Holland is a region and former province located on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used as a pars pro toto to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is generally accepted, but some individuals, particularly from the other parts of the Netherlands, dislike the use of “Holland” as a substitute for “the Netherlands”.
From the 10th to the 16th century, Holland proper was a unified political region within the Holy Roman Empire as a county ruled by the Counts of Holland. By the 17th century, Holland had risen to become a maritime and economic power, dominating the other provinces of the newly independent Dutch Republic.
Today, the former County of Holland roughly consists of the two Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland, which together include the Netherlands’ three largest cities: the capital city of Amsterdam; the seat of government of The Hague; and Rotterdam, home of Europe’s largest port
Courtesy : Expoza Travel via Youtube and Wikipedia
Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. It was discovered in 1828 by the Norwegian mineralogist Morten Thrane Esmark and identified by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.
Thorium, a slightly radioactive metal that occurs in rocks and soils, may hold significant promise as a replacement for uranium in the nuclear energy sector. As global energy consumption increases, thorium is being looked into as a possible alternative to uranium to provide safe and abundant nuclear power at a reasonable cost. 1 gram of thorium is more energy dense than 7,396 gallons of gasoline. This means that 8 grams of the substance could power a thorium turbine motor vehicle for a century.
Canada, China, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States have experimented with using thorium as a substitute nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors. When compared to uranium, there is a growing interest in thorium-based nuclear power due to its greater safety benefits, absence of non-fertile isotopes and its higher occurrence and availability. India’s three stage nuclear power programme is possibly the most well known and well funded of such efforts.
Thorium is an appealing alternative to uranium to many countries. It is both more cheap and more abundant than uranium, whose price is expected to rise yet more as backlash from the Fukushima disaster dies down, according to Energy and Capital. There are other benefits of thorium as well. During a thorium-powered nuclear reaction, most of the thorium itself is consumed, which leads to less waste, most of which is rendered non-hazardous in 30 years. The most dangerous nuclear waste material currently in use must be stored for 10,000 years, by way of contrast. Furthermore, 1 metric ton of thorium is equal to 250 metric tons in terms of efficiency in a water reactor.
Extraction of thorium would be less expensive per unit of energy than extraction of uranium as well, because it is present in higher concentrations by weight than the other metal, according to Dauvergne. The source also mentions another peculiar trait of thorium: it is nearly impossible to weaponize, as it contains no fissile isotope. This in itself has slowed uranium research, according to a 1997 international scientific symposium on nuclear fuel cycles.
The dangers of uranium – widely publicized in the wake of the Fukushima disaster – often lead analysts and others to consider thorium more seriously. As thorium is not fissile on its own, reactions could be stopped in case of emergency, according to Forbes. The publication suggests thorium could allow countries like Iran and North Korea to benefit from nuclear power without causing concern that they are secretly developing nuclear weapons, as well.
Thorium can also be used together with conventional uranium-based nuclear power generation, meaning a thriving thorium industry would not necessarily make uranium obsolete.
When used in a breeder-like reactor, however, unlike uranium-based light water reactors, thorium requires irradiation and reprocessing before the above-noted advantages of thorium-232 can be realized, which initially makes solid thorium fuels more expensive than uranium fuels. But experts note that “the second thorium reactor may activate a third thorium reactor. This could continue in a chain of reactors for a millennium if we so choose.” They add that because of thorium’s abundance, it will not be exhausted in 1,000 years.
Where thorium is found
Thorium is present in small quantities in soils and rocks everywhere, and it’s estimated to be about four times more plentiful than uranium. Large reserves, rather than the trace amounts of the metal in the average backyard, exist in China, Australia, the US, Turkey, India and Norway, according to Reuters.
PISA 2012 is the programme’s 5th survey. It assessed the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science (with a focus on mathematics) in 65 countries and economies. (Note : INDIA is not a participant)
Around 510 000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months participated in the assessment, representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally.
The students took a paper-based test that lasted 2 hours. (You can take the test ONLINE HERE. )The tests were a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions that were organized in groups based on a passage setting out a real-life situation. A total of about 390 minutes of test items was covered. Students took different combinations of different tests. They and their school principals also answered questionnaires to provide information about the students’ backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader school system and learning environment.
