Leave our graffiti on the walls, say Sudan protesters

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In this file photo taken on April 20, 2019, a Sudanese protestor sits on a wall covered in graffitti during a protest outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum on April 20, 2019. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on April 24, 2019, Sudanese protesters sit in front of a recently painted mural during a demonstration near the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on April 18, 2019 a Sudanese protestor paints a graffiti during a protest outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on July 21, 2019 Sudanese activist Eythar Gubara (L), walks in front of a mural painting of Mohamed Mattar, on the wall of a youth club in Bahri in the capital Khartoum's northern district. (AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Leave our graffiti on the walls, say Sudan protesters

  • In recent days some of the colorful murals and slogans that appeared on the walls of the capital were painted over

KHARTOUM: The graffiti that symbolized Sudan’s uprising are being painted over across the capital Khartoum, protest leaders complained Wednesday, urging the military authorities to stop their whitewashing.
The Alliance for Freedom and Change that led the months-long protest movement that brought down longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir said the “enemies of the revolution” had been systematically erasing murals.
“We see this as an ugly act and a pathetic attempt to suppress the beauty, the letter and the spirit of the revolution,” it said a statement.
In recent days some of the colorful murals and slogans that appeared on the walls of the capital during the early stages of the protest that ousted Omar Al-Bashir were painted over.
Together with music, these murals had become a symbol of the popular nature of an uprising that was led by young activists rather than engineered by political opposition.
Most of the murals and graffiti could be found on walls outside of the army headquarters in Khartoum, where protesters camped out for weeks on end.
“This is an absurd measure and shows the inability of the enemies of the revolution to recognize its roots and its realization in people’s hearts,” the statement said.
It called on graffiti artists to “continue painting murals and exercise all their freedom of expression rights.”
A mass protest this spring led to the ouster of Omar Al-Bashir, an Islamist general who had ruled Sudan since 1989.
Continued mobilization and a deadly crackdown on a sit-in on June 3 led to a phase of negotiations that yielded a transition agreement to be officially signed on Saturday.
The deal agreed by Sudan’s generals and protest leaders provides for a power-sharing period of 39 months meant to pave the way for elections and civilian rule.
Some members of the protest camp however were displeased with an agreement they fear could allow those forces accused of brutal repression during the uprising to maintain their grip on power.
One graffiti artist contacted by AFP said that the decision to remove murals from Khartoum’s walls was evidence that the military establishment was reverting to its old ways.
“When I saw this I felt very disappointed because when we did these murals we were expressing the feeling that the times were changing,” Lotfy Abdel Fattah said.
“And now the signals we are getting tell us that there is no real change, no real freedom,” he said.
Speaking to AFP at the height of the protests in April, he had predicted that the murals might not all stay forever but he argued now that they should remain as a testament to a pivotal moment in Sudan’s history.
Some of the murals also honor protesters who were killed by security forces.
“I don’t know exactly who is doing this but it’s definitely someone with an agenda against change, because what we did was a beautiful thing,” Abdel Fattah said.

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

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.