Daily Archives: October 20, 2016

Put ‘people, not cars’ first in transport systems, says UN Environment chief

Lack of investment in safe walking and cycling infrastructure not only contributes to the deaths of millions of people in traffic accidents on unsafe roads and poorly designed roadways, but also overlooks a great opportunity to boost the fight against climate change, a new UN Environment report said today.

In Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) explained that greater investment in such infrastructure could help save millions of lives and reduce emissions of global warming gases from motorized transport.

The report noted that 1.3 million people die each year from traffic accidents, of which 49 per cent are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Four African countries are among the most dangerous countries to walk and cycle. Some 66 per cent of all road fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists in Malawi; 61 per cent in Kenya; 53 per cent in South Africa; and 49 per cent in Zambia and Nepal.

People are risking their lives every time they leave their homes, said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim in a news release. But it isn’t just about accidents. Designing transport systems around cars puts more vehicles on the road, increasing both greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution. We must put people, not cars, first in transport systems, he stressed.

The report said that motorized transport is responsible for 23 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the fastest growing sector in greenhouse gas emissions. It will be responsible for a third of CO2 emissions by 2050 at current rates.

Poor air quality, in part due to vehicle emissions, is estimated to cause around seven million premature deaths each year and is increasing health problems like bronchitis, asthma, heart disease and brain damage.

The global fleet of private cars is projected to triple by 2050, with most of this new vehicle growth expected to take place in the same developing countries that are already hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries.

In line with current trends, not only will this result in a staggering increase in road fatalities globally, but the increase in carbon-polluting cars will severely restrict the world’s ability to limit the global average temperature rise to less than 2C.

UNEP calls on countries to invest at least 20 per cent of their transport budgets in walking and cycling infrastructure to save lives, reverse pollution and reduce carbon emissions, which are rising at more than 10 per cent a year.

Unless we act to make our roads safe, in ten years, an estimated 13 million more people will have died on our roads � that is more than the entire population of Belgium. The human impact is horrific, but the impact on all of our survival must not be ignored, Mr. Solheim added.

UNEP is also urging countries to draft national and local policies for non-motorized transport (NMT), pay particular attention to vulnerable NMT users, such as women, children, elderly and people with mobility challenges, and actively champion NMT as political will is needed not only for policies, but also for giving walking and cycling the equal status as private cars.

The report surveyed the progress towards safer walking and cycling infrastructure in 20 low- to middle-income countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, where compared with high-income countries, twice as many more people die in road traffic accidents.

Source: UN News Center

MEC Debbie Schafer warns SADTU to call off boycott of systemic tests

A few weeks ago, the South Africa Democratic Teachers Union made a call for schools to boycott the WCED annual systemic tests which are currently being held across the Province.

As a teacher union, they have no authority to make such a call. In doing so, they are urging their members to act unlawfully, as the instruction requiring all schools in the Western Cape to ensure the tests are written is a lawful and annual instruction of the Department. Whilst they are welcome to discuss their views on these tests in the appropriate fora, and they do, it is ultimately a policy decision of the Western Cape Government that these tests be written.

Unfortunately, over the past week, since testing began on the 11th of October, a number of schools have reported to the WCED that they were unable to administer these tests due to disruptions caused by SADTU members.

While the percentage of schools affected is relatively small, we cannot and will not accept this kind of lawless and intimidatory behaviour in our schools. The disruptions are mainly in poor communities, which are ultimately affecting our poorer learners. Testing is still underway until the 25th of October and we shall have to re-schedule the tests that could not be written as scheduled.

The safety of our educators, learners and test administrators has been at risk on a number of occasions, whereby as a result of SADTU members’ actions of intimidation, they have prohibited independent test administrators from entering school sites, prohibited schools from allowing the tests to continue, have caused disruption in classrooms, invading the testing facilities and traumatising learners and staff in the process.

In addition to the safety concerns, there will be additional costs for the WCED to reschedule tests that have been disrupted.

The WCED will also have to assess the damage to physical property as a result of SADTU actions.

The actions by SADTU therefore are:

A security risk to our learners and educators

A waste of taxpayers’ money in terms of additional costs that will be incurred

Disruptive to each of the schools’ education delivery, as failure to write the tests will result in the school being unable to plan Improvement interventions for next year. Without the detailed test results that indicate exactly what areas of the curriculum need attention, these plans cannot be formulated.

Taking education officials off other critical tasks at a time of the year that should be spent on moderating work, preparing for the NSC and for the 2017 school year.

My Acting Head of Department has thus last night sent a letter to SADTU, demanding that they cease these disruptions at our schools immediately and that they furnish us with an undertaking by 1pm tomorrow, Friday 21 October, that they will do so, failing which the WCED will be approaching court on Monday to apply for an interdict against them.

We are also calculating the costs that are being incurred as a result of this unlawful action and will be considering action to recover these from SADTU. It is ironic that the organisation that complains about the cost of systemic tests is the very organisation that is causing us to incur even more costs because of their actions.

We will not tolerate the disruption of our education system by parties that clearly have no interest in accountability for improving education, especially in poor communities.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Alan Winde attends launch of new wines by Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, 24 Oct

Elsenburg students to launch new wines

On Monday (24 October 2016), the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute will launch six wines.

The following wines will launched during a food and wine pairing:

Methode Cap Classique Brut Nature 2014;

Chenel 2016

Cinsault 2016

Shiraz 2014

Cape Late Bottled Vintage 2013

19yr Potstill Brandy

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, will attend the event.

Earlier this month, Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute students received gold status for their Elsenburg Muscat d’ Frontignan 2015, at the VERITAS wine awards.

The VERITAS wine awards celebrates excellence in the wine industry.

Details:

Date: 24 October, 2016

Time: 10h30

Place: Elsenburg Cellar

Source: Government of South Africa

Reopening of university classes welcomed

– Cabinet has welcomed the resumption of classes in many universities and urged all students to return to class.

This is a critical period for the academic programme with examinations around the corner. Government believes that the concerns of students can be addressed through dialogue while the academic programme is underway, said Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe.

Addressing the media during a post Cabinet briefing in Pretoria, on Thursday, Minister Radebe said Cabinet remains concerned at the outbreak of violent student protests on some university campuses around the country.

He reiterated that while the right to protest is protected under the Constitution, there is no room for the violence, intimidation and the destruction of property.

All stakeholders must do everything in their power and take every steps necessary to save the academic programme as the consequences facing will be dire to the economy, students and matriculants.

Education is everyone’s responsibility, let us all work collectively together to bring about normality to higher education for the future of our children and for the future of our country, said Minister Radebe.

Students have been protesting over the 2017 fee increment which was announced by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, recently. He announced that universities would decide on their increases individually but that the fees should not increase by more than 8%.

Matric exams

Meanwhile, Cabinet has wished all students well as they embark on their final year matric examinations.

Minister Radebe encouraged the class of 2016 to stay focussed as they embark on 2016 National Senior Certificate Examinations, which officially starts on 24 October 2016 and ends on 29 November 2016. �

Source: South African Government News Agency