Libya airport reopens after brief rupture in cease-fire

Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac at Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli. Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. (AFP)
Updated 12 August 2019
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Libya airport reopens after brief rupture in cease-fire

  • Khalifa Haftar and Tripoli govt agreed to a truce for Eid Al-Adha holidays

TRIPOLI: Flights have resumed from the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport as calm returned on Monday to the outskirts of Tripoli after a temporary truce was violated the previous day.

“Reopening airspace at Mitiga International Airport after maintenance and cleaning ... so that airlines can renew their flights,” the facility’s management said late on Sunday on Facebook.

The Tripoli-based government and forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had agreed to a truce for the three-day holiday of Eid Al-Adha that began on Sunday.

Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts.

Flights from Mitiga airport were suspended for several hours on Sunday after rocket fire hit the airport, a few meters from the runway where planes were parked.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military air base that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli International Airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has often been targeted.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army and the GNA had on Saturday agreed to a UN-sponsored humanitarian truce for Al-Adha, although the GNA listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements.

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack on the airport, in which no casualties or serious damage were reported, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug Al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019
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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.