RSF_en January 21, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders today condemned the continuing detention of Mam Sonando, the manager of radio Sombok Khmum (Beehive FM 105), who is still being held in Prey Sar prison, near Phnom Penh, one month after his arrest. A court has refused to free him on bail and the government is about to bring an additional charge against him of broadcasting false information.“By arresting Mam Sonando, the Cambodian government is trying to discourage journalists from covering the sensitive issue of territorial concessions to Vietnam,” the press freedom organisation said. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has no right to invoke national security in order to imprison journalists and NGO activists and it is increasingly clear that the authorities are ready to sacrifice press freedom in order to hold on to power and avoid all criticism.”Reporters Without Borders has analysed the 39-minute programme on the border issue which Mam Sonando broadcast on 20 September and it is very clear that he was just doing his job as a journalist when he interviewed Sean Pengse, the head of the Paris-based Cambodia Borders Committee, which opposes ceding the islands of Phu Quoc and Krachakses to Vietnam.In the interview, Mam Sonando asked Sean Pengse to explain the border treaties between Cambodia and Vietnam. He did at one point say he agreed with his interviewee, but that was in reference to international indifference on the issue.At no point did Mam Sonando directly attack Prime Minister Hun Sen. On the contrary, he defended him twice. He said for example: “I think you are putting all the responsibility for the problem on Hun Sen. But he is in the executive and the national assembly comes first.”Reporters Without Borders intends to raise the issue of his arrest and the current threats against Cambodian journalists with the International Organisation of Francophone Nations (OIF). The UN special representative for Cambodia already requested his release on 20 October.Judge Saly Theara refused to release Mam Sonando on bail on 3 November 2005. At the same time, the prime minister’s lawyer announced that a charge of disseminating false information would be added to the charges of defamation and inciting crime. Mam Sonando faces a year in prison.Cambodian Teachers Association president Rong Chhun faces the same sentences after being arrested for signing a press release on the border issue.Reporters Without Borders is also very worried about the threat of arrest hanging over Voice of America senior stringer Sok Pov Khemara and Ath Bunny, also known as Phan Sophat, a correspondent for Radio Free Asia. They preferred to flee to Thailand at the end of October even though the authorities told them there was no plan to detain them.Man Sonando was arrested at his home on 11 October, 20 days after broadcasting the interview with Sean Pengse. The prime minister threatened to prosecute all those “who dare to say I cut off territory to give to someone else.” Sombok Khmum is one of the few privately-owned radio stations to carry independent news. It also retransmits Radio Free Asia and Voice of America programming. Help by sharing this information News Cambodian journalist gets 20 months in jail for livestream Mam Sonando, the manager of the independent radio station Sombok Khmum, has been in prison since 11 October and faces a one-year sentence for interviewing a critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Two international radio correspondents have also fled the country for fear of being arrested. This harassment of the press is unacceptable, Reporters Without Borders says. to go further News November 10, 2005 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Radio station manager still in prison after one month as government gets tough with media Receive email alerts News Organisation CambodiaAsia – Pacific Google experiments drop Australian media from search results CambodiaAsia – Pacific December 28, 2020 Find out more News RSF decries Cambodian plan for Chinese-style “Great Firewall” February 24, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Cambodia
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.IntroductionThis is a very important conference, at a critical time for the development of apprenticeship provision. It is gratifying to see apprenticeships on the news agenda regularly: whether as mentions in Prime Minister’s speeches or the subject of thoughtful newspaper columns from journalists you wouldn’t normally expect to care. Apprenticeships are, quite rightly, recognised as a vital component of our education and skills sector. Less gratifying, perhaps, is that too much of this recognition is about the system, not yet, working as it should.That’s why I am so pleased to be here today. I see it as essential that providers, policy makers and employers can have open and frank discussions about what works and what needs to be improved.It is almost a year now since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy–one of the most significant changes to apprenticeship funding that we have ever seen. Alongside the slow but inexorable move from apprenticeship frameworks to apprenticeship standards, providers and employers are working to secure the training and support that businesses need to develop a well-trained and productive workforce.And at Ofsted, we carry on supporting the reform programme. Indeed we’re putting our money where our mouth is, with our own award-winning band of 29 business administration apprentices.ChallengesWe know that it has been a challenging year for providers. The levy has required a different relationship with employers. There have been challenges in applying for, and receiving, non-levy