Category: Education

Shock at Sydney teenager’s ‘Facebook murder’

BBC NEWS | 2010/05/17 | 11:21:47 GMT

Facebook Thousands of people have paid tribute on Facebook to an Australian teenager allegedly lured to her death by a man she met on the social networking site. The body of Nona Belomesoff was found two days after she went on a trip with the man, who told her they were going to rescue injured animals, police say. A 20-year-old man has been charged with Ms Belomesoff’s murder at a creek south of Sydney. Detectives say the case reinforces the need for vigilance when using Facebook.

Ms Belomesoff, 18, is believed to have befriended Christopher James Dannevig, who police say set up a fake Facebook profile in which he claimed to work for an animal welfare group. Mr Dannevig is said to have offered Ms Belomesoff the prospect of a job with the organisation and lured her on a camping trip purportedly to look for injured animals in bushland around Campbelltown, New South Wales. "She loved animals and saw this as an opportunity to follow her dream," her brother Gary said. "Nona said if she didn’t go she would lose her job and this job was her dream," he said. "So she just went and that was the last time we saw her." When Ms Belomesoff did not return, her family contacted the police. Officers discovered the teenager’s body on Friday night. Since then several pages and groups paying tribute to Ms Belomesoff have been set up on Facebook.  

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Recession could result in deep school staff layoffs, larger class sizes

Washington Post | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From coast to coast, public schools face the threat of tens of thousands of layoffs this year in a fiscal crunch likely to result in larger class sizes and fewer programs to help students in need. Reports of deep staffing and service cuts are emerging in several states, including California, Illinois and New Jersey, as school officials say that finances have been stretched to the breaking point. The Washington area is not immune. Prince George’s County schools plan to cut 800 positions, many through layoffs, in the third straight difficult budget for a system that is battling to improve uneven academic performance. That will mean an average of 29 students a class, up from 27, in the coming school year. "Our cuts have been at every level of this organization," Prince George’s Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said. "We’ve been trying to keep the cuts away from the classroom as best we can. But there is no place else."

School budgets in Montgomery and Fairfax counties, among others in the region, are also under the knife. D.C. school funding is so tight that officials enlisted private foundations to help fund provisions of a proposed teachers contract. Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed a $23 billion bailout to help states avert education layoffs, a potential sequel to last year’s economic stimulus law. The Democratic-led Congress will consider the proposal this spring along with spending measures related to the economy and the war in Afghanistan. The Obama administration is urging relief for states. Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimated that education layoffs could total from 100,000 to 300,000 unless Congress acts. "It is brutal out there, really scary," Duncan told reporters on Capitol Hill. "This is a real emergency. What we’re trying to avert is an education catastrophe."   

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US girl sues for $1m over arrest for desk scribble

BBC News | Saturday, 3 April 2010 | 22:53 GMT

A 12-year-old US schoolgirl is suing the New York City authorities for $1m (£650,000) in damages after she was arrested for writing on her desk. Alexa Gonzalez was led out of her school in handcuffs by police after she was caught scribbling a message to her friends with an erasable, green marker. Miss Gonzalez and her mother are suing the police and education departments in New York City. They are claiming for excessive use of force and violation of her rights. Miss Gonzalez was caught scribbling "I love my friends Abby and Faith" on her desk during a Spanish class in February. The 12-year-old said her Spanish teacher then "dragged" her to the dean’s office where police were called.

‘Better judgement’

Miss Gonzalez told the New York Daily News she broke down as she was led out of Junior High School 190 in Queens in handcuffs. "I started crying, like, a lot," she said. "I made two little doodles… It could be easily erased. To put handcuffs on me is unnecessary." She said she was then held at a local school precinct for hours in what she calls a traumatising and excessive ordeal. New York City officials have acknowledged the arrest was a mistake, saying better judgement should have been used by the arresting officers.     

