Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said. 

‘This brutal social control reflects the historical failure of the state to establish a significant presence in remote areas of the country to protect communities at risk.’”

RELATED: Dozens of young people killed in Colombia, perpetrators unknown

How Colombia’s Lockdown Created Ideal Conditions for Child Recruitment

School has reopened in Haiti. But students, teachers are protesting on the streets

“On Tuesday, a clash in the southeastern town of Jacmel between police and a student protester, Joanès Dory, left human rights observers and a former minister of education horrified.

Two members of the Haiti National Police’s specialized Departmental Unit of Maintenance of Order, or UDMO, were videotaped punching Dory while dragging him down Avenue Baranquilla in the Saint-Cyr zone of Jacmel. Dory, who attends Lycée Pinchinat in Jacmel, was subsequently arrested and taken to the nearby police station.”


How race, income and ‘opportunity hoarding’ will shape Canada’s back-to-school season

“The issue is most apparent in Ontario, where families have been given a clear choice between in-person and remote learning, but it’s forcing a reckoning in many other parts of the country. In Alberta, 28 percent of students in Edmonton’s public school board have chosen remote learning.”


Investigation: African migrants 'left to die' in Saudi Arabia’s hellish COVID detention centres

“Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, is keeping hundreds if not thousands of African migrants locked in heinous conditions reminiscent of Libya’s slave camps as part of a drive to stop the spread of Covid-19, an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found. 

Graphic mobile phone images sent to the newspaper by migrants held inside the detention centres show dozens of emaciated men crippled by the Arabian heat lying shirtless in tightly packed rows in small rooms with barred windows.”

Women traditional leaders could help make sure the pandemic message is heard

“Traditional leaders are ideally positioned to respond in a culturally relevant way to people in the rural and peri-urban areas. Indeed, Afrobarometer surveys have revealed that traditional leaders have more popular legitimacy than elected leaders in many countries, including Uganda, Sierra Leone and Senegal. They also have a track record of assisting in health crises.

Most scholarship has focused on male traditional leaders. But early findings from our ongoing research on women traditional leaders in Liberia, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa shows that they play a key role in addressing health issues in their communities. Our initial research findings will be published in 2021.”

Gap between rich and poor pupils in England 'grows by 46% in a year'

“Urgent support must be targeted at disadvantaged pupils and schools in areas of high deprivation, researchers have said, as figures reveal the gap in England between some pupils and their wealthier peers widened by 46% in the school year severely disrupted by the coronavirus lockdown.

As the school year begins for most pupils in England and Wales, the authoritative study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), based on interviews with more than 3,000 teachers and heads at more than 2,000 schools, revealed that disadvantaged and black and minority ethnic (BAME) children had gone backwards compared with their better-off peers since March.”



African Union turns to biosurveillance tech to curb COVID-19

“PanaBIOS provides a mobile and web-based app that uses algorithms to track and trace persons facing potential health threats and track and keep records of test samples from their origin to in-country labs. The technology was developed by Koldchain, a Kenyan startup, and funded by AfroChampions, a public-private partnership designed to galvanize African resources and institutions to support the emergence and success of the African private sector.”

Kemri becomes regional lab for Covid-19

“Laboratories at the Kenya Medical Research Institute will now sequence the genomes of Covid-19 viruses collected from neighbouring countries in East Africa. The institute has joined a network of 12 specialised and regional reference laboratories that will provide sequencing, data analysis and other technical support services to countries that have no capacity. In East Africa, only Kenya and Uganda have the capacity to sequence the virus genome.”

In the World’s Coronavirus Blind Spot, Fears of a Silent Epidemic [PAYWALL]

“The global scramble to thwart the coronavirus has a vast blind spot: sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, the government outlawed coronavirus testing and declared its national outbreak defeated, even as hundreds of people died monthly from unexplained respiratory problems. Last month in Zambia, 28 people died at home in a single day with Covid-19-like symptoms while waiting to be tested. In South Sudan, government forces barricaded thousands of people inside refugee camps, claiming they were infected but refusing to conduct tests.”

RELATED: Africa Sees Progress in Coronavirus Fight, but Also Setbacks

Coronavirus in South Africa: Whistleblower questions winter tent deaths

“Suspected Covid-19 patients were routinely left for hours in an open tent, in sub-zero temperatures, outside a South African hospital during the mid-winter peak of the pandemic, leading to ‘many’ people dying of suspected hypothermia, according to an exclusive investigation by BBC News.

