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COVID: US schools open or not, students of colour bear the brunt | News

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Racial inequality in the United States has become a defining feature of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent data, in terms of its health and economic impact, as well as its effect on education.

As schools are set to reopen across the country in various forms, Black and Latino children will be disproportionally affected, regardless if schools remain physically closed or if they reopen.

According to recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), children of colour are more likely to fall behind the longer they stay home from school because they have limited access to critical resources and their parents have more health and economic fears – raising concerns that the pandemic will only exacerbate inequities in American society.

Low-income children, who are mostly Black and Latino, struggle for access to computers and internet service. They also face pressures at home that wealthier, mostly white families do not. Black and Latino parents are more worried than white parents that their children will fall behind in school, and fear they will be unable to work, even from home, while supervising children.

A worker cleans the walls in a classroom at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, 2020 in Provo, Utah. [George Frey/Getty Images/AFP]

 Parents of colour are also more worried than white parents about losing the other benefits that schools provide, like social services and food.

With coronavirus infections still rising across many states in the country, many school districts are planning to start the school year either fully or partially online. 

President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has made plain his desire to see schools reopen in the fall so that parents can get back to work and help the US economy bounce back after a shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that strongly supported schools reopening this academic year, arguing children learn best when they are physically in their classrooms.

But many local leaders said the health risks are too great. Although children do not get particularly sick from COVID-19, less is known about how much they can spread it to others, raising worry about the health of teachers and school employees.

Further reflecting the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of colour, 91 percent said they are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about their child getting sick with coronavirus if they return to school this school year, compared with 55 percent of white parents, according to the KFF poll published on Monday.

Olivia Chan's father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J. School districts that plan to reopen class

Olivia Chan’s father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

 And 73 percent of parents of colour are worried about their children falling behind academically, while 65 percent of parents of colour were worried losing income if they cannot go to work, compared with 41 percent of white parents. 

There is also evidence that learning loss will probably be greatest among Black and Latino students, who are less likely to have access to high-quality remote learning or to a conducive learning environment, such as a quiet space, their own devices, high-speed internet and parental supervision.

According to an analysis by McKinsey, students will likely lose on average 6.8 months of learning if in-class instruction does not resume until January 2021. But Black students may fall behind by 10.3 months and Latino students by 9.2 months.

But as half-dozen US states reporting record numbers for coronavirus deaths, a bitter political debate is raging about the reopening of schools in the coming weeks.

While Trump and members of his administration continue to push for students to return to class, many teachers and local officials continue to call for online learning.

On Tuesday, one of the largest teachers’ union in the country, said it was authorising its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures.

Teachers

A high school teacher holding a sign during a protest calling for schools to enforce mask-wearing and to implement other safety measures in advance of schools reopening in Salt Lake City, Utah [AP Photo/Rick Bowmer] 

“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said during the union’s virtual convention on Tuesday. “But if authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table.”

The group said school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4.3 million Americans have contracted the virus, and more than 149,000 have died, leading the world in both figures.

Further highlighting the tension around the issue, while school districts in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Houston have announced they will all begin the school year online only, the Texas Education Agency, the state’s overseer of public education, said it would deny funding to schools that delay in-person classes because of orders by local health authorities related to the pandemic.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance that health authorities cannot impose “blanket” school closures for coronavirus prevention. Any such decision is up to school officials, he said.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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