LA NACION (ARGENTINA)
La Nacion is one of Argentinia's most read dailies. Like its main rival Clarín, it was also known as a major opposition newspaper while the Kirchners were in power, from 2003 to 2015. La Nacion has received several awards and some of the most prominent writers of the Spanish-speaking world have appeared in its columns.
COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World
Coronavirus
Irene Caselli and Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World

Teachers, students, parents and society as a whole have suffered through the various attempts at educating through the pandemic. Here’s how it looks now: from teacher strikes in France to rising drop-out rates in Argentina to Uganda finally ending the world’s longest shutdown.

School, they say, is where the future is built. The next generation’s classroom learning is crucial, but schools also represent an opportunity for children to socialize, get help for special needs … and in some villages and neighborhoods, get their one decent meal a day.

COVID-19 has of course put all of that at risk. At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide, with the crisis forcing many to experiment on the fly for the first time in remote learning, and shutting down learning completely for many millions more — exacerbating worldwide inequality in education.

The decisions to close schools have been some of the toughest choices made during the pandemic. It’s universally acknowledged that children most succeed with in-person classes, but the question still remains whether the health risk to students and those around them is worth it.

The Omicron wave has only caused this debate to heighten, with teacher strikes in France, rising drop-out rates in Argentina and staff shortages in South Africa. But there are signs of hope: Uganda has finally reopened schools this week, ending the world’s longest shutdown nearly 20 months later. Elsewhere, countries struggle in myriad ways to face the challenge of educating and caring for our youth through COVID:

ARGENTINA — Drop-outs and long hair

Argentina had one of the longest disruptions to school activities, according to data by Unicef, with 79 weeks of closure. Officials blame the lockdown for many of the more than 600,000 students who dropped out permanently from classes — a number six times higher than the year before the pandemic, reports La Nación newspaper.

Even for those who did go back to class, the pandemic created huge disruption. In this photo essay, photographer Irina Werning documented the life of a girl in the province of Buenos Aires, and her decision to cut her hair only when she got back to school after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

UGANDA — The world’s longest shutdown

Uganda reopened its schools on Monday after the longest pandemic-prompted shutdown in the world started in March 2020. Child rights groups had criticized Uganda’s decision to keep schools fully or partially shuttered for 83 weeks, leaving 15 million students without education amid mostly failed attempts at switching to a remote learning model.

Barred from school, many boys entered work in mining, street vending and sugarcane planting. According to the National Planning Authority, up to one-third of students are not expected to return to the classroom due to teen pregnancy, early marriage and child labor.

SOUTH AFRICA — Teacher shortages

In South Africa, one of the African countries hardest hit by the pandemic, 70% of students starting third grade this year haven’t learned to read, having missed out on 50% schooling during the last two years. As such, the Department of Basic Education plans a return to a normal school timetable in 2022, despite the country battling a fourth wave of infections driven by the Omicron variant.

But as five inland provinces — the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West — started their academic year on January 12, the country’s schools still struggle to work around the persistent shortage of teachers, the Mail & Guardian reports. In April 2021, there were 24,000 vacancies spread across schools in all provinces and according to TimesLIVE, some educators are already teaching classes of more than 50 children.

Taking a child's temperature before going to school in Madrid, Spain

Isabel Infantes/Contacto via ZUMA

PHILIPPINES — Learning online with bad Internet

The Philippines also recorded one of the world’s longest education lockdowns. Schools closed completely in March 2020, and only reopened face-to-face classes in December for an experimental two-month trial that involved 287 public and private schools, according to the newssite Rappler.

But as Omicron cases surged, on Jan. 2, the Department of Education put a halt to the expansion phase of face-to-face classes and announced the suspension of in-person classes in areas under a higher infection level, including the metropolitan area of Manila. Online classes have only been accessible to a small portion of the population, because Internet access is not widespread, especially in rural areas that account for more than half of the school population, creating a further gap in education.

