Education ministry explains changes in school calendar

The process to change the national school calendar kicked off last month and will end in September 2022, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, has said.

Munyakazi said this week that the changes are motivated by several reasons, among them, the need to align the school calendar to the national budget.

“The school calendar is not in sync with the national budget. This means that the education activities and other development activities are running on different timelines and not based on the fiscal year which is not convenient,” he said.

Munyakazi also pointed out that another reason for the change is to reduce the period A’Level students are spending in vacation.

“We felt that it was necessary to synchronise the primary and secondary school calendar with the one of the universities so that we cut on the long period of time which A’Level students had to wait before joining university,” he said.

There was also need to synchronise performance contracts with the fiscal year.

Munyakazi explained that though the changes in the school calendar were discussed at the Umushyikirano National Dialogue, his Ministry had been looking into making the changes though it required a big budget and time.

“Obviously we have started working on these changes but this process requires a lot in terms of changes and  budget. The last changes we made to the school calendar cost us Rwf7.2bn,” he said.

The Director General of the Rwanda Examination Board (REB), Dr Irénée Ndayambaje, recently told The New Times that the revision of the calendar will be done in a way that it does not affect the curriculum implementation.

“People will be aware of the changes and get prepared in advance. This revision will, however, not affect the academics. The new calendar will come into effect when everything is in place,” he said.

Current status

In August last year, the Ministry of Education released a slightly revised school calendar for both primary and secondary schools for the 2019 academic year, which saw the holiday period shortened.

[“source=newtimes”]

Niantic Explains Pokemon Go Update and Delay in India Release Date

Niantic Explains Pokemon Go Update and Delay in India Release Date

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Niantic responds over its latest update to Pokemon Go
  • It removed the step counter feature as it did not work
  • Limited access to third-party services is why India doesn’t have it yet

Pokemon Go was updated over the weekend and in doing progress for a few users has been reset. To further fuel fan outrage the update removed the step counter, also known as footprints from the game. This was crucial in forming players of their distance from nearby Pokemon. Niantic, the game’s developer has finally broken silence on this move, explaining that it did not work as intended.

(Also see: Pokemon Go Update Resets Game Progress, Some Users Complain)

“We have removed the ‘3-step’ display in order to improve upon the underlying design. The original feature, although enjoyed by many, was also confusing and did not meet our underlying product goals. We will keep you posted as we strive to improve this feature,” a post on the official Pokemon Go Facebook page reads.

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And while the latest update has resulted in furore, what with revoking access to third-party maps such as Pokevision, that hasn’t stopped others from working such as Smart Poke 2 which bypasses Niantic’s latest update. Though still in beta, Smart Poke 2 has a host of features to make playing Pokemon Go a breeze. Nonetheless, given Google’s propensity to remove such apps, it’ll be interesting to see how soon before it vanishes from the Play Store.

(Also see: Pokemon Go Advanced Tips and Tricks)

Niantic also revealed the reason for the game’s delayed launch in countries such as Brazil and India.

“We have limited access by third-party services which were interfering with our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokemon Go to users around the world. The large number of users has made the roll-out of Pokemon Go around the world an… interesting… challenge,” admits the company, reiterating its desire to bring the game to other nations. “And we aren’t done yet! Yes, Brazil, we want to bring the game to you (and many other countries where it is not yet available).”

While Pokemon Go isn’t officially available for a large part of the world, that hasn’t stopped the game from coming under the scanner from authorities. Particularly in New York where playing online games including Pokemon Go would result in a violation of parole for sex offenders.

Share a screenshot and win Samsung smartphones worth Rs. 90,000 by participating in the #BrowseFaster contest.

Tags: Pokemon Go, Pokemon Go India Release Date, Pokemon Go Update, Pokemon Go iPhone, Pokevision,Smart Poke 2

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]

What explains the astonishingly high number of accredited journalists in Andhra Pradesh?

What explains the astonishingly high number of accredited journalists in Andhra Pradesh?
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Information obtained by way of a Right to Information query shows that Andhra Pradesh has an astonishingly large number of journalists who have been given official accreditation by the state government: more than 15,000.

Compared to this, Karnataka has 815, Bihar 770, Punjab 450, Orissa 157, Jammu and Kashmir 81, Himachal Pradesh 76 and Goa 72 accredited journalists. Those figures are lower than the number of officially recognised journalists in any single district in Andhra Pradesh: upward of 900.

