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Mainland, HKSAR sign cooperation agreement on co-location arrangement

HONG KONG - A cooperation arrangement was signed on Saturday between the mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).

The agreement marks the first step by the two sides in taking forward relevant tasks of co-location arrangement pursuant to the "Three-step Process."

Governor of Guangdong Province Ma Xingrui and HKSAR Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor signed the cooperation arrangement in Hong Kong at noon, signifying the formal commencement of the "Three-Step Process" by the mainland and HKSAR in jointly proceeding with the relevant work for implementing the clearance procedures of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL.

According to the arrangement, both sides agreed to establish a port at the West Kowloon Station of the HKSAR to implement co-location arrangement whereby both sides will, in accordance with their respective laws, exercise exit and entry regulation, including immigration inspection, customs regulation, and inspection and quarantine measures etc, on departing and arriving people travelling between the mainland and Hong Kong, as well as their personal belongings and luggage.

"As a cross-boundary high-speed rail, efficient and time-saving clearance procedures are absolutely essential to realizing the full potential of the XRL in terms of speed and convenience," Lam said.

Implementing co-location arrangement will enable passengers to travel between different destinations across the country with ease and convenience, and allow Hong Kong to provide a direct high-speed rail service to an increasing number of the mainland cities.

This will fully unleash the transport, social and economic benefits of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL, Lam said.

After the signing, Hong Kong and the mainland will jointly seek a decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress approving and endorsing the arrangement, and then commence the local legislative process.

Both sides will also seek to meet the target of implementing the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL in the third quarter of 2018.

China to release captive panda pair to wild

CHENGDU - Chinese panda researchers plan to release two giant pandas into the wild later this month under a program to help rebuild the wild panda population.

China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Southwest China's Sichuan Province said the captive-bred pair, a male and a female, have received two years of training in Wolong to survive in the wild.

Ba Xi, the male panda, was born on July 26, 2015, and Ying Xue is just 14 days older than Ba Xi.

Researchers at a meeting organized by the State Forestry Bureau earlier this month agreed that the pair are in good health and have developed the ability to live in the wild independently.

They will be the second panda pair released into the wild.

In October last year, three-year-old Hua Yan and two-year-old Zhang Meng, bred in captivity, were released to the Liziping Nature Reserve in Sichuan.

Researchers have decided that the second pair will also be released to the Liziping Nature Reserve.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature reclassified the giant panda species as "vulnerable" rather than "endangered" last year, thanks to decades of protection efforts.

According to the China giant panda breeding technology committee, the population of captive giant pandas has reached 520 worldwide.

However, the captive stock lacks genetic diversity. China has planned to improve the wild panda population by creating giant panda national parks, releasing more pandas into the wild, and furthering scientific research.