UNITED STATES — Homeschooling boom

With waves of school closures around the United States during COVID-19 surges, many parents have taken their children's education into their own hands. The national homeschooling rate increased from 3.3% before the pandemic to 11.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some parents wanted to better cater to students with special needs or provide religious-based education, while others felt local schooling options were inadequate.

The boom has particularly striking in the state of Virginia, where home-schooled students are up by 40% compared to 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Education data, now making up to 5% of the total public school enrollment.

Home-schoolers are especially concentrated in conservative rural areas, where they represent up to 20% of students in some counties. Many families opted for homeschooling as a result of the COVID-19 school restrictions and classes going online, with parents fighting against mask mandates, but also to the decision by schools to teach critical race theory.

ITALY — Government flip-flops

Prime Minister Mario Draghi made it a priority to keep schools open despite an upsurge of COVID-19 cases in Italy, with updated restrictions to help contain the spread of the virus. But Vincenzo De Luca, the outspoken governor of the southern region of Campania, issued a decree to delay school opening after the Christmas break. The central government successfully challenged De Luca’s decision in court this week, creating last-minute chaos among school personnel and families. Still, in some towns around the region, mayors decided to keep the structures closed.

This precarious situation has led commentators, like sociologist Chiara Saraceno in this editorial for La Stampa daily to lament not only the missed lessons of the two years, but the last-minute nature of decisions that leave no time to families to get organized. The pandemic has taught us the benefits of flexibility rather than constant crisis mode. Saraceno writes: “We need to break the tabu of the untouchable school calendar.”

SWEDEN — Always open

As the pandemic struck and countries around the world went into lockdown, Sweden became one of the last outposts for refusing curfews and instead relying on health agency recommendations for how to curb the spread — and primary schools were no exception.

But while Swedish kids may have missed out on less hours in class, a 2021 study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that Swedish high school students experienced more frustration and anger than their Norwegian counterparts. The researchers suggest that while social interactions have been more frequent for Swedish students, the higher levels of national contagion may have resulted in an overall greater strain on their mental health, Skolvärlden newspaper reports.

At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide

Rober Solsona/Contacto via ZUMA

SPAIN — Where are the tests?

As Spanish students returned to classes after the Christmas break, a debate has flared up between the government and teachers, who have demanded routine testing, El Pais reports.

With the number of students expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, the Education Ministry has nonetheless decided that in classes with children under 12 years old, only more than four infections — or 20% — will demand a group quarantine. Teachers have lashed out against the decision on social media, pointing to Germany where frequent rapid tests are carried out on all students, as well as Italy, where the army has been deployed to carry out mass testing on students.

FRANCE — Mass teachers strike

Keeping French classrooms open has been a priority during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases for President Emmanuel Macron, who faces a reelection campaign this spring. But there was backlash from teachers who shut down many of the nation’s schools Thursday with a mass strike in protest against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, reports Libération daily.

Teachers cited confusing and constantly changing COVID rules that have left them exhausted and frustrated. As coronavirus infections have surged since the beginning of January, the government this week eased rules on COVID checks for students to reduce the massive pressure on testing capacity. But the relaxation has caused safety concerns for teachers as France reported a record 332,476 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — with teachers protesting that the government's lack of communication, frequent changes to testing, and insufficient protection against COVID has left them unable to do their job.

AUSTRALIA — Last to close

Thirty-five of Australia's top academics, doctors and community leaders have made a call for the country’s authorities to allow schools to fully open for face-to-face learning. The open letter, published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, urges governments to follow WHO and UN advice that "schools must be the last to close and the first to open."

The signatories make three main arguments for full school reopenings. First, that a delay to returning to in-person learning ignores the obligation to deliver the best education possible to children; second, that it puts children’s mental health at risk; and third, that there’s no medical case for face-to-face learning to be suspended awaiting the vaccination of 5 to 11-year-old children, as COVID-19 is a "mild disease" for children with an overwhelming majority recovering without any adverse effect.

