News at a glance

21st March 2014 at 00:00

South African curriculum to embrace Mandarin

Mandarin lessons are to be introduced to South African schools, ministers have said. A new curriculum for the subject would be developed with the help of the Chinese government, the Department of Basic Education confirmed. "As South Africa's biggest trading partner it is important for our children to become proficient in the Confucius language and develop a good understanding of Chinese culture," education spokeswoman Troy Martens said. Plans are still at an early stage but Chinese will not be a compulsory subject.

Father's pride for Malala's activism

The father of education activist Malala Yousafzai has said he is "proud" to be known because of his daughter's work. Ziauddin Yousafzai told a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada: "Malala used to be known as my daughter but now I'm known as her father. In patriarchal societies, fathers are known by their sons. I am known by my daughter and proud of it." Mr Yousafzai said he did not regret inspiring his daughter to dream of freedom from patriarchal Pakistani society. "People ask me, what did I do to make Malala so bold and courageous? I did not clip her wings," he said.

Bill Gates calls on teachers to defend standards

Teachers need to help parents understand the new Common Core - a set of universal standards for US schools - Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said. Speaking at a teachers' conference in the US, he called on educators to join the effort to beat back "false claims" being made by critics of the scheme. "There are many voices in this debate but none are more important or trusted than yours," he said. The Gates Foundation has spent more than $170 million (pound;102 million) to develop and promote the Common Core standards, and is the scheme's biggest non-governmental backer.

Militant threat closes Nigerian schools

Nigeria's north-eastern state of Borno has closed all its high schools over fears of attacks by Islamic extremists. School officials and teachers in the state said that about 85 institutions would close. This will affect nearly 120,000 students in the area, which has the country's worst literacy rates. Militants from the Boko Haram network, which opposes Western-style education, have already burned down several schools in Nigeria and killed hundreds of students.

China investigates unlawful drugging of students

The Chinese government has launched a blanket inspection of kindergartens, primary and middle schools, after it emerged that children had been given prescription drugs without their parents' knowledge. Nursery schools are paid for each day children attend and it is alleged that the anti-flu medication was administered in three pre-schools to ensure that students attended classes. "The focus is to investigate whether kindergartens are illegally organising the medication of groups of infants," a government notice said, according to reports in the South China Morning Post newspaper.

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