Arts leaders must do more to tackle the acute la

first_imgArts leaders must do more to tackle the “acute” lack of opportunities for disabled actors on stage and screen, according to union delegates.Members of the Equity performers’ union called for “greater representation and more accurate portrayal” of disabled people, in a motion agreed unanimously by the TUC Disabled Workers Conference in London.The motion also called for “greater inclusive casting… where an actor’s talent and not their impairment drives their talent on stage or screen”.Actor Cindy-Jane Armbruster (pictured, right) told the conference that disabled people were portrayed as “the objects of pity or we are put on a pedestal as superhumans in so-called inspiration porn, or objects of scorn as benefit scroungers… anything but well-rounded human beings”.She said: “I believe very strongly that we need to change these stories, we need to tell better stories, we need to see ourselves represented on stage and on screen for our sense of self-identity. We need to know we are not alone.”She pointed to a survey last year by the Act for Change project, which campaigns for better representation across the live and recorded arts and found that just one in 326 actors performing on the London stage over the Easter weekend had a visible impairment.She added: “Having stories told about us and by us will make it harder for policy-makers to make us invisible, to dehumanise us or, worse, get rid of us.”Heidi McGeogh, of the Musicians’ Union, told the conference: “We really do need to see positive images of disabled people.“It’s going to affect how we are treated by society and how we are valued by society.“People believe what they see on the telly and on the stage and read in the papers.”Iain Scott-Burdon, a BSL-user from Unison, said: “I don’t like to see false disabled people.”He pointed to TV companies that were making programmes featuring hearing actors playing BSL-users.He said: “This is unacceptable. There is a lot of Deaf talent out there. There’s a lot of disabled talent out there.”Mik Scarlet (pictured, centre), another Equity member, told the conference that he used to work on BBC’s From the Edge magazine programme, which had nine disabled presenters and more than 30 disabled programme-makers, while Channel 4 and ITV also put out disability programmes.The disabled journalist and presenter said: “Where have they gone? They have disappeared. Now we have The Undateables and the [Paralympic] Superhumans.“We need more talent on screen, and we need to promote the concept that we need disabled programming made by disabled people.”Roddy Slorach, a University and College Union (UCU) delegate, and author of A Very Capitalist Condition, which examines the history and politics of disability, said the representation of disability in the media needed to be about “overcoming this sense of otherness”, which was “not actually an easy thing to do”.He called for “an end to disability as a form of discrimination” and “a celebration of the diversity of humanity” that looks at who disabled people are rather than using “negative stereotypical images”.The conference was attended by 25 unions, from major organisations such as Unison, Unite and NUT, to smaller unions such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the senior civil servants’ union the FDA, with nearly 200 disabled delegates attending.last_img read more