The South Caucasus – A Bright Future Beckons
What a coincidence! 2017 not only marks the 25th anniversary of the partnership between the World Bank Group and the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – but also the 25th anniversary of the declaration of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. As we mark this important day, I believe it is especially important to take stock of what the South Caucasus has achieved so far, while also looking ahead to see what needs to be accomplished in the coming years. Two and a half decades of social and economic progress have dramatically changed Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian societies. Economic growth has been rapid, and this has translated into strong welfare gains for the population. All three countries have grown from poor, centrally-planned economies at independence to lower middle-income countries today, and living standards have greatly improved for many people. From 2005 to 2015, poverty was cut down to around 20 percent in Armenia and Georgia, and to less than 10 percent in Azerbaijan. Despite these important gains, however, the South Caucasus countries are yet to reach the stability and resilience of strong middle-class economies. From analysis of economic mobility in the South Caucasus, we learn that not everyone crossed the poverty line in the same direction: while some households left poverty behind them and continued to do so, others who were previously above the poverty line reversed. For instance, in Armenia, for every two individuals who escaped poverty between 2010 and 2015, one slipped back. In Georgia, we find that about one in eight individuals has remained mired in poverty throughout recent years. And in Azerbaijan, economic slowdown has hit rural areas hard, increasing the number of vulnerable households. What lies behind this vulnerability to poverty? We know that social assistance and other government programs have served as important safety-nets for the poorest, but although necessary, they are insufficient measures to lift people permanently out of poverty. Rather, as societies develop, it is the quality of their labor that increasingly becomes the main source of income and, at the same time, the main driver of poverty alleviation. Furthermore, social mobility is not only about increasing income or rising above the poverty line. It is also about people’s perceptions about whether their lives are improving or not. I have been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people as I travel across the South Caucasus. In Georgia, for example, I met a farmer from Napareuli village who benefited from the Kakheti Regional Roads Improvement Project, and he said to me: “We grow cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and eggplant. Taking these vegetables to market and selling them is our only source of income. We also have a small vineyard, only for home use, for ourselves. But many farmers in the region mostly grow grapes and take them to market. With the new road, this has also become easier and much faster.” A parent from Karaleti village, a beneficiary of the Internally Displaced People’s Community Development Project, once told me: “It is very good that we have this play-ground here, because it is safer, and because our children don’t have to cross the busy street. Coming out of your house, you see your children playing in front of it, which is a big consolation.” So, what about the future? An important policy lesson to take forward is that we must not only continue to lift families and individuals out of poverty; we must also prevent them from falling back into poverty at any time. This means not only providing safety-nets to protect the poorest, but forging ahead with policies that ensure greater investment in people’s education and training, the creation of more and better jobs, and equal opportunities for all members of society. As the region continues to make gains in economic growth, a brighter future beckons for all the people of the South Caucasus. And we stand resolutely by their side as they strive toward it. -----------------------------------------------------  Mercy Tembon is the World Bank's Regional Director for the South Caucasus, based in Georgia. Related: Video - Georgia joins the 2016 End Poverty Day Campaign Blog - On the road in Georgia – through past, present and future
Europe and Central Asia Region Sees Stronger Growth, Amidst Rise in Migration
Warsaw, October 19, 2017 – Economic growth for the Europe and Central Asia region will reach 2.2% in 2017, according to the World Bank’s latest Regional Economic Update, Migration and Mobility in Europe and Central Asia. This represents the strongest growth in the region since 2011, and is 0.3 percentage points above the Bank’s previous forecast in May 2017. Growth in Europe and Central Asia comes on the back of stronger industrial production and more exports in recent months, lifting most countries in the region out of recession. Unemployment rates have dipped below pre-financial crisis levels in several countries, while labor participation rates have simultaneously risen above their 2008 levels. Despite these important gains, however, the region still faces challenges that are testing political and economic cohesion. According to the report, new technologies are impacting the distribution of income and wealth, with many workers struggling to adjust to the new skills demand of the digital economy. In addition, the number of full-time, permanent jobs as a share of total employment has declined, as flexible contracts become the dominant employment arrangement for younger workers. This rise in the share of flexible contracts is increasing the efficiency of firms and individuals, but also creating new forms of inequality and insecurity. “Growth is returning to the region, which is certainly good news,” says Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia. “At the same time, however, new technologies that provide new growth opportunities are bringing about more flexible labor contracts and more uncertainty. This has increased anxiety among people. And recent concerns over the influx of refugees can be seen as a manifestation of that heightened anxiety.” The Europe and Central Asia region has experienced a sharp increase in