RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

Library of Articles


News from the UK and around the world

Ethics as Important as Price for Increasing Number of US Consumers

A new survey released by ethical beauty retailer, The Body Shop, indicates that in spite of the tough economic climate, ethics are as important, if not more important, than price with today's increasingly eco-conscious consumers. In the US the findings revealed that 76% of consumers are making more purchasing choices based on the corporate behaviour and ethics of a company than they were five years ago and 43% of those polled say that they make those purchasing decisions on a weekly basis. Other findings included the facts that 70% of respondents cite quality of goods and trust in the brand as their criteria for buying a product, 39% say they purchase based on the ethical reputation of a company and 38% say price and value is their criteria for purchase. According to The Body Shop, a growing number of people are demanding more from the businesses that produce and sell the goods they buy. Not only do they feel they have the right to a high quality product, they want to know that the company they buy from is transparent and honest about how those goods reach the shelves. More than 9,500 consumers across the US and Canada took part in the survey during July 2008.

UK Marriage visa age raised from 18 to 21

The UK will increase the age for applying for a marriage visa from 18 to 21, the Home Office has said. This is part of a move to fight forced marriages in the country. Statistics show that 30% of the cases dealt with by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit involved victims aged between 18 and 21. The Home Office announced five key proposals which include raising the age of sponsorship for a marriage visa from 18 to 21 and asking foreign spouses to enter into an agreement to learn English before they come to the UK. The Home Office also proposes introducing a power to revoke leave to remain where there is evidence that the marriage route has been abused; requiring all sponsors to register their intention to marry overseas before they leave the UK; and ensuring through a code of practice that specialist teams can identify vulnerable people at risk of forced marriage. Under the new rules, any British citizen applying to 'sponsor' someone to come to the UK as their spouse will have to declare their intention before they leave the UK and marry abroad. This will mean that a young person will know in advance that a marriage will take place overseas and who their prospective partner will be. Tough new rules will mean that anyone abusing the marriage visa system will be removed from the UK by the UKBA under a new power to revoke people's right to stay in the country. Before they come to the UK, spouses will need to sign up to an agreement to learn English.

First ever Mr. East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK 2008 Crowned in London

Vicky Njoki Ngari-Wilson is this year's Miss East Africa UK while Alan Semugabi has become the first ever Mr. East Africa UK. The historical event was organised by the founder Pauline Long and the beauty contest was attended not only by East Africans but guests from other parts of Africa, Canada, US and France. Vicky already holds the title of Miss Kenya UK, before going on to become the winner of the coveted title of Miss East Africa UK. The sold out show raised funds for Kenyan children's charities.

Report highlights Global Growth in Private Education Provision

The global growth of private higher education provision is highlighted in a recent report by Professor Roger King for Universities UK. It reveals that over a third of students globally are studying in the private sector. Private universities and public funding: models and business plans looks at the rapid growth in private provision worldwide and the implications for UK higher education. While many countries, such as the US, Japan and Chile have well-established private sectors in higher education, companies such as Laureate, Kaplan and Apollo are changing the face of international higher education through acquisitions and partnerships, primarily with local providers worldwide in the search for new markets. The result has been boom in provision at both postgraduate and undergraduate level, most significantly in the Middle East and Anglophone African countries. The report warns that public providers may get caught in the middle, trying to compete on costs while maintaining, or even raising, standards. However, it also suggests that despite the rapid growth, government regulation and control remains a significant barrier, even where an individual country's regulatory environment is favourable to private-sector expansion. In a warning to the UK sector, the report concludes that universities should be aware of this sudden expansion in private provision. Professor Rick Trainor, President of Universities UK, said, ‘The report should help UK universities to continue to compete effectively with private providers. It has implications for public providers in terms of how public funds are spent and also from a regulatory and quality assurance perspective.'