Accredited journalists are entitled to concessions on trains and buses and health facilities, among other benefits .

What explains this?

Some argue that the number of accredited journalists in Andhra Pradesh is high because of the large number of dailies in the state. Amar Devulapalli, secretary-general of Indian Journalists Union and consulting editor of Sakshi TV, brushed away allegations that Andhra Pradesh was accrediting journalists indiscriminately. “There is no hanky-panky,” he said.

However, according to a 2014-’15 report of the Registrar of Newspapers in India, the largest number of publications are published in Uttar Pradesh (5,506), followed by Madhya Pradesh (2,494), Delhi (2,465) and Uttarakhand (1,847). Andhra has only 1,648.

While the number of accredited journalists for some of the above states was not readily available, it is instructive to note that the number of accredited journalists in Rajasthan is 1,631, which has about the same number of publications – 1,660.

So what accounts for this high number?

“No qualification or experience is needed,” says TVR Rao of a channel called 6 TV. “I know a journalist who is 19 and got his accreditation card in three months.” Rao, who has been a journalist for 12 years, was accredited in 2005, after around a year on the job.

A journalist with a Telugu daily, who has worked in the state for past 30 years, said that political leaders attempt to ensure favourable coverage by giving journalists the benefits of accreditation.

Andhra’s mediascape

But why isn’t this happening in other states too?

Andhra Pradesh has a mix of TV news channels – mostly owned by politicians and businessmen. The Hoot, a media watchdog website, reported that out of 24 TV channels in Andhra, 21 are in the hands of corporate and political giants. “A few try to be neutral, but are hardly objective,” says the report.

For instance, Sakshi daily and its sister TV channel are owned by politician YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu’s close aide Vemuri Radhakrishna owns ABN Andhra Jyothi. T News belongs to Telangana Broadcasting Private Limited, the official mouthpiece of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti.

Email queries sent to P Krishna Mohan, Andhra Pradesh’s Commissioner of Information and Public Relations Department, did not elicit any response.

Benefits of an accreditation card

According to the website of the Information and Public Relation Department, accredited journalists get access to several government facilities, including an employee health card that gives them and their families medical coverage of Rs 2.5 lakh every year.

Besides, accredited journalists get fare-waivers in Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation buses. They get free bus rides within the district and only have to pay 33% of the fare when travelling to other districts in the state. Accredited journalists also get 50% waive-offs in trains.

“Waive offs in trains and buses help journalists immensely,” said Suribabu S, a reporter with Eenadu in Visakhapatnam. “Journalists mostly apply for accreditation to avail these two benefits, health and travel.”

It is also possible for journalists to get a plot of land at a subsidised price: accredited Andhra journalists are entitled to 3.5 cents of land (around 1,500 sq ft) at less than market price.

Rules for accreditation

The accreditation process is theoretically governed by strict norms, and by that token is limited to journalists who fulfil those conditions.

According to Information and Public Relation Department, of Andhra Pradesh, there should be a two-tier accreditation committee – the state media accreditation committee and the district media accreditation committee to issue official recognition to journalists.

Rules laid down by the Information and Public Relation Department clearly state:

“he/she (journalists) shall have spent not less than five, three and two consecutive years in the profession of journalism for accreditation at State Headquarters, District Headquarters and at Mandal level respectively.”

But in practice, the management of the publication decides who should be given the card and sends names to the department, said Eenadu reporter Suribabu. Qualifications and experience do not matter much.

Devulapalli of the Indian Journalists Union admitted that there are loopholes in the accreditation process. “Sometimes the lower-level officials in Information and Public Relation Department take bribes for giving accreditation,” he said.

The outcome

Not everyone is pleased with the situation. “To say the least, it is extremely unethical on the part of journalists,” said former Deccan Chronicle journalist VS Krishna. “Some kind of racket is going on in the state.”

However, others argue that the benefits don’t amount to much. “The small favour one gets from government accreditation doesn’t really count for much,” said the bureau chief of an English national daily based in Visakhapatnam, requesting anonymity. “They mainly ensure better operations for a reporter working on the ground.”

Added a senior Telugu journalist based in Delhi: “You guys are barking up the wrong tree. Journalists don’t count. When the government already has media barons in its corner, who needs journalists?”

[“source-Scroll”]