New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty
Coronavirus
Anne-Sophie Goninet

New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty

Countries are going all-in on virtually forcing citizens to get vaccinated: From the French President openly acknowledging his readiness to make life unpleasant for the unvaccinated to un-jabbed Canadians not qualifying for unemployment benefits to Greeks imposing monthly fines on the unvaccinated.

PARIS — Last year, as vaccination campaigns went into full swing across the world, governments and health authorities found creative ways to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, from VIP testimonials to lotteries to donuts.

But as several parts of the globe are experiencing huge surges in infections with the Delta and Omicron variants, we seem to be past the time for celebrity endorsements and free snacks. Or as a public health official in Hong Kong said recently: “enough carrots, time for the stick.”

Watch Video Show less
El Pibe de Oro on the world's front pages
CLARIN
Bertrand Hauger

Adios Maradona: 22 World Front Pages On The Death Of Soccer God

El Pibe de Oro, Barrilete, El Dios, Cósmico, D10S, Dieguito, El 10, El Diez ...

The quantity of nicknames is just one more sign that fútbol legend Diego Armando Maradona was in a category of his own. His death Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 60 was a bonafide global event.

Here are the front pages of 22 newspapers dedicated to the passing of the soccer legend: from dailies in his native Buenos Aires to the cities of his beloved club teams, Naples, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, but also California, France, India and beyond celebrated arguably the greatest artist that the beautiful game has ever seen.

ARGENTINA

Cronica, a daily newspaper in Maradona

Cronica

Clarin

La Nacion

Pagina/12

Portada de La Prensa (Argentina)

La Prensa

Watch Video Show less
Students arriving for their first day of school in Belgium.
LA STAMPA
Rozena Crossman

A Momentous And Wary Back-To-School Around The World

It's just one of many images of schoolchildren circulating around the world this week, but it comes with extra symbolism: 1.4 million students returned to their classes today in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where COVID-19 originated last last year. Eventually, nearly one billion children around the world — and their parents — faced months out of school, some adjusting to online classes, others simply shut out from learning.

Now, with this very special back-to-school season fully underway in many parts of the world, it's a moment of truth for many countries, as managing schools has become one of the biggest indicators of how well governments are handling the epidemic.

According to the OECD, the seismic shifts in educational systems may forever change how we teach, as many saw the possibilities of online classes and homeschooling. Yet concern runs deep that months of interrupted education (and months more that may come) could affect the future of an entire global generation. Key now is how to keep schools open and keep the virus from spreading. From masks at recess to having the scholastic year completely canceled, here is a look at how eight different countries are trying to teach again amid an unprecedented global pandemic.

FRANCE

In France, all students are expected to return to class beginning this week. In the heart of summer, the Ministry of Education had lightened the health protocol for schools and universities colleges, but revised these rules on Aug. 27 due to a surge of new infections in the country.

Wearing a mask will be compulsory for teachers, staff and students as young as 11 years old.

Physical distancing in closed spaces (classrooms, workshops, libraries, dining rooms, canteens, boarding schools, etc.) will no longer be compulsory.

• In case the epidemic worsens, the government has planned an adapted health protocol that it will only disclose if necessary. Depending on the situation in a given region, officials can move to temporarily close classes or establishments.

• Several teacher's unions have denounced a lack of preparation and many are worried that the protocol in place is too light.

ZUMA_back_to_school_inside_belgium

A student cleans their hands with disinfectant gel on the first day of school in Belgium—Photo: Laurie Dieffembacq

ITALY

Italian schools are set to reopen on Sept. 14. Rai, the state broadcaster, reports that everyone will have to wear a mask, pupils will take turns eating in the canteen and 2.5 million new desks will arrive in classrooms by the end of October. Yet some are sounding the alarm that things might not go too well.

• Students will be seated one meter from one another, meaning that fewer will fit in each classroom and authorities are scrambling to find additional spaces, including in theaters, cinemas and hotels. According to La Stampa, the National Association of Principals said the country needs to prepare an additional 20,000 classrooms before then — half of which have not yet been found.