A Tory peer has accused work and pensions secretar

first_imgA Tory peer has accused work and pensions secretary Esther McVey of making a series of untrue statements about the Motability car scheme to fellow MPs.Lord Sterling, who co-founded Motability in 1977, has told McVey in a letter that he found the “litany of inaccuracies” in the comments made by her and fellow MPs in a debate earlier this month to be “deeply troubling”.Only last month, Disability News Service reported how McVey had been appointed as the new work and pensions secretary despite previously being repeatedly shamed in 2013 for misleading fellow MPs and the public about the impact of her policies on disabled people.Lord Sterling’s letter also reveals that of 180,000 Motability customers who were previously claiming disability living allowance (DLA) and have so far been reassessed for the new personal independence payment (PIP), about 75,000 have lost eligibility to remain on the scheme and have had to return their cars, because of decisions by McVey’s department.The Commons debate on 8 February followed an urgent question asked by the Labour MP John Mann about claims in the Daily Mail newspaper concerning the £2.4 billion in reserves held by the company that runs the scheme – Motability Operations (MO) – and the £1.7 million pay and bonuses package of MO’s chief executive, Mike Betts. But Lord Sterling told McVey (pictured in the debate) in his letter that the debate had been “deeply flawed and misleading”, with some of the errors relating to claims by Mann that the charity itself was holding the reserves and running the scheme, and that Betts was employed by the charity.The Tory peer pointed out that the Motability scheme was delivered by MO under contract to the Motability charity*, rather than by the charity itself.But he also told McVey – a separate letter aimed at correcting the “many false statements” made in the debate was sent to her by Motability Operations – that she herself had made four serious errors.The first, he said, was that she had called for the charity’s trustees to be “held to account” after another MP told how a constituent who had been a lifetime recipient of DLA had been threatened with having her Motability vehicle removed on Boxing Day.But this was a result of a PIP reassessment – carried out by McVey’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – which had found the constituent was no longer eligible for the higher rate of mobility support, and therefore no longer eligible to lease a car through the Motability scheme.Lord Sterling pointed out in his letter that PIP assessments were the responsibility of McVey’s department and that it was DWP’s decision to remove her eligibility.He then highlighted McVey’s claim in the debate that it had been her intervention as minister for disabled people in 2013 that led to Motability agreeing to pass £175 million** to former DLA claimants who lost their Motability vehicles in the reassessment programme.Lord Sterling said that minutes of the charity’s meetings showed that its own trustees had made this decision themselves the previous year because they had “felt a moral obligation to help people at risk of losing cars due to government policy changes”.He said they had already decided by December 2012, months before McVey’s intervention, “to provide a package of significant financial support and other assistance”.And he said that McVey had even suggested in 2013 that this support should only be focused on the initial stage of reassessments, up to 2015-16, whereas Motability’s trustees wanted to provide financial support “over the full period of the DWP’s reassessments”.The Tory peer told her that the charity had had to cope with the loss of about 75,000 customers through PIP reassessment, many of whom were “confused, distressed and even suicidal, as they worry about losing their mobility”.Lord Sterling also said that McVey was wrong when she said that DWP would use money regained from Motability to help constituents whose cars had been removed before their PIP appeals had been heard.She had told MPs: “When we have got the money back from Motability that we believe we should to support disabled people, that is one of the first things it should be used for.”Lord Sterling said this was wrong because there was “no basis on which the government can demand any money to be handed over”.He also said that McVey had been wrong when she claimed that the charity was piloting a scheme – “after direction from the department” – to help disabled children under the age of three, when the scheme was actually being piloted by MO and there had been “no direction” from DWP.A DWP spokeswoman refused to say if McVey would be apologising for the “inaccuracies” in her statements to MPs.But she said: “When PIP was first introduced, the government worked with Motability to design an extensive £175 million transitional support package to support Motability customers who have not been awarded the enhanced mobility component on reassessment from DLA to PIP.“While the department works closely with Motability, it is an independent charitable organisation and therefore we are not directly involved in determining scheme policy or operational issues.”Motability revealed this week that the number of its customers had fallen to 628,000 by December 2017, a drop of 5,000 since March 2017.Although it has lost about 75,000 customers through reassessment, the rollout of PIP has also opened eligibility to more disabled people with mental health conditions and learning difficulties.Meanwhile, despite McVey’s calls in the debate for the Charity Commission to carry out another review of the financial relationship between the charity and Motability Operations, following one it carried out last year, the commission has said this week that it has no new concerns.It said in a statement: “In light of media reporting about the Motability scheme, we reviewed the highlighted issues to see if there was anything we had not investigated as part of our previous regulatory compliance case in Motability… which was under our jurisdiction as regulator of charities in England and Wales.“Having reviewed the latest information in the media we have concluded that, as set out in our statement on 8 February, there are no new concerns that come under the commission’s jurisdiction.” *The Motability charity is a DNS subscriber**The £175 million came from a series of donations from Motability Operations to Motability during 2014 and 2015. Motability says it has so far paid out about £100 million, usually in sums of £2,000 to “departing customers”, as well as allowing customers to retain their cars for longer periods after losing their PIP eligibility and providing them with other advice and support. It is not yet sure whether it will spend “slightly more or less” than £175 million in total but plans to continue providing this support until the end of the reassessment programme, which is likely to be in 2020.last_img read more

