Students attend a class at the beginning of the school year amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Sanaa, Yemen

How Yemeni Parents Are Banding Together to Keep Their Kids in School

Seven years into a deadly and devastating war, thousands of Yemeni parents are using what little they have left to fight for an untold victim of the country’s conflict: their childrens’ education. Ahmed Mahdi, 50, is one of them. The father of three drives a taxi in Yemen’s Houthi rebel-held capital city of Sana’a. He was already struggling to make ends meet by 2016, a year into the conflict between the rebels and Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition. That year, the government decamped from Sana’a to Aden and moved the central bank there too. After that, teachers at the public schools Mahdi’s three high-schoolers attended stopped receiving regular salaries, along with around 170,000 teachers and many more public servants in parts of the country controlled by the Houthis. Complete Article  HERE

Philippine School Trolley

Trolley School Helps Philippine Children Keep Their Education on Track

A brightly decorated wooden trolley rumbles down a little-used rail track in the southern Philippines carrying four young teachers—two on the front and two in the back—pushing it along with their feet. Kitted out with a whiteboard, colorful charts, and a stack of books, the tiny, mobile school slides along from village to village three times a week, bringing education to impoverished children near the city of Tagkawayan as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps schools shut in much of the South-East Asian archipelago. “It’s important that we do this, especially now that there is a pandemic and the children cannot do face-to-face learning,” Shaira Berdin, one of nine volunteers who operate the trolley, said in an interview as kids crouched in the grass by the railway track, thumbing through English books. Tagkawayan is a town of about 54,000 people in Quezon province, about 176 kilometers south-east of Manila…  Complete Article HERE

This is an image of at least 16 Afghan girls, wearing headscarves and winter coats who are huddled together on the floor of a secret classroom, while a female teacher writes on a dry-erase board in Arabic. Image linked to individual blog post.

Huddled in Secret Schools, Afghan Girls Refuse to Give Up on Education

Behind a yellow door in an alley blanketed by snow, 25 girls sit on the floor, huddled in coats and headscarves, in front of a white board. “What are you doing?” the teacher asks in English. “I am a student!” they chant in unison. Their plastic shoes that are piled outside the door are a symbol of extraordinary courage: six months after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, crushing the dreams of women and girls by banning them from secondary education, some are fighting back. They are going to secret classes in clandestine schools. “I want to be an educated person,” says Yalda, 11, eyes shining under a scarlet scarf. “I want to be an engineer and build beautiful schools and homes in my country.” Kamila, 16, had heard stories from her mother about secret schools under the previous Taliban regime in the 1990s but never imagined she might end up in one. “I thought the world is too developed. But here we are.” She dreams of a brighter future: “I want to go to university to be an investigative lawyer, particularly helping those who can’t pay.” When the girls heard about a secret school in their area, they were overjoyed. They bravely insisted that they are not scared of being caught. “Learning is not a crime,” Fatima, 12, saidComplete Article HERE

JP_The Emirati Curriculum_Bennett and MBZ (MS)

The Emirati School Curriculum: When Peace Goes to School

When President Isaac Herzog flies to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, marking the first official visit of an Israeli president to the Gulf state, he will be welcomed by the man who is arguably the Middle East’s most effective educational reformer. According to The New York Times, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also known as MBZ, undertook a bottom-up review of all of his country’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks after 9/11. Among other things, MBZ took a long, hard look at the UAE’s education ministry which Islamists had previously made into a state within a state of sorts, demanding a sweeping rewrite of the country’s textbooks. … The UAE is developing strategically to secure a stake in the emerging world order and understands that education for tolerance and peaceful coexistence is critical for societies to flourish. Emirati students are taught that prosperity and national pride are intrinsically linked to peace and tolerance, a theme that runs throughout the curriculum. Textbooks take the psychological well-being of their students seriously, educating young generations morally and spiritually for a rapidly changing global society… Complete Article HERE

JI_Arab Influencer Pushing Abraham Accords from UAE

The Arab Influencer Pushing the Abraham Accords From Abu Dhabi

At the age of 28, when Loay Alshareef, then a French language student from Saudi Arabia, stumbled into his homestay in Paris to discover he was surrounded by Stars of David—his instinct was to turn on his heels and find another family to stay with. “I didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning,” he told The Circuit. Putting it mildly, Alshareef said he “didn’t have positive views about Israel or about the Jewish people,” at that time, in 2010. “I called the school and they said ‘take your time'”—and with the gentle guidance of his “wise” host mother, he did. “There are good Jews, bad Jews, good Christians, bad Christians, good Muslims, bad Muslims—but this is not what we were taught. We were told that the Jews are conspiring against Muslims and the Jews are evil, the Jews hate Muslims from the bottom of their hearts. And to me, it was very baffling.” Today, Alshareef is fully invested in building bridges between Jews and Arabs, but understands the inherent challenges in doing so. “You cannot blame” people, he said, for “being taught for 70 years hatred towards Jews and Israel.” Today, he noted, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a “great change,” leaving behind previous education curricula that he described as “disastrous.”  Complete Article HERE

