Benefits and drawbacks to online education in China; How to commemorate Ireland's revolutionary past?; Citizens should be involved in urban planning; Farming should be protected from global warming; Panama Papers put spotlight on New Zealand regulations

A roundup of global commentary for the April 18, 2016 weekly magazine.

Ng Han Guan/AP
Computer users sit near a monitor display with a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the Internet at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China.

China Daily / Beijing

Benefits and drawbacks to online education in China

“[O]nline K12 education makes it possible for students in relatively underdeveloped regions to access quality education,” writes Chen Xiao. “It makes veteran teachers and good textbooks available on the Internet, and rural students who otherwise would not have access to them can avail themselves of the services. However, K12 online education in China is still far from being perfect.... Moreover, in order to make as much money as possible, most online education providers arrange their courses in a way that one teacher can deliver a lecture to a virtual ‘class’ of hundreds of students. Interaction, as such, is absent and what students receive are simply streamlined products. There are other problems, too, such as lack of quality control.” 

The Irish Times / Dublin, Ireland

How to commemorate Ireland’s revolutionary past?

“The tone of the 1916 centenary commemorations was well-pitched, as pride was allowed to breathe again and people took ownership of their history,” Diarmaid Ferriter writes of observations of the Easter Rising anniversary. “There has been a laudable determination to accept the revolutionary generation on its own, complicated terms.... The challenge is to sustain this measured approach as commemoration of the War of Independence and Civil War looms.... How do you commemorate what came after 1916 in a reflective way and disentangle myth, memory and reality?” 

Saudi Gazette / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Citizens should be involved in urban planning

“One of the major challenges that our country faces today is an alarming rise in population that could exceed 35 million by the year 2040,” Samar Fatany writes. “The demographic shapes of cities are in transition, with a growing working-age population, aging groups and people with special needs. It is critical at this stage to implement a comprehensive urban plan and devise efficient investment strategies that include infrastructure enhancement, government collaboration, affordable housing and facilities for seniors and people with special needs.... [M]unicipalities should involve citizens in the process of planning. It is time we develop well-planned integrated urban centers to enhance the quality of life for every citizen of this country.” 

The Reporter / Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Farming should be protected from global warming

“[E]ven if commendable re-afforestation and soil conservation efforts are under way, the country’s record heat levels demonstrate that there still remains a lot to be done,” states an editorial. “Several studies have shown that climate change jeopardizes the agricultural sector both in terms of food production and livestock resources. The government adopted the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy in 2010 partly in response to the severity of the problem. The strategy aims to build a carbon-neutral economy by 2025.... The CRGE strategy should deliver on its stated objective of adapting to the effects of climate change by availing the necessary budget and latest technology as well as to lessen the dependency on rain-fed agriculture and switch increasingly to irrigated farming.” 

The New Zealand Herald / Auckland, New Zealand

Panama Papers put spotlight on New Zealand regulations

“New Zealand prides itself on being one of the easiest and quickest places in the world to register a new company. So it does not come as a complete surprise that this country appears on a list of those commonly used by foreign wealth managers for the creation of tax-avoidance trusts...,” states an editorial. “It is time to put ourselves unequivocally on the side of the hounds. New Zealand should require all trusts to name their beneficiaries and file accounts that show where and how much tax has been paid on wealth generated by the trustees’ assets, if it does not do so already. And it should be sharing the data with other jurisdictions in which the trustees operate.... It is the efficiency of our regulators that matters, not the relaxation of sensible and equitable requirements. Free riders are not welcome here.” 

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