Ill Mandela putting up 'courageous fight'

December 5, 2013 9:58:25 AM



JOHANNESBURG -- Ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela is not "doing well" but is continuing to put up a courageous fight from his "deathbed," members of his family have told the South African Broadcasting Corporation in an interview. 


His daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, told SABC television news: "Tata is still with us, strong, courageous. Even, for a lack of a better word ... on his 'deathbed' he is teaching us lessons; lessons in patience, in love, lessons of tolerance. 


"Every moment I get with him I'm amazed. There are times where I have to pinch myself that I come from this man who is a fighter even though you can see he is struggling, but fighting spirit is still there with him." 


Mandela spent almost three months in a Pretoria hospital after being admitted in June with a recurring lung infection. The 95-year-old liberation struggle icon was discharged in September and has been receiving home-based medical attention since then. 


Since June the Presidency has consistently described his condition as "critical but stable". 


"He is still with us although he is not doing well in bed," his grandson, Ndaba Mandela, told the SABC interviewer. 


Last month, Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was quoted as saying he was no longer talking "because of all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear (fluid from) the lungs." 


He has been plagued several times with lung problems over the past three years and was hospitalized at least four times for the condition. 


In February 2011, he was briefly hospitalized with a respiratory, infection before being re-hospitalized for a lung infection and gallstone removal in December 2012. After a successful medical procedure in early March 2013, his lung infection recurred, and he was briefly hospitalized in Pretoria. On 8 June 2013, his lung infection worsened, and he was re-hospitalized in Pretoria in a serious condition. 


The funds are expected to be used to provide technical expertise to schools and use competition to help drive costs down. 


It likely would cost billions to get high-speed Internet access to every school in America. 


President Barack Obama this past summer set a goal of having 99 percent of students connected to high-speed Internet connections within five years. Also, the Federal Communications Commission is weighing changes to a program to increase connectivity in schools. 


Today, about 80 percent of schools have Internet capabilities that are too slow or isolated to places like front offices and computer labs, said Richard Culatta, director of education technology at the Education Department. Many schools have the same amount of connectivity as an average home. That means several hundred kids or more operate on an Internet connection similar to that used in a house by four family members. That leads to networks that are slow and prone to crashing. 


"There are many examples of fantastic things happening across the country, but they are happening in places where infrastructure is in place that supports these types of innovations," Culatta said. 


At Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, Va., first and second graders use iPads to document the growth of caterpillars for a science project or record themselves reading out loud as they make electronic books. 


"It's fun. You can draw and make books and movies," said 7-year-old Braeden Meeker. "We learn writing and math. We learn a lot of things." 


But one day in class, the system crashed when students tried to look up their house on a Google map. 


The district has upgraded to high-speed broadband, or Internet access that is always available and faster than dialup, in middle and high schools and is in the process of doing the same in elementary schools. The district's goal is to assign a device to each student by 2017. 


In some districts, particularly rural ones, cost is a huge factor in getting access to lines that would bring broadband into schools. To buy the equipment and install Wi-Fi costs an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 per school and to run fiberoptics into the school can cost tens of thousands more per mile, said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. 


A lack of competition for broadband access helps drive up costs at Chautauqua County Unified Schools, a district with about 360 students in an agriculture and oil community in rural Kansas. About three-quarters of students in the district qualify for free or reduced lunches. 


The district relies on distance learning to teach Spanish, physics and calculus and has issued an iPad to all students in upper grades, said Nancy Pinard, the district's technology director. Its broadband bill would be about $9,000 a month without a special Federal Communications Commission program that reduces it to $2,000 to $3,000 a month. 


"My big thing is the cost of it," Pinard said. "How long will be able to maintain where we are at just because of the cost." 


The drive for increased broadband capabilities has been fueled in part by a drop in the price of tablets and their rising popularity, said Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association. More apps and other educational software are available and states and districts have loosened rules to allow textbook dollars to be spent on digital learning, he said. 


"It used to be OK that some students could access these opportunities and others couldn't, and the big shift is now there really is an expectation that all kids need to access" these opportunities, Levin said. 


Another factor is preparation for tests connected to Common Core academic standards rolling out in most of the country. The shift to computer-based tests requires more bandwidth than many districts have. 


Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the issue goes beyond technology in schools. About half of American children live in poverty and many of them don't have technology at home, she said. 


At the same time, she questioned Zuckerberg's and Gates' motives. "So the question I have is, why are these foundations doing this now? Are they doing it because of the Common Core testing? Or, are they doing it because we want to actually help kids succeed," Weingarten said in an interview. 


A few minutes later, she amended her response. "Let me just say on the record, it's great that they want to help deal with the digital divide. I'd like for them to help with other things as well but it's great that they want to help with the divide." 


Said Vicki Phillips, director of the College-Ready Education program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: "It's hard to imagine why anyone would question the intent of providing broadband access to students who desperately need it. It's just common sense, and we are proud to make this investment."