India has also been concerned over Chinese presence at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.Hambantota, a town on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, is being turned into a major port and Colombo had an agreement with Beijing for Chinese companies’ involvement in developing facilities at the port. The port, like Gwadar in Pakistan and Sittwe in Myanmar, is perceived to be part of the “string of pearls,” the strategic assets China has been developing in the Indian Ocean region, purportedly to encircle India.Rajapaksa’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing in the last week of May saw the two countries upgrading the bilateral ties to a “strategic cooperation partnership.” Sources told Deccan Herald that the agreement, to be signed during the NSA’s visit to Sri Lanka, will seek to set up a mechanism for trilateral cooperation in maritime security, information sharing, cooperation on search and rescue in the Indian Ocean region, surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zones, collective response to marine oil pollution and capacity building through training and exercises. New Delhi’s move to sign a trilateral maritime cooperation agreement with Colombo and Male comes in the backdrop of China’s growing influence over Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Negotiation for the MoU started in 2011, but gained momentum only towards the end of 2012 and early this year.China set up its embassy in Maldives in 2011 and has since been lobbying hard to get involved in the development of infrastructure in some of the strategically located islands of the archipelagic nation. New Delhi has of late been finding it a bit difficult to maintain its traditional influence on political and economic affairs of Maldives. New Delhi has been repeatedly asking the Sri Lankan government to ensure equal political, social and economic rights for the Tamils of the island nation. Ever since the Sri Lankan Army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas in 2009, New Delhi has been prodding Colombo to move towards a national reconciliation and prove alleged human rights violation by its soldiers during the crackdown on rebels.China’s $ 1.05 billion aid commitment to Sri Lanka was the largest in 2012, while India ranked second with $ 700 million. A release by the Sri Lankan government quoted Xi telling Rajapaksa that China was “strongly opposed to foreign countries interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.” India will sign a trilateral maritime cooperation agreement with Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in a move to counter China’s bid to spread its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean region, the Deccan Herald reported.National Security Advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon will visit Colombo this week to hold talks with his Sri Lankan and Maldivian counterparts for finalising a framework agreement for maritime cooperation among the three nations. Menon will also call President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit to Colombo.
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zoom Finnish port automation solutions provider Kalmar has been awarded a EUR 25 million (USD 27.8m) port equipment order by Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Buenaventura S.A. (SPRBun) as they gear up for growth at their operations in Terminal Especializado de Contenedores de Buenaventura S.A. (TECSA) in Buenaventura, Colombia. The delivery includes 14 Kalmar E-One2 rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and six Kalmar forklift trucks. The new equipment is set to compliment SPRBun’s existing fleet of 26 Kalmar Ottawa terminal tractors. The delivery of all units is scheduled to be completed by April 2016.“Our decision to work with Kalmar once again is due to a number of critical factors. The quality and design of the Kalmar E-One² RTG proved to be commercially very attractive to us, and throughout our long-term relationship Kalmar has always offered us the most efficient solutions as well as spare parts supply. As we continue to grow, the possibility of adding Kalmar process automation in the future will help us to maximize productivity in our terminal,” Victor Julio Gonzalez, General Manager of SPRBun, said.Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Buenaventura S.A is the oldest port in Colombia and the main port on the Pacific Ocean with key focus of operations in container, automobile and bulk cargo handling, principally serving Bogota.Handling a current annual volume of 380,000 TEUs, throughput is expected to increase to 850,000 TEU by 2020 as they develop their domestic operations and enter the transshipment market.
By Margot Eliason & Kawtar EnnajiRabat – The Moroccan parliamentary commission for teaching, culture, and communication has approved a new framework law for education. The framework law allows for technical subjects to be taught in foreign languages, and require Tamazight to be taught to all Moroccans.The parliamentary commission approved the framework law by a vast majority. 25 voted in favour of the new law, while two voted against the framework. There were also three abstentions. The commission was, however, divided on two controversial provisions. A number of members of parliament abstained from voting for Article 2 and Article 31, which were only approved by 12 and 11 votes respectively.Article 2 specifies that scientific and technical subjects can now be taught in foreign languages through a pedagogy called “Linguistic Alternation” (the equivalent of Content Language Integrated Learning).The article defines the “Linguistic Alternation” method as a “progressive educational choice used in multilingual education, in an aim to diversify the teaching of languages.” However, the framework stresses that this new method should be followed “while prioritizing Morocco’s two official languages [Arabic and Tamazight (Berber)].”Read also: Minister of Education Launches National Platform “Morocco Digital University”Article 2 adds that this reform “will be carried out through teaching some subjects, in particular scientific or technical subjects, or chapters of certain subjects in one or more foreign languages.” Article 31 relates to teaching Tamazight in school. It states that “upon completing high school, students should have mastered both Arabic and Tamazight in addition to two foreign languages.”The law also states that, “all foreign schools based in Morocco are required to teach Arabic and Tamazight to the Moroccan children enrolled in classes.” The framework does not appear to apply to foreign students. Choice of language in schoolsThe new framework law promotes multilingual education. The choice of foreign language, and its integration into the curriculum will then be a matter of choice for the school. Teaching in languages other than Arabic has raised controversy. Some schools already teach scientific subjects in French. Some say this entrenches disadvantage when it comes to accessing higher education which is delivered in French.In January 2015, the Higher Council of Education discussed prioritizing teaching English over French as a foreign language.For some, English is an “international” language which will provide students with a competitive advantage.“English is becoming more and more essential in higher education schools and universities,” Samir Benmakhlouf, CEO of London Academy Casablanca, told Moroccan newsource Le Matin in February.“The mastery of this language is crucial as the majority of international conferences and scientific journals are in English,” he added. “In the job market, it is the linguistic dimension that makes the difference between two otherwise equal candidates,” he explained.The Minister for Education Said Amzazi stated that the approval of the legal framework today was a “historical moment.”It is the first time that the education sector will have its own legal framework, which is a first step towards the Moroccan education system “taking off,” Amzazi told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).The legal framework aims to promote access to equal education for all Moroccan children.