Planning Commission Will Vote Today on Contentious Soup Kitchen

first_img Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% The Planning Commission hearing will take place at noon on January 12 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, in room 400.Mission Local has been covering this issue and our latest story can be found here. The Planning Commission will meet at noon today to vote on the proposal for a soup kitchen to feed the homeless at 1930 Mission St., between 15th and 16th streets.  The proposal, led by two nuns, has been primarily opposed by condo-owners who live in the building where the soup kitchen would be located.They fear the soup kitchen would attract a negative element to a neighborhood that already struggles with a large homeless population. Sisters Marie Benedicte and Marie Valerie of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth have led a soup kitchen in the Tenderloin for eight years, but faced an eviction and rent increase at that location last February.After hearing about their struggle, multimillionaire Tony Robbins, a famous motivational speaker, stepped in to buy the 1,434-square-foot space in the Mission so that the nuns could continue their operation there.The nuns have spent weeks gathering community support. As of Wednesday, a petition seeking 25,000 supporters for the soup kitchen had gathered about 19,200 signatures.center_img 0%last_img read more

ASPIRING student chefs from Saints partners St Hel

first_imgASPIRING student chefs from Saints partners St Helens College are set to shine in a top culinary competition, Battle of the North West as part of the Business of Food & Drink Festival celebrations.The event is part of the city wide initiative to mark the International Festival for Business (IFB) 2014 which is set to attract businesses from around the globe to the region in a 50-day festival taking place during June and July.Budding catering and hospitality students from colleges across the region will compete in the regions first ever Inter-college cook and serve competition on Monday 7 July at St George’s Hall.The select group of St Helens College students have put together a delicious set menu to showcase their range of culinary skills and to utilise a selection of specially selected North West produce.Catering students will be tasked with inventing and preparing a four-course meal to then be formally served by hospitality students. This will be overseen by the competition judges who are leading industry chefs and examiners.Students will receive advice and mentoring from industry expert and local catering champion, Paul Askew, chef at The London Carriage Works Restaurant and Food and Beverage Director for Hope Street Hotel. This is to be followed by a glittering gala dinner hosted by world renowned celebrity chef Simon Rimmer and John Williams, Executive Chef of the Ritz. The five-course dinner, taking place on Friday 11 July at the Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool will see the winners from the Cook and Serve competition crowned and presented with certificates from esteemed chef John.Terry Lavin, Head of Catering and Hospitality at St Helens College said: “The competition provides students with a unique opportunity to meet and work alongside industry professionals and gain real work experience.“The food and hospitality industry in our region is really alive and kicking at the moment and we are set to witness even more growth with further improvements to the Visitor Economy in the Liverpool City Region. This presents our students with fantastic career opportunities upon completion of their qualifications.“It is a great honour for St Helens College to be participating in the competition, our students have really invested a lot of time and effort into their entry and I would like to wish all the contestants the best of luck.”The event hopes to raising funds for national charity Chefs Adopt a School, which raises the awareness of food education in schools.Back row left to right; students chefs – Stephanie Bentham, Callum Hurle, Lucy Allcock, Dean Evans and Katie Webster. Front row left to right, hospitality students – Stephanie Birchall, Sophie King, Miranda James and Katie Donnelly.last_img read more

NHSO Heroin dealer arrested more than 3400 bags seized

first_img Deputies say the investigation began in Brunswick County and ended in New Hanover County with several search warrants executed and the arrest of 61-year-old William Walker Jr.Walker is charged with numerous felony trafficking violations.Deputies say approximately two ounces of raw powder heroin, along with 400 bags of heroin, a handgun, and heroin packaging/processing materials were seized.  The amount of heroin seized equaled approximately 3,400 bags of heroin with a street value of almost $34,000.Related Article: #UNSOLVED: Father of 2 shot to death while getting into car in WilmingtonWalker Jr. is currently in the New Hanover County Detention Facility under $2,000,000 secure bond. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Deputies say a Wilmington man is behind bars after a “significant” drug bust.Last Thursday, the FBI Coastal Criminal Enterprise Task Force, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington Police Department Vice/Narcotics Units and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation concluded a heroin trafficking investigation.- Advertisement – last_img read more

