Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA

Robert Fisk once said in The Independent  of Tuesday March 9, 2010 the following:  Jemal Pasha, one of the architects of the 1915 genocide, and – alas – Turkey’s first feminist, Halide Edip Adivar, helped to run this orphanage of terror in which Armenian children were systematically deprived of their Armenian identity and given new Turkish names, forced to become Muslims and beaten savagely if they were heard to speak Armenian. The Antoura Lazarist college priests have recorded how its original Lazarist teachers were expelled by the Turks and how Jemal Pasha presented himself at the front door with his German bodyguard after a muezzin began calling for Muslim prayers once the statue of the Virgin Mary had been taken from the belfry. Nowadays, would both Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA live side by side and transcend the past.

Always on the same subject, The Economist of June 26, 2017 published this article on possibly one of the most dramatically lived trauma that the Middle East ever experienced and did never since then get over it.  Amongst all that is currently going on in this part of the world, it is worth mentioning that after all happy ending such as Reverse diaspora does exist and this is the story with our compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher.

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Robert Fisk once said in The Independent  of Tuesday March 9, 2010 the following:  Jemal Pasha, one of the architects of the 1915 genocide, and – alas – Turkey’s first feminist, Halide Edip Adivar, helped to run this orphanage of terror in which Armenian children were systematically deprived of their Armenian identity and given new Turkish names, forced to become Muslims and beaten savagely if they were heard to speak Armenian. The Antoura Lazarist college priests have recorded how its original Lazarist teachers were expelled by the Turks and how Jemal Pasha presented himself at the front door with his German bodyguard after a muezzin began calling for Muslim prayers once the statue of the Virgin Mary had been taken from the belfry. Nowadays, would both Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA live side by side and transcend the past.
Always on the same subject, The Economist of June 26, 2017 published this article on possibly one of the most dramatically lived trauma that the Middle East ever experienced and did never since then get over it.  Amongst all that is currently going on in this part of the world, it is worth mentioning that after all happy ending such as Reverse diaspora does exist and this is the story with our compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher.

Syria’s Armenians are fleeing to their ancestral homeland

The war may bring an end to a Christian minority’s century-long story

Europe

WHEN war broke out in Syria in 2011, some of the wealthier families from the country’s Christian Armenian minority decamped to Yerevan, the Armenian capital, where they rented luxury flats on the city’s Northern Avenue. It felt, some would later say, as though they were on holiday. The government allotted them space in a local school, where Syrian teachers who had fled as refugees continued to instruct their children using the Syrian curriculum. It took some time for it to dawn on them that they might never go home.

Syria’s six-year-old civil war has forced more than 5m of its citizens to seek refuge outside their country. In 2015-16 hundreds of thousands trekked through the Balkans, seeking safety in Europe. But hardly any of Syria’s Armenian minority took this route. Instead, many went to Armenia. With its own population shrunken by emigration (falling from 3.6m in 1991 to 3m today), Armenia was happy to welcome as many Syrian Armenians—most of them educated, middle class and entrepreneurial—as would come.

Before the war some 90,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, two-thirds of them in Aleppo. Many were descended from ancestors who had fled their homeland in 1915, escaping systematic Ottoman massacres and ethnic cleansing. For most of them, the civil war has put an end to a century-long story. Hrair Aguilan, a 61-year-old businessman, invested his life savings in a furniture factory in Aleppo just before the war, only to see it destroyed. Now he is in Yerevan to stay. “It lasted a hundred years. It is finished,” says Mr Aguilan. “There is no future for Christians in the Middle East.”

No more than 30,000 Syrian Armenians are believed to remain in Syria. Many dispersed to Lebanon, Canada, Turkey, the Persian Gulf states and elsewhere. The rest, up to 30,000, went to what they regard as the motherland. (Some have since moved on to other countries.) The wealthy, who found it easy to move, came first. Others tried to wait out the war in Syria, fleeing only once their means were exhausted. They arrived in Armenia with nothing.

Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister of Armenia who was born in Aleppo, says many of the refugees have started small businesses. In Syria, members of the Armenian minority tended to be skilled professionals or artisans; they were known as jewellers, doctors, engineers and industrialists. Native Armenians are delighted by the restaurants opened by the newcomers, who have brought their much spicier cuisine to a country where food (and almost everything else) has long been influenced by the bland flavours of Russia.

Almost all of the refugees have ended up in Yerevan, apart from some 30 families from a farming area, who were resettled in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-held territory that is disputed with Azerbaijan. Some young men who had fought in the Syrian army have volunteered to serve on the front lines of that conflict, but many more young Syrian Armenians hold off on asking for Armenian citizenship so that they do not have to do military service.

