0SCHA-Indian Children Studying in Open Air Against Covid-2

The Virus That Shut Down the World: Education in Crisis

Children all over the world have had their education severely disrupted this year, as schools struggle to cope with repeated closures and re-openings, and the transition, if it’s even an option, to online schooling. Disadvantaged children, however, have been worst-hit by the emergency measures. In this part of our look back at the effect that COVID-19 has had on the world, we focus on the education crisis provoked by the pandemic. School closures as a result of health and other crises are not new, at least not in the developing world, and the potentially devastating consequences are well known; loss of learning and higher drop-out rates, increased violence against children, teen pregnancies and early marriages. What sets the COVID-19 pandemic apart from all other crises is that it has affected children everywhere and at the same time. Complete Article  HERE


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An Opportunity to Change the Cycle of Hate

Every day, around 60 million children in the Middle East and North Africa region and between 200-300 million children in the Muslim world turn up to school. Over the last decades, these schools have taught a regular and unchanging diet of hatred towards Jews. The intensity has varied from country to country, but the central themes are consistent: the canards that Jews tried to kill the Prophet, that they control the global economy, media and politics. Anti-Jewish racism infected the Arab and Muslim world so successfully and so completely, that people from the region who hold tolerant, anti-racist attitudes to Jews are outliers. But it does not have to be this way. Research by IMPACT-se shows that there have been recent improvements in textbooks across the MENA region. In the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan reformed the school curriculum that had been authored by the Muslim Brotherhood. It is now quite remarkably different, teaching tolerance and peacemaking. In Tunisia, textbooks educate about the importance of negotiations, peace, and respect for the Other. Complete Article  HERE

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‘Lost Year’ for Education: Global Lessons on How Students Can Rebound

Societies that rebuilt their education systems after war and natural disasters may offer lessons on how to close the learning gap opened by the pandemic. “A catastrophe, a pandemic is likely to have a negative impact on outcomes,” says Emma García, an education expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Nonetheless, she says these negative effects can be corrected after a few years if teaching resources are redirected to students who most need them. Student assessments need to move beyond test scores to capture such skills, so that educators can reinforce and leverage students’ social and emotional capabilities that may have improved during the pandemic. “Resilience, tolerance, understanding, sympathy, creativity – those are assets,” she says. Indeed, from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone to the United States, there are some reasons for optimism—not only that students can recover academically, but that they can gain healthy coping mechanisms for future challenges.  Complete Article HERE

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World-Leading Education Now ‘Decidedly Average’

Schools around New Zealand are paying tens of thousands of dollars to private consultants to help them improve the way they teach reading. They are introducing the so-called “structured literacy” approach, more commonly known as phonics. While backed by 30 years of educational research, it is not funded by the Ministry of Education. Developed by the New Zealand educationalist Dame Marie Clay, the “balanced literacy,” or “whole language” approach, is based on the idea that learning to read should be as natural as learning to talk. If you put children in a “book-rich” environment, they will learn to read in their own time, taking their cues from pictures and context. Indeed, while this method works for many children, it doesn’t for far too many of our most vulnerable children, including an estimated one in seven with learning disabilities. Complete Article HERE

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The Need for a Value-Based Curriculum in Higher Education

Without imparting values and morals in education, human development is incomplete. Values are the guiding principles of life that contribute to all round development of an individual. Values add a good quality to life and it should also contribute to the welfare of family, the community and the nation. Philosophers, spiritual leaders and educationists of our country, all in various ways, have emphasized the role of education for “character development,” “bringing out the latent potentialities and inherent qualities” and developing an “integrated personality” for the well-being of the individual and the society at large. Whatever term we use, the importance of developing values has long been embedded in the age old traditions of India’s civilization and cultural heritage, spanning over the centuries.  Complete Article HERE

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Teach Us About the Slave Trade, Not the Tudors

All children should learn about Britain’s role in the slave trade and the sometimes bloody history of its empire, as well as braided hair and the Windrush generation, according to young [student] campaigners whose petitions have attracted nearly 400,000 signatures. Four campaigners still at school and university are trying to have such topics made compulsory. They are backed by MPs on two Commons committees, who took evidence last week. Ministers say teachers can teach the subjects if they wish.

However, after reforms by Michael Gove when he was education secretary, schools tend to focus in GCSE history on “Hitler and the Henrys” (the Tudors), while in English literature compulsory papers feature white authors such as William Shakespeare. The Department for Education recently told schools not to teach “victim narratives.”

Three petitions drawn up by four young students were presented to MPs on the petitions select committee and the women and equalities select committee, sitting jointly, last week.

More than 260,000 people have signed a petition to teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the compulsory curriculum, put forward by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson and Nell Bevan. Two other petitions, by Yacoub Yasin and Cynthia Muthoni, have more than 115,000 signatures between them.

Jikemi-Pearson told MPs: “For my English literature A-level, I was taught Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility and a contemporary text by an Irish author. Throughout my entire A-level and school life, I never got to read a book with a person of colour in it.

“The only character I can think of is Bertha in Jane Eyre. She is a crazed, abusive wife, so it is not a positive portrayal. Sometimes I sat in that classroom thinking, ‘Why am I even here?'”

Yasin said he had dropped GCSE history because “the only time I had ever heard history of where I was from being spoken about was the British Raj and the element of being subservient.”

Muthoni, whose petition calls for more education on diversity, gave the example of a lesson about braided hair and what it represents across different cultures.

Caroline Nokes, the Tory MP who chairs the women and equalities committee, said: “To understand racism and inequality in 2020, it’s vitally important that we understand Britain’s role in colonization and the transatlantic slave trade.”

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Girls Have Greater Access to Education Than Ever

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

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Helping the Schools That Serve the World’s Neediest Children Survive COVID-19

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

Qatar is Obsessed with Globalization

Partial and Reversible—Qatar Takes a Tiny Step Forward

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.

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The Education Technology Students Will Need—and Won’t—After Coronavirus

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