allocations. There have also been problems getting on the Register of apprenticeship training providers. And, in too many instances, in finding a replacement standard for a framework–particularly at levels two and three.I suspect that the fall in apprenticeship starts is due to a combination of these factors. Nevertheless, any barriers that prevent employers taking on an apprentice, or standing in the way of good providers delivering high quality training, must concern us all.The first quarter of 2017 to 2018 saw almost 50,000 fewer starts than the same quarter in 2016 to 2017. There is no denying, that the low number of starts continues to be a concern, which is why I was heartened to see Anne Milton’s recent confidence that numbers will pick up in the new academic year. We all have to hope that this is true.It is not just about overall volumes though. We are also experiencing some unintended consequences from the emerging trend towards higher-level apprenticeships. Of course, I understand, indeed applaud, more apprenticeships at higher levels, especially when there is clear progression in an occupation, from level 2 through to degree level. However, around 40% of the standards approved or in-development are at higher and degree levels, while only 7% of apprentices work at these levels.This shift may be good for the economy in the long run, but the reduced number of apprenticeships at levels two and three is another destabilising factor in the system. To put it more brutally, there is a risk that young people, fresh from school, get squeezed out of apprenticeship routes because employers prioritise higher level programmes. This makes it more difficult for young people looking for entry-level employment straight from GCSEs.In this context, I am pleased to see that the Institute for Apprenticeships is upping the rate at which it develops and approves apprenticeship standards. Up till now, this process really has been too slow. I am also pleased that there is now more flexibility to include qualifications within apprenticeship standards. I see these positive developments as a sign that the institute is listening to the concerns expressed by employers and training providers. However, I would still like to see a greater focus on achieving a set of standards that really reflect the balance of training and development needs of the economy.Ofsted’s roleWith all the change, and uncertainty in the system, I am sure you want reassurance about Ofsted’s agility and ability to adapt inspection to fit the new reality.We know the challenges you face. We are working hard with you to make sure that inspection takes account of the changing landscape. But, let me be absolutely clear, we will not be excusing poor performance. Regardless of the changes that we are all dealing with: apprentices deserve high quality training at, and away from, work.Pilot inspection findingsWe have already carried out a number of pilot inspections to make sure that we are looking at the right things in this new environment. And we found a need for inspectors to focus on the bottom line, not the money, but what knowledge, skills and behaviours apprentices actually develop and acquire.Now I hope many of you will know that one of my big interests as Chief Inspector is looking at the substance of education. By this, I mean the entirety of what is actually learnt, whether at school, college or on an apprenticeship.As I said at the launch of my first Annual Report, our early research has shown that, all too often, the knowledge that we want young people to acquire is lost in the dash for grades and stickers.These pilot inspections of apprenticeship providers have revealed that many of the concerns we have uncovered at a school level are also evident in apprenticeships.We are seeing an over-emphasis on simply ticking the box to show that the next part of the qualification has been achieved. There is not enough focus on the actual skills, knowledge and behaviours learned.Indeed, most providers in our pilots found it difficult to demonstrate what actual progress their apprentices were really making. As providers, you need to consider how you make sure that apprentices are making progress. This isn’t for inspectors, not for Ofsted, but for apprentices’ and employers’ benefit. It is also to inform the training and development programme that apprentices need to be following to pass end-point assessments.The findings from our pilot inspections are informing changes to the inspection handbook. We will carry on iterating and adapting these as the systems develop.Inspections of apprenticeshipsMore broadly, we are now developing our new education inspection framework for September 2019. How we inspect and report on apprenticeships are important considerations in our thinking and planning for this new framework. What we learn on inspections now, and what we learn from our work with organisations like AELP, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI, will inform our development. And of course, we will consult on our proposals.But the changes in the system aren’t just about new frameworks and new ways of inspecting. I know that many of you have concerns about the number of untested providers entering the market and the effect this could have on quality. Well, rest assured, we are not standing idly by and waiting for new providers to fail. We are doing all that we can to make sure that no apprentice’s future opportunity is ruined by poor provision. It is essential that poor quality provision is spotted and tackled quickly, so that it doesn’t damage an individual’s prospects or the overall apprenticeship brand.We have already begun a series of early monitoring visits to assess the quality of these new providers. Some of you will have