• The Italian government is also hiring an additional 50,000 teachers and staggering the start times of classes to avoid overcrowding in buildings on public transport.

• "Scientifically we must never compromise on social distancing," says Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to the Italian Health Minister and a professor of Public Health at the Catholic University of Rome. "Everything that breaks these rules is destined to make the infection gain ground." ... "Schools need very strict protocols that follow the approach of the most successful countries, like Denmark and China, and not of the less successful ones, like France and Israel."

DENMARK

Denmark was the first country in Europe to reopen its primary schools in mid-April after containing the virus early on, with only 620 deaths to date. The Nordic country's successful strategy of split classes, outdoor lessons, and strict rules for hand-washing and distancing has become the model as other schools around Europe continue to open up.

• As of June 22, university students have also been welcomed back to campus and fall classes resumed in August. At the same, a mixed "online-offline" teaching model has been applied and so far, the reopenings have not caused any notable spread of the virus on the majority of campuses.

• One exception, Danish daily Midtjyllands Avis reports, is Silkeborg Højskole located in the middle of the Jutland peninsula, where every fourth student has tested positive. All the remaining students were sent home and will have to get tested before returning to class.

SOUTH KOREA

Amid the country's recent virus surge, particularly in Seoul, schools in the capital and its surrounding areas (the provinces Incheon and Gyeonggi) have returned to online classes until at least Sept. 11, NewsTouch reports. Only high school seniors preparing for the national university entrance exam set in December are exempted from this policy. Elsewhere in South Korea, schools still offer a hybrid form of schooling with in-person attendance capped between one-third and two-third of the students, depending on age group.

ZUMA_inside_back_to_school_2

Students wear masks on their first day of class in Pyongyang, North Korea—Photo: Yonhap News

URUGUAY

Schools reopened in June, keeping a hybrid system allowing pupils to continue classes online and aiming at a progressive return to face-to-face education, especially in light of the lack of computers and internet connections among poorer families. Currently, 70% of students are attending in person. The government had been tackling inequalities in access to tech long before the pandemic through the Plan Ceibal, which provides a computer to any student and teacher. Yet social imbalances have continued in the digital realm, Telam reports, as the same demographic that tended to drop out of school pre-COVID now log in less frequently to their virtual classes and complete less online homework.

ARGENTINA

In-person classes have been suspended, almost everywhere, since March 16. Reopening schools has divided politics and provinces, especially this past week when the city of Buenos Aires presented a plan to reopen 634 schools on Aug. 31 to serve as digital space for students who do not have computers or Internet connection. According to La Nación, the plan was deemed incomplete and rejected by the National Ministry of Education, who argued the city's sanitary conditions were not fit for students and teachers to go back to schools. However, in the northwestern province of Catamarca, some 15,000 students from kindergarten to college returned to schools on Aug. 19 for face-to-face classes in rural establishments. Attendance is voluntary and presence limited to three hours, infobae reports.

SOUTH AFRICA

After schools were initially reopened on June 8, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced another closure on July 27 following an acceleration in confirmed COVID-19 cases. South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the continent, with more than 13,000 deaths to date.

• As schools opened again in mid-August and millions of children returned to the classroom, teachers unions have expressed concerns over overcrowded schools, water supply shortages and a lack of support for students who have lost family members or loved ones, Anadolu Agency reports.

• According to the Daily Maverick, South Africa also faces a potential shortage of teaching staff. Educators in the public schooling system can apply to work from home if they have comorbidities or are aged 64 years and above. Statistics from the Department of Basic Education shows 27,000 applications have already been submitted, 22,000 of which have been approved so far.

• Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has also asked PMs to not make political statements which might deter pupils from going to school as truancy has been on the rise since the openings. Motshekga also raised concerns over the destruction of public property, with 2,278 schools vandalised during the lockdown.

