News at a glance

Religious 'airbrushing' sparks debate in Australia

A proposed new civics and citizenship curriculum set to be introduced in Australian schools has "airbrushed" Christianity out of the country's education system, the leader of a thinktank has claimed. Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute, has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard (right) of trying to "impose a culturally left, politically correct curriculum on all Australian schools". The latest draft curriculum has omitted the requirement that students should learn about the "contribution of major religions and beliefs" to the "development of Australian civic identity". "It's no secret that secular critics want to banish religion from the public square," Dr Donnelly said.

Nigerian campaign aims to stamp out cheating

A campaign group in Nigeria is establishing anti-cheating clubs at schools to try to change a culture in which it claims exam malpractice is rife. The Crusade Against Exam Malpractice Initiative has developed a "values-based" programme to be piloted in six schools, which aims to build character, teach children the harm done to society by cheating and train them to plan, prepare and pass exams legitimately. "Examination malpractice is the cause of major problems in our country. Once you begin to cheat from point A, you will cheat all the way," said the initiative's founder, Chibuike Echem. "We have discovered that the major reason for failure in our education system is not that we don't have smart students or intellectual lecturers, but our value system has been destroyed."

Fees put English students off university, study finds

About two-thirds of 11- to 16-year-olds have "significant concerns" about paying for university, a new survey of students in England has revealed. The Sutton Trust study of nearly 2,600 young people also found that almost 60 per cent of students who said that they were unlikely to attend university had based the decision on financial considerations. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Graduates face debts of over #163;40,000 with the higher fees, and many will be paying for their university studies into their fifties."

Press condemned in transgender teacher inquest

A coroner has criticised the press coverage surrounding a transgender teacher in England who later killed herself. Teacher Nathan Upton, 32, transitioned to live as a woman in the months before she was found dead in March. Pupils at St Mary Magdalen's CofE Primary School in Accrington, in the North of England, were told last December that Mr Upton would be known as Miss Lucy Meadows after the Christmas break. Blackburn and Hyndburn coroner Michael Singleton condemned press coverage, telling reporters: "Shame on all of you." Miss Meadows left notes in which she said that she "loved teaching" but complained that her job was stressful and that she "had debts". Mr Singleton recorded a verdict of suicide.

China and Japan revive exchange programme

An exchange programme between teachers in China and Japan, suspended because of deteriorating diplomatic relations between the Asian powers, will begin again this month. Japan is sending 25 teachers from elementary and high schools to China, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. About 100 teachers from China will make the return trip in September. The scheme, aimed at improving cultural understanding, ran for a decade until it was suspended last autumn because of a dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

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