SA prioritises quality education

first_imgLawley residents were relieved to finally get a high school in their area, children no longer have to travel long distances to other areas to attend school. (Image: Kirsten Koma) The South African government has launched a massive turnaround strategy for basic education, committing to build more public schools in disadvantaged areas and radically improve the quality of teaching and learning. This forms part of the country’s Action Plan 2014 (PDF, 2.77MB), which promotes thorough teaching methods, regular assessments to track progress, improving early childhood development, focused planning, and greater accountability within the state school system.The action plan fits into a greater scheme called Schooling 2025 – the vision of which is to ensure that there are adequately resourced schools accessible to all South African children so they are able to attend and complete the compulsory grades one to nine.“We want South Africa’s children to get only the best education at school – this is one of government’s top priorities,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.In many of the country’s rural areas and townships, pupils have to travel vast distances to get to and from school, and sit in overcrowded and ill-equipped classrooms. With such obstacles, there is a high incidence of pupils dropping out of school before completing the compulsory phase or grade 12, the final year of high school.The Department of Basic Education has undertaken to build more schools to alleviate some of these problems. In 2011, seven new schools will be opened in Gauteng, nine in the Western Cape and 20 in KwaZulu-Natal.Changing livesMonako Tsotetsi from Lawley, a township in the south of Johannesburg, was excited as he prepared for his first day at the community’s new high school, aptly named Lawley Secondary School. “It’s so good to go to school just down the road from your house. I don’t have to wake up in the wee hours to travel for about two hours to get to school anymore.”Tsotetsi began his grade nine year at the newly built school, which was officially opened by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy and Johannesburg City Mayor Amos Masondo on 12 January as schools across the province began their academic year.In January of 2010 Motlanthe visited the Lawley community and many residents spoke to him about the need for a secondary school in the area. Most senior pupils at that time had to travel a distance to Lenasia or Ennerdale to attend high school – and transport was costly for their low-income families.“It also just took too long to get to school, which took a toll on us and tampered with our ability to be fresh and focused for school,” said Tsotetsi.Members of the community say they are impressed that the deputy president was so swift in attending to their need. “This is a really great move by Motlanthe,” said Thabiso Molefe.“Not having a high school here led to many of the kids, whose families could not afford school fees, doing crime or drugs. Now the kids have a chance at a better life.”  Speaking at the school’s opening ceremony, Mokonyane said: “You’re going to make history. One day when you’re older you will say I was among the first learners of this school.”The premier encouraged the pupils to study hard and work towards achieving great grade 12 marks. “Start today to prepare, and it is possible that your future can look brighter.”Motlanthe also encouraged the pupils and teachers to work together to bring about great results at the school. “This school begins with a blank sheet. It brings no baggage, it has no history of failure and can therefore move directly into becoming a school of excellence,” he said. “The future of this school depends on what both students and the teachers put in.”The school, which comprises 24 prefabricated classrooms, has 11 teachers and 200 pupils enrolled in it at the moment. The basic education department said the school could accommodate more pupils as time goes by.The government chose prefabricated classrooms as a temporary measure at the school because they could be set up relatively quickly and easily, as opposed to having to construct the institution from scratch.“If this school had not been built, I know I would have ended up without an education. My parents would not have been able to afford to send me to school far away for much longer. This school is saving a lot of our lives and our futures,” said Tsotetsi.last_img read more