KENYA

Back in July, the Education Cabinet Secretary announced that the 2020 academic year would be "considered lost" due to Covid-19 restrictions. It was officially cancelled and all students will have to repeat it. With no plan to reopen schools before January 2021, but no clear schedule either, the Ministry has been under growing pressure from angry parents accusing Secretary Prof George Magoha of depriving children of their right to education. On August 21, Kenya, as well as other African countries, was urged by World Health Organization urged to reopen schools as keeping students home exposed them to malnutrition and sexual violence. In the meantime, the Nairobi-based Nation reports some empty schools have been turned into rental houses and even farms by their directors to insure some kind of income.

Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix
Sources
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix

In early civilizations, landing a job amounted to interning until your employer died. Fast-forward a few thousand years and fortunately, internships have gotten shorter ... and life expectancy has gotten longer! Still, job hunting has become a journey marked by alternating pulls of hope and hysteria. The swift ascension of global connectedness, Artificial Intelligence, the shifting nature of social norms are uprooting the way we're evaluated by recruiters.

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into how these transformations affect us today and what expectations we should have for recruitment in the future. In many countries, the classic curriculum vitae is becoming obsolete as recruiters use AI and virtual-reality simulations to evaluate candidates; in Russia, employers are shifting their focus from looks to merit; while in the U.S., "likability" might soon be more important than your masters' degree.​

Watch Video Show less
Ni una menos protesters
blog

Violence Against Women, The Drawing Behind Argentina's Massive Protests

The black-on-pink drawing of a wide-eyed girl covering half her face with an open hand seems, at first glance, to be too cute, too pretty to convey the horror implanted in so many people's minds by the ghastly gang-rape and murder of an Argentine teenager.

And yet in recent days, the stylish image and the unconscionable crime have become intrinsically linked in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Facebook users have responded en masse to an online campaign inviting them to use the drawing as their profile image. The online campaign has helped build outrage that has prompted Wednesday's national women's strike and streets demonstrations in Buenos Aires and dozens of other cities, Argentina's La Nación reports.

The image and the movement share the same slogan: Ni una menos ("not one less') and the same demand: that people wake up to the problem of violence against women.

The #NiUnaMenos movement has actually existed for some time now, and not just in Argentina. But it has received a tremendous amount of momentum in wake of the Oct. 8 murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez, in the coastal city of Mar del Plata. The viral success of the drawing, now the movement's unofficial emblem, has provided even more visibility.

The artist behind the now iconic image, Romina Lerda, is also receiving a sudden burst of attention, with write-ups in several national newspapers. The 39-year-old is originally from the province of Cordoba, in central Argentina, but now lives in Buenos Aires, La Nacíon reports. Her "Ni una menos" image is a modified version of an earlier work. She says she's "proud to play a role in the worldwide movement," which she describes as both "noble and committed."

La Nacion, Nov. 23, 2015
blog

Extra! End Of Kirchnerism, Macri Wins In Argentina

BUENOS AIRES — Mauricio Macri's victory in Argentina's presidential election puts an "end to 12 consecutive years of Kirchner government," the Buenos Aires-based daily La Nacion wrote in its Monday edition.

On Sunday, Macri, the 56-year-old mayor of Buenos Aires, defeated his rival Daniel Scioli by some 51.5% to 48.5% in the second-round runoff. Scioli, the governor of the Buenos Aires province, was backed by outgoing President Cristina Kirchner, who had served two terms, following the rule of her late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Macri represented the Cambiemos ("Let's change") party, a coalition gathering the center-left and conservatives. Supported by business leaders and an array of political forces that sought to end to 12 years of one-family rule, the son of one Argentina's richest men was also the president of the Boca Juniors soccer club.

Macri has promised to split with the protectionist economic policies carried out by the Kirchner governments since 2003.

In a speech after his victory on Sunday, Macri said the result meant the "changing of an era." His main challenges will include reviving his country's economy on the brink of recession. Without a majority in the Chamber of Deputies or at the Senate, he will also have to form alliances.