US launches P92.3-M literacy program for blind, deaf children in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2019   •   541

USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II leads the signing of the pledge of commitment during the launch of USAID’s new education project, Gabay.  (Courtesy: U.S. Embassy in the Philippines)

The United States (US) government has launched a literacy program for the blind and deaf children in the Philippines.

Gabay is the program launched by the US through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It is is a three-year project for blind and deaf children in the country to have access to quality education.

USAID is in partnership with the Department of Education and Resources for Blind, Inc. 

They will work with local governments in the provinces of Batangas, Sorsogon, and Southern Leyte, to identify children from kindergarten to grade three with vision and hearing impairments.

“The United States is a strong advocate of disability policies and programs.  We believe that people with disabilities have and should have all the same rights as others,” said USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy during the launching of the new project.

The project aims to increase the capacity of service providers and health workers to detect the needs of children with visual and hearing impairments.

“[To] improve teachers’ abilities to prepare and deliver appropriate learning plans, and enhance local government and communities’ responsiveness to the needs of people with disabilities,” according to the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.—AAC

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Briones: Report that ‘70,000 students in Bicol cannot read’, an exaggeration

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

Deped Secretary Leonor Briones

Department of Education (Deped) Secretary Leonor Briones said the Deped Bicol region report about 70,000 students that cannot read is an exaggeration.

Briones slammed the results of pretests administered by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI).

“Tinawagan ko kanina ang regional director sa Bicol, ang sabi niya less than 5% lang. Hindi naman ganoon kadami. Medyo insulto iyon sa mga taga-Bicol (I called the regional director in Bicol, he said it’s only less than 5%. That is not a lot. That is an insult to the people of Bicol),” she said.

The Education Secretary also said there are numerous factors in determining the level of comprehension and level of understanding of a child.

Deped plans to release a more accurate report once they conducted a validation. Briones also said that Deped has a program to increase the reading literacy in the country.

She also advised the media to be careful in interpreting and reporting the Phil-IRI.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Iran admits to having downed UIA passenger plane, says it was by mistake

UNTV News   •   January 11, 2020

A view of victims’ possessions around the wreckage after an Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 carrying 176 people crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, killing everyone on board, in Shahriar, Iran, 08 January 2020. EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

TEHRAN — Iran admitted on Saturday that its armed forces had downed a Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet with 176 civilians on board and said it had been an involuntary human error.

The Iranian military had been denying their responsibility in the tragedy – which took place on Tuesday, shortly after the UIA flight PS752 took off from Tehran airport – for the past two days after several NATO members, spearheaded by Canada, said they had intelligence suggesting the plane crash was not due to a technical error, but rather had been brought down by ballistic missiles.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”

Rouhani said in a separate post that the investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragic error would continue.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard said in a statement that the mistake was made in the context of a “very delicate crisis situation,” claiming that the Boeing 737 had flown close to a IRG military center with the “altitude and flight position of an enemy target.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, also took to Twitter to express his regret for the incident and partially blamed it on the United States’ “adventurism.”

“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif wrote. “Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The crash occurred in the context of a targeted missile attack against two US bases in Iraq, Tehran’s retaliation for the assassination of its top general, Qasem Soleimani, via drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Iran warned the US in advance of this limited response, thus avoiding any casualties.

On Friday, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Ali Abedzade, ruled out the possibility that the airliner had been shot down by the army.

“One thing is for certain, this airplane was not hit by a missile,” Abedzadeh said during a press conference in Tehran held in response to earlier remarks by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government had evidence indicating that the cause of the crash that killed all 176 passengers was a missile strike.

On Saturday, it was also revealed that 57 passengers onboard the aircraft were Canadian nationals, instead of the 63 that had been initially reported. EFE-EPA

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Trump imposes new sanctions after Iran attacks US bases in Iraq

UNTV News   •   January 9, 2020

US President Donald J. Trump (C) delivers a statement on the US response to Iranian missile strikes, beside US Vice President Mike Pence (Front R) US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (Front L) in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, 08 January 2020. EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

WASHINGTON — The president of the United States Donald Trump said Wednesday his country would be imposing fresh sanctions on Iran which would remain in place until the country “changes its behavior.”

The announcement comes after Iran struck two military bases used by US troops stationed in Iraq overnight.

“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said.

“We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” Trump told reporters of the attack on the two military installations.

“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for every American, and for the world” he continued.

Trump said Iran was a “leading sponsor of terrorism,” something that posed a “threat” to the “civilized world.”

He also spoke about the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on Friday, saying that the US had “eliminated a terrorist” who had been behind some of the world’s “atrocities” and who had “fueled bloody civil wars” in the Middle East.

The slain commander had been “planning new attacks on American targets but we stopped him,” according to Trump.

“He should have been terminated long ago,” he said, adding that his killing sent a “powerful message” to others.

Trump also made reference to the “very defective” nuclear deal with Iran that “expires soon,” and urged other signatories to abandon it in favor of finding another solution to curb the country’s activities.

The US has already withdrawn from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (PCPOA), which was agreed under his predecessor, Barack Obama, along with the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran,” Trump told the media.

The president vowed that Iran would “never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon” while he was the leader of the US.

He used the occasion to hail the US economy, saying it was “stronger than ever before.

“We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.”

The head of state also referred to US military equipment, saying: “the fact we have this great military equipment however does not mean we have to use it.”

Trump also called on NATO to get “much more involved in the Middle East process.” EFE-EPA

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