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Ministry commends teachers for preparing students for PEP

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Minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Alando Terrelonge has commended educators for their role in preparing students to sit the first Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations.

He was speaking to JIS News at the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA)/Helen Stills Development Day event held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James, recently.

A total of 41,617 grade-six students sat the examination earlier this year, the results of which will be announced by the end of next week.

The students were tested in three stages with a Performance Task Test held on March 27 and 28; an Ability Test on February 26; and a curriculum-based Test on April 16 and 17.

“The exams went very well and I want to thank the officials from the ministry, and all our education officers for the work that they did, and most importantly, I want to thank our principals and teachers for believing in the programme. I also want to thank our parents for embracing the programme,” Terrelonge said.

He noted that while there were some concerns in the initial stages, the students were enthusiastic about the exams and are looking forward to the results.

PEP, which replaces the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) as the national secondary school entrance test, is intended to provide a better and more complete profile of students’ academic and critical-thinking capabilities at the end of primary level education.

The annual Helen Stills Development Day, named for a former Knox College principal, provides a forum for the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas, as well as to enhance teachers’ personal and professional growth and development.

This year’s event was held under the theme ‘Empowering Educators: Retooling, Innovating, Networking for Sustainable Development’.

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Bolivia’s new leaders break ties with Venezuela

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Bolivia’s new leaders break ties with Venezuela

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia’s interim leadership says it has broken diplomatic ties with the Government of Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro and ordered Cuban medical teams to leave Bolivia.

The announcement yesterday represents a turnaround in Bolivia’s foreign policy following the resignation of Evo Morales, a socialist who quit after a disputed election that sparked massive protests.

Karen Longaric, the foreign minister of Bolivia’s interim Government, also said the country is leaving the Union of South American Nations, known by its Spanish acronym UNASUR. The group was set up in 2008 by Venezuela’s Hugo Chvez and other leftists to support regional integration efforts and counter US influence in South America.

Longaric also says Bolivia is no longer a part of ALBA, a regional group that espouses socialist ideology.

In the meantime, Bolivia’s interim leader says Evo Morales will have to “answer to justice for electoral fraud” if he returns home.

Jeanine ez made the comment during a news conference yesterday, a day after Morales insisted from asylum in Mexico that he remains the country’s legitimate president because his resignation was forced by the military and wasn’t formally accepted by Congress.

Aez was the top-ranking Senate opposition official when Morales resigned Sunday and says that the resignation of everyone else in the chain of succession left her with the presidency.

Morales left following massive demonstrations across the country alleging fraud in the October 20 presidential election — irregularities certified by a team of auditors from the Organization of American States. Morales had claimed victory in his bid for a fourth term in office.

ez said Morales “left on his own. Nobody threw him out.”

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Cuba medical programme becomes source of controversy

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Cuba medical programme becomes source of controversy

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — A much-lauded overseas medical programme has become the focus of accusations that it serves as cover for fomenting protests against governments opposed by Cuba.

Cuba said yesterday that it’s pulling 700 members of its medical mission to Bolivia after the arrest of four members of the programme, which began under now-exiled President Evo Morales. The four were accused of fomenting protests against the Government that took over from Morales, a Cuban ally.

The end of Cuba’s 400-person medical mission to Ecuador was also announced this week, along with the accusation by Ecuador’s interior minister that Cuba misused official passports to bring in 250 Cubans during protests against President Lenin Moreno, whom Cuba also opposes.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ended his county’s Cuban medical programme after taking office last year.

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Opposition leader tells public servants to accept salary increases

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Opposition leader tells public servants to accept salary increases

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is urging public servants to accept the salary increases announced by the coalition Government earlier this week, saying the payment had already been budgeted for by the David Granger Administration in the last fiscal package.

“I say to the public servants collect their monies, it was budgeted since last year. This is nothing new; they should get their money,” Jagdeo told reporters.

The Government Wednesday announced a new GUY$70,000 minimum wage for public servants.

“In three and a half years, the minimum wage has gone up by over 75 per cent. I think by any stroke of circumstance, that is a significant development and I know that the workers are going to be happy. And I know that they are happier still because in 2018 I first brought in tax-free back pay. I [sought permission from the] Cabinet, they agreed and I continue this year,” said Finance Minister Winston Jordan, adding that the public servants would, this year, will receive a tax-free retroactive salary increase.

Along with their retroactive salaries, the public servants will also receive a minimum wage of GUY$70,000, a nine per cent increase on the current GUY$64,200. He said it represents more than a 77 per cent increase since 2015.

Public servants earning between GUY$100,000 to GUY$999,000 per month will enjoy an 8.5 per cent increase and those earning more than a million dollars per month will get a three per cent hike. All of the increases will be retroactive to January 2019.

Jagdeo told reporters that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was now more interested in the contracts the Government has been signing, given the fact that it is in a “holding” position after the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled earlier this year that the motion of no-confidence against the Granger Administration passed in the National Assembly last December, is valid.

The CCJ said that in keeping with the Guyana Constitution fresh regional and general elections should be held and President Granger has since announced March 2, 2020 as the date for the polls.

Jagdeo told reporters “It is the contracts that they (the government) are issuing now to their cronies that I warn against”.

He said that while all public servants will benefit from the new salaries, police, soldiers, firefghters, and prison officers are worse off as a result of the decision to cut off the one-month, tax-free salary given to them at the end of the year as a bonus.

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