25th annual Intercultural Festival held at UNCW

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –UNCW students and employees, along with Wilmington locals, had the chance to learn about lots of different cultures Saturday at the university’s 25th annual Intercultural Festival.35 different countries were represented during the event at the Burney Center.- Advertisement – Attendees were able to try ethnic food, learn about life in other countries, and watch cultural performances.UNCW’s international students were excited to show off where they came from.“I think the international students are really proud that they have an opportunity like today to tell people about their countries. I think it dispels a lot of myths that people have and the community loves to learn as well, particularly the kids,” said Jennifer Fernandez-Villa, the director of UNCW’s International Student and Scholar Services department.Related Article: NC universities head Margaret Spellings quits amid turmoilThe growth of this festival over the last 25 years mirrors the growth of UNCW’s international program.More than one thousands students studied abroad last year and there are four hundred international students currently on campus.last_img read more

WPD searching for hit and run suspects who struck school bus

first_img Two men get out of a car and run after hitting a school bus (Photo: Wilmington Police Dept.) – Advertisement – Cameras capture the moment a green car crashes into a school bus (Photo: Wilmington Police Dept.) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cameras on a New Hanover County school bus recorded the moment a green car hit the school bus and another car.It happened at South 13th and Ann Streets around 3:30 p.m. on January 18.center_img 1 of 2 Police say with the help of witnesses, the suspects, who are between 18-20 years old, got out of the car and ran off.The car they were driving is a 1998 green Buick.The driver was wearing grey pants, a white t-shirt, a black jacket, black shoes and has a slim build. The passenger was wearing black pants, a red jacket with a logo, a white shirt and has a medium build.Related Article: Wilmington Police arrest multiple people on drug chargesThe witness who was standing at the 1 Stop Shop at the time of the crash and helped the passenger out of the car is also  wanted for questioning.Anyone with information should contact the Wilmington Police Department at (910) 343-3600. If tipsters would like to remain anonymous please call Crime Stoppers at (910) 763-3888 or 1 (800) 531-9845.last_img read more

First Lady Kristin Cooper visits Belville Elementary as example of successful school

first_img Mrs. Cooper says it is good to see kids are getting all the resources they need. She believes technological advancements, like smart boards in the classroom, will help schools and the state reach their ultimate goal.“The ultimate goal is that everyone would graduate from high school at the very least and have a skill that they can take on either in a technical area or on to college so that we have our kids equipped for the twenty-first century,” Cooper said.When it comes to school safety she said it scares her that we live in a world where kids need to do shooter drills.Related Article: Bolivia teacher incorporates technology to aid 21st-century learners“I find the fact that those kindergarteners have a drill where they’re herded into a closet, the lights are turned out, they’re told to be quiet because somebody might shoot them,” she said. “Just thinking of that happening on a regular basis to kids, i think really alarms me as a mother and what kind of affect that might be having on them.”Cooper believes many things can be done to curb gun violence, like making it harder to get assault weapons, more screenings and not allowing people on no-fly lists to purchase weapons.While at the school, she sat in on science and spelling lessons. She says the science lesson seemed really hard, but enjoyed spelling with the kindergarteners. BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina’s First Lady was in Brunswick County today to get a firsthand look at successful schools.Kristin Cooper toured classrooms and participated in lessons at Belville Elementary.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Officials respond to mobile home fire in Burgaw

first_imgPENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — One person is safe after an early morning fire in Burgaw on Monday.According to Fire Marshal Tommy Batson, it happened around 2:45 a.m. on Meadow Lane. Batson said Burgaw Fire Dept., Rocky Point Fire Dept. and Pender County EMS all responded.- Advertisement – When officials arrived, they saw smoke coming from the mobile home. Batson said the person living in the home was able to get out with no injuries, thanks to working smoke detectors.The fire is now out and the cause is still under investigation.last_img