The revelations have emerged as South Africa's government has acknowledged and condemned widespread corruption and mismanagement during its response to the pandemic.”

RELATED: South Africa’s Big Coronavirus Aid Effort Tainted by Corruption

South Africa's GDP plunges over 50% as COVID-19's 'punch in the gut' triggers the steepest decline since 1960

“The contraction in economic growth, which is worse than the central bank's 40.1% estimate, stands in sharp contrast to the 6.1% annualized slowdown recorded in the first quarter succeeding the 2009 global financial crisis.”

RELATED: Coronavirus in South Africa: Misuse of Covid-19 funds 'frightening'

Coronavirus-Ignited Gold Rush Helps South Africa’s Tarnished Mines to Shine

Warning from South African businesses: more retrenchments on the way

Nigerian scientists have identified seven lineages of SARS-CoV-2

“It is important to track lineages as they can be very useful for determining how a virus spreads through communities or populations. This means that if a new strain should appear, scientists would have important information needed to contain it. This is especially important for the African region because if the new strain happened to be more virulent, or more transmissible, it would put great pressure on weak health systems.”

RELATED: Nigerian doctors strike again over benefits amid coronavirus

Coronavirus: Ten African innovations to help tackle Covid-19

“As Africa passes more than a million confirmed Covid-19 cases, innovators on the continent have responded to the challenges of the pandemic with a wide range of creative inventions.”

RELATED: COVID-19 NYSC member Taiwo Durodola invents remote thermometer

Tanzania: Atu Launches Youth Challenge to Combat Covid-19 Pandemic

UK-South Africa Tech Hub launches virtual training workshops

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Dutch Caribbean Islands on the Brink

“Coronavirus has brought tourism, the mainstay of the island economies, close to a standstill. Tax revenue has dried up while unemployment has soared. Without support from the European Netherlands, the governments of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten will run out of money in weeks.”

COVID-19 Forces Inner-City Women To Get Creative For Survival

“Sixty-five-year-old Sonia Dawkins said prior to COVID-19, she operated a bar but she is now selling pastry items and using other innovative means to survive.

‘Mi did affi shift up the thing from the start of the pandemic, so I started selling cake and cookies,’ she said. ‘Most of the people dem not working and dem cannot get to hustle because they have to go by the pandemic rules of the Government and the curfew time. Sometimes if I have it, I help out others who don’t have it and give them a plate a food.’”

How COVID-19 exploded in the Turks and Caicos, which struggles to contain virus

“‘Everybody in South Caicos is so worried,’ said Emily Saunders, 76, a local community leader, former health minister and wife of former Chief Minister Norman Saunders. ‘People kept saying, ‘It’s not in South Caicos,’ and we kept on saying, ‘You never know. You never know because they hadn’t been doing any testing.’ Persons were not listening. Persons were not adhering to the protocol. We had trouble getting people to wear their masks.’”

Cuba sends 'white coat army' of doctors to fight coronavirus in different countries

“At the start of Togo’s coronavirus outbreak, the small West African nation welcomed a team of 12 Cuban healthcare workers to tend to sufferers of the virus, boost its laboratory testing and help improve its hospital protocols.

While the virus was overwhelming healthcare systems worldwide, the Communist-run Caribbean island boasted a rare resource: a surplus of doctors trained in deploying abroad and battling infectious disease.”

PM Keith Rowley Says Trinidad and Tobago’s Economy has Shrunk by 10% Due to COVID

“‘COVID has hit us hard, shrinking our economy by 10 percent, even as we continue to support our hardest-hit citizens at a big cost,’ Rowley said, noting that COVID-19 came at a time when oil and gas prices were already softening and had the effect of further reducing consumption of methanol, urea ammonia, LNG, oil, and gas.”


CSEC, CAPE students get free access to textbooks

“More than 200 digital books will be available during the period. COVID-19 has impacted schools across the world, with Caribbean countries being severely affected as many schools in the region being closed from earlier this year.”


Rich Americans flee to the Caribbean as they swap COVID-19, the election, and US citizenship for a winter working remotely in the sun

“Business has been booming in recent months for citizenship advisers, government agencies and real estate developers in several Caribbean islands including Grenada, Dominica, Barbados, and St Kitts and Nevis. Applications for citizenship and visas for Caribbean islands are surging as people take advantage of the 12-month 'Welcome Stamp' initiative launched by Barbados in July, which encourages remote workers to enjoy a long-term stay in the sun.”

