Saturday, February 29, 2020

New Mandarin-English pre-school for London

By Huaxia

One of the first few Mandarin-English immersion schools in Britain officially opened in south London last month joining the continuing zeal here and beyond for learning Mandarin Chinese.
Petts Wood Mandarin-English Preschool, which opened in January in Bromley is also the very first Mandarin immersion preschool founded in partnership with a church in Britain.
After three years of planning and preparation, the school draws expertise on Chinese immersion learning from Europe, the United States and China. It offers Chinese and English bilingual immersive education for children aged two to five.
Xu Zhi, the head teacher of Petts Wood, said the preschool offers up to 25 places and six children registered prior to the opening, with many families signed up for trial lessons in the next few weeks.
"I had the idea of establishing a bilingual preschool three years ago when I realised that more and more British families want an earlier start for their children's Chinese learning," said Xu, who has run a successful weekend Chinese school in Bromley since 2006.
Many high school students in Britain also learn Chinese at school for two or three hours each week. But that is not enough and it is also a bit late for language learning, she added.
Rigorous scientific research has shown evidence that bilingual education not only benefits children from a language learning perspective, but also in cognitive and intellectual development.
The local community showed huge interests and support to the newly established preschool. Bromley Councillor Kim Botting, who has visited China three times, is very optimistic about Britain-China education exchanges. While attending the opening ceremony Botting called the school a "wonderful and fantastic thing" for the community.
Last November, an inspector from the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) said the office was very happy to issue a registration certificate to the preschool.
In recent years Britain has seen a rise of interest in learning and teaching Chinese as a second language. In 2015 the Department for Education launched a new £10 million initiative to expand Mandarin teaching in state schools across the country. Hundreds of pupils are taking part in the programme, which aims to make at least 5,000 young people fluent in Mandarin by 2020.
A Mandarin-English nursery named Hatching Dragons was established in London in 2015, accepting babies from as young as six-months to five. Two years later, the first bilingual English and Mandarin primary school was opened in Kensington.

Free Assange!

By New Worker correspondent

Over a hundred doctors and two Australian MPs are calling for the release of Julian Assange, who is being held in London’s Belmarsh prison while awaiting hearings that could lead to his extradition to the United States where he faces life imprisonment on bogus espionage charges.
            The WikiLeaks founder, an Australian citizen living in Sweden, came to Britain in 2010 following rape allegations that he strenuously denied. Assange was avoiding an arrest that he feared would lead to his deportation to the USA, where he faces charges following WikiLeaks exposure of US war crimes in Iraq. In 2012 the then progressive government of Ecuador offered him asylum and Assange took refuge in their embassy in London when the British government moved to send him to America. But Assange was denied free passage to leave the country.
Seven years later reactionary forces in the pay of US imperialism seized power in Ecuador. Assange was handed over to the police in exchange for around $4.2 billion worth of IMF loans and aid.
            In May 2019 UN torture expert Nils Melzer, along with two other medical experts who specialise in assessing torture victims, concluded that the WikiLeaks founder exhibited symptoms of "psychological torture".
Last November over 60 doctors wrote to the Home Secretary to express their serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange. They requested that Assange be transferred from Belmarsh prison to a university teaching hospital for medical assessment and treatment. Faced with evidence of untreated and ongoing torture, they also questioned Assange's fitness to participate in US extradition proceedings.
Having received no substantive response from the Johnson government 117 physicians and psychologists from all round the world including the original protesters, have written to the Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal, demanding an “end to the psychological torture” of Julian Assange.
    “Since doctors first began assessing Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2015, expert medical opinion and doctors’ urgent recommendations have been consistently ignored,” the letter, organised by a group of medical professionals known as Doctors for Assange and published on 17th  February, says.
The medical experts “condemn the torture of Assange” and the continued denial “of his fundamental right” to appropriate healthcare.
    “This politicisation of foundational medical principles is of grave concern to us, as it carries implications beyond the case of Julian Assange. Abuse by politically motivated medical neglect sets a dangerous precedent, ultimately undermining our profession’s impartiality, commitment to health for all, and obligation to do no harm”, the letter reads.
Meanwhile two visiting Australian MPs have also condemned the imprisonment of the prominent Australian journalist. They told a press conference in London that the continued detention and prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was an “affront” to democracy, as well as freedom of the press and speech.
Australian independent MP Andrew Wilkie and the National Party’s George Christensen landed in London on Sunday to speak at a Foreign Press Association meeting on a platform with Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Jennifer Robinson, lawyer for Assange’s legal team.
Andrew Wilkie, a former Australian army intelligence analyst who resigned over Australia’s role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said that there was a “broad range of views” amongst officials about the detained journalist.
Numerous “allegations, innuendos, stories and disinformation”, had been spread over many years by the media and various officials, he added.
   WikiLeaks disclosed information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the conditions in the American Guantanamo Bay prison camp Wilkie said.
Wikileaks was simply “releasing information about those matters in the public interest …as a journalist”, the Independent Australian MP told the press, adding that his detention at Belmarsh prison and potential extradition to the US revealed the “sharp contrast what the injustice is”.
The other Australian MP, George Christensen from the conservative National Party, discussed a myth that “need to be busted” regarding Assange, namely that the publisher was “not a journalist”.
Christensen said: "I think he is. Australians think he is. He’s won an award. But it doesn’t really matter whether he’s a blogger, a journalist, or a publisher. The issue is free speech and the right to publish".

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Day of the Shining Star in London

Michael Chant speaking
by New Worker correspondent
People battled their way through Storm Dennis to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star at a meeting in central London last weekend, organised by Korean Friendship Association (KFA) and the Friends of Korea (FoK) committee.
KFA Chair Dermot Hudson introduced the meeting, stressing the importance of the Day of the Shining Star and increasing solidarity with People's Korea. FoK Secretary Michael Chant, General Secretary of the RCPB-ML, spoke about the injustice of the sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), stressing the fact the UK is still maintaining the European Union (EU) sanctions against the DPRK despite leaving the EU!
A contribution from the DPRK’s London Embassy was read out. Part of it read: “February 16 is the birthday of Kim Jong Il, eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. When the day comes round every year, many people of the world recall him with deep emotion.
“Kim Jong Il devoted his whole life for the cause of global peace. He led the struggle to build a new world free from aggression and war upholding the banner of anti-imperialist independence.”