Call for Applications for DelPHE Programmes

The UK government's Department for International Development (DfID) is investing up to £15m in a Development Partnerships in Higher Education programme (DelPHE) to support and strengthen the capacity of universities across 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The goal of DelPHE is to enable universities to act as catalysts for poverty reduction and sustainable development by funding collaborative activity linked to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and science and technology. DelPHE is a partnership between the British Council, DFID and the participating institutions. The British Council manages the programme delivery; the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is responsible for programme delivery in supporting south-south (developing-to-developing) partnerships. DelPHE currently has 122 projects and has just launched an invitation to apply for funding under round four. Applications must be submitted to the local British Council office by early 2009 and local deadlines are available on the DelPHE website. For this selection round DelPHE is particularly interested in applications from the following under represented subjects: Science & Technology; Engineering; Governance & Human Rights; Business & Enterprise, and under-represented countries: Cambodia; Democratic Republic of Congo; Ghana; Mozambique; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; Sudan; Yemen. An online facility to help universities find partners has recently been launched. Universities can register to search and contact potential partners around the world. For further information about DelPHE, e-mail: Delphe@britishcouncil.org

Growth of International Applications to US Graduate Schools Slows

A recent Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) survey has showed a slowdown in the rate of applications from international students, but highlighted a continued growth in actual admission offers. The CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase 2: Final Applications and Initial Offers of Admission, reported the rate of growth in applications from international students had slowed to 6% from gains of 9% last year and 12% in 2006. This, according to the survey, has long-term implications not only for US graduate education, but also for the country's competitiveness in the global economy. Applications from India and China grew only 2% and 11% this year, after increases in 2007 of 12% and 19% respectively. In addition, every field of study saw a slowdown in the final rate of growth of applications. A note of concern could perhaps be that the slowed rate of applications has been most apparent in the top feeder countries such as India, China and South Korea. These countries accounted for around half of all non-US citizens studying at US graduate schools, according to the International Institute of Education's 2007 Open Doors report. Additionally, almost 80% of those studying business, engineering, social, physical and life sciences are international students. The findings suggest that the usual over-reliance on foreigners may be coming to an end. However, the survey also looks at the number of admission offers to international students which showed a 4% increase from 2007-2008. The number of US universities pursuing international collaborations also went up from 29% last year to 38% this year, reflecting the growing importance of international partnerships. A further 40% of the largest US universities surveyed said that they planned to establish new international collaborative degree programmes within two years. While the US has traditionally been the destination of choice for international students, these figures show that it can no longer take this position for granted. The slowed growth in the number of applications is due, in part, to the increased activity by traditional sender countries to retain home students and recruit more international students.

IFC Partners with the Global Reporting Initiative to Promote Sustainability Reporting in Emerging Markets

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced a joint project with the Global Reporting Initiative to help companies in emerging markets improve relationships with stakeholders and attract investors by better measuring, managing, and reporting their contribution to socially and environmentally sustainable development. IFC and GRI will focus on bringing much-needed training and information to emerging markets on how to do GRI-based sustainability reporting. Certified training partners will soon be available in the Republic of Korea and South Africa, and in Latin America and other regions. In addition, a series of educational publications and online forums for practitioners will help forward-thinking companies become leading sustainability reporters. The partnership with GRI is central to a new IFC advisory service that focuses on helping companies align their corporate social responsibility efforts with core business priorities. GRI's guidelines for sustainability reporting are the most widely used global framework for companies and other organizations to publicly disclose their economic, social, and environmental performance in a systematic way. The guidelines are the only nonfinancial reporting framework developed and updated using a rigorous process involving many stakeholders. They represent the best current thinking on sustainability reporting.

GlobalGiving Launches UK Online Marketplace

Supporting grassroots projects around the world just became easier and more fulfilling. GlobalGiving, the US-based online marketplace for philanthropy is expanding its innovative giving model to the other side of the Atlantic through GlobalGiving.co.uk. The GlobalGiving concept was established in 2001 in the U.S. by two former World Bank executives, Dennis Whittle and Mari Kuraishi. Since then, the marketplace for giving has generated over $12 million to fund over 1,000 grassroots development projects. Its UK expansion, GlobalGiving.co.uk now offers the same exciting types of project opportunities to UK based donors. The GlobalGiving.co.uk site enables individuals to give directly to hundreds of well-vetted grassroots charity projects in over 70 countries, mostly in the developing world. Donors can also tangibly see the impact of their donations on the communities concerned through regular progress updates from project leaders. GlobalGiving is the leading Internet-based network for peer-to-peer philanthropy. Our mission is to sustain a high-powered marketplace for good that connects donors directly to the causes they care most about.

