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EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL

6

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, February 25, 2017

Perspectives

OPINION

OPINION

Editor-in-Chief

Somayya Jabarti

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L. Ramnarayan Iyer

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MATTHEW

PENNINGTON

Samar Fatany

is a radio

broadcaster and writer. She can be

reached at

samarfatany@hotmail.com

Innovative strategies to raise the

level of education in Saudi schools

P

ROMINENT British edu-

cationist and writer Tony

Swainston spoke about de-

veloping a culture of growth

mindsets and highlighted the possi-

bilities of success in schools, during

the Leaders Meet event organized by

the British Council on Feb. 23 at the

Mövenpick hotel in Jeddah. Prepar-

ing students for life beyond school

was also the subject of discussion

among over 100 school owners,

principals, vice principals and board

members of schools in Saudi Arabia

who attended the event.

A panel discussion focused on

three major areas: curriculum devel-

opment, building skills for the job

market and higher education advance-

ment. The school principals and edu-

cational experts discussed strategies

to revamp the structure and quality of

the current educational system. They

debated innovative solutions to spur

academic excellence in schools and

to reach the objective of creating con-

tributing citizens.

The event was an excellent op-

portunity for many of the international

school principals to share their con-

cerns and highlight the challenges that

they face in their schools.

Indeed, learning from the ex-

perience of experts in the field and

adopting best practices from aca-

demic institutions can help our edu-

cationists raise the level of schools.

Collaboration with international

academic institutions can also help

schools apply international stan-

dards and upgrade the level of aca-

demic qualifications of graduates.

Reforming the educational sys-

tem in Saudi Arabia continues to be

a topic of hot debate. It is quite evi-

dent that we cannot continue to teach

our students in the traditional way.

Schools need to emphasize analyti-

cal and critical thinking and develop a

curriculum that teaches children skills

on many levels, building confidence

and boosting the capabilities of stu-

dents at a young age.

Experts in the field urge schools

to adopt technology in classrooms to

facilitate faculty-student interaction.

Educational software companies to-

day aim at promoting interactive edu-

cational experiences, and stress the

urgency of adopting new methods of

education to catch up with our chil-

dren’s high-tech abilities. They are the

Internet and Facebook generations,

who have easy access to knowledge

and immediate communication with

the whole world. Educators will not

be able to offer them the knowledge

they need through traditional text-

books. Teachers need to enhance their

teaching abilities by adopting the new

technologies in their classrooms and

by engaging in the interactive online

educational environment.

The educationists also stressed the

importance of developing the language

skills of students. Mastering the moth-

er tongue can develop the intelligence

of children at an early age. Therefore,

they urge the need to enhance the lan-

guage curriculum in elementary lev-

els—something that is currently lack-

ing in many schools. Students struggle

to write any official document and lack

eloquence when they speak their own

language, making them inefficient at

any job they take. It is time we take se-

rious measures to advance languages

and promote eloquence among our na-

tion’s youth.

The English language is impor-

tant. It is the window to the world

and the global language of science,

business and technology. Without

language skills, graduates lack the

proper qualifications for employment

in today’s world. Schools are required

to teach students to speak well, write

well, read well and work well with

numbers at an early age.

The passive approach to educa-

tion in some schools deprives kids of

the ability to be lifelong learners. Stu-

dents should want to learn and have the

curiosity to read and explore. Schools

should instill in students the motivation

and desire to learn and be creative.

A new strategy to bridge the gap

between the education output and the

requirements of the labor market can

ensure that students are making the

right professional choices. Outlining

suitable majors at an early age can

give students the confidence to choose

their career. There is an urgency to

encourage students to major in spe-

cializations that are in demand for the

labor market, engineering, health, ag-

riculture and information technology

specializations. It is the responsibility

of schools, to provide students with

the technical skills needed by the la-

bor market.

