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COVID-19: Another matric exam marker dies in KwaZulu-Natal

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The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has sadly lost another matric exam marker due to COVID-19. Just last week, a marker died in Estcourt, also due to COVID-19. Thereafter, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) called for a stoppage of matric marking, to allow rapid testing at Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal. 

COVID-19: FEMALE MARKER PASSES ON IN HOSPITAL AFTER FALLING ILL 

The female marker, according to KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi, was at the Inanda Semenery marking centre where the maths, literacy paper was being attended to. 

Mahlambi said the educator came to the marking centre on 6 January and the next morning on 7 January reported that she was ill. She was eventually rushed to hospital and passed on there on Monday 11 January. 

The Department of Education in the province has since passed its condolences to the bereaved family and the entire education department. 

SADTU CALLS FOR RAPID TESTING 

Following the death of the matric marker, Sadtu called for a stoppage of matric marking, to allow rapid testing at Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal. Apart from that, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Secretary Nomarashiya Caluza called for deep cleaning of the centre.  

“We want to remind the Department that it is all about saving lives and they must prioritise that in order to avoid further spread of the virus,” said Caluza. 

“SADTU monitors have been visiting centres and in some centres compliance is highly compromised. Markers were found chatting in large groups. The Department had told us that there is a compliance officer in each centre and we call upon these officers to take full responsibility for compliance-related matters in their centres,” Sadtu said in a statement. 

DBE CONCERNED OVER LACK OF SOCIAL DISTANCING AT LIMPOPO MARKING CENTRE 

While the Department of Basic Education (DBE) inspected various marking centres in various provinces, it did not appear to be happy with one in Limpopo. DBE Director-General (DG), Mathanzima Mweli expressed concern at the Merensky High School regarding a lack of social distancing. 

“I have inspected the marking Centre at Merensky High School. I am very concerned about the lack of social distancing here,” he said on Twitter. 

“It is of utmost importance that we ensure the safety of our markers,” he added. 

Mweli, thereafter, requested the provincial education department and the Centre manager to attend to it urgently.

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Ireland

Ireland’s billionaires’ fortunes increase by €3.28bn during pandemic

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The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months, while it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, a new report from Oxfam revealed today.

Mirroring this global inequality trend, Ireland’s own nine billionaires saw their fortunes increase by €3.28 billion since March — a tenth of which would pay for a Covid-19 vaccine for every person in the Republic of Ireland.

Meanwhile, essential workers – such as our carers and supermarket and factory workers — cared for our vulnerable and kept our food supplies running throughout the pandemic — quite often on minimum or low-paid wages.

Inequality Virus report

Oxfam’s The Inequality Virus report, published to coincide with the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Davos Agenda’, highlights how Covid-19 has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began over a century ago.

A new global survey commissioned by Oxfam of 295 economists from 79 countries, including Ireland, reveals that 87 percent of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an ‘increase’ or a ‘major increase’ in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.

Financial crash

This thinking was shared by 85 percent of Irish economists who participated, with most estimating it would be the worst increase in inequality in Ireland since the financial crash of 2008.

Rising inequality means it could take at least 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to return to pre-pandemic levels than it took for the fortunes of the top 1,000, mostly white male billionaires, to bounce back.

Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began, with the deep divide between the rich and poor proving as deadly as the virus itself. Around the world the impact of Covid-19 is magnifying and exacerbating existing inequalities – as well as racial and gender divides. One of the most extreme and unjust indicators of inequality we are seeing around the world right now is between those who have access to life saving vaccine and those who don’t’.

“Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in safety, while those on the frontline— our shop assistants, healthcare workers, and factory workers — are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, and often do not have benefits such as paid sick leave.

“The world’s ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began —more than enough to pay for a Covid-19 vaccine for everyone and to ensure no one is pushed into poverty by the pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic has ushered in the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.

“In Ireland, the fallout of the pandemic on employment has disproportionately hit young adults as well as people in low-paid occupations, all of whom are more likely to be paying rent. Without significant government intervention, we are looking at a return to long-term unemployment, increasing risks of homelessness and economic insecurity for younger generations in Ireland.

“In addition, women and marginalised racial and ethnic groups are yet again bearing the brunt. They are more likely to be pushed into poverty, more likely to go hungry, and more likely to be excluded from healthcare.

“Long before Covid-19 disrupted our lives, in Ireland and across the world, women sustained our societies through their paid and unpaid care work. They continue to do so as we manage this public health crisis and as the social and economic consequences unfold. However, there is a lack of attention to gender equality in much of the economic decision making that has taken place since the onset of the pandemic.”

Road to recovery

Oxfam said the road to recovery will be much longer for people who were already struggling pre-Covid. When the virus took hold, over half of workers in poor countries were living in poverty, and three-quarters of workers globally had no access to social protections like sick pay or unemployment benefits.

Clarken concluded: “Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice. Governments around the world must seize this opportunity to build more equal, more inclusive economies that end poverty and protect the planet.

“The fight against inequality must be at the heart of economic rescue and recovery efforts. Governments must ensure everyone has access to a Covid-19 vaccine and financial support if they lose their job. They must invest in public services and low carbon sectors to create millions of new jobs and ensure everyone has access to a decent education, health, and social care, and they must ensure the richest individuals and corporations contribute their fair share of tax to pay for it.

“These measures must not be band-aid solutions for desperate times but a ‘new normal’ in economies that work for the benefit of all people, not just the privileged few.”

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Ireland

Taoiseach says ‘Ireland is committed to fighting antisemitism, racism’ at Holocaust memorial

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed a virtual commemoration in the Mansion House in Dublin this evening to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day.

Tomi Reichental and Suzi Diamond, the two remaining Holocaust survivors in Ireland, also addressed the event which was organised by Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.

Holocaust Education Trust Ireland works with teachers, students and the wider community to educate about the Holocaust and its place in today’s society.

Mr Martin said: “Education is an important tool in deepening our understanding of the Holocaust…Ireland is committed to fighting antisemitism and racism.

“Today’s ceremony will be addressed by two Holocaust survivors, Tomi Reichental and Susie Diamond, last year’s ceremony marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and as we move further away from the horrors of the Holocaust, the value of being able to share the personal experience of Tomi and Susie is incalcuable.”

 

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Iran

Exports to Iraq via Mehran near 800,000 tons in 10 months

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Exports to Iraq via Mehran near 800,000 tons in 10 months

Rouhollah Gholami, director-general of Ilam Customs Administration made the announcement on Sunday, construction materials, steel products, glass and tiles were the main products exported via Mehran during the eight-month period.

He noted that the trade between Iran and Iraq through the Mehran border crossing is on track with all coronavirus-related health protocols in place.

According to Gholami, 250 trucks carrying Iran’s export goods cross the Mehran border to Iraq daily.

Iran’s exports to Iraq via Mehran checkpoint stood at $1.18 billion during the last fiscal year (March 2019-20).

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