UK Sees a Steep rise in Staff Working from Home

The number of UK employees working flexibly has risen sharply over the past four years, according to the latest CBI/Pertemps employment trends survey. The survey of 513 employers found that almost half (46 per cent) now allow their employees to telework, up from 14 per cent two years ago and 11 per cent in 2004. The popularity of term-time working and job sharing has also increased dramatically. The survey also revealed that businesses were becoming more supportive of employees who took career breaks or sabbaticals. While the CBI survey revealed that 95 per cent of flexible working requests from parents were accepted, parents' rights campaigner Working Families warned there were “two worlds for working parents”. These were described as one was where employers recognised that it made “strong business sense” to provide them with flexible working, but the other involved companies “that didn't believe that reorganising the way they had always done things might bring real benefits”. Next year, another 4.5 million UK workers will be given the right to request flexible working when the current legislation extends from parents with children under the age of six up to 16. Source: People Management magazine.

New Report Redefines the Generation Rules

A study into the ways different generations interact within the workplace has overturned some popular ideas about what makes different age groups in the workplace tick – the worker in their early twenties who won't stay long in the same job or organisation, for example, or the loyal baby boomer. Gen up: how the four generations work, conducted by Penna in partnership with the CIPD and PeopleMetrics, surveyed more than 5,500 employees across Europe and included focus groups with senior HR managers. The survey found, for instance, that employers' attitudes to social responsibility were of much more importance to baby boomers – members of the workforce who were born between 1948 and 1963 – than to Generation Y. This is despite widespread beliefs that Generation Y places an especially high premium on CSR. Generation Y is also far less likely to rapidly change jobs than was thought, the report found. But, a “quite scary” statistic uncovered by the research, is that only one in four employees felt fully engaged in their organisation. For members of all generations to feel engaged, the report says, they must gain a sense of purpose from their work, be treated with respect in their workplace and have a “good employer” – which refers to an organisation's reputation in its sector. Strangely, baby boomers – often considered to be the generation that has benefited most in the current workforce – were the most disaffected generation of employees. Specifically, baby boomers want more challenging work, access to development and a socially responsible organisation, if they are to feel more engaged. The newest generation to enter the workforce is Generation Z – those aged under 18 years. Workers from this demographic are beginning to join retail and hospitality workforces. According to the report, the biggest difference between this generation and the next one up – Generation Y – is that it will be entering working life during a recession, while Generation Y has been used to a long period of economic growth. Generation Z will also be one of the most technologically savvy. Source: People Management magazine.

Top Attorney Launches Study of Diversity of US Advertising Agencies

Cyrus Mehri, one of the nation's top civil-rights attorneys and a man who has been dubbed one of Washington's most feared lawyers, has turned his attention to the ad industry's woeful diversity record. Mr. Mehri has confirmed that his firm is behind the preliminary results of a study obtained by Ad Age. The study, which isn't complete yet, is being conducted by economist Marc Bendick Jr. According to the summary, African-Americans would be expected to make up 9.5% of the professionals in advertising (a number even lower than the 13% in the general population), it turns out they make up only 5.8%. On the executive and managerial side, African-Americans make up only 3.2% compared with an expected 7.2%. That amounts to a 39% shortfall in African-American representation among the industry's staff and a 56% shortfall among managerial employees. Unlike previous efforts, this study takes into account the entire ad industry, including employees and managers at African-American-owned shops. Source: Advertising Age

Dentists Get Their Teeth into Extra Funding

An additional £5 million is being made available to help Scottish dentists improve decontamination facilities. New regulations require dental practices to ensure that all sterilisation and cleaning of equipment is carried out in a separate, designated area. The extra cash has been allocated to help cover any additional costs dentists may incur whilst implementing these measures. Announcing the investment, Public Health Minister Shona Robison revealed the funding would be split amongst the country's health boards according to population size, who will work alongside dentists in their region to agree where the cash needs to be spent.

