News in Brief 24 October 2017 (PM)

"Unjust" to focus blame on teachers over student performance: UNESCO

Governments bear the main responsibility for ensuring quality education, while blaming teachers for students' poor performance is often "unjust and unconstructive."

That's according to the latest Global Education Monitoring report (GEM) from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), published on Tuesday.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stressed that having 264 million young people out of school was a collective failure that should be tackled together by all stakeholders.

"Education is a shared responsibility between us all´┐Ż governments, schools, teachers, parents and private actors," she said.

Ms Bokova also pointed out the importance of pulling together, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for quality education, or SDG number 4.

The report also found that blaming teachers for poor test scores or student absence, meant that the weakest learners fell further behind.

Manos Antoninis, Director of the GEM Report, said that accountability began at the top.

"If a government is too quick to apportion blame to others, it is deflecting attention away from its own responsibility for creating a strong, supportive education system," he said.

Resolution renewing Syrian chemical weapons investigation team vetoed

A Security Council resolution which would have renewed the mandate for a team investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria, has been vetoed by Russia.

Tuesday's vote would have renewed the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, which has found evidence of chemical attacks committed by Syrian government forces and ISIL extremists since it was first mandated by the Council in 2015.

The JIM's mandate expires next month and would have been extended by another year if the resolution had passed.

There were 11 votes in favour of the draft resolution, two against, and two abstentions.

The JIM is due to report later this week on the chemical weapons attack that took place in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun last April.

According to news reports, Russia had been pushing to postpone the vote, until after publication of the report, and has denied that the Syrian government was responsible for carrying out the attack.

UN humanitarian agencies working in Syria said on Tuesday that they were concerned for the safety and protection of civilians at risk from deliberately-planted unexploded ordinance around the city of Raqqa.

The city was liberated a few days ago by coalition forces from Daesh extremists, following a three-year occupation.

More details from UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

"While the clearing of unexploded ordnance operation is ongoing, nine people were reportedly killed during the weekend while trying to return to their homes.

Humanitarian workers have been unable to access the city until the clearing of mines and other unexploded ordnance is completed."

Somalis stranded in Yemen given help to return home

The UN migration agency (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have helped around 134 Somali refugees return from Yemen to their home country, it was announced on Tuesday.

IOM said that they had come to Yemen "searching for a better life", but instead found themselves caught up in conflict, and abused by people-smugglers.

After more than two years of civil conflict, 21 million Yemenis are reliant on aid to survive, and suffering the worst single-year cholera outbreak ever.

Here's Farhan Haq again.

"Prior to departure, IOM doctors ensured that all were fit for travel and UNHCR provided them with a cash package to assist their reintegration once they arrive home."

Source: United Nations Radio