Economists assert that most edu-

cational institutes need to work on

modifying and developing their cur-

ricula and focus on creating technical

workshops in order to produce gradu-

ates suitable for the industrial world.

The reason behind the failure of in-

dustrial companies to recruit young

graduates is their lack of adequate

training that can prepare them to work

as expert engineers, in the oil industry,

technicians and pharmacists who can

run factories that manufacture food

products, pharmaceuticals, textiles,

rubber and chemical products. There

is an urgency to encourage our stu-

dents to major in business, economics,

finance and computer science as well

as supporting an innovative environ-

ment and stimulating the spirit of en-

trepreneurship in order to realize the

goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and create

a knowledge-based economy.

The British Council event in-

spired many Saudi and expatriate

school principals and educationists

to look into best practices and adopt

new strategies to raise the level of

education in our schools. A Saudi

knowledge-based economy can only

be realized if we succeed in upgrading

our educational system.

The reach of the US Constitution at the border

W

HEN a 15-year-old boy

named Sergio Hernán-

dez Guereca was shot

to death by a United

States border agent in 2010, he was

crouching behind a concrete pillar a

few steps inside the Mexican border.

Had he been on American soil, there’s

no question constitutional principles

could be invoked in seeking justice

for his death. Should those principles

not apply because he was standing on

the other side of the border?

That was the question the Su-

preme Court considered on Tuesday,

during oral arguments in a lawsuit

brought by Sergio’s parents, who be-

lieve they should have a right to get

justice for his killing.

The court’s decision in this

case could have implications for

President Trump’s travel ban,

which targets noncitizens who are

outside the country.

On the day he was killed, Ser-

gio, a Mexican citizen, was playing

with friends in the culvert sepa-

rating El Paso, Tex., and Ciudad

Juárez, Mexico. The agent who

shot him, Jesus Mesa Jr., claimed

it was self-defense, but cellphone

videos of the shooting refuted that

account, showing that Sergio was

60 feet away, and unarmed, when

Mr. Mesa shot him in the head.

American prosecutors declined

to charge Mr. Mesa because his bul-

let hit Sergio in Mexico. Mexican

prosecutors charged Mr. Mesa with

murder, but the Obama administra-

tion refused to extradite him. Ser-

gio’s family filed a civil suit against

Mr. Mesa for violating Sergio’s

rights under the Fourth Amend-

ment, which prohibits the unrea-

sonable use of lethal force, and the

Fifth Amendment, which bars the

taking of life without due process.

In 2015, a federal appeals court

in Texas threw out those claims be-

cause, it said, Sergio was not an

American citizen, and didn’t have

enough “voluntary connections”

with the United States to be covered

by the Constitution. But core consti-

tutional rights aren’t so easily cor-

doned off — the Supreme Court said

so in 2008 when it ruled that nonciti-

zen prisoners held in Guantánamo

Bay, Cuba, had the right to challenge

the legality of their detention.

In that case, the court rejected

a rigid test for deciding when the

Constitution applies outside Amer-

ican borders, favoring instead a

context-specific approach.

The Hernández case clearly

would benefit from considering

context, like the fact that there was

no marked border in the area where

Sergio was shot. Nor is the Hernán-

dez killing unique in the border area;

one 2013 report found that border

agents and officers killed at least 42

people in the preceding eight years.

Justice Kennedy suggested during

oral argument that the issue of cross-

border shootings should be addressed

by the political branches. The problem

is that there is now no accountability

and no remedy. Currently an unarmed

boy standing just south of the border

can be killed with impunity by an

American border agent, but not if he

happens to be a few feet to the north.

The Constitution should be broad

enough to apply to people like Sergio,

and his family should be allowed to

sue in American courts.

– The New

York Times editorial

As China ups heat on N Korea, US faces questions

C

HINA’S surprising suspen-

sion of North Korean coal im-

ports puts pressure not only on

Pyongyang, but also on Presi-

dent Donald Trump. The question for

him: Should the US respond with new

North Korea negotiations?