£75 Million Childcare Boost

As many as 50,000 low income families are to be offered up to £205 a week to pay for childcare so parents can get training to help them find work. Over the next three years, the £75 million Free Childcare for Training and Learning for Work programme will offer support to families where one parent is working and the second parent wants to improve their skills so they can get a job. The programme will be available in 67 local authorities across England, with childcare costs of up to £175 per week (£205 in London) paid directly to the childcare provider. As well as the childcare support, families will also receive support and advice from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to identify suitable training courses. According to the LSC, their research indicates that the costs of childcare are a major barrier to participation in learning. Around £10 million will be allocated in the first year of the programme, with £25 million in year two and £40 million in year three. Payments will only be made whilst a learner is attending a training course.

Banks still Lending to Small Businesses despite "Crunch"

Despite the daily media coverage of the "credit crunch", new data suggests that the major high street banks are still lending to small businesses. In fact, term lending actually grew by 11% in the year to June 2008. The statistics, released by the British Banking Association, compiled using data from the major high street banks showed that term lending grew to £44bn in the twelve months to June this year. Overdraft borrowing also increased to £9.2bn (a rise of 3% on the previous period). Interestingly, the number of new businesses opening their first business account compared well to the previous 12 months with 143,404 new business accounts being opened, compared to 145,063 in the year to June 2008. Although the data doesn't cover the period from July 2008 onwards, it does suggest that small companies still have access to bank finance, and that reports suggesting banks are not willing to lend have been exaggerated. However, given the latest banking collapses in the US, the data may not quite so rosy this time next year.

London Development Agency contracts now available on CompeteFor

London businesses can now use the CompeteFor online service to bid for London Development Agency (LDA) contracts. Initially created to help smaller businesses win contracts linked to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, CompeteFor acts as a brokerage service matching businesses of all sizes to thousands of opportunities to supply contractors. These include an estimated 75,000 future business opportunities - around £6 billion of work - due to be allocated by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and London Organising Committee. From 1 September 2008, the system is also being used to tender LDA contracts worth an estimated £170 million each year. Companies can register as potential suppliers and they will in turn be notified of contracts that match their field of work as they go out to tender. Any business or organisation that wants to issue contracts can use CompeteFor and enjoy the increased competition and access the system provides. The service also provides access to the wide range of business support services provided by Business Link in London. According to LDA figures, 84 per cent of the businesses currently registered with CompeteFor are small or medium-sized firms. And although gloomy surveys regularly claim that people are not convinced they will benefit from the London Olympics, CompeteFor has already attracted 30,258 companies, almost a third of whom (10,000) are from the Greater London area. Small and medium-sized enterprises account for three quarters of the London businesses who have won contracts to supply the ODA.

Increase in UK National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage for eligible workers has increased to £5.73 an hour for adult workers aged 22 and above and to £4.77 an hour for workers aged 18-21. The rate for those less than 18 but above compulsory school age rises to £3.53 an hour.

US College Panel Calls for Less Focus on SATs

A commission convened by some of the United States' most influential college admissions officials is recommending that colleges and universities move away from their reliance on SAT and ACT scores and shift toward admissions exams more closely tied to the high school curriculum and achievement. The commission's report, the culmination of a yearlong study led by William R. Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, comes amid growing concerns that the frenzy over standardized college admissions tests is misshaping secondary education and feeding a billion-dollar test-prep industry that encourages students to try to game the tests. A growing number of colleges and universities have made the SAT and ACT optional. And the report concludes that more institutions could make admissions decisions without requiring the SAT and ACT. It encourages institutions to consider dropping admission test requirements unless they can prove that the benefits of such tests outweigh the negatives. The report emphasizes academic research that suggests that test preparation and coaching results in an increase of 20 to 30 points on the SAT, which it calls “a modest gain (on the old 1600 scale)” that “is considerably less than the 100 point or more gains that are often accepted as conventional wisdom.” The report calls for an end to the practice of using minimum-admissions-test scores to determine students' eligibility for merit aid. And it specifically urges the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to stop using PSAT scores as the initial screen for eligibility for recognition or scholarships. The report suggests that what is needed is a new achievement test, pitched to a broad group of students, that would predict college grades as well as or better than available tests. Source: The New York Times

