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The Best of Our Knowledge # 829


As of this show's production deadlines, rockets were still raining down
on Israel, and bombs on Lebanon...as the Middle East crisis continued
to boil over. Some world leaders and commentators even fear this has
the potential to ignite WW III. Europeans and North Americans have
been fleeing the region for weeks. This includes the evacuation of
thousands of students and professors leaving that war-torn region by
sea and air. On other fronts, Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces continue
to battle terrorists in that country. And Iran is still looming in the
background. While the world is focused on all of those extremely
dangerous situations, the news about conditions in Afghanistan is
shoved off the front pages. Indeed, The Best of Our Knowledge has
discovered that getting an education in Afghanistan is often still quite
unsafe. Zama Coursen-Neff is a Senior Researcher for Human Rights
Watch. It's a non-governmental watchdog organization and the largest
human rights organization based in the United States. You can read
about them online at www.hrw.org. Coursen-Neff has just returned from Afghanistan where she personally conducted several fact-finding missions.
She reports breakdowns in security are having major impacts on schools. Coursen-Neff has charted reports of more than 100-incidents of schools
being set on fire, mined, rocketed, and attacked...just this year alone.
But she explains to TBOOK that after the fall of the Taliban, people in Afghanistan were hopeful.
Jim Horne reports. (8:20)

** Attention Program Directors. The website for those listeners who
would like to read the latest information on conditions reported in the
story above, the Human Rights Watch website is www.hrw.org.**


* Regardless of what we heard in our first story from Afghanistan,
the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, says despite the violence
that still plagues Iraq, enrollment in schools there, has risen every
year since the American occupation.

* Back in North America, Statistics Canada reports that more and more Canadians between the ages of 22 and 24 are undertaking post-secondary education.

* In the U.S., the Commission on the Future of Higher Education released a revised draft report. The new version omits some of the more critical parts, including a sentence that blamed rising college costs on institutions' failure
to take aggressive steps to improve efficiency and productivity.

* And in our update segment, a recent survey of likely voters in Michigan
found 48% opposed a ballot measure that would amend the state's
constitution to prohibit the use of racial and gender preferences in college admissions. 43% said they favored that proposed amendment.
Dr. Karen Hitchcock reports. (1:15)

While NASA celebrates its recent successful space shuttle mission,
the agency also has a lot of earth-bound activity going on in its many
education programs. NASA selected 20 award-winning teachers from
K thru 12 classrooms to join a network of teacher-mentors to help
inspire the next generation of explorers. Those teachers just completed
a Summer Institute July 22 at NASA's Ames Research Center in
California. The space administration also hosts Explorer Schools which
it describes as a pipeline to promote and support science, technology
and math curricula in grade 4 thru 9 classrooms. NASA also has a
number of what it calls Educator Astronauts. Three additional classroom teachers have recently graduated from Astronaut School and joined the Astronaut Corp. And 89 public school teachers from around the world
just completed the 15th annual Boeing Educators to Space Camp
Program July 16 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville,
Alabama. Pres. Bush has also recently announced two initiatives to
equip new generations of Americans with the educational foundation
for future studies in technical subjects, through his Vision for Space
Exploration, and the American Competitive Advantage Initiative.
Which brings us to our story today on Education and Outreach in
Astrobiology. TBOOK speaks with Joseph Tamer, past Co-Director
of the NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy, and now Instructor of
Science at Emma Willard school in New York.
Glenn Busby reports. (6:40)

The preceding material is supported by the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration.

** Attention Program Directors. The website given for those interested
in NASA education programs is: www.education.nasa.gov.

For listeners interested in more information about this story, or any of
the other more than 130 stories featured in this exclusive radio series,
or would like to hear them again via their computer, the website
mentioned at the end of the above story is www.origins.rpi.edu, then
click on Seminar Program.**