South Africa’s justice system

first_imgThe Constitutional Court is South Africa’s highest court, where issues of constitutionality are settled. (Image: Lucille Davie) • Constitutional Court +27 11 359 7400 [email protected] • Pistorius trial: open justice or trial by media? • A media guide to the Oscar Pistorius trial • The media and open justice • South Africa‘s justice system goes hi-techLucille DavieChampion paraplegic athlete Oscar Pistorius allegedly murdered his partner of four months, Reeva Steenkamp, in his home in Pretoria, Gauteng, on 14 February 2013.The state has brought a Schedule 6 case of premeditated murder against the paralympian. If he is found guilty, he will get a life sentence, which is 25 years. He will only be eligible to apply for parole after serving that term, under a Schedule 6 conviction.His defence team, led by advocate Barry Roux SC, has indicated that it would be bringing evidence to prove his action is instead a Schedule 5 offence.Schedule 5 offences include murder; attempted murder; rape; drug-related crimes – especially where the drugs are found to be worth R50 000 or more; corruption; extortion; fraud; forgery or theft to the value of R500 000; the illegal dealing in, or smuggling of, firearms; and assault on a child under the age of 16. If convicted of a Schedule 5 offence, the minimum sentence is 15 years for a first-time offender.Schedule 6 offences include murder, including premeditated murder; the death of a law enforcement officer; or death as a result of rape or robbery with aggravating circumstances. Also falling under this offence is rape, which includes gang rape or rape by a suspect who knows he is HIV-positive. Rape of a person under 16 years or a mentally or physically disabled person is also a Schedule 6 offence.Robbery with the use of a firearm, where grievous bodily harm results, or a car is stolen, is also a Schedule 6 offence.Different courtsSouth Africa’s legal system is based on Roman-Dutch Law, and does not follow a jury system.The highest court in South Africa is the Constitutional Court, based in Johannesburg and presided over by 11 judges; it was created after the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. The judges make decisions and judgements about issues that have to do with the Constitution. Being the highest court in the country, no other court can overturn these decisions. Judgements relating to the Constitution from the High Court can be taken to the Constitutional Court.The next highest court in the country is the Supreme Court of Appeal, based in Bloemfontein in the Free State, and only deals with cases that come from the High Court. Only the Constitutional Court can change decisions from the Supreme Court of Appeal. Three to five judges sit in this court and the final judgements are made by a majority decision.High CourtThe High Court hears cases which are too serious for the Magistrates’ Court or when a person or organisation wishes to challenge a decision of a Magistrates’ Court. These cases are usually presided over by one judge but if a case on appeal is heard, then two judges will hear the case.If the case is about a very serious crime then a judge and two experienced and often retired advocates or magistrates will assist in the case. They are referred to as assessors. The judge can override their opinions but they are usually there to help the judge make a decision.The High Court divisions have jurisdiction or the right to hear a case over provincial areas in which they are situated. The decisions of the High Courts are binding on Magistrates’ Courts within their areas of jurisdiction. Usually only advocates appear for their clients in the High Court.They usually only hear civil matters involving more than R100 000 and serious criminal cases. They also hear any appeals or reviews from Magistrates’ Courts.There are 14 high courts in South Africa. Circuit Courts are also part of the High Court system. They sit at least twice a year, moving around to serve far-flung rural areas.Other courts that fall under the High Court system are Special Income Tax Courts, Labour Courts and Labour Appeal Courts, Divorce Courts, and the Land Claims Court.The Master of the High Court administers cases of deceased estates, liquidations, and registration of trusts, among others.The Sheriff of the High Court is an impartial and independent official of the Court appointed by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development who must execute all documents issued by the court, including summonses, notices, warrants and court orders.Pistorius’s case is being handled by the National Prosecuting Authority, the government agency handling criminal cases in the country, with a team of prosecutors. The police work with this agency, presenting evidence to the authority, which then decides whether there is sufficient evidence to go ahead with a prosecution.Pistorius’s case is being heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.Magistrates’ CourtsThe Magistrates’ Courts are the lower courts which deal with the less serious criminal and civil cases. They are divided into regional courts and district courts.The regional Magistrates’ Courts only deal with criminal cases such as murder, rape, armed robbery and serious assault, whereas the district Magistrates’ Courts deal with criminal and civil cases. The magistrate makes decisions in a Magistrate’s Court sometimes with the support of lay assessors.A regional Magistrates’ Court can sentence a person found guilty for a period of up to 20 years, or can impose a maximum fine of R300 000.The district Magistrates’ Courts try the less serious cases, which exclude cases of murder, treason, rape, terrorism, or sabotage. They can sentence a person to a maximum of three years in prison or a maximum fine of R100 000.Ordinary Magistrates’ Courts can hear civil cases when the claims are for less than R100 000. They will not deal with cases involving divorce, arguments about a person’s will, or matters where a person’s sanity is in question.There are a number of magistrates’ courts that are specialised to be better able to deal with certain types of matters, such as the children’s courts, sexual offences courts, small claims courts, equality courts, community courts, child justice courts, maintenance courts, sexual offences courts, and courts for chiefs and headmen.last_img read more

Augmented and Virtual Reality: Widespread Use Expected by 2025

first_imgIDC forecasts the AR/VR market for headsets to grow at 54.1 percent annually, reaching almost nine million units in 2019 and to grow to 68.6 million units by 2023. Augmented and Virtual Reality is on track to become as ubiquitous as mobile devices by 2025, according to a survey by Perkins Coie of 200 startup founders. Tipatat Chennavasin, general partner at Venture Reality Fund , said that “the idea of VR and AR as a means of connecting people to the digital world in a much more natural and human way is profound. It will help everyone benefit from the power of the digital economy. It allows us to redefine computer literacy—we can adapt the computer to the way we think and want to work.”center_img How will AR/VR be used? One area that will see huge growth is in retail. Hanna Karki, principal research analyst at Gartner, said that “the impact of AR or VR in retail can be transformative. Retailers can use AR as an extension of the brand experience to engage customers in immersive environments and drive revenue. For example, IKEA’s Place app enables customers to virtually ‘place’ IKEA products in their space. Additionally, AR can be used outside the store after a sale to increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty.”last_img read more