Enabled4Enterprise Disability Smart Training Goes Online

A new disability smart online training resource for London's business community has been launched by the London Enabled 4 Enterprise Consortium at University College London. Disability Smart is an e-learning course to support business advisors and enterprise agencies and has been described as a vital new business disability training resource for the capital's business support community to meet the needs of disabled entrepreneurs in the workplace and help to grow their business. Business advisors can log on to the new interactive training programme which features the stories of five disabled entrepreneurs with different impairments. The resource guides the user through scenarios and video tutorials that challenge their attitudes towards disabled people's impairments and teach them how to communicate effectively with someone with a disability. The Enabled 4 Enterprise Consortium is a partnership between Leonard Cheshire Disability, London Development Agency, the Northern Pinetree Trust and Head for Business. It is funded by the London Development Agency.

SC Johnson Ranked Among Best Companies for Workers Over 50

SC Johnson has been recognized as number three on the 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers over 50 awards. This annual recognition program acknowledges companies and organizations whose policies best address an aging workforce. AARP's Best Employer list recognizes companies for demonstrating exemplary practices in the recruitment, retention and promotion of mature workers. It also distinguishes companies that foster a workplace that supports the aging workforce and that encourages workers to remain active. AARP commended SC Johnson for creating a workplace of excellence by generous wellness, fitness and recreation programs in addition to its on-site medical center. To be considered for the list, companies submit a comprehensive application that includes questions about their human resources practices and policies. Areas of consideration include recruiting practices, training, education and career development opportunities, and flexible work arrangements. Retiree and health benefits are also considered. With 39 million members, AARP is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people age 50 and over in the United States.

New Center to Foster Financial Inclusion of World's Poor through Private-Sector Engagement

Can commercial microfinance institutions organize themselves to protect the interests of their poor clients? The Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International is launching activities with a focus on answering that provocative question, among others. The Center will connect private-sector, non-profit and academic expertise and resources to accelerate the reach and increase the quality of microfinance worldwide. The Center's goal is to advance the commercial model of microfinance while upholding the interests and needs of poor clients worldwide. Its Advisory Council members are drawn from a broad range of public-and private-sector institutions and academia. Through innovative partnerships, research and piloting, the Center will pursue the proposition that low-income people deserve high-quality financial services, and that those services can best be provided through collaboration with, and engagement of, the capital markets and commercial institutions – banks, investors, regulators, technology firms, and more, who are committed to incorporating a social purpose. Established under the auspices of pioneering microfinance organization ACCION International and supported by founding sponsor Credit Suisse, the Center will dedicate its efforts to three principal program areas: consumer protection, product innovation, and microfinance investment. Also launched is the Center's website, www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org, which will serve as an online platform for microfinance discussion and research. The Center for Financial Inclusion pursues the proposition that low-income people deserve high-quality financial services and that these services can best be provided through commercial models that incorporate social purpose.

Fortune 1000 Executives Call on New US President to Fix Education Gap

The U.S. Presidential candidates should be very concerned about the country's ability to attract and retain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers in order to maintain its global leadership in science and technology say CEOs and other C-suite executives at America's Fortune 1000 STEM companies. One way to counter this talent crisis, they say, is to build a diverse STEM pipeline beginning at the earliest educational level. And while they believe they and other STEM companies have a responsibility to support such a diverse pipeline, they also say the current American pre-college education system is failing to engage girls and minorities to pursue STEM careers. These are among the findings of a new survey commissioned by Bayer Corporation as part of its Making Science Make Sense (R)initiative. In the latest Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey XIII: Fortune 1000 STEM Executives on STEM Education, STEM Diversity and U.S. Competitiveness, senior executives leading some of the country's largest chemical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, semiconductor and other STEM industry companies were polled about a host of issues related to diversity. Almost all of the Fortune 1000 STEM executives (95 percent) are concerned that the U.S. is in danger of losing its global leadership position in science and technology due to a shortage of STEM talent, with more than half (55 percent) reporting their companies are already experiencing such a shortage. When it comes to rising international competition, fully two-thirds (68 percent) are concerned that other countries' increasing access to STEM talent is giving rival companies based in these countries a competitive advantage over them, with one-fifth (20 percent) saying they are "very concerned." Further, they think these are issues the U.S. presidential candidates should be concerned about. In fact, nearly all (98 percent) believe the state of the country's STEM workforce vis-a-vis its continued competitiveness should be a major issue for the U.S. presidential candidates, with two-thirds (68 percent) saying the candidates should be very concerned. Diversifying the STEM talent pool is one solution to this problem, the Fortune executives say. Almost nine-in-10 (89 percent) agree that bringing more women and minorities into STEM fields will help solve this issue. Moreover, diversity has other benefits for STEM companies, according to the executives, including increasing innovation and the ability to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

