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Cuts leave UK as biggest education aid provider

A fall in international aid for primary school education (typically covering the 4-11 age group) for the first time in a decade has left the UK as the world's largest donor for basic education. But the decline has put the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of universal primary schooling by 2015 further into doubt. The US (formerly the largest donor), France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Canada have all cut spending, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) revealed this week. Nigeria had the most children - 10 million - out of school in 2011. Worldwide the figure was 57 million, and this is falling by only 3 per cent annually. "Now is not the time for aid donors to back out," said Irina Bokova, Unesco's director-general. "Quite the reverse: to reach these children and our ambition to end the learning crisis, donors must renew their commitments."

Lack of illness plans 'shameful', minister says

A leading MP has called on the UK government to provide training for teachers on treating children with long-term illnesses. Graham Stuart, chair of Parliament's Commons Education Select Committee, said that children with conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy need a legal guarantee that schools have care plans for them. The Conservative MP said it was "shameful" that his party's government rejected an amendment to the children and families bill that would have enforced healthcare plans for students with chronic illnesses. Education minister Edward Timpson said the government may review the policy in future.

Miniskirt protest students sprayed with tear gas

Hundreds of students at a Ugandan school were dispersed by riot police using tear gas last week after a protest over a ban on miniskirts. According to Simeon Banturaki, headmaster of Nyakayojo Secondary School, the protest began when girls objected to the head of their boarding hostel confiscating miniskirts. When Mr Banturaki intervened, the boys joined in and allegedly started throwing stones. Students also complained of poor meals and harassment by teachers, and vandalised several buildings, school authorities said. "We have to restrict them and emphasise the dress code to look smart and responsible," the head of the girls' hostel, Miria Ninsiima, told The New Vision newspaper in Uganda.

Twice the training for half as many teachers

Trainee teachers in one of the highest-performing jurisdictions in international tests will have to spend twice as long training to be able to enter the profession. Courses in teacher training colleges in Ontario, Canada, will last for two years from 2015. Participants will have to spend twice as long in the classroom as part of the course, with the length of placements expanding from a minimum of 40 days to 80. But the number of places available on courses will be reduced by 50 per cent to help qualified teachers find jobs. About 9,000 people have been graduating every year as teachers in Ontario despite the fact that only about 6,000 are needed annually.

Support for students down in 'year of uncertainty'

Universities and colleges in the UK spent 23.4 per cent of their tuition fee income on support for disadvantaged and other under-represented students in 2011-12, compared with 24.4 per cent the previous year. The report, from the Office for Fair Access, said that 2011-12 was a "year of uncertainty" for higher education and further education institutions, with concerns about funding streams and preparation for the new system of fees and student support.

IN TOUCH

In the UK:

260K

Tablet computers in schools by the end of 2013 (predicted).

100K

Tablet computers in schools in 2012.

In the US:

2.6m

Tablet computers in schools in 2012.

1.28m

Tablet computers in schools in 2011.

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