Stories from around the world.

Africa reaps the benefit of online Instant Schools 

Launched in 2016, the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Schools programme is currently being accessed by 675,000 learners in Africa and allowing more young people the opportunity to attend university. The online platform hosts quality educational resources in local languages in DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa (as e-School).

One recent success story comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where just 36% of girls reach secondary education while only 4% make it to university level. A 17 year old has enrolled as a medical student at Kinshasa University after using the Instant Schools app to study for her exams. She was able to access the platform on her smartphone and could supplement her classroom learning with video based lessons, interactive textbooks and exercises. According to a Unesco report, 93 million children in Sub Saharan Africa are not in school across the region. – Read more on this story on the Forbes site

Unis raided, funding under threat as far right wins Brazil elections

The run up to Brazil’s general elections saw the federal police and the agency which regulates elections in the country descend on universities, with officials seized materials from students, as well as professors. Police also raided more than two dozen public universities to stop “partisan” activity on campus. Another act of censorship saw students handing out flyers in protest of far right candidate Jair Bolsonaro’s election arrested in Sao Paulo.

Sunday (October 28) saw Bolsonaro win by 55.1%. The result has Brazil’s scientific community fearing an end to funding and academic freedom. Bolsonaro’s campaign proposes to eliminate Brazil’s ministry of science and technology, as well as its environment ministry. ‘My fear is that he will pretend to think about science, while making it more for defence purposes with funding primarily for military institutes,’ says Tatiana Roque, a professor of mathematics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. – Read more on this story on the Chemistry World site

Women demand compensation from Japanese uni that rigged entrance exams

Earlier this year, Tokyo Medical University admitted to altering entrance test scores to keep women out. The discrimination was the result of a view that women would not be reliable doctors as female doctors often quit when starting their own families.

Lawyers representing some of the women affected have said that around 20 former applicants, who took the university’s entrance exam in 2006, plan to file a request with the university demanding that it pay $900 (R 13,200) in damages for every year the applicant took an exam and was rejected, refund exam fees and cover costs such as traveling expenses as well as disclosing their exam scores. They plan to sue if their demands are not addressed within 2 weeks. Last week (October 23), a university investigative panel said it had identified at least 55 women who were rejected due to the university’s systematic alteration of female applicant scores. The group of lawyers also plans to assist more applicants after the education ministry, which is conducting a survey of 81 universities with medical departments, said that similar malpractice had been found at other institutions. – Read more on the Japan Times site