Kurdish Education in Turkey: A Joint Responsibility

Turkish elites often see Kurds as posing a mortal threat to their homeland’s territorial integrity. Kurdish elites often harbor pan-Kurdish dreams of their own. The rise to power of Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002 appeared to imply a watershed, bringing about a measure of cultural liberalization toward the Kurds. More Islam seemed at first to signal less nationalistic chauvinism. IMPACT-se, a think tank focusing on peace and tolerance in school education, pointed out that the AKP government introduced liberal elements to the Turkish curriculum. These “included the introduction of a Kurdish language elective program, the teaching of evolution, expressions of cultural openness, and displays of tolerance toward minorities. … a slight improvement over past textbooks in recognizing the Kurds, but they are still generally ignored.” [Yet] the name “Kurd” is no longer obliterated from the curriculum. Kurdish-language textbooks were authored as part of a wider Turkish-Kurdish rapprochement. … But this is not enough. A Turkish-Kurdish common vision should be developed. Educationally, a serious effort should be directed toward educating both Turks and Kurds about each other’s identity, culture, shared history, commonalities, conflicts, and interactions… Complete Article  HERE

Arabic-Learning ‘Madrasa’ App Developed by Technion Students

Students from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion recently developed a voice-recognition app for the “Madrasa” project to help people learn Arabic. Part of the Madrasa project—which advocates for better communication in Israeli society through spoken Arabic courses—the app includes a voice recognition feature that will allow tens of thousands of students learning Arabic in online courses to practice their pronunciation. Students Noor Hamdan, Rina Atieh, Lina Mansour and Wadad Boulos worked on developing the app. “Working with the students was very effective and helpful,” Gilad Sevitt, founder and director of Madrasa, said. “They came on board and contributed greatly to our project, and we enjoyed working together on both the linguistic and technological levels. . . . With the help of Technion students, we were able to develop a voice recognition component that will finally allow tens of thousands of students in our online courses to practice their pronunciation in Arabic and speak while learning,” Sevitt said.  Complete Article HERE

Egyptian Parliament Reopens Debate on Quran’s Place in the Curriculum

When the Egyptian Parliament recently considered a bill intended to support the use of Standard Arabic, the discussion grew heated between a a representative of Al-Azhar and a parliamentarian who objected to provisions about Quran memorization in primary school. Modern Standard Arabic is the formal dialect of the wider Arabic language, which there are now many dialects across the Arab world. On Nov. 30, the Egyptian Parliament discussed a bill containing measures to support of the arguably archaic literary dialect that included a language exam for applicants for government jobs, obligating shops to post their names in Standard Arabic and forcing advertisements and television programs to broadcast their content in Standard Arabic. The bill includes penalties of up to a year in imprison and fines of up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,175). In the session, a representative of Al-Azhar suggested students be required to memorize more Quranic verses, but parliamentarian Youssef Al-Husseini objected to provisions in the bill that retain Quran memorization in primary school. “There are non-Muslim students like Copts who should not be forced to memorize the Quran,” argued Husseini, who is deputy chairman of parliament’s media and culture committee.  Complete Article HERE

The Conversation_AI and Student Coding Pic

Artificial Intelligence Is Getting Better at Writing, and Universities Should Worry About Plagiarism

The dramatic rise of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlit concerns about the role of technology in exam surveillance—and also in student cheating. Some universities have reported more cheating during the pandemic, and such concerns are unfolding in a climate where technologies that allow for the automation of writing continue to improve. Over the past two years, the ability of artificial intelligence to generate writing has leapt forward significantly, particularly with the development of what’s known as the language generator GPT-3. With this, companies such as Google, Microsoft and NVIDIA can now produce “human-like” text. AI-generated writing has raised the stakes of how universities and schools will gauge what constitutes academic misconduct, such as plagiarism. As scholars with an interest in academic integrity and the intersections of work, society and educators’ labor, we believe that educators and parents should be, at the very least, paying close attention to these significant developments. The use of technology in academic writing is already widespread. For example, many universities already use text-based plagiarism detectors like Turnitin, while students might use Grammarly, a cloud-based writing assistant. Examples of writing support include automatic text generation, extraction, prediction, mining, form-filling, paraphrasing, translation and transcription. Advancements in AI technology have led to new tools, products and services being offered to writers to improve content and efficiency. As these improve, soon entire articles or essays might be generated and written entirely by artificial intelligence. In schools, the implications of such developments will undoubtedly shape the future of learning, writing and teaching… Complete Article HERE

Israelis Should Be Taught Arabic in Schools

There’s no expression that better demonstrates the new peaks Arab-Israeli relations have hit in recent years than a “picture is worth a thousand words.” Just in the past month, Israeli officials and military forces were photographed alongside Arab counterparts. A major change was also seen in the diplomatic sphere, which might not have received the same amount of visual coverage, but was publicly announced, a change in and of itself. In Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the country’s founding fathers wrote: “We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.” Since then, the attitude has changed in many countries, but overt cooperation—as we’ve witnessed recently—has not often been seen. The direction is right, but we’re not there yet. In the Arab street, some say that the peace with Israel is peace among governments, but not among the peoples. An Israeli citizen, for example, cannot walk freely and feel safe in the streets of Cairo or Amman. This mostly has to do with the popular view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Israelis can do more to assimilate into the region. The most basic step to change this is to start teaching Arabic at a younger age and to include spoken Arabic as part of our schools’ curricula. It is said that the entire Arabic teaching system in Israel is aimed at training young men and women ahead of possible service in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps. In this age of peace, it is time to change the direction. This is the right time for us, the people, to show that Israel is more than just an exporter of military technology. We have a lot to give, and a key step is learning the language of the region, which will help all of us communicate in the new language of peace.  Complete Editorial HERE