Tag: education

Victoria plan to start welcoming international students by 2021 end


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 8 October 2021: International students will start returning to Victoria by the end of the year under the Victorian Government’s Student Arrivals Plan, which has been submitted to the Commonwealth for approval.

The Plan provides a graduated, safe return to study in Victoria for international students, and a pipeline for continued arrivals through 2022.

Students arriving under the plan will be in addition to Victoria’s existing international arrivals cap, which means they will not displace returning Australians.

Minister for Trade Martin Pakula says, “This sensible plan will progressively get students who are enrolled at Victorian universities, TAFEs and colleges safely into Victoria so they can undertake their studies.”

“A gradual return of international students means we can keep Victorians safe and not affect places for returning Australians.”

Under the first stage of the plan, 120 places will be available each week for Victorian university students, prioritising those who need to undertake practical work to continue or complete their degrees, such as health and medical degree students, as well as postgraduate research students.

Universities will provide funding towards the extra quarantine places for student visa holders, with students required to cover the cost of their flight to Melbourne. Students will be quarantined in dedicated accommodation managed by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria.

The second stage will enable more places with larger-scale international student arrivals from across the sector, including those enrolled in TAFEs, English-language courses, private education providers and secondary schools.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne Professor Duncan Maskell says, “Victorian universities have been working collaboratively with the Victorian Government on a plan to facilitate the
return of international students to the state.”

“We are pleased the plan has now been submitted to the Federal Government – we look forward to Minister Tudge reviewing and approving the plan as soon as possible.”

International students are a vital part of Victoria’s academic and broader community. While over 75,000 international students from 100 countries are currently studying in Victoria, around 47,000 more are enrolled with Victorian education providers but remain offshore while Australia’s international borders are closed.

International education is a critical services export and jobs provider for Victoria, contributing a peak of $13.7 billion to the state’s economy and supporting around 79,000 Victorian jobs prior to the pandemic.

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited


By counterview.in

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled “The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order” criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited:

The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy.
Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result of the emergence of genetic determinism was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness, cohesion, and egalitarianism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species.
The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and the subsequent Abrahamic religions which pioneered the development of a reproductively active male as a supreme being (a Father). Since the 1850s, this myth-making role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.

Reaction by Paul Carline:

The subject of genetic determinism is certainly important.
However, I had imagined that the devastating results of the Human Genome Project had actually put an end to the dogma of genetic determinism – because it was shown that genes do not control anything of a higher order, but merely code for proteins. Director of the privately funded HGP research team, Craig Venter, remarked that the results told us nothing more about what it means to be human.
The research-grant-led ’scientific’ response was to say that the attention of the research must now be redirected to ‘proteomics’. But it is clear that the love affair with the idea of some kind of ‘master molecules’ controlling not only our physical makeup, but even our beliefs, hopes and fears – and especially our health – has not been abandoned, but rather intensified, with the toxic mRNA pseudo-vaccines being the latest progeny.


The corrupted science which now dominates research continues to deny the reality that the (arche)typical forms of living organisms are not shaped from within i.e. in ‘encoded’ genes, but are the result of invisible – but detectable – formative forces from ‘outside’, potentially from the entire cosmos. In a wiser age Paracelsus wrote that the forms of things are in the”astral light” i.e. the light from the stars (including the planets and comets).

Dr. Latham will almost certainly not agree with me on that – but at least we are in agreement that genetic determinism is a fallacy!

I am, however, left wondering what Dr. Latham means precisely when he states that “organisms are self-organised systems”. For the overwhelming majority of living organisms, it can hardly be said that they possess a “self” that consciously organises their development and form. Of course it is a problem for biology which is forced by its own belief system ultimately to see living beings merely as complex machines.

I recently reviewed a new book by an American biologist and naturalist who came to the same conclusion: that living beings are just the sum of their internal and external “activity” – they are just living beings ‘doing their own thing’. I do not find that very profound.

A couple of small but important points: Christianity is not an ‘Abrahamic’ religion, despite the centuries of corruption of the truth and the disastrous adoption of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law which relate exclusively to Judaism. The idea that the Christian supreme being is based on the model of a “reproductively active male” is to my mind simply laughable. Christian theology is totally free of the older descriptions of sexually active gods and goddesses.

Christian teaching actually refers to a trinity of supreme beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), where – according to the evangelist John – it is the ’Son’ i.e. the Christ who initiated the creation of the world. Even Genesis refers to multiple spiritual beings – the plural Elohim – as the active agents in cosmogenesis.

Jonathan Latham’s reply:

Just a correction, I dont know what definition of ‘consciously’ you use (and I dont normally use the word at all and dont in the blurb) but indeed all organisms are self-organising, even down to the tiniest virus. That is the history of evolution, which began with self-organising among the relatively speaking very simple initial set of molecules (long before DNA existed); and the definition of consciousness that I would choose to use would apply to them, it is simply the perception of and response to the environment.

In humans with large brains, we focus on the mental aspects but these perceptions and responses but are merely narrow aspects of a larger bodily whole consciousness that is closer to the consciousness of bacteria. But in general, consciousness is not a useful word as commonly used because the people who use it generally refuse to define it and the reason they refuse is that any rigorous definition would have to roughly follow my logic and so deny genetic determine and this is highly problematic since they are ideologically and a priori committed to it.