heard about our first monitoring visits, which hit the headlines, at least in the trade press, last week. There is no hiding the fact that what we found at Key6 Group was worrying. And I’m very pleased that there has been a prompt reaction by ESFA [Education and Skills Funding Agency].But, it is important that we don’t over-interpret this one result as a judgement on all new providers coming on stream with the levy. We are doing more monitoring visits of this type. And I very much hope that positive results will significantly outnumber the disappointments.Besides these monitoring visits to new providers, we have increased our inspection focus on subcontractors, many of whom are providing apprenticeship training. We are doing this in two ways. Firstly, as part of our standard inspections, where providers have a significant proportion of subcontracted provision, we are increasing our focus on this part. This will mean that teams can evaluate and report, in more detail, on the quality of education and training in individual subcontractors.In addition, we are making monitoring visits to a number of directly-funded providers to look specifically at subcontracted provision. This way, we can make sure that apprentices are getting the best possible training. We expect the first of these to be published in the next couple of weeks.Our message here is simple. As the direct contract holder, you are responsible for your learners. If you subcontract, for whatever reason, you are still responsible for making sure your apprentice gets high quality training. If you are sitting back and collecting the money, without taking proper responsibility for quality, you are failing your apprentices. We are determined to expose this in the system.And, just in case, any of you were being kind enough to worry about us, and whether Ofsted has the resources to deliver this increased volume of inspection, please don’t worry: we are being equally robust in our approach to government for funding. Indeed the DfE has already acknowledged that it needs to fund us properly for this work.StandardsWith the experience of Learndirect still prominent in all of our minds, I have no doubt that you are all acutely aware of the risks when large sums of money flow into a system.It is sobering, in that respect, to look at recent inspection outcomes. Between September 2017 and February 2018, we made a judgement on the apprenticeship provision at 55 providers. We found three-fifths of them to be good or outstanding, with 16 requiring improvement. Six were inadequate. This means that 4 in 10 providers did not offer high quality training for apprentices. There is no way of dressing this up – it is not good enough.But looking at it another way, the good and outstanding providers were generally the larger ones, so 33,000 apprentices were in good or outstanding provision – almost 80% of the overall places. And this is a lot higher than the provision looked at in the previous year. Then, only 60% of apprentices were being trained in providers of the same quality, we have excluded Learndirect from those figures. To be clear, it is not a perfect year-on-year comparison because inspection priorities and scheduling decisions affect which providers are selected for inspection. However, I do believe the figures are cause for optimism about quality in the sector.So, while we rightly shine a light on concerns in the system, and I do have to talk about where things are going wrong. I also believe it is important to celebrate where things are going well. We see outstanding apprenticeship providers like National Grid and Craven College and Fareham College. There we see leaders and managers who work very closely with local employers to make sure that apprenticeships meet the needs of the local economy. They expect the best of their apprentices who show exemplary skills, getting the qualifications and competencies they need.And whether it’s TTE Training with 160 engineering apprentices on various pathways, Busy Bees Nurseries and its range of early years apprenticeships or CITB supporting 10,000 apprentices in the construction industry–these very different types of outstanding provider are similar in one thing: the determination to give their apprentices top-notch training and to set them on a path to a successful and fulfilling career.ConclusionSo, to conclude, we cannot escape the fact that this is a testing time for apprenticeships, a period of significant change that has inevitably brought a level of uncertainty alongside great opportunity.There is still a way to go before we can confidently declare the new approach a success, but it is possible to see it beginning to take shape.My inspectors are seeing some excellent provision around the country, but not enough of it and we need to see more. The sector is adapting confidently to change, but we need to make sure that the pace doesn’t slacken.Ofsted’s overarching goal, as set out in our corporate strategy, is to be a force for improvement in all the sectors we inspect and regulate. This is as relevant for apprenticeship provision as it is for schools or child protection. Through our work, we will provide the evidence of what is working and the early warning of where things are going wrong. For a system in the midst of change, this could not be more vital.After all, success of this ambitious apprenticeship programme is essential, not only to the needs of our wider economy, but for the young people and adult learners so desperate for the right opportunity to prosper.I know all of you in this room are working hard to ensure this success. I am delighted to be joining all the winners of the inaugural AAC apprenticeship awards at tonight’s ceremony in recognition of that commitment.Thank you.