Years of failed efforts to stem North

Korea’s nuclear and missile programs

have followed a usual pattern. The

United States seeks tougher action from

China, the North’s traditional ally. Bei-

jing urges US diplomatic engagement.

But China’s move appears to change

the dynamic, addressing the long-stand-

ing American demand, one Trump has

vociferously repeated. If enforced, the

loss of coal revenue could tighten the

screws on leader Kim Jong Un after his

government’s acceleration of nuclear

and missile tests this last year. China

rarely makes concessions for free, and

will want Trump to respond in kind.

“If China is squeezing North Ko-

rea, it is for one purpose and one

purpose only: to offer a cooperative

gesture to the incoming Trump admin-

istration in return for an initiative on

negotiations,” said Stephan Haggard, a

North Korea expert at the University of

California, San Diego. Beijing indicated

such a strategy was in play.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng

Shuang said the country wants parallel

negotiations on nuclear matters and a for-

mal peace treaty to replace the armistice

ending the 1950-53 Korean War - a long-

standing North Korean request. Washing-

ton has said the North’s nuclear weapons

program must be settled first.

Meanwhile, the newspaper of China’s

ruling Communist Party, Global Times,

published a pair of editorials Wednesday

calling for aid-for-disarmament talks to

restart. They’ve been on ice since 2009.

Any breakthrough would almost

surely require US-Chinese cooperation.

Kim has shown little interest in relin-

quishing his nation’s nuclear deterrent

as he closes in on a weapon capable of

targeting mainland America, and Sino-

American disputes over the best ap-

proach to dealing with the confounding

North Korean leader have hamstrung

international diplomatic efforts.

“We continue to urge China to exert

its unique leverage as North Korea’s larg-

est trading partner to convince Pyongyang

to return to serious talks on denucleariza-

tion,” State Department spokeswoman

Anna Richey-Allen said.

Trump has vowed to “deal with”

North Korea, without saying how. His ad-

ministration is conducting a broad-rang-

ing policy review, including how to make

sanctions bite. Negotiations haven’t been

ruled out, said a US official, who wasn’t

authorized to discuss internal delibera-

tions and demanded anonymity.

China’s decision on coal could

change the US calculus. A second ad-

ministration official described it as a

potentially hopeful sign, though the

US was still gauging the significance.

North Korea’s coal exports to China

totaled $1.2 billion last year, according to

Chinese customs, representing more than

a third of the North’s total export income.

Geng, the Chinese spokesman, ex-

plained China’s decision by saying the

coal imports this year already “approx-

imated” a $400 million annual cap set

by the UN Security Council.

But China has exploited loopholes in

the past, raising questions about alterna-

tive motivations. These could include

embarrassment over the apparent assas-

sination of Kim Jong Nam, the North Ko-

rean leader’s exiled, half-brother who was

spending much of his time in China. Or, a

pre-emptive effort to forestall a new US-

South Korean missile defense system.

Regardless of motive, “enforcement

will be the key,” said Joseph DeTho-

mas, a former US diplomat who advised

the Obama administration on sanctions.

DeThomas, now a professor at Pennsyl-

vania State University, said China’s sus-

pension could cost Pyongyang hundreds

of millions of dollars in much-needed

hard currency. But Troy Stangarone, se-

nior director at theWashington-based Ko-

rea Economic Institute, questioned how

significant the economic impact would

be. Official Chinese figures don’t account

for services and illicit border trade be-

tween the countries, he said.

China has long resisted applying se-

vere economic pressure on North Korea.

While it opposes the North’s pursuit of

nuclear weapons, Beijing fears any poli-

cies that might lead to an influx of North

Koreans into China or a US-allied, unified

Korea emerging on the Chinese border.

In any case, questions will now be

asked of the Trump administration.