The OECD’s PISA 2012 tested students on maths, reading and science. The main focus was on maths. Math proficiency is a strong predictor of positive outcomes for young adults. It influences their ability to participate in post-secondary education and their expected future earnings.
Shanghai-China, and Singapore were top in maths, with students in Shanghai scoring the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries. Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Macao-China, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands were also in the group of top-performing countries.
“With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality and a pressing need to boost growth in many countries, it’s more urgent than ever that young people learn the skills they need to succeed,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría during the launch in Washington D.C. “In a global economy, competitiveness and future job prospects will depend on what people can do with what they know. Young people are the future, so every country must do everything it can to improve its education system and the prospects of future generations.”
The survey reveals several features of the best education systems. Top performers, notably in Asia, place great emphasis on selecting and training teachers, encourage them to work together and prioritize investment in teacher quality, not classroom sizes. They also set clear targets and give teachers autonomy in the classroom to achieve them.
Children whose parents have high expectations perform better: they tend to try harder, have more confidence in their own ability and are more motivated to learn.
Of those 64 countries with trend data in maths up to 2012, 25 improved in maths, 25 showed no change and 14 did worse. Brazil, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey have shown a consistent improvement over this period. Shanghai-China and Singapore improved on their already strong performance in 2009.Italy, Poland and Portugal also increased their share of top performers and reduced their share of low performers. Germany, Mexico and Turkey also managed to improve the performance of their weakest students, many of whom came from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This shows that countries can simultaneously improve equity and raise performance. You can compare your country with other as well previous year’s performances here. (Click this Link) ; The US Specific data here (Click the Link)
Giving every child the chance to succeed is essential, says the OECD. 23% of students in OECD countries, and 32% overall, failed to master the simplest math problems. Without these basic skills, they are most likely to leave school early and face a difficult future. Some countries have succeeded in helping underperformers: Colombia, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Mexico and Poland have put in place systems to identify and support struggling students and schools early, and have seen the PISA scores of this group increase.
Other key findings include:
Boys perform better than girls in maths. They scored higher in 37 out of the 65 countries and economies, while girls outperform boys in 5 countries. The gender gap is relatively small though; in only six countries is it greater than the equivalent of half a year of formal schooling.
The gap is widest among top students, still wide among the weakest students and about the same for average ones. Girls also feel less motivated to learn maths and have less confidence in their abilities than boys.
Between 2000 and 2012, the gender gap in reading performance – favouring girls – widened in 11 countries and economies. Boys and girls perform similarly in science.
Of the 64 countries and economies with comparable data up to 2012, 32 improved their reading performance, 22 show no change, and 10 deteriorated. Chile, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey improved their reading performance across successive assessments.
Across OECD countries, 8.4% of students are top performers in reading. Shanghai-China has the largest proportion of top performers – 25.1%. More than 15% of students in Hong Kong-China, Japan and Singapore are top performers in reading, as are more than 10% of students in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, Korea, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Chinese Taipei.
Shanghai-China, Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Japan and Finland are the top five performers in science in PISA 2012. Estonia, Korea, Viet Nam, Poland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Germany, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, Macao-China, New Zealand, Switzerland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Belgium score above the OECD average in science.
Across OECD countries, 8.4% of students are top performers in science and score at the highest levels. This compares to more than 15% of students in Shanghai-China (27.2%), Singapore (22.7%), Japan (18.2%), Finland (17.1%) and Hong Kong China (16.7%).
Schools and students
High-performing school systems tend to allocate resources more equitably across socio economically advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
Teacher-student relations improved between 2003 and 2012 in all but one country, according to students’ reports. The disciplinary climate also improved during the period, on average across OECD countries and in 27 individual countries and economies.
The share of immigrant students in OECD countries increased from 9% in 2003 to 12% in 2012. Over this period, the performance disadvantage of immigrant students compared to students without an immigrant background but with similar socio-economic status shrank by 11 score points, equivalent to three months of schooling.
The OECD’s PISA results reveal what is possible in education by showing what students in the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems can do. The findings allow policy makers around the world to gauge the knowledge and skills of students in their own countries in comparison with those in other countries, set policy targets against measurable goals achieved by other education systems, and learn from the policies and practices applied elsewhere.
More Detailed Reports can be downloaded from their official website here
Source and Courtesy : www.oecd.org