FEMA helps families forced to evacuate Wilmington apartments

first_img “These are people who had not gone to a shelter and weren’t initially identified as individuals who couldn’t live in their home [but] that has changed so all the disaster assistance personnel and individual assistance are descending here on this area so we can help out all these people that are now going to have to evacuate,” said FEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Kelly.Kelly says when applying for FEMA resources your zip code helps identify if you are located in a critical disaster zone.FEMA says once you apply for assistance a counselor will contact you to learn your specific needs and set up an immediate plan. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Temporary sheltering goes into effect today for residents housed in locations deemed disaster areas.After many residents were forced to evacuate from The Glen apartments, FEMA brings over 30 team members to help residents find immediate housing.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Lotto fever grips the Cape Fear

first_imgLELAND, NC (WWAY) — Maybe you’ve heard, but there’s a little jackpot in the U.S.Millions of people across the country put down a couple of bucks at a chance to be a billionaire. The odds of winning the jackpot are now 1 in 302,575,350. But the low odds are not stopping hundreds, thousands and millions of people from trying their luck.“I usually play the pick 4, I’m a pick 4 player, but they said it was a billion so I just had to play a ticket. And one lucky ticket here,” lottery player Ty Mills said.- Advertisement – “it’s a little bit of a dream. Maybe if we get a little bit of this, it would be pretty amazing,” lottery player Stacy Ritch said.The mega millions jackpot is currently at one-billion dollars. It’s the second largest drawing in us lottery history. If you are the lucky winner, you will walk away with $565,000,000. For many people, they believe this could be the one chance in life to use up their luck.“It’s a chance to change your life and the lives of other people. With that kind of money, you can do so many thing. Even if a lot of people won, it would still be too much money for one person to have,” Ritch said.Related Article: Mega Millions: These North Carolina stores have the most big winsA few people have different rituals or lucky numbers they are using while others are just letting the machines give them random numbers.“I play my birthday numbers, the age I am, my family members ages and stuff like that, their birthdays and stuff like that,” Mills said.But they all have big ideas in mind if they become a mega millions winner.“First thing is I would go buy myself a house. Buy a new car and go see a money guy somewhere and invest it and just enjoy my life,” Ritch said.“Of course everybody want to pay off their debt. You know get a big house, pool, you know, big dream house,” Mills said.But hey, you never know.The winning numbers are 15, 23, 53, 65, 70 and the mega ball number is 7.last_img read more

Former youth pastor charged with child sex crime

first_imgLELAND, NC (WWAY) — Leland Police say they have charged a former youth pastor with sex crimes involving a child nearly a decade after the alleged crimes.Police say Merle Darnell Davis, 65, faces one count of statutory sex offense of a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old and three counts of indecent liberties with a child.- Advertisement – In March 2017 Leland Police say they got a report of a sexual assault of a juvenile at the Parks at Village Oaks Apartments on Village Road. Police say the incidents are alleged to have happened between June and August 2009. They say at the time Davis was a youth pastor at Johnson Chapel AME Zion Church on Lincoln Road in Leland.The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland located Davis this morning. He is in their custody pending extradition.Davis is listed on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry for a 2012 conviction for sexual solicitation of a minor.Related Article: Man arrested in Wilmington on multiple child sex crimesA Leland Police spokesman said there could be more victims in our area, but they do not know for sure. If you have any information, you should contact Leland Police.last_img read more

Brunswick deputies honor veteran who died alone

first_img Deputies learned McMillion lived alone with no family in the area.Deputies Young and Sullivan decided to take the American flag from the front yard and place it over him as he was taken out of his home.Both deputies saluted as he was taken away in the ambulance.Related Article: Prostitution investigation in Sunset Beach leads to two arrestsThey gave him a police escort.The sheriff’s office says there will be no funeral, but to honor McMillion you are asked to consider giving a donation or volunteering with a veterans organization. BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office shared a bittersweet story on their Facebook page after deputies responded to a home in reference to a cardiac arrest Tuesday.When EMS crews arrived, they found US Army veteran Robert Jackson McMillion had died.- Advertisement – last_img read more

American Legion collects worn and torn American flags for proper disposal

first_imgLELAND, NC (WWAY) — The American flag is a regal image that brings pride to our nation, but it doesn’t last forever, and there’s a specific way to dispose of it when it begins to wear and tear that not everyone is equipped to do.American Legion’s 68th Post held their third annual Flag Collection Day and Fundraiser at Brunswick Forest on Saturday to receive retired flags.- Advertisement – In September, they will hold a ceremonial disposal service for all flags received on Saturday.Dale Todd is the Commander, and said that this event is important to his team.“One of our missions is to honor the flag,” Todd said. “Because we’re one of the few organizations that’s authorized to dispose of flags properly. We think it’s a symbol of our country and should be handled accordingly.”Related Article: Kaepernick stirs new controversy for NikeTodd explained that seeing people smile at this event is very rewarding.last_img read more