As a presidential candidate, Trump

expressed a willingness to speak with

Kim - a politically risky move given

North Korea’s history of reneging on past

agreements. President Barack Obama re-

fused to re-engage without a commitment

from the North to pursue denucleariza-

tion, cranking up sanctions while waiting.

The approach failed to stop Pyongyang’s

rapid advances in weapons development.

Trump will need to come up with

a strategy soon. A high-profile North

Korean defector reported that Kim

wants to finish an intercontinental

ballistic missile capable of hitting the

US mainland in the next year.

It’s unclear what, if anything, Trump

can offer Kim to bargain over a nuclear

program he likely sees as essential to the

survival of his totalitarian regime.

Stangarone said the question for Kim

becomes this: “Can he weather whatever

storm is coming and finish the program

and make this fait accompli?”

– AP

18 months for

murder

T

HERE has just been a mockery

and a miscarriage of justice in

Israel. The Israeli soldier who

killed a Palestinian assailant

was supposed to have been

charged with first-degree

murder because the attacker

was injured and incapacitated.

Instead, the charge became

manslaughter. He was then

supposed to get 20 years behind bars because this

was an extrajudicial assassination. But the Israeli

court thought that sentence was too tough. The

prosecution believed he should get at least three to

five years for shooting to death a man who posed

no discernable danger to the soldier. But the court

decided the soldier should only really get 18 months.

And for good measure, the soldier will be allowed

to appeal so that even this ridiculous one-and-a-half

year sentence could be reduced even further.

The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West

Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a

rights group and spread widely online. If anyone

still needed evidence of Israel’s army using blind

force against Palestinians, this video was it.

Eleven months ago, Sergeant Elor Azaria was

serving as an army medic in Hebron when two

Palestinians stabbed and wounded another soldier.

One of the assailants was shot dead by troops. The

other was shot and wounded. Eleven minutes later,

as the wounded man, Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif, 21, lay

on the ground unable to move, Azaria, then 19, took

aim with his rifle and put a bullet through his head.

It was a cold-blooded murder, a state-

sanctioned execution. Azaria should have received

at least life in prison. Even the three-member court

said Azaria had “taken upon himself to be both

judge and executioner” and had not expressed

regret for his crime. “He deserves to die,” Azaria

was quoted in the verdict as telling another soldier

after pulling the trigger.

But Azaria has become a big hero in the eyes

of an Israeli public that has shifted to the right in

how it views the Palestinians. A poll by one Israeli

newspaper found that around 70 percent of Israelis

favored a pardon for Azaria. In another poll, nearly

half of Israelis said any Palestinian attacker should

be killed on the spot. Azaria, the killer with the

newfound fame, entered the court the way he left

it: all smiles and waving to his beloved supporters.

This was shoot-to-kill when there was no

imminent threat of death. This week’s sentence is less

than what many Palestinians receive for belonging

to an organization banned by Israel. If a Palestinian

throws a rock, he gets a two-year sentence.

Despite the court ruling that he did not open

fire out of danger — but rather to harm the

assailant — and despite what the court called a

“needless” shooting, it is possible that Azaria could

walk free after serving 12 months of his sentence,

and there have been several high-profile calls for

the recruit to be pardoned altogether.

The verdict shows how much discrimination

Israeli courts practice against Palestinians.

Palestinians harbored few expectations that Azaria

would be held seriously accountable. No member

of the IDF has been prosecuted for actions carried

out in uniform in over 12 years. The Azaria ruling

will give Israeli soldiers a green light to kill without

fear of punishment.

This was a show trial that exposed one

standard of justice for Israelis and another for

Palestinians. The story of Azaria and Al-Sharif

is a microcosm of the entire Palestinian-Israeli

problem, for this is a problem of the occupation,

not of one specific soldier or civilian.

Azaria unlawfully took the life of another

person but his sentence was the next best thing

to walking scot-free. In light of the severity of

the crime, the verdict is a joke, and Israel gets

the last laugh.

SAMAR

FATANY