Empowering Our Private Cloud Through API Exposure

first_imgThe RESTful model is easy for developers to use in terms of methodology with specific methods (GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE).REST is based on HTTP, which is designed to scale and is tolerant of network latency—very important in the cloud.If you call an API multiple times with the same data, the calls return the same result, which facilitates retry and error-handling scenarios.We’re adamant about API exposure at every layer of our private cloud for one reason: automation supports a highly agile environment and is essential to the success of our hybrid cloud strategy. Please check out the paper and tell us what you are doing in this space. I would love to read about everyone’s ideas.- CathyCatherine Spence is an Enterprise Architect and PaaS Lead for the Intel IT Cloud program.Connect with Cathy on LinkedInRead more posts by Cathy on the ITPN Why Is This so Important?First, as Amazon foresaw, you cannot scale fast enough unless you automate and to do so you need APIs. Intel IT, acting as its own cloud provider, requires automation and self-service. If all you have is a GUI with no scripting capabilities, you cannot automate. For example, you cannot scale out and add more applications, and—just as importantly—scale back as business needs change. Therefore, we strive to provide an API and a command-line interface for every layer in our private cloud—including IaaS, PaaS, and DBaaS.Automation, enabled by APIs, also helps IT keep our costs down and do more with less—the IT mantra of the century. Current industry data suggests that in a highly automated environment, a single system admin can manage 1,000 servers or more. While we haven’t reached that point yet, we have made significant strides in increasing automation and providing more services without increasing cost. More importantly, automation is critical for business agility supported by self-service capabilities. As the speed of business increases, users need tools and automation to “do it themselves” as opposed to waiting for specialized personnel to act on their behalf.Finally, exposing APIs is a critical part of our move to a hybrid cloud model, where workloads can be balanced among clouds by using policies. Without consistent API exposure, such a hybrid cloud model would be impossible.How Have We Implemented API Exposure at Intel?We strongly encourage our application developers to create cloud-aware applications—even the cloud itself should incorporate cloud-aware principles. Part of being cloud-aware is implementing small, stateless components designed to scale out and using web services to interact among components. We are heavily promoting the use of RESTful APIs for web services, for several reasons: Back in the early 2000s, Amazon may have been the progenitor of today’s API economy, when the company CEO issued a mandate that all teams must expose their data and functionality through service interfaces. While Intel IT’s executives have not issued such a directive, we make sure that every layer in our enterprise private cloud exposes and consumes web services through APIs. In fact, this a key component of our overall hybrid cloud strategy, as described in the enterprise private cloud white paper we recently published. As the IT Principal Engineer for Intel’s cloud efforts, I’ve taken APIs’ important role to heart and have integrated this concept into our architecture.last_img read more