Watch Independent fact checkers would protect citizens from fake news – FZD

first_imgNationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech is calling for independent bodies to protect European citizens from fake news.Zammit Dimech said that it was important for democracy that there were fact-checking structures separate from the control of government because of their potential to perpetuate fake news to their citizens. The MEP was making these comments during a European Parliamentary exchange on the issue of fake news.‘Fake news can destabilise our democracy. Our fight and our precautions against fake news need to be stepped up because our very democracy depends on people making informed decisions. When decisions are badly informed, then obviously the whole fabric of our decisions and our decision-making is under attack, and the more so when that originates potentially even from outside of our own countries,’ Zammit Dimech said.In the address to the Media Committee, the MEP also raised the importance of the link between fake news and the use and misuse of personal data, highlighting Cambridge Analytica.‘We all suffer from bias, and therefore if there are people checking our social media profiles, knowing possibly what biases we suffer from, the kind of situation that we had with Cambridge Analytica, then fake news is being disseminated not only in the mass media, or on a mass approach basis, but even on a micro targeting basis. Then the situation is even more serious.’Responding to the MEP, the Director General of DG Connect at the European Commission Roberto Viola, said that the Commission is not currently sponsoring fact checkers but has been granting them access to the Parliament and Commission.Viola also spoke of the importance of implementing the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive and new Regulations on fairness and transparency of platforms.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Scientists and Technologists Discover Super Jupiter

first_imgAdvertisement Astronomers have discovered what they’re calling a “super Jupiter” orbiting a star 170 light years away from earth.According to astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, the newly discovered gas giant planet has 13 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits the star Kappa Andromedae, which has a mass 2.5 times larger than our Sun.Most exoplanets are discovered through indirect detection such as the so-called transit method, in which a small change in the light emanating from a planet’s parent star is observed as the planet orbits it. – Advertisement – But the Jupiter-like planet was actually photographed directly, using the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.The direct detection of the massive planet means scientists should be able to use other means to gather further information about it, including performing an in-depth analysis of the planet’s light, as well as investigating the radiation emitted by Kappa Andromedae, which could provide insight into the planet’s atmosphere.Scientists hope the discovery will shed light on how planets are formed, because Kappa Andromedae is a very young star–30 million years old–compared to our sun, which is 5 billion years old. This planet probably formed in a similar way to ordinary, lower-mass planets, in a “protoplanetary disk” of gas and dust.Source: VoANewslast_img read more

Makereres Electrical Engineering Genius posts his view of the Universitys Closure on