the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, from 3.7 million in 2014 to 6.4 million in 2016. This large influx has created new challenges and heightened public concern over migration. The report finds, however, that refugees and asylum seekers account for only a small share of total migrants in countries across the region – with the exception of Turkey, which was host to 3.1 million refugees in 2016. Migration has played an important role in meeting demands for labor, supporting trade, and encouraging foreign direct investment in countries across Europe and Central Asia, says the report. Migration also promotes the transfer of knowledge between host countries and countries of origin – increasing exposure to flows of information that can create economic benefits. The report recommends that countries in the region pursue policies that ensure the successful integration of migrants into society, in order to fully exploit the benefits of migration. But policies should not focus on migration challenges in isolation. Rather, reforms should help both migrants and non-migrants alike cope with rapid technological development and increased flexibility in labor markets, thereby reducing insecurity and sharing the benefits of economic growth more broadly across society.
Thousands attend funeral of martyred youth
Srinagar, November 18 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the puppet authorities have arrested the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chief, Muhammad Yasin Malik, and put the Chairman of Hurriyat forum, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest. The APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Gilani is already under house arrest for the past several years.
Indian troops martyr five Kashmiri youth in Hajin
Srinagar, November 18 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops, in their fresh act of state terrorism, martyred five more Kashmiri youth in Bandipore district, today.
World Bank in Azerbaijan: 25 Years of Partnership
Over the past 25 years, the World Bank has supported Azerbaijan in implementing critical structural reforms to help stabilize the economy after a long-lasting contraction. The Bank’s strategic advice has helped bring about institutional reforms, develop a public investment program, negotiate a production sharing agreement with foreign oil companies, and establish an Oil Fund which now accumulates part of its revenues from oil and gas exports. Pension reforms and a targeted social assistance program, which the World Bank helped to design and implement, have been instrumental in the remarkable levels of poverty reduction in Azerbaijan.   Investments have been used to rehabilitate, rebuild and develop critical infrastructure such as water and sanitation networks, highways and rural roads, schools and hospitals, irrigation and drainage canals. And it has not only been about financing. World Bank projects have helped introduce best international practices and to grow local businesses and human capital.   Today, the World Bank program in Azerbaijan supports the country’s economic diversification agenda, as well as the delivery of quality, accessible and effective public services - in order to benefit all Azeri citizens.         Download the Brochure (PDF)     English | Azerbaijani 
Всемирный банк в Азербайджане: 25 лет партнерства
На протяжении последних 25 лет Всемирный банк поддерживал Азербайджан в осуществлении важнейших структурных реформ, помогая стабилизировать экономику после длительного спада. Стратегические рекомендации Банка помогли обеспечить проведение институциональных реформ, разработать государственную инвестиционную программу, обсудить соглашение о разделе продукции с иностранными нефтяными компаниями и создать Нефтяной фонд, который теперь аккумулирует часть своих доходов от экспорта нефти и газа. Пенсионные реформы и целевая программа социальной помощи, которые Всемирный банк помог разработать и внедрить, сыграли важную роль в значительном сокращении уровня бедности в Азербайджане. Инвестиции использовались для восстановления и развития жизненно важной инфраструктуры, такой как сети водоснабжения и канализации, автомагистрали и дороги в сельских районах, школы и больницы, ирригационные и дренажные каналы. И речь шла не только о финансировании. Проекты Всемирного банка помогли внедрить лучшие международные практики и добиться роста местных предприятия и человеческого капитала. Сегодня программа Всемирного банка в Азербайджане поддерживает планы диверсификации экономики страны, а также предоставление качественных, доступных и эффективных государственных услуг в интересах всех граждан Азербайджана.        Загрузить брошюру (PDF)     English | Azerbaijani 
World Bank warns of 'learning crisis' in global education
World Development Report 2018 calls for greater measurement, action on evidence WASHINGTON, September 26, 2017 – Millions of young students in low and middle-income countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life. Warning of ‘a learning crisis’ in global education, a new Bank report said schooling without learning was not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide. The World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’ argues that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all. Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills.  “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty. For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life.” Download the World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education's Promise. The report recommends concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this dire learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments, using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making; and mobilizing a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all.’ According to the report, when third grade students in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were asked recently to read a sentence such as “The name of the dog is Puppy” in English or Kiswahili, three-quarters did not understand what it said. In rural India, nearly three-quarters of students in grade 3 could not solve a two-digit subtraction such as “46 – 17”—and by grade 5, half still could not do so. Although the skills of Brazilian 15-year-olds have improved, at their current rate of improvement they will not reach the rich-country average score in math for 75 years. In reading, it will take 263 years. These statistics do not account for 260 million children who, for reasons of conflict, discrimination, disability, and other obstacles, are not enrolled in primary or secondary school. While not all developing countries suffer from such extreme learning gaps, many fall far short of levels they aspire to. Leading international assessments on literacy and numeracy show that the average student in poor countries performs worse than 95 percent of the students in high-income countries—meaning such a student would be singled out for remedial attention in a class in those countries. Many high-performing students in middle-income countries—young men and women who achieve in the top quarter of their groups—would rank in the bottom quarter in a wealthier country. The report, written by a team directed by World Bank Lead Economists, Deon Filmer and Halsey Rogers, identifies what drives these learning shortfalls—not only the ways in which teaching and learning breaks down in too many schools, but also the deeper political forces that cause these problems to persist. Significant progress is possible   The report notes that when countries and their leaders make “learning for all” a national priority, education standards can improve dramatically. For example, from a war-torn country with very low literacy rates in the 1950s, South Korea achieved universal enrollment by 1995 in high-quality education through secondary school—its young people performed at the highest levels on international learning assessments. Vietnam’s 2012 results from an OECD test for high school students in math, science, and reading called PISA, showed that its 15-year-olds performed at the same level as those in Germany—even though Vietnam is a much poorer country. Between 2009 and 2015, Peru achieved some of the fastest growth in overall learning outcomes—due to concerted policy action. In several countries (such as Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga) early grade reading improved substantially within a very short time, due to focused efforts based on evidence. “The only way to make progress is to ‘find truth from facts.’ If we let them, the facts about education reveal a painful truth. For too many children, schooling does not mean learning,” said World Bank Chief Economist, Paul Romer. Relying on evidence and advice gathered during extensive consultations in 20 countries, with governments, development and research organizations, CSOs, and the private sector, the report offers three policy recommendations: First, assess learning, so it can become a measurable goal. Only half of all developing countries have metrics to measure learning at the end of primary and lower secondary school. Well-designed student assessments can help teachers guide students, improve system management, and focus society’s attention on learning. These measures can inform national policy choices, track progress, and shine a spotlight on children who are being left behind. Second, make schools work for all children. Level the playing field by reducing stunting and promoting brain development through early nutrition and stimulation so children start school ready to learn. Attract great people into teaching and keep them motivated by tailoring teacher training that is reinforced by mentors. Deploy technologies that help teachers teach to the level of the student, and strengthen school management, including principals. Third, mobilize everyone who has a stake in learning.   Use information and metrics to mobilize citizens, increase accountability, and create political will for education reform. Involve stakeholders, including the business community, in all stages of education reform, from design to implementation. “Developing countries are far from where they should be on learning. Many do not invest enough financial resources and most need to invest more efficiently. But it is not only a matter of money; countries need to also invest in the capacity of the people and institutions tasked with educating our children,” said Jaime Saavedra, a former Peruvian Education Minister, and now the World Bank’s Senior Director for Education. “Education reform is urgently needed and requires persistence as well as the political alignment of government, media, entrepreneurs, teachers, parents, and students. They all have to value and demand better learning.”
Световната банка предупреждава за „криза на познанията“ в световните образователни системи
Световния доклад за развитието за 2018 г. призовава за по-голямо измерване на резулатите и действия, съобразно доказателствата ВАШИНГТОН, 26 септември, 2017г. – Милиони малки ученици в страните с ниски и средни доходи са застрашени да пропуснат възможности за развитие и да получават ниски заплати в по-късен етап от живота си, защото техните основни и средни училища не успяват да ги подготвят как да успеят в живота. Нов доклад на Световната банка предупреждава за „криза на познанията“ в глобалното образование и посочва, че ходенето на училище без да се придобият знания е не само пропусната възможност за развитие, но и голяма несправедливост спрямо децата и подрастващите в световен мащаб. Според Световния доклад за развитието за 2018 “Познания, за да се сбъдне обещанието на образованието“, без придобиване на познания, образователните системи ще се провалят в задачата си да премахнат крайната бедност и да създадат споделени възможности и просперитет за всички. Дори и след няколко години, прекарани в училище, милиони деца все още не умеят да четат, пишат или смятат. Тази образователна криза разширява социалните неравенства, вместо да ги стеснява. Малките ученици, които са в неравностойно положение поради бедност, конфликти, пол или увреждания достигат пълнолетие дори без най-основни житейски умения. “Тази криза в образованието е както морална, така и икономическа.