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Education around the world

| September 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

WHO declares international emergency over DRC Ebola outbreak

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), children have died in record numbers from Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) and measles. EHF has killed almost 2 000 people, mostly children, in the region since August last year. Then, in January 2019, young people started contracting measles. Soon, the official tally was over 100 000 reported cases. The organisation Relief Web International states: As of 4 August 2019, a total of 2 763 EHF cases were reported, including 2 669 confirmed and 94 probable cases, of which 1 849 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 67%). Of the total confirmed and probable cases with reported sex and age, 57% (1 562) were female, and 28% (787) were children aged less than 18 years. On 17 July, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally declared an international emergency. The WHO’s decision to delay the announcement was met with global indignation. Measles has spread rapidly across the whole of the DRC. An anti-EHF vaccine that seems to be 97% effective has been administered to 160 000 DRC citizens. But many people are ‘vaccine wary’ and are both mistrustful of health workers and misinformed about the virus. In some cases, reports the WHO, healthcare workers responding to cases occurring in conflict zones have been attacked and murdered. Measles has re-emerged in the US as well. The WHO reports that the country faces the largest outbreak since 1992. The organisation also lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Children are the group most likely to catch measles because of various factors, such as vulnerable immune systems. In 2018, the WHO recorded nearly 350 000 measles cases worldwide. Over the past two years, there has been a 300% rise in measles cases globally, affecting mostly children in the Ukraine, Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Yemen and Brazil. And in Madagascar this year, more than 69 000 measles cases and 1 200 related deaths occurred.

It’s all just too much

American schools are allegedly some of the most stressed-out environments in the world. Survey after survey conducted by groups such as the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association have shown that an overwhelming majority of teachers feel stressed most of the time. And a 2018 study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri and published in the Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions suggests that high teacher stress correlates with poor student achievement. Teachers are tired, first of all. They rise early, give 100% all day, then prepare and mark late at night. Other educators feel they don’t have much control at work, say researchers. And of course, there’s the issue of poor salaries. Increasingly, studies are finding that high numbers of teachers complain of bullying by students, education management teams and parents. In addition to students misbehaving, the term ‘disruptive behaviour’ may include things such as homework left undone or students not having their books to hand. These issues slow down the class and mean that teachers – and their students – may not be ready for regular mandatory standardised testing. Staff meetings and administration also take away valuable teaching and learning time. As school shootings occur with more frequency, many teachers and students don’t feel safe at school anymore, which adds to their stress. Safety drills and constantly changing security protocols only ramp up the pressure. A study undertaken at the University of California Los Angeles has become infamous, because it found that anxiety and hostility at schools have increased markedly since Donald Trump took office. Racial incidents and the concomitant rise of right-wing commentary and social groupings at school continue to affect the mental health of students under attack, especially if they are children from minority or immigrant communities.

Category: Spring 2019

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