first_imgA print screen of Cosmas’ post Advertisement Following the Closure of Uganda’s top University, Makerere, Cosmas Mwikirize an Electrical Engineering genius who is an Assistant Lecturer at the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology (CEDAT) posted his view of the “saga” on Facebook.The post was Titled “Punching Holes in Barya’s Logic.” – Advertisement – Below is what he (Cosmas) had to say.A dark cloud looms over the Ivory Tower. Or so it seems, after the University Council, this afternoon, elected to close the University indefinitely until the impasse over the ‘100% salary increment’ is resolved. Lest I am misunderstood, I’ll start with a disclaimer that I started typing this while in office, testimony that I will definitely be miffed by the closure. But reverting to the core underlying issues, a moment of intellectual discourse over the whole saga must be called into play, especially starting with reflection on a missive penned by one of our most respected Professors, Venansius Baryamureeba. For those who haven’t read it, start here: note that this is not vitriol; it is just an alternative point of view.I enjoyed reading the better part of it, until I was thrust into the surreal end. As you would expect, Barya starts well while discussing the genesis of Makerere’s financial woes that have reached a searing point. He suggests that we should have operationalization of “wet” and “dry” Colleges, with the wet ones aligned towards market demand as a sort of fully fledged private entities, whereas the dry ones are fully funded by the Government. This is a valid theory, based on a false and specious premise. The University has tried before to raise the cost of its Programmes to be at par with market rates, even during Barya’s reign, and we all know how that ended. I will not dwell on this theme though. I’ll rather go straight to the issue of the University not recruiting anyone without a PhD into teaching.Barya suggests, just like the Prof. Mujaju report recommends, that all teaching staff recruits should bear PhDs, apart from those in select disciplines. Those with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees should be recruited as graduate research fellows and paid a stipend,just like its done world over. At this point I am following, I must say. Until he avows that part of Makerere’s problem is having 50% staff without Doctorates, and part of the solution is demoting these to graduate fellows on the pretext that this would free up the wage bill, to the benefit of the fewer senior colleagues. He also insinuates that paying a teaching assistant (bachelor’s degree holder) a gross salary of 1.5m and an assistant lecturer a gross salary of 1.7m is overpayment, when compared to market rates in the private sector. To add insult to injury, he says less than 1% of the teaching assistants and assistant lecturers can engage in active research and publish, and thus there is no special skill they bring to the University. At this point, I am astounded. Let me handle the fundamental flaws in this argument, one by one.First, it is not a secret that Makerere University is understaffed. I have had the pleasure of interacting closely with several world renowned Universities and it is true that for every Professor, there is Doctorate soul handling tutorials, and possibly 2 or 3 PhD students handling labs. All these dedicated to one course unit by the way. Teaching assistants and assistant lecturers at Makerere do not constitute 50% of the teaching staff by design; It is a motley of contributing factors, including lack of resources to employ enough personnel (there is a quota handicap on recruitment), the recruitment process being highly bureaucratic and painstaking, lack of the competent/interested human resource, and of course, poor remuneration. It is important to note that world over (We are going global, aren’t we?), University staff are not motivated by physical gains, but by the knowledge they churn out. If this comes at the expense of survival, though, even the most uncaring being will be tickled. I have seen great minds express interest in teaching, only to be frustrated by a 2 year recruitment process. I have also seen adverts for jobs go unanswered because there are simply no people on ground to take the offer. Every time my Department advertises, there is that coveted slot of a Professor of power systems that always goes begging. This lends credence to the simple rule that a University had better concentrate on developing internal competence than look on the outside. If you have never produced a Professor of some kind, the chance of recruiting them from outside your confines is close to nil. This is especially true in highly specialized/non-traditional fields. Barya should know this better than anyone; he wouldn’t have been appointed Director of the Institute of Computer Science in 2001, soon after finishing his PhD if a Professor in the same field were on ground. He actually must be one of the few PhDs in ICT we had at that time. Of course the situation has changed today, with so many PhDs nurtured through the system, by the efforts of Barya himself. Come on! What worked before can still work. Demoting employees to a lower level just serves to increase the height of the step-function required to propel them to the top of the academic ladder. My College, CEDAT does quite a lot of in-house work in development of junior staff, just like it should. It’s a strategy that has been proven to work, and long may it continue.More so, even if the 50% staff in question were made research fellows as is being advocated for, a gross pay of 1.7m (About 650 USD) is laughable at best, on international standards. Double that, and we might just start to talk. I don’t know what private sector Barya alludes to, but I know quite a number of people who earn such money in one day around town, and honestly so. I know this is the point where someone might say it’s a take it or leave it; let the concerned fellows go and do those well-paying jobs if they consider themselves competent enough. My personal view is I consider University service a special calling, and this should distinguish it from any other job. I believe most colleagues, including me, hang around because we derive pleasure in doing what we do; generating and transferring knowledge. Most times, those retained are brilliant minds, with great expectations, and the allegiance to the system should not be abused.And now onto the mother of all derisories:the implication that teaching assistants and assistant lecturers contribute less than 1% of all publications. If this is true, then we are in serious trouble indeed. Fret not, because it’s not. I do not know of any Professor who undertakes research single handedly, without assistants. In our environment where the graduate research assistant position is not quite instituted apart from on special projects, the void has time and again been filled by the despised crew. This is due to three simple reasons: 1) They are already available within the establishment, thus easier to maintain 2) They are most likely working towards a higher academic award, and the senior person is a supervisor 3) It gives the lower cadres a chance to have their hand held as they mature and ultimately use it as a stepping stone for promotion. Yours truly has benefited greatly from senior colleagues, and as a result has quite a number of publications to his name,with tangible output to show alongside them. This is the situation all over CEDAT, and I am sure, in the other Colleges as well. Let us not be scornful of our roots!I fully understand many staff members have not been faithful to their vows, and in fact have multiple jobs around town in a bid to make ends meet. Most are in fact subsidizing their principal jobs. We shouldn’t use this as an excuse to crucify them because they are not doing as they should. We should treat the causes, not the effects. Many people out there would pride in staying in the University if only there was good remuneration. Let us pay the people well and then demand of them what is due. Short of this, we shall be deemed dim-witted in our demands for better output. The gains derived from motivated staff far outweigh the investment. I will be the first to admit that the economy is squeezing everyone from all ends. It’s not just the lecturers. I know Doctors, teachers, policemen, name it, are all underpaid. Well, industrial action is a right, and the University employees have duly exercised it. Let all other categories of public servants do the same at convenience.A print screen of Cosmas’ postI stand to say that I agree with Barya’s conclusion, that a long-lasting solution involving all stakeholders needs to be sought. Whatever it will be, let the bottom line be commensurate remuneration to the dons who are supposedly the pride of our nation, in my circles. It is laughable at best, to have a University Professor earning lower than a politician whose highest qualification is a UACE certificate. Or a driver in some place out there. As an afterthought, the demand for better work conditions will always be an insatiable affair. I call upon our Government to exercise more financial prudence in its spending and of course fighting the curse that is corruption.Short of which, even a 300% salary increment today may not buy you a bar of soap in 3 year’s time. I rest my case. Over to you. The writer is an Assistant Lecturer in CEDAT credit: Facebooklast_img read more

