When Adelaide Tsogo Masenya was six, she switched primary schools. Her local school, Dr Knak Primary School, in the poor Johannesburg township of Alexandra, only taught in her native language of Sepedi. Her new school, Marlboro Gardens Secondary School, had an English-only curriculum. Years later when she asked her mother, a cashier who only had a primary school education, why they had moved her, her mother replied, “You actually asked me to take you to an English school.” Even at such a young age, Masenya, who is now 30, had enough agency to understand the importance of education for her future. Masenya went on to attend university in Johannesburg—later working both in human resources and as a secondary school teacher. She was also awarded a Chevening scholarship to obtain a master’s degree in education and development at University College London, something that likely wouldn’t have been available if she had not had access to a good recognized university for her undergraduate degree. “Education has taken me to places where I never thought as a young Black girl from Alex I would reach,” she said… Complete Article HERE
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Lily Baah of Apaaso, Ghana, was busy running the Baah Memorial School, with more than 580 students in nursery school through junior high. Then, in March, the pandemic forced her to close. As a result, Baah could no longer collect tuition. She has sold children’s clothing and made-to-order pies to help support her teachers, who have tried to stay in touch with their students through WhatsApp group pages. The pandemic is testing Baah Memorial School and other low-fee private schools around the world as never before. In the process, it is also exacerbating an education crisis that existed long before COVID-19: By one estimate, 258 million children and youth of primary- and secondary-school age worldwide were not enrolled in school before the pandemic. That number may increase dramatically if the low-fee private schools that educate an increasing number of the world’s poorest children can’t afford to reopen in coming months. Complete Article HERE
There is much to be concerned about in the Qatari curriculum. Most troubling is the realization that the leaders of this proud and unique country have allowed their children to be exposed for years to one of the most radical jihadi educations in the world. It is hard to conceive that there are still countries on this planet in which more than 95 percent of the workforce have no citizen rights and can be deported in a moment. Some have been treated no better than slaves. More worrying, for many, this has been until very recently, internationally legal and “acceptable.”
The recently published report:”Understanding Qatari Ambition,” fairly settles the debate about the motivation behind Qatar’s support for radicals and the resources it invests to undermine fellow Arab countries, while aggressively interfering in Europe, the US and elsewhere. They supported radicals because they were radicals. One does not expose the souls of one’s young children to a radical curriculum written by radical individuals unless one is a radical.
But the Qatari enigma remains. It revolves around the mystery of why such a small and dynamic country ends up using its endless resources and great talent to create havoc around the world. The most conspicuous example is perhaps that of Al Jazeera, which initially seemed to revolutionize Arab media but has long since lost its image as a balanced news outlet. Both the English and Arabic versions of Al Jazeera are now seen by many as a harmful and manipulative “useful tool for its Qatari political masters” (Guardian July 1, 2009) spreading antisemitic and anti-Western radicalism.
So, what can the textbooks teach us about this Qatari enigma? The curriculum appears to be in a change-mode, moving in a direction from jihadi radicalism toward open engagement with the world. To its credit, and with the exception of antisemitism and the Jewish/Israeli Other, the textbooks bravely touch upon the most sensitive issues: citizens and non-citizens, mosques in the West, slavery in the Gulf, Islam as a civilization which learned from others, tribal affiliation, enemies that are brothers, non-Arabs that helped build Islamic civilization, and discussions of democracy in a country that is, objectively, little more than a privately owned family business.
Most astounding is the open recognition of Britain’s role in securing Qatar’s existence, the presentation of Britain as saving Arab tribes from fighting against each other, Ottoman intervention, insecurity on the seas, arms trafficking and the slave trade. All this flies in the face of the pro forma anti-colonialist declarations one hears so often in the Middle East; in truth it persists even in some parts of this curriculum.
The narrative from a tenth-grade Social Studies textbook, tells us that the Al-Thani family emigrated from Najd in what is currently Saudi Arabia, and quickly gained prominence in the Qatari Peninsula. The Gulf was only just awakening after centuries of tribal infighting and colonial competition. The Al-Thanis made a small fortune in the pearl trade, which provided them with comfort and status while giving them the resources necessary to bring together the indigenous tribes. Their tools of choice were wisdom, education, poetry, religious and cultural proficiency, business savvy and political skill. Security and prosperity were accomplished by putting such skills to use—cooperating with both the Ottomans and the British, respecting both, but at times pitting one against the other in order to secure Qatar’s independence, well-being and ambitions.
A hallmark of the Qatari conduct tends to look favorably at foreign powers securing the peace in the Gulf, allowing Qataris to focus on their own interests. Much attention in this curriculum is given to the composition of Qatari national identity: Islamic, Arab and global. The peninsula seems committed to having a finger in every pie while advancing Qatari-Arab and Islamic culture worldwide. And after decades of radical Islamist teaching, Qatari students now learn the first article of the constitution includes the idea of democracy.
“Qatar is a sovereign independent Arab state. Its religion is Islam and Islamic Sharia is a major source of its legislation; its regime is democratic, its official language is the Arabic language and the people of Qatar are from the Arab nation.” (Social Studies, Grade 10, Vol. 1, 2019, p. 90.)
Thus, Islamic Sharia is a major source for legislation but not the only one. The constitution declares: Qatar’s “regime is democratic” And though the world (and students) know Qatar is far from democratic, its vision, as taught in school textbooks, includes democracy. But democracy, throughout history has taken many forms. Will this vision of democracy follow Western models of citizen states? Or will it seek the ancient Greek or Islamic-Medieval model of an unequal but moderate and culturally open society that includes slaves, “protected people” (dihimmis) and women who are second class citizens? One hopeful sign: The incompatibility between democracy and Islam seen in the text two years ago is no longer there.