“, каза президентът на Световната банка Джим Йонг Ким. “Когато е предоставено подобаващо, образованието обещава на младите хора заетост, по-добри доходи, добро здраве и живот извън бедността. В различните общности, образованието стимулира иновациите, укрепва институциите и насърчава социалното сближаване. Но тези ползи зависят от придобиването на знания, а образованието без придобиване на знания е пропиляна възможност. Нещо повече, това е голяма несправедливост: децата, които най-много страдат в обществото, са именно тези, които най-много се нуждаят от добро образование, за да успеят в живота.” Докладът препоръчва конкретни политики, които да помогнат на развиващите се страни да се справят с тази тежка криза на познанията. Препоръките са за по-задълбочено оценяване на резултатите от образователния процес, както и решенията в сферата на образованието да бъдат съобразно доказателствата за това какво работи и какво не. Предлага се и обществена мобилизация с искане за образователни промени, водещи до „познания за всички“. Според доклада, когато ученици от трети клас в Кения, Танзания и Уганда са били помолени наскоро да прочетат изречение като „Името на кучето е Кученце“ на английски или на суахили, три четвърти от децата не са се справили. В селските райони на Индия почти три четвърти от учениците в трети клас не са могли да решат задача с изваждане на дуцифрени числа като „46 – 17“, а в пети клас, половината все още не се справяли със същата задача. Въпреки че уменията на 15-годишните в Бразилия са се подобрили, при текущия им темп на усъвършенстване, те няма да достигнат средните резултати по математика в богатите страни в следващите 75 години. За постигнат резулатите в четенето, това би отнело 263 години. Тази статистика не включва 260 милиона деца, които поради причини свързани с конфликти, дискриминация, увреждане или други пречки, не са записани в начално или средно училище. Макар че не всички развиващи се страни страдат от такива изключителни пропуски в образованието, много от тях не достигат нивата, към които се стремят. Водещите международни оценки на езиковата и математическа грамотност показват, че средният ученик в бедните страни се справя по-слабо от 95 процента от учениците в страните с високи доходи, което означава, че на такъв ученик би било отделено допълнително внимание в тези страни. Много ученици с високо представяне в страни със средни доходи – млади мъже и жени, които са в най-горната четвърт по постижения в тяхната група, биха се класирали в най-долната четвърт в по-богатите страни. Докладът, изготвен от екип, ръководен от водещите икономисти на Световната банка, Деон Филмър и Хелси Роджърс, разкрива какво предизвиква тези недостатъци при обучението - не само начините, по които преподаването и обучението западат в твърде много училища, но и по-дълбоките причини – политиките, които са в основата за продължаването на тези проблеми. Възможен е значителен напредък. В доклада се отбелязва, че когато страните и техните лидери гледат на образованието като "познание за всички" и го превърнат в национален приоритет, образователните стандарти могат да се подобрят драстично. Например, от страна, разкъсвана от войни и с много ниска степен на грамотност през 50-те години, Южна Корея постига универсален прием и обхват на децата в училище до 1995 г. и създава висококачествено образование чрез средните си училища, така че нейните ученици се представят най-добре в международните оценки на и тестове. Резултатите на Виетнам през 2012 г. от теста на  ОИСР за ученици от гимназията по математика, природни науки и четене, наречен PISA, са показали, че 15-годишните деца са се представили на същото ниво като тези в Германия, въпреки че Виетнам е много по-бедна държава. Между 2009 г. и 2015 г. в Перу е отчетен най-големият ръст на образователните резултатите именно поради съгласувани политически действия. В няколко страни (като Либерия, Папуа-Нова Гвинея и Тонга) способностиет за четене в начален курс са се подобрили съществено в рамките на много кратко време, поради конкретни мерки, извлечени от доказателства в практиката. "Единственият начин да постигнем напредък е да "открием истината от фактите". Ако го направим, фактите, свързани с обучението ще разкрият болезнена истина. За твърде много деца, ходенето на училище не означава познания", каза главният икономист на Световната банка Пол Ромер. Основавайки се на доказателства и съвети, събрани по време на обширни консултации в 20 държави, с правителства, изследователски организации, организации на гражданското общество и частния сектор, докладът предлага три политически препоръки: Първо, оценявайте обучението, за да се превърне в измерима цел. Само половината от всички развиващи се страни имат показатели за измерване на обучението в края на началното и средното училище. Добре изготвените оценки на учениците могат да помогнат на учителите да ръководят учениците, да подобрят управлението на системата и да насочат вниманието на обществото към обучението. Тези мерки могат да предоставят възможност за избор на национални политики, да проследят напредъка и да насочат вниманието към децата, които изостават. Второ, нека училищата работят за всички деца. Създайте равнопоставени условия, като намалите застоя и насърчавате развитието на мозъка чрез ранно стимулиране и хранене, така че децата да започнат училище в готовност за учене. Привличайте благородни хора за учители и поддържайте мотивацията им специални обучения дори и от наставници. Внедрявайте технологии, които да помагат на учителите да преподават на нивото на учениците и да засилват училищното ръководство, включително това на директорите. Трето, мобилизирайте всеки, който има интерес към обучението. Използвайте информация и данни, за да мобилизирате гражданите, да увеличите отчетността и да създадете политическа воля за реформа в образованието. Включете заинтересованите страни, включително бизнес-общността, във всички етапи на образователната реформа от проектирането до изпълнението. "Развиващите се страни са далеч от мястото, където трябва да бъдат в обучението. Много от тях не инвестират достатъчно финансови ресурси и повечето от тях трябва да инвестират по-ефективно. Но това не е само въпрос на пари; страните трябва да инвестират и в капацитета на хората и институциите, натоварени със задачата да образоват децата ни", каза Хайме Сааведра, бивш перуански министър на образованието и настоящ старши директор по образованието на Световната банка. "Реформата в образованието е спешно необходима и изисква устойчивост, както и сплотяване около политиките от страна на правителство, медии, предприемачи, учители, родители и ученици. Всички те трябва да ценят знанията и да изискват по-добро обучение."  
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