RELATED: Why Rich Americans Are Fleeing To The Caribbean This Winter


Latin America unites to fight global inequalities in new regional pact

“More than 2,800 experts from Mexico to Argentina have already signed the pact; they include lawyers, economists, environmentalists, Indigenous and Afro-descendant community leaders, and other activists. The agreement lists nine alternative policy proposals for communities, local governments, and public institutions to adopt to achieve social and environmental justice across the region and ‘alter the balance of power.’”


Telemedicine in Brazilian favelas: The medicine of social isolation transforming public health

“Favela residents’ perception that action by public authorities was very limited, whether in terms of financial aid or in the dissemination of accurate data on Covid-19 cases and deaths, mobilized innumerable community groups to focus their efforts on combating the novel coronavirus.”


Carceral Pandemic Politics and Epidemiological Elites in Ecuador

“Another outbreak tore through the Afro-Ecuadorian community of Nigeria in Isla Trinitaria, a mangrove-ringed zone on Guayaquil’s southwestern outskirts where mostly impoverished informal and domestic workers live in cramped intergenerational housing. A nightmare scenario exploded across the metropolitan area. In a flash, ambulance and hospital infrastructures collapsed. Even more traumatically, the city’s privatized funerary and mortuary industries imploded under overwhelming demand.”


Facing a surge in cases, French Guiana asks Paris 'where's your help?'

“The overseas territory is technically equal to any other French department, such as Provence, Calais, or Isère. But residents say the health system is not on par with that in the mainland. There are only 55 general practitioners for every 100,000 people in French Guiana, compared to an average of 104 across mainland France.”


The Hidden Pandemic: Stories Behind Covid-19 Numbers in Favelas

“Now, with the advent of regulated telemedicine in the country, some initiatives have emerged, such as the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) SAS Brasil, which conducts free basic medical consultations and guidance for residents of favelas in different cities in Brazil. With these services, it was possible to see that they were useful not only to maintain isolation and reduce the spread of coronavirus but also to bring quality medical care to communities with low access and who previously had no contact to health.”


Covid-19: City of Rio Presents Higher Case Fatality Rate Than Brazil and World

“In the state of Rio de Janeiro, the high rate of 7.8% is not only due to the city of Rio de Janeiro, but also due to other important municipalities [mostly in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region] in the state with very high case fatality numbers, even higher than the capital—São João de Meriti (13.7%), Mesquita (13.6%), Nilópolis (13.5%), Petrópolis (11.5%), Nova Iguaçu (10.5%), Belford Roxo (9.5%) and Duque de Caxias (9.1%).”



BAME Britons less likely to trust COVID health officials – survey

“Fifty-seven percent of BAME people reported having either complete trust or a great deal of trust in information from health scientists, compared with 75% of white people. Forty-five percent of BAME people had either complete trust or a great deal of trust in information from government scientific advisers, compared with 65% of white people. BAME people were more worried about Covid-19’s impact on their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing and about the impact on children’s education.”


Coronavirus: has lost school time set the timer on a second exam scandal?

“Black and minority ethnic (BAME) children appear to have been hit hardest by the disruption to teaching following the start of lockdown in March, and boys are generally further behind than girls. Overall, teachers estimate that 44% of pupils are in need of intensive catch-up support, with “teachers in the most deprived schools (57%) more likely to say this than those in the wealthiest schools (32%)”, reports the BBC.”


Black tech workers hit by financial and emotional impact during COVID-19 pandemic [PAYWALL]

“Black tech professionals are suffering both financial and emotional blows during the pandemic that are impacting their work, with almost 65 percent reporting their employment or work life have been impacted by COVID-19, approximately 48 percent of whom have also experienced a financial impact.”

How race, income and ‘opportunity hoarding’ will shape Canada’s back-to-school season [SIGN UP REQUIRED]

“Many students live in cramped housing, have parents who are essential workers, and rely on public transit to get around, all things that contribute to the high infection rate – which is 10 times that of the least-infected parts of the city. The average annual income for residents in the area is $27,984 – half of what it is for Toronto as a whole.”


Are universities becoming irrelevant? Tech firms take over in a Covid-19 world

“The quality of education during Covid-19 has been shaky. Academic institutions have limited digital means (software and hardware) to enable quality education. At the same time, academic institutions, not just in South Africa, are still charging the same amount of money even though their offering has changed and diminished.”