Qatar will likely continue on its determined course to engage the world. And while the current changes seen in the curriculum point to a process of reassessment, they are partial and reversible.
You’ve probably heard it over and over by now: The coronavirus crisis offers an opportunity to “reimagine education.” It’s become a mantra in education and business circles. For now, let’s ignore the fact that schools are having a hard enough time delivering education that has yet to be reconceived with the pandemic raging in many parts of the country. Let’s just look at the “reimagine” discussion on its own merits. What we hear in this international conversation is that “reimagining” really means adding more and more education technology into schooling, kids spending more or virtually all of their learning time on screens with programs supposedly individualized for each student. This post, by renowned master educator Andy Hargreaves, looks at the issue and explains what students are really going to need when all schools can reopen. Complete Article HERE
The distinguished philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that the purpose of education is to produce “decent world citizens who can understand the global problems … who have the practical competence and the motivational incentives to do something about those problems.” Indeed, education has helped to build a better world. Most people are generally more prosperous and secure than at any time in history. This is thanks in part to educational institutions that have fostered skills, research capabilities, and social and civic attitudes that underpin rapid progress in recent decades on issues from food security to communications, transport, and health care. Young people around the world are now bringing a new set of challenges into sharp relief. They are negotiating tough issues including climate change, inequality, exclusion, governance, job instability, and technology. They are redefining what it means to be a global citizen, and to live sustainably. Will educational institutions help them build the world they want? Will they prepare all children and young people to meaningfully participate in the journey? Complete Article HERE
On February 29, 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement outlining a phased withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban commitments not to allow attacks on the US or its allies from Afghan territory . . . The troop withdrawal is expected to take place in parallel with negotiations between representatives from the Afghan government and other Afghan political groups and Taliban leaders. As negotiations advance, they will need to address concerns about protections of fundamental human rights, including the rights of women and girls; education; freedom of expression and the media; due process guarantees; as well as ending attacks on civilians and accountability for serious human rights abuses and war crimes. For this to happen, representatives from human rights and other civil society organizations, including women’s groups and victims’ representatives, should participate in the full range of discussions surrounding the intra-Afghan talks, including in plans for implementation following any agreement. Although the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the laws enacted in the years since 2002 include many human rights protections, implementation has been poor, including in areas under government control. Complete Report HERE
Well beyond a billion students were sent home from schools as the novel coronavirus spread around the world. In recent weeks, hundreds of millions were cleared to return, as countries began to reopen in fits and starts. By late March, less than two months after the confirmation of the first coronavirus cases outside China, more than 90 percent of the world’s students were already affected by school closures, according to estimates by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO. Stuck at home for months, they found themselves part of a global web of hastily implemented experiments in home schooling, remote l earning and social distancing. At the height of such measures in April, nearly 1.6 billion students were affected, according to UNESCO, with 194 countrywide closures. As of June 5, more than 1.1 billion students remain affected — more than 64 percent of the world’s total, with 134 countrywide closures in place. Even in countries without school shutdowns enforced at the national level, disruptions to education remain widespread. Complete Article HERE
With the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, ministerial announcements and public commentary, never before have Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire’s ideas about education been more relevant. In 1970 Freire argued that education is political and ethical, and cannot be detached from the current context of social and political realities. This is evident in the policies that govern education, the distribution of educational resources across the country, the pedagogy and the assessments used in classrooms. Every day, politicians, parents and society at large are debating whether schools should reopen or not. Many are questioning how the academic year will be completed, and raising curriculum and instruction issues. Pedagogy—the methods and practice of teaching—has come under the spotlight as learners and teachers are expected to rapidly transition from face-to-face to online, remote learning and teaching.
Pedagogy and resources. Epistemological access has become a glaring issue during this period. Some learners have access to information and technology, but even then, the process of learning is difficult, including a lack of study space in many homes as room is taken up by family members in lockdown. It is thus important to understand that access to gadgets and information does not always result in learning taking place. Complete Article HERE
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically hit the world since its outbreak in late 2019 with a lot of infections and death. Africa is no exception. The affected countries are facing enormous difficulties and have put in place measures to contain its spread. Education has been one of the most impacted sectors affected by the COVID-19. According to latest data made available by UNESCO, 1.57 billion learners worldwide (91.4% of the world’s student population) are affected by schools and university closures, due to measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition to facing an unprecedented health crisis, the World is also facing a learning crisis due to disruptions in Education caused by these schools and universities closures. In Africa, many governments have adopted nationwide school closures which has affected millions of learners at all the school levels (pre-primary, primary, secondary, university). Complete Article HERE
Classrooms that had been closed by the Coronavirus crisis are slowly beginning to reopen around the world. Here are some of the measures to make learning safe. Picture a kindergarten or primary school classroom. What do you see? Children gathered around communal tables— swapping crayons, books and hugs with their friends? Not now. Not in the age of coronavirus. The pandemic is changing the face of education and no one knows how long the effects will last. About one billion children around the world remain shut out of classrooms because of school closures. Theirworld has launched the #StillLearning campaign to share fun and practical activities to help keep children educated and entertained while at home. But some countries are cautiously reopening their education systems – and that means major alterations to the way classrooms look and operate. Complete Article HERE