The Fastest ever Broadband Passes Speed Test

first_imgAdvertisement The “fastest ever” broadband speeds have been achieved in a test in London, raising hopes of more efficient data transfer via existing infrastructure.Alcatel-Lucent and BT said speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved during their joint test – enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second.The test was conducted on a 410km (255-mile) link between the BT Tower in central London and Ipswich. – Advertisement – However, it may be many years before consumers notice any effect.But the breakthrough is being seen as highly important for internet service providers (ISPs), as it means a greater amount of information can be sent through existing broadband infrastructure, reducing the need for costly upgrades.“BT and Alcatel-Lucent are making more from what they’ve got,” explained Oliver Johnson, chief executive of broadband analyst firm Point Topic.“It allows them to increase their capacity without having to spend much more money.”Alcatel-Lucent told the BBC that the demand for higher bandwidth grew by around 35% every year, making the need for more efficient ways to transfer data a massively pressing issue for ISPs, particularly with the growing popularity of data-heavy online services, such as film-streaming website Netflix.There are faster methods of transmitting data – such as the use of complex laser technology – but this is the first test to achieve such high speeds in “real world” conditions, outside testing labs.Source: BBClast_img read more

MTN Cameroon launches 4G mobile network in major cities

first_imgMTN Cameroon at their launch of 4G mobile network. Image Credit: CameroonOnline Advertisement MTN Cameroon, one of the central African country’s main cell phone providers, has announced the launch of a 4G mobile network, which the company said would help boost Cameroon’s economy and access to basic services.MTN Cameroon says it has nearly 10.4 million subscribers out of a population of about 22.8 million.“The 4G of MTN Cameroon is an evolution,” Linda Kouam, MTN‘s chief marketing officer, told journalists on Thursday.“Cameroon’s economic growth will change. It’s access to education for millions of young people; it’s access to healthcare, to sanitation programs in the whole world.” – Advertisement – The network will be rolled out in Yaounde, the capital, and to regional hubs Douala, Bamenda and Buea.Valentin Simeon Zinga, a spokesman for Orange Cameroon, MTN’s chief competitor, said it had the technical and technological capacity to roll out its own 4G network but was waiting on government regulation.Cameroon’s Telecommunications Regulation Agency was unable to comment immediately. Gabon’s Airtel launched a 4G network last month.[Reuters]last_img read more