Clashes kill nearly 60 fighters in northwest Syria

A fighter from the former Al-Qaeda Syrian affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) fires an anti-aircraft gun in Syria’s southern Idlib province. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2019
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Clashes kill nearly 60 fighters in northwest Syria

  • Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) has since January controlled most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces
  • Fighting in southern Idlib and rural Latakia on Tuesday claimed the lives of 29 pro-government forces as well as 30 extremists and allied rebels

BEIRUT: Clashes between regime loyalists and insurgents in rebel-held northwest Syria killed 59 combatants on Tuesday, a war monitor said.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), an extremist group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, has since January controlled most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
Several other armed rebel groups also operate in the region.
Fighting in southern Idlib and rural Latakia on Tuesday claimed the lives of 29 pro-government forces as well as 30 extremists and allied rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It came as regime warplanes pummelled the Idlib region with air strikes, killing three civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the Britain-based monitor added.
Regime forces and anti-government fighters have been caught in fierce battles in the region for days, as the former presses with an advance toward a strip straddling the Hama and Idlib governorates.
On Sunday, regime forces seized the town of Al-Habeet in Idlib’s southern countryside, in their first major ground advance in the province since an escalation on the extremist-dominated enclave more than three months ago.
The region was supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal struck last September.
But it has come under increasing bombardment by Damascus and its backer Moscow since the end of April that has killed 816 civilians, according to the Observatory.
The violence has also pushed 400,000 people from their homes, according to the United Nations.
Syria’s conflict has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests 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.