Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Woman targeted by militia

Death video woman 'targeted by militia'

Amateur video apparently showing a young Iranian woman dying in Tehran after she was allegedly shot by pro-government militia on Saturday has caused outrage in Iran and abroad.

The woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was buried on Sunday.

Her fiance, Caspian Makan, told BBC Persian TV about the circumstances of Neda's death. She was near the area, a few streets away, from where the main protests were taking place, near the Amir-Abad area. She was with her music teacher, sitting in a car and stuck in traffic.

She was feeling very tired and very hot. She got out of the car for just for a few minutes.

And that's when it all happened.

That's when she was shot dead. Eyewitnesses and video footage of the shooting clearly show that probably Basij paramilitaries in civilian clothing deliberately targeted her. Eyewitnesses said they clearly targeted her and she was shot in the chest.

She passed away within a few minutes. People tried to take her to the nearest hospital, the Shariati hospital. But it was too late.

We worked so hard to get the authorities to release her body. She was taken to a morgue outside Tehran. The officials from the morgue asked if they could use parts of her corpse for body transplants for medical patients.

They didn't specify what exactly they intended to do. Her family agreed because they wanted to bury her as soon as possible.

We buried her in the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran. They asked us to bury her in this section where it seemed the authorities had set aside spaces for graves for those killed during the violent clashes in Tehran last week.

On Monday afternoon, we had planned to hold a memorial service at the mosque.

But the authorities there and the paramilitary group, the Basij, wouldn't allow it because they were worried it would attract unwanted attention and they didn't want anymore trouble.

The authorities are aware that everybody in Iran and throughout the whole world knows about her story. So that's why they didn't want a memorial service. They were afraid that lots people could turn up at the event.

So as things stand now, we are not allowed to hold any gatherings to remember Neda.


What some people in the USA want is to encourage the people in Iran to risk their lives to set up a democracy in that country similar to what is the experience here.

I question I want to ask is why?

The USA has been a democracy for three hundred years but what has that meant? It has meant with the most resources available to any country we are unable to educate our children, we have an economy in crisis with a gigantic national debt, we use the most drugs and have the highest rates of crime and divorce.

The city of New Orleans has not yet recovered from the hurricane that struck that city several years ago.

Why do we feel that we have the right to be promoting a way of life that has not worked for us, we are no nearer to achieving a functioning democracy that we were three hundred years ago.

What gives us the right to tell members of another sovereign nation how to solve their problems when we are completely incapable of solving our own?

It is the Dick Cheney attitude, for six years he was in power and made a complete mess of things, of everything but now he knows all the answers?

Give me a break and give the people of Iran a break and the right to work out their own destinies.

The people of America have no right to be telling anyone how to govern because the country is in a complete mess.

We should focus on fixing our own problems and when we got it right then we export it, not the other way round.

Look at the mess we made in Iraq, we can teach the world to dance to the democratic tune after we learn that secret not before.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Jamaica Gleaner Online

School heads fail - Holness slams primary school principals for poor-quality education

Published: Sunday | June 7, 2009

Tyrone Reid, Staff Reporter

Andrew Holness, Minister of Education - File

Education Minister Andrew Holness has given several primary school principals an 'F' on their report cards for failing to ensure that top-quality education is provided to students under their care. However, this grade is being challenged by president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Doran Dixon.

The principals came in for a 'flogging' from the education minister after the country's national report on the status of its Millennium Development Goals highlighted that the quality of the education being provided at the primary level was a problem. This is despite the nation achieving universal access to education at that level.

nat'l report next month

The national report is to be presented to the United Nations Economic and Social Council's annual ministerial review in Geneva next month,

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Dr Pauline Knight, director of social policy, planning and research at the Planning Institute of Jamaica, painted a disturbing picture of the problem in primary education.

She said that many children leave primary school ill-prepared for the secondary level.

"The facts are that a large percentage of children leave primary school without being able to read or write," said Knight.

She stressed that the poor-quality education being offered at the primary level has consequences that extend to the working world and the university level, where some students still have difficulties with the English language.

"And, all of this starts from the primary school, because this is where the foundation is laid. And without the proper foundation, it puts extra burden on the higher levels of the system."

buck stops with principals

Holness maintains that the buck stops with the principals. In scolding the heads of the state-operated schools, the education minister said deficient management was the main reason for the poor-quality instruction being offered to the students.

"The quality issue stems from poor leadership at the school level. That is number one," Holness told The Sunday Gleaner.

He added: "We are grappling with the issues of quality. But, when you start to talk about quality, then you have to bring in the issues of accountability."

That is why, the minister says, he supports a system where teachers' efforts are matched to outcomes.

But this does not mean that Holness believes the proposed performance-based pay is the answer to the quality ills rocking the education sector.

According to the education minister, it would be "very difficult" to peg pay to performance in the education sector.

He was, therefore, reluctant to commit his support to the much-debated performance-based pay proposal.

caught in a difficult place

The JTA president rejected the minister's position that the principals were the primary reason for the pitiable results plaguing government-run elementary schools.

"There are clear instances where, even with the best of intentions, some principals are caught in a difficult place because they don't have the basic resources with which to work," Dixon said.

According to him, poverty is the principal problem. He argued that poverty affected children's nutrition and, by extension, their ability to attend school prepared for learning.

In addition, the JTA president argued that poverty limited the capacity of parents to provide meaningful contributions, financial and otherwise, to the school community.

"The poverty affects everything. You can't underestimate the issue of poverty; it is crucial," he said.

Dixon also argued that poor physical conditions and overcrowding of classrooms also robbed value from the quality of education being provided within the walls of primary schools.

"When you have a school where the rooms are still partitioned by chalkboard; when you have a primary class of 50 and over, it really doesn't help in the fight towards quality education," Dixon contended.

Conceded Holness: "There is still infrastructure work to be done."

not gov't inadequacies

However, Holness insisted that the ill-equipped students leaving the state-owned schools did not reflect inadequacies on the Government's side. "It is not an indictment in so far as Government's policy was to improve access," he argued.

The minister pledged that during the decade ahead, the spotlight would be turned directly on the quality of education at the primary stage.


Students at Jessie Ripoll Primary, one of the top-performing schools in the Corporate Area. - file

Copyright Jamaica-Gleaner.com

What I find absolutely fascinating is that one of the poorest nations in the world has many of the same problems that I have observed in the richest nation in the world.

I want to make clear that in South Florida I researched and studied this issue, visited the schools and sat in on classes, examined the education bureaucracy and spoke to a wide cross section of teachers.

Can it be that the problem is simple, the primacy of culture, that human beings where ever they live on Planet Earth shared the same culture that created a ubiquitous, pervasive social system worldwide; and, what we are witnessing is that culture, "the conscious and unconscious premises for thinking and action inventing and reinventing itself to perpetuate the status quo?

I invite comments; and, if there is anyone in this group who has hands on experience with education in the USA to indicate that.

I would like to tell you that I do believe that this is the real issue with regard to long term development in the USA or Jamaica.