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a public hearing for public comment about the plan to excavate coal ash at Duke Energy’s Roxboro Power Station on Wednesday, Feb. 19, beginning at 6 p.m., according to a DEQ press release. Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are recruiting volunteers to adopt small plots of land within the park to track seasonal biological data. Volunteers will be asked to monitor their plots at least twice a month from the first bloom in spring until the trees lose their leaves in the fall. Read the story here: https://wlos.com/news/local/volunteers-to-record-impacts-of-changing-weather-patterns-on-plants-trees-in-smokies Read the story here: http://outdoornewsdaily.com/genetics-tests-confirm-presence-of-wolves-in-colorado/ The public session will start with a meeting to provide information and answer questions immediately followed by a public hearing to record public comments. All comments received by March 11, 2020 will be considered in determining whether the plan will be approved by the state. The meeting will be held at North Elementary School in Roxboro, NC. More details about Duke’s closure plans can be found on the DEQ website. A genetic test has confirmed that four scat samples collected near a scavenged elk carcass in Moffat County, CO came from wolves. It is the first official documentation of a pack of wolves in the state since the 1940’s. Testing indicated that three of the wolves are female and the other is male. The test also determined that the wolves are related, likely as full siblings. Two training dates have been scheduled for those interested in volunteering. The first will be held at the Oconaluftee Visitors Center on Feb. 29 and the other at the Sugarlands Visitors Center on March 7. Both sessions will run from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. “The DNA doesn’t tell us age,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Species Conservation Program Manager Eric Odell. “We don’t know where or when they were born. We can’t say. But that they are closely related wolves is a pretty significant finding.” Great Smoky Mountains National Park seeks Adopt-A-Plot volunteers Public hearing on closure plans for coal ash impoundments at Roxboro Power Station to be held Feb. 19 Wolves present in CO for the first time since the 1940’s
Europa League semifinalists Fiorentina secured their place in next season’s competition with a stunning 3-2 win at Palermo, as Verona striker Luca Toni moved top of the Serie A scoring charts on Sunday.Fiorentina, outclassed by Sevilla in Europe’s second tier competition last week, got off the mark in Sicily thanks to former Palermo forward Josip Ilicic’s 23rd minute screamer from 25 metres.Mato Jajalo levelled for the hosts with a great volley only three minutes later but Fiorentina were back in front just after the half hour when Alberto Gilardino was on hand to turn a Mati Fernandez shot past Stefano Sorrentino.Vincenzo Montella’s visitors were stunned on 69 minutes when Luca Rigoni levelled for the hosts, but Marcos Alonso restored their lead 12 minutes from time to ruin what was Palermo striker Paulo Dybala’s last home game before his imminent move to Juventus.The result moved Fiorentina up one place to fifth, two points ahead of sixth-placed Genoa.Genoa hold the third and final Europa League spot but have been excluded from European competition because their Luigi Ferraris stadium does not meet Uefa standards. Fiorentina’s six-point lead over Sampdoria, in seventh, means their spot in next season’s Europa League is secure.Elsewhere, a brace of goals, including one from the spot, from Toni in a 2-2 draw away to Parma saw the evergreen Verona striker leapfrog Carlos Tevez to lead the Serie A scoring charts.With one game remaining this season, Toni now leads Juventus striker Tevez and Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, who both have 20 goals, by one.With Juventus securing the double thank to Wednesday’s Cup final win over Lazio, the battle for European places continues apace.Lazio host Roma on Monday looking for the win that would allow them to leapfrog their city rivals into second place ahead of next week’s final round of games. A second place finish secures automatic entry to the Champions League, while the team that finishes third goes into a play-off round.Roma were held 2-2 by Lazio earlier this season, but coach Rudi Garcia said a third place finish is not in his plans.”We want to make sure that tomorrow’s game is the only one that matters for us in this campaign,” Garcia said in his pre-match conference Sunday.”It’s up to us tomorrow to show that we are the stronger of the sides.”Although Napoli, in fourth at three points behind Lazio, remain in Champions League contention, the Biancocelesti require only a draw on Monday to make sure of at least a third place finish. It has left Rafael Benitez’s men, beaten 3-1 by a second-string Juventus on Saturday, heading towards the Europa League alongside Fiorentina and a third side that is increasingly looking like Sampdoria.A last-gasp leveller from Samuel Eto’o kept Sampdoria’s Europa hopes alive but Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men will be relying on results elsewhere.Sampdoria share Genoa’s Luigi Ferraris stadium but have already lodged Sassuolo’s Mapei stadium as the venue for European home games in the event they qualify for Europe.Mihajlovic, however, was less than happy with a scenario which means his side must beat Parma in their final game of the season and hope results elsewhere go their way.”We’ve claimed a point, now we need to win our last game and see what happens elsewhere,” Mihajlovic told Sky Sport. “Genoa are ahead of us and I take my hat off to them… but it would only be a small consolation for us if we got into the Europa League because of their misfortune.”