IIT-Kanpur tops India Today Best Engineering Colleges Rankings 2012

first_imgIIT-Kanpur students working on a project (Photo: Maneesh Agnihotri)Engineering has been dominated by Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) for decades, and there’s little to choose between the premier institutes scattered across the length and breadth of the country. To remain at the peak of this mountain takes some doing, and,IIT-Kanpur students working on a project (Photo: Maneesh Agnihotri)Engineering has been dominated by Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) for decades, and there’s little to choose between the premier institutes scattered across the length and breadth of the country. To remain at the peak of this mountain takes some doing, and IIT-Kanpur has managed to do just that, retaining its position as India’s best engineering college in this year’s India Today-Nielsen survey.Click here to EnlargeWhat sets the institution apart in a star-studded line-up? An all-pervasive entrepreneurial spirit driven by professors and imbibed in equal measure by the students entering the hallowed portals of IIT-Kanpur. Sample some of the research projects underway at the institution over the past year. IIT-Kanpur is coordinating a multi-institutional initiative called ‘Generation of Solar Hydrogen’ to tackle India’s perennial fuel crisis. The project aims at developing workable designs of a solar hydrogen system to bifurcate hydrogen from oxygen in water and use it as fuel. “This project, when completed, promises a long-term economic solution for the country’s economic growth and need for alternative fuel using multiple technologies,” says Sanjay G. Dhande, director, IIT-Kanpur. The institute is working on a GPS-based real-time train information system for Indian Railways codenamed Simran. Jugnu, a micro satellite developed by students which was successfully launched from Sriharikota, and Digital Mandi, an online market for farmers to sell their produce, are some of the other prominent welfare projects commissioned successfully by IIT-Kanpur in the academic year 2011-12.HISTORYIIT-Kanpur was established in 1959, with P.K. Kelkar as its first director. The institute began functioning in the borrowed building of the Harcourt Butler Technological Institute in 1959. Under the Kanpur Indo-American Programme between 1962 and 1972, IIT-Kanpur received technical assistance from a consortium of nine leading American institutes in setting up academic programmes and developing laboratories for instruction as well as research. When it began, IIT-Kanpur had just 100 students on its rolls.Today, the institution has over 5,000 students and 350 faculty members.Click here to EnlargeThe success has been achieved despite the constraints of the ‘system’. As Dhande points out, “The spirit of innovation that could have been unleashed in India remained trampled because most of the intellectual property was controlled by the British or foreign companies. The licence-permit era didn’t help either. At IIT-Kanpur, students have been encouraged to form start-ups after they pass out so that they can innovate. The research work undertaken by both students and faculty has often resulted in patents being awarded. All these activities make the academic environment at IIT-Kanpur invigorating.”The results are evident. During 2011-12, 15 technologies developed at the institute were licensed for commercialisation and 13 national patents were filed. Fifteen companies are currently being incubated at the SIDBI Innovation and Incubation Centre at IIT-Kanpur. “The number of externally funded ongoing projects has reached 522 with a sanctioned amount of Rs 344 crore. During 2011-12, the institute received sanction for 107 sponsored projects worth Rs 58.71 crore and 74 consultancy projects worth Rs 7.27 crore,” says Ajit Chaturvedi, dean (research and development).advertisementBIG-TICKET OFFERSFacebook offered Avani Nandini a package of Rs 65.50 lakh per year.Tower Research Capital LLC recruited Utkarsh Lath on an annual package of Rs 44 lakh.Tower Research also picked up Aditya Huddedar on a package of Rs 44 lakh per year.The Central Government’s Ministry of Earth Sciences and UK’s Natural Environment Research Council have sponsored a project underway at IIT-Kanpur on the structure and dynamics of groundwater systems in north-western India. “India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. North-western India is now the hotspot of groundwater depletion. This project is based on the premise that we must first understand the geology of the aquifer system to estimate the way it will respond to future stress,” explains Chaturvedi.Starting from the current academic session, IIT-Kanpur has implemented an Academic Programme Review Committee report on providing more flexibility to students. “Now students have choice to select the duration of their academic session. They can complete it in their chosen time-frame by opting for fewer semesters or by adding an extra semester, depending on their potential and choice,” says A.K. Ghosh, dean of students welfare, IIT-Kanpur. He also adds that the institute puts a premium on overall development through sports and extracurricular activities. Academic excellence, however, remains the focus. “The institute trains its students in such a way that they can deliver on their job from Day One,” affirms Vivek Agrawal, former president of IIT-Kanpur students union. “The institute had 91 per cent campus placements by May 5 this year,” says Dhande, with 714 of the 785 students who registered for placement getting job offers from 185 companies.advertisementStudents at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (Photo: Vikram Sharma)IIT-Delhi, which trails IIT-Kanpur narrowly in the rankings, has an unparalleled industry focus. It signed an MoU with the ASQ India in June to impart its students management concepts and leadership skills from the next academic year. “The idea is to make engineering students ready for industry by teaching them concepts like operations management,” says ASQ India Managing Director Amit Chatterjee. IIT-Delhi already is the toast of head-hunters after Swapnil Jain, who graduated from the institute, bagged a job at micro-blogging site Twitter at an annual package of Rs 70 lakh.IN THE FAST LANEA team of students is working on a miniature Formula 1 car that will be displayed at Auto Expo 2013 in Delhi.IIT-Kanpur students set up India’s first student-built planetarium on campus in the 2011-12 academic session.IIT-Kanpur’s music club is working on an album. It has composed three patriotic songs and is also composing an anthem for IIT-Kanpur.IIT-Kharagpur, third on the list, celebrated its diamond jubilee this year with the rollout of a dual degree programme in engineering and entrepreneurship as well as in engineering design and manufacturing. It received funding worth Rs 100 crore for different projects during 2011-12 academic session, besides additional funding of Rs 40 crore for projects undertaken by its Centre for Railways Research.The institute is also planning to start dual degree courses in energy science and engineering as well as environmental science and engineering from the 2013-14 session. The idea is to promote entrepreneurship. As Damodar Acharya, director, IIT-Kharagpur, explains, “We provide full technical and professional support to students who launch start-ups for two years so that they can stand on their feet. If the start-up fails to take off, the degree-holder can come back and we will facilitate his or her placement.”With IITs assuming the role of entrepreneurship enablers in such a big way, it’s no surprise that they have grabbed six of the top 10 engineering ranks this year.last_img read more