UK Managers' Disposable Income is among World's Lowest

Senior managers in UK firms have among the lowest disposable income in the world, a survey has found. The World Pay Report 2008 from consultancy Hay Group placed UK executives forty-seventh out of 51 economies that were analysed. Hay Group's analysis finds senior managers in the fast-growth economies of the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe enjoying the highest spending capacity, as demand for management talent far outstrips supply in these markets. Real pay in Western Europe, the US and Scandinavia lags by comparison. British executives are the fifth poorest in real terms, according to the report, ahead of only Indonesia and the highly expensive Scandinavian economies. The UK's low ranking reflects the combination of relatively high tax rates and cost of living compared with developing economies, the study concludes. And as the economic downturn continues to bite, and inflation remains stubbornly high, disposable income at senior level is likely to erode even more, further damaging UK plc's competitiveness when attracting global/globally mobile talent. Source: PM Online

UK Diversity Management Remains Superficial

A new CIPD research report warns that the forthcoming Equality Bill will fail unless the business benefits of diversity are promoted. Only 30% of employers surveyed even have a budget for diversity management and 71% don't build diversity objectives into business goals. www.cipd.co.uk

UK Migrant Job List Pruned for Visas

The UK is to cut a third of available occupations under the list of jobs considered in shortage, raising concerns for employers and skilled foreign workers looking to take employment in Britain. Occupations such as medical and IT professions are getting the cut while others, such as sheep shearers, skilled ballet dancers, and frozen fish filleters are being added to the list. However, a look at the upcoming Tier 2 points based immigration for skilled workers shows that, while some employers will have to do more to hire the workers they need, it is still quite possible to employ foreign skilled workers in occupations that are difficult to fill. To successfully apply for a Tier 2 visa, an overseas worker must score 70 points in three criteria: Qualifications, Maintenance, and English language ability. English language and Maintenance (funds that show foreign workers can finance their switch to life in the UK) each score 10 points, but both of these areas are mandatory requirements. Without satisfying either of these requirements, a prospective foreign worker would be unsuccessful applying under the Tier 2 system, whether or not the job is on the shortage occupation list. Under Qualifications, most points are scored for a foreign worker's Certificate of Sponsorship. The Certificate of Sponsorship is issued by an employer who is licensed to hire migrant workers from outside the European Union. Applicants must score at least fifty points under sponsorship, qualifications and prospective earnings. Another issue is the employer's requirement to undertake the so-called Resident Labour Market Test which proves that a British or European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) citizen could not be found to fill the position. Generally, this requires posting the job for a certain period of time. While the UK government needs to show a tough stance in regards to its borders in this day and age, a close look at the new scheme shows that it's business as usual. The reality is that Britain needs foreign talent to remain competitive in an increasingly global society. Source: workpermit.com