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Swami Nityananda files writ in Karnataka High Court

TOI | PTI | Mar 23, 2010 | 10.51am IST

Self-styled godman Nityananda Swami, facing allegations of involvement in sleazy activities, has filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar district police. Nityananda, who is at large ever since the video clippings of his alleged sleaze activities involving an actress were telecast by private channels on March two, contended in his petition yesterday that he was innocent.

32-year-old Nityananda, alias Rajasekharan, charged that one of his former discipline and driver Kurup Lenin had conspired to defame him and his Ashram by levelling such allegations. The whereabouts of Nityananda are a mystery. However, the followers of Nityananda at his Ashram at Bidadi on the city’s outskirts claim that he is in Haridwar attending the Kumbh Mela.     

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Govt allows foreign universities to open campuses

Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:30pm IST

The cabinet on Monday approved a proposal to allow foreign universities to set up campuses, a minister said, in a move that could reduce the flow of Indian students abroad. Tens of thousands of students head to universities in the United States, Britain and Australia among others for quality education each year.

The long-standing proposal to reform the education sector will now go to parliament for ratification, Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath told reporters following the cabinet meeting. Political parties have in the past opposed the entry of foreign universities, saying the poor will not be able to afford the fees. But experts have called for a revamp of the education system, which focuses on learning by rote.

Goldman Sachs counts the lack of quality education as one of the 10 factors holding India back from rapid economic growth. Analysts say it raises costs, including salaries as firms vie for the best recruits, and reduces firms’ competitive edge. The demand for graduates over the next five years is likely to be 13.8 million, analysts have estimated. But with    

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Australia downplays India student warning

BBC NEWS | 2010/01/06 | 05:05:44 GMT

The Australian government has played down a travel advisory issued by India warning of the risk of violence against Indian students in Melbourne. The warning followed the killing last week of an Indian graduate, Nitin Garg, who was stabbed to death in the city. The Indian travel advisory warned of an increase in robberies and assaults. But acting Australian foreign minister Simon Crean urged Indian leaders to avoid fuelling hysteria and said Melbourne was safe for visitors. India’s travel advisory said acts of violence against Indians had often been accompanied by verbal abuse and fuelled by drugs and alcohol.

Basic safety

“The government advises Indian students studying in Australia, as well as those planning to study there, that they should take certain basic precautions in being alert to their own security while moving around,” the notice said. The foreign ministry’s eight-point advisory also asked Indian citizens to report “complaints” to Indian diplomatic missions in Australia. “The number of such incidents of assault as well as of robbery has been on the rise in recent months, which has affected not only Indian students but also members of the larger Indian community in Australia,” it added. Mr. Garg’s murder has received wide media coverage in India, with one newspaper describing his death as proof “that the issue of racist attacks on the Indian community needs to be addressed by the Australian authorities”.     Continue reading

India student killing by Australians condemned

BBC NEWS | 2010/01/04 | 05:02:25 GMT

Mr Garg was working at a fast food restaurant

The governments of India and Australia have condemned the killing of an Indian student in the Australian city of Melbourne on Saturday night. Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna urged the Australian authorities to “speedily book” the people responsible for the killing of Nitin Garg. Mr. Garg was stabbed to death on his way to a fast food restaurant in Melbourne. There have been a number of attacks on Indian students in Australia in the past year. Australian police blamed the attacks on opportunistic criminals, but some Indian students see them as racist. The attacks have caused outrage in India and prompted Australian PM Kevin Rudd to reassure the Indian government that Australia is not a racist country. Melbourne police said that the motive for the latest attack on Mr. Garg, 21, an accounting graduate from the northern Indian state of Punjab, was not known.

‘Deep anger’

Mr. Krishna said the attack was “highly condemnable.” He said the Australian government should realise such attacks were making public opinion in India “polarised.” He said Australian authorities should take note of the “deep anger” caused by such attacks, and their possible effect on bilateral ties. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also condemned the attack. “This is a nation that welcomes international students. We want to make them welcome, this is a welcoming and accepting country,” Ms Gillard was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.     Continue reading