US team in southern Turkey to work on joint operations center

US joins hands with Turkey to work on a a joint operations center to coordinate a planned safe zone in neighboring Syria. (Photo/Turkish military)
Updated 12 August 2019
0

US team in southern Turkey to work on joint operations center

  • There has been cautious progress on the center despite other disputes straining bilateral ties

ISTANBUL: A US delegation has arrived in Turkey’s southern province of Sanliurfa to start work on the establishment of a joint operations center to coordinate a planned safe zone in neighboring Syria, Turkish authorities said on Monday.

The two NATO allies agreed in talks last week to establish the center that would manage the zone in northern Syria though no agreement has been announced on key details of the zone, including the size of the area in question and the command structure of joint patrols that would be conducted there.

There has been cautious progress on the center despite other disputes straining bilateral relations, including Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, as well as trials of local US Consulate employees in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Work to establish the center has begun and it is expected to become active in coming days, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter. 

“Within this context, a six-person US delegation has arrived in Sanliurfa with the purpose of preliminary preparation,” it said.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where US allies on the ground in the battle against Daesh include the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey considers an enemy and a terrorist group.

The allies have been discussing a safe zone near the Turkish frontier that would be kept free of combatants and heavy weapons, but Turkey wants it to extend more than twice as far into Syrian territory as the US has proposed.

Turkey has suggested it will act militarily if the US fails to agree on a solution that will safeguard the border. Turkey says the YPG is an extension in Syria of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019
0

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.