Caribbean children Held Back by Institutional Racism in UK Schools, says Study

Black Caribbean pupils are being subjected to institutional racism in English schools which can dramatically undermine their chances of academic success, according to a new study. Researchers have uncovered evidence that teachers are routinely under-estimating the abilities of some black pupils, suggesting that assumptions about behavioural problems are overshadowing their academic talents. The findings, based on a survey which tracked 15,000 pupils through their education, add weight to the theory that low achievement among some black students is made worse because teachers don't expect them to succeed. Black education groups welcomed the evidence, calling for urgent measures to be taken to stamp out any covert racism in schools. But other experts said the study was evidence that there needed to be new efforts to tackle behavioural problems among young black Caribbean pupils. The research examined the profile of pupils entered by teachers to take higher-tier papers in their maths and science tests at 14. Pupils can only get top marks by sitting these papers, and the tests influence the range of GCSEs they go on to take. White pupils were significantly more likely to be entered for the top tiers than their black Caribbean, Pakistani, black African and Bangladeshi classmates. Most of the differences were explained by the pupils' previous results or by other factors which might have put them at a disadvantage, such as the level of education reached by their mothers, entitlement to free meals, and truancy and exclusion - all strong predictors of academic success. But for a significant proportion of Black Caribbean pupils, there was no academic explanation for them being excluded from the harder papers. Dr Steve Strand from Warwick University, the author of the study, concludes that "institutional racism" and low expectations by teachers explain the missing black Caribbean students from top-tier exams. "By 'institutional racism' I mean organisational arrangements that may have disproportionately negative impacts on some ethnic groups," he said.

Website Threatens Lazy Academics

More than 1,000 British academics have been rated on a controversial American website that allows students to score their professors. 1,284 British academics have been uploaded to ratemyprofessor.com causing anxiety over how they will be scored. Universities are already cautious over students' use of networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, and are actively seeking ways to protect their reputation online. Rate my professor represents the latest threat thrown up by the internet. However, the site has its champions. In its native America it is the subject of academic research and it has even been suggested that evidence from the site is used in human resource issues such as hiring and firing. On the website, professors are rated on easiness, helpfulness and whether or not they are ‘hot'. To see if your institution has a presence, visit www.ratemyprofessor.com

New Maternity and Paternity Pay Delayed until 2010

The UK Government has delayed its plans to extend maternity and paternity pay and leave until April 2010. The planned changes were expected to come in from April 2009 but, say the Government, will now be applicable to babies born after April 2010. Under the planned changes, maternity and adoption pay will go up from 39 weeks to 52. Additional paternity leave and pay will be introduced so that fathers would get the right to take up to 26 weeks paid time off to care for a child if a mother returns to work and has not used her full entitlement to paid maternity leave.

BiD Nature Challenge

The BiD Nature Challenge is a competition and an investor marketplace for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) that combine a high-growth and/or innovative business plan with job creation in protected areas, nature conservation, ecotourism, forestry, aquaculture, sustainable crops & commodities, fish, non timber forest products or any other commercial activity that generates economic benefits (for communities) in a way that supports biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. More information is available on the website of the BiD Nature Challenge. Promotional material is available on www.bidnetwork.org/naturepromo Although there is a focus on Mozambique, Cameroon and Kenya, business plans for other countries are welcome to submit as well. Our matchmaking services do not discriminate on country level and will always welcome high quality plans. The deadline for submitting completed business plan documents is December the 15th 2008. geraldine.guerreiro@bidnetwork.org

UK unveils ID cards for Foreigners

UK's Home Secretary has unveiled the UK Identity Card. The Government plans to start issuing ID cards to foreign nationals from November 2008. The new credit-card sized document will show the holder's photograph, name, date of birth, nationality and immigration status. A secure electronic chip will also hold their biometric details, including fingerprints, and a digital facial image. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said "ID cards for foreign nationals will replace old-fashioned paper documents, make it easier for employers and sponsors to check entitlement to work and study, and for the UK Border Agency to verify someone's identity. This will provide identity protection to the many here legally who contribute to the prosperity of the UK, while helping prevent abuse." Compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals will kick start the National Identity Scheme, with the first applicants having to apply for cards from 25th November. It will cost £30. Within three years all foreign nationals applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK will be required to have a card, with around 90 per cent of foreign nationals in Britain covered by the scheme by 2014/15. The UK Border Agency plans to start issuing the cards to categories of immigrants believed to want to abuse the country's immigration system, including students and people seeking leave to remain on the basis of marriage. The introduction of the first card supports the Government's tough new Australian-style Points Based System for managed migration. To earn and retain their licence as a sponsor businesses and education providers must keep records of the migrants they have sponsored including, in time, a copy of a migrant's identity card. Businesses found employing illegal workers face fines of up to £10,000 per person.

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)