COVID-19 pandemic elections in the Caribbean

“Albeit COVID-19 pandemic elections in the Caribbean of 'shocking' and/or 'historic' results, many analyst queries: Has COVID-19 pandemic elections in the Caribbean rewarded incumbent corrupt governments by their own doing and public utterances, resulted in the loss of trust in the democratic process - voter participation - and subsequently, shift the burden of responsibility to a select few, while the majority are reduced to carve-out a post-COVID-19 era, independent of the central government?”

Austerity is killing Ecuador. The IMF must help end this disaster

“The country’s marginalized populations have been disproportionately affected: Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women, older people, informal workers, and families in the lowest-income quintiles, who are more dependent on public services.”


The plight of Caribbean students

“Online teaching also brought to light the fact that many teachers are not tech-savvy. This issue, which is not the fault of students, may have significant repercussions such as the inability to complete the school curriculum, leading to the insufficient preparation time for exam-writing students and critical strikes to the students’ confidence.”


Might social intelligence save Latin America from its governments in times of Covid-19?

“Based on these data from 18 Latin American countries, one can observe that digital democratic innovations address challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak in five main ways: first, generating verified information and reliable data; second, geolocating problems, needs, and demands; third, mobilizing resources, skills, and knowledge to address those problems, needs, and demands; fourth, connecting demand and supply; and fifth and finally, implementing and monitoring public policies and actions.”

OP-ED: Race-based COVID-19 data may be used to discriminate against racialized communities

“If the Ontario government continues on the austerity path and delists additional health services, what are the implications — especially for marginalized populations — of adding detailed socio-demographic data to health records?

For example, how will data labelled as Black, poor, disabled or all three impact a person’s insurance rates? Current legislation will not protect patients from this type of algorithmic discrimination. Only updated data laws can protect us from the perils of monetized data and the discriminatory algorithms they are generating.”



Musicians try to lift spirits in COVID-hit Brazilian favela

“They played in Sao Paulo's largest favela, Heliopolis, which is home to more than 200,000 people and has been badly affected by the virus.”

TikTok star Charly Jordan Labeled 'White Savior' After Testing Positive for COVID-19 in Rwanda

“Social media star Charly Jordan’s TikTok video goes viral after being appointed as a prime example of ‘White Savior complex.’ The Internet has criticized Jordan for her insensitive remarks during her travels to Rwanda for charity work.”


Italy shaken by brutal beating death of young Black man

“Premier Giuseppe Conte and Italy’s interior minister attended the funeral of 21-year-old Willy Monteiro Duarte, who was killed during a fight in Colleferro, a city on the outskirts of Rome, early Sept. 6.

Four Italians have been arrested, including two brothers with police records and a martial arts background, but to date prosecutors haven’t indicated if the slaying was racially motivated.”

'Racist' shampoo advertisement sparks protests in South Africa

The advertisement, commissioned by the TRESemme hair company and carried on the Clicks pharmacies' website, compared two photos of Black women's hair with two photos of white women's hair, labelling the natural hair ‘dry and damaged’ and ‘frizzy and dull", while the white women's hair was ‘fine and flat’ and ‘normal.’

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party on Monday called for demonstrations over the issue and rallied people to protest outside the company's outlets.”

Jair Bolsonaro, long criticized for anti-black statements, removes painting of Afro-Brazilian deities from presidential offices

“Bolsonaro’s policies have been at odds with black Brazilians since his 2018 campaign, during which he voiced frequent racist rhetoric against Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous populations…The issue has been heightened during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Afro-Brazilian communities living in the slums.

Last month, a coalition of 50 anti-racism groups including the Black Coalition for Rights filed a lawsuit for the opening of a trial to impeach Bolsonaro based on ‘crimes against the life of the black population’ amid the pandemic, stating that Bolsonaro's denial of the coronavirus, which he likened to a ‘mild cold,’ is like a ‘genocide against black people.’

Why the teaching of Black British history must be transformed in our schools

“For Tinuke, a Black parent of a 12-year-old, the current curriculum leaves a lot to be desired. ‘My daughter has learned about the Black Death, some of World War Two as it pertains to rationing, the Blitz and kids being sent away from London and loads on British Monarchs. With regards to Black history, it’s been non-existent.’

The gaps are immense and it leaves Tinuke yearning for a more critical and wider context of this country’s history. ‘I wish they would discuss Black history in the UK, as well as African and Caribbean history - both modern and ancient,’ she shares."

RELATED: Study shows UK school textbooks teach a highly simplified version of US civil rights movement

Educators, parents work to embed the Black experience into school curriculum [CANADA]

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