You are conflating sexually active with reproductive. Older and non-Christian ideas of gods did sometimes emphasize their sexuality, but all the references to “Our father” eg in the central “lords prayer” make it clear, to me at least, that paternity is central to Christianity: Jesus appearing as God’s son is another example. He could just have appeared, but no, was a male offspring.

Bangladesh:Free education to drive out poverty

By Naimul Haq

DHAKA, Nov 19 (IPS) – Since her admission in January 2009 into Kurmitola government primary school in the Khilkhet district of capital Dhaka, 10-year-old Anju Aktar has never missed a day of class. In fact, Aktar’s mid-term report card shows that she is one of the
school’s top students.

But if not for free education offered in Bangladesh, the
young girl who lives in a nearby slum with her seamstress
mother and mentally challenged father might not even have
had the chance to study, let alone pursue her dream of
becoming a doctor.

Like Aktar, fellow student Mohammad Pappu says he wants
to complete his education and escape a life of poverty.
Pappu’s mother works as a domestic helper, putting in more
than 15 hours a day to support her three children.

“We have tremendous pressure of students seeking
admission in our school,” said assistant teacher Firoza
Khanam, one of 15 teachers at Kurmitola school. “Over ninety
percent of our students come from poor families who now
realise that free education for their children can bring
long-term benefits.”

The poor, who make up some 45 percent of Bangladesh’s 164
million population, are the main beneficiaries of the
country’s education efforts. In addition, girls have
overtaken boys in rates of enrolment, attendance and
completion of primary education.

With over 94 percent net enrolment, Bangladesh is one of
only a handful of the world’s least developed countries that
are close to achieving the U.N. millennium development goals
of 100 percent enrolment rate in primary schools by 2015.

“Achieving some other goals like bringing dropout at all
schools to zero level by 2011, (and) eliminate illiteracy by
2021, compulsory free computer education in all primary
schools have helped in high retention rates of students in
primary schools,” said Abdul Awal Mazumder, secretary of
Bangladesh’s Ministry for Primary and Mass Education, which
was set up in 1992 as part of the country’s efforts towards
achieving development goals.

The government currently spends between 60 and 70 U.S.
dollars per year towards the education of each of the 18
million eligible students aged between six and 10.

Since May 2004, the government has spent an estimated 1.8
billion dollars for upgrading some 82,868 primary schools,
retraining of teaching staff and focusing on quality

According to the latest annual performance review report
released in 2009, net enrolment has grown steadily to 93
percent in 2008, more students (97 percent) have gone on to
Grade 6, and absenteeism rates have dropped to 19 percent.

The average teacher-to-student ratio has also improved to
some 46 students per teacher. In addition, students now get
to spend close to 750 hours a year with their teachers, up
from less than 400 teacher contact hours in the late 1980s.

Experts attribute the success to the Primary Education
Development Programme – a six-year mission, the biggest
state-owned programme, to develop primary education started
in 2000.

Bangladesh is on right track, Mazumder claims, to
maintaining the yearly growth rate, dangling carrots like
stipends for females, the now-defunct Food For Education
programme, rewards for good results and free distribution of
revised textbooks to increase enrolment rates.

But experts say that there are still a few drawbacks that
need to be addressed.

While some 42.7 million of the state’s annual budget goes
toward primary education, the total budget for education is
only two percent of Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product –
the lowest percentage allocated in South Asia.

“The ground reality is that poor children come to seek
education in public schools, not the rich,” said Bimol Saha,
a primary schoolteacher in Manikganj district, about 60 km
south of Dhaka. “To reduce dropout rates, we have to make
the classes more attractive and friendly. For instance,
students in generally prefer female teachers who are
friendlier and more tolerant.”

“Despite remarkable achievements in student admission and
holding the sub-continent’s best gender parity record,
dropout rates and enrolment of disadvantaged children still
pose problems,” said Tapon Kumar Das, programme manager of
Campaign for Popular Education, a coalition of over 1,000
non-government organisations advocating for quality
education in Bangladesh.

“School dropout (rates) in many areas show as high as 40
percent against the government’s claim of 11 percent.
Children from indigenous families also have low enrolment
rates,” Das added.

NGOs play a major role in addressing such issues,
supplementing the government’s primary education programmes.
The number of NGO-run primary schools has quadrupled since
the early 1990s and now comprises 8.5 percent of the total
educational system in Bangladesh.

Many consider these schools to be more effective than
public schools through their offering of flexible school
timings, better infrastructure, facilities and textbooks, as
well as separate monitoring and evaluation of students.

For example, schools by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement
Committee (BRAC) – whose 1.2 million students account for 76
percent of all students in NGO-operated primary schools –
are unique in that local community members decide and
implement all academic programmes in consultation with
parents and stakeholders.

“We enrol drop out (and) non-enrolled children – mostly
girls – from poor families, ensure high attendance, child
friendly pedagogy and high completion of five-year academic
studies in our primary schools,” Safiqul Islam, director of
BRAC’s education programme, told IPS.

“But it is not merely primary education we focus on,” he
added. “We operate pre-primary schools to cater to
mainstream primary schools as well as support the mainstream
secondary schools to improve quality of education which are
all linked to one another.”