Vasken Yacoubian, who once ran a construction company in Damascus, now heads the Armenian branch of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), a global charity. He says refugees are still arriving from Syria, if no longer in large numbers. A few have even gone back, especially those with property (if only to try to sell it). Some Syrian Armenians argue that they have a duty to return: their diaspora forms an important branch of Armenian civilisation, and must be preserved.

Yet Mr Oskanian says those who have returned to Syria see little future for the community there. In Syria, Armenians have staunchly backed the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has protected them from persecution by Muslim extremists. But that government controls only a portion of Syria’s territory, and Mr Assad’s fate in any peace deal is uncertain. Meanwhile officials at Armenia’s Ministry of the Diaspora, which was caught unprepared by the influx of Syrians, are taking no chances. They are making contingency plans in case a new conflict erupts in Lebanon, sending thousands of Lebanese Armenians their way.

 

Demand for a “Western” Education around the World

Increased demand for a “western” education around the world has reshaped whom these institutions serve, by Alan Wechsler in The Atlantic of June 5, 2017.
Wikipedia defines an international school as a school that promotes international education, in an . . . .

Increased demand for a “western” education around the world has reshaped whom these institutions serve, by Alan Wechsler in The Atlantic of June 5, 2017.
Wikipedia defines an international school as a school that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting a curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school’s country . . . .
Demand for a “Western” education around the world

The International-School Surge

After losing two jobs in the Denver area due to budget cuts, the school librarian Jennifer Alevy found a new direction for her education career in 2011: an international school in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The origins of today’s international schools can be traced to 1924, but they’ve grown exponentially in the past 20 years. Originally created to ensure that expatriates and diplomats could get a “western” education for their children while working in far-flung countries, international schools have found a new purpose: educating the children of wealthy locals so those kids can compete for spots in western colleges—and, eventually, positions at multinational companies.

This dramatic change means increased opportunities for American teachers abroad—and, potentially, increased competition in the U.S. from a new demographic of English-fluent and cosmopolitan young people from all over the world.

Today, Alevy is the coordinator of library services at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which caters to Vietnamese students. The school, which was founded in 2006, has devoted resources to its library that Alevy rarely saw back in the states. “I feel fortunate that the school I work in has seen the value in the library and librarians,” she said. “I am really excited for the opportunity to work with three other librarians. I have not had that chance in a long time.”

Across the world, teachers educated in America, Great Britain, Australia, and other English-speaking countries are being imported in droves to teach the kids of wealthy or even middle-class families of emerging nations in Asia, the Middle East, and other developing regions.

“The majority of the world wants a grounding in English,” said Bruce McWilliams, the executive vice president of International School Services, a New Jersey-based company that recruits teachers for international jobs.

The growth of international schools is staggering. Twenty years ago, there were only about 1,000 English-language international schools worldwide, according to the U.K.-based ISC Research. Most of the students in these schools were the kids of expat families working abroad—diplomats, journalists, NGO staff, technicians, and mid-level corporate types.

Today, there are more than 8,000 international schools, serving 4.5 million students with 420,000 teachers. And 80 percent of students are actually from the school’s host country. And, according to ISC, demand is rising—in the next 10 years, experts expect the number of international schools to double to more than 16,000 schools and 8.75 million students worldwide.

“I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective.”

Mitsuko Sakakibara of Japan is a typical parent. Her son Leon, 8, attends the Hokkaido International School in Niseko. “I would like my son to have an international environment education to build his mind as a global citizen from a young age,” she said, explaining she didn’t think he would get that in a Japanese school. “English would be the basic tool to communicate smoothly … and also help to have more choice to decide where to study or work.”

The United Arab Emirates and China now have the most international schools—about 550 English-speaking schools in each, according to ISC—but places as India, Vietnam, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia are also seeing huge increases. More than 20 cities in the world have at least 50 English-speaking international schools each, such as Dubai (which has more than 250) and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; Beijing; Shanghai; Bangkok; Tokyo; Singapore; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Madrid.

The average annual tuition for these schools varies by country—in Bangladesh, it’s $5,200; in Singapore, it’s $18,500. In places like China or India, the tuition is often higher than what the average family in that country earns in a year, making the schools available only to the wealthy.

Recognizing this changing demographic, schools are finding new ways to meet growing demand—and get around rules in some countries that limit the schools local students can attend. Take the Elite K-12 Education Group, which began in Ningbo—located on the coast near Shanghai—and is expanding to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and other big Chinese cities. The school, which models itself after the British education system, offers an international bilingual program for Chinese nationals. Its local ownership allows local students to attend despite government rules which restrict Chinese nationals from attending internationally owned schools.

“I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective and to be fully prepared for western university,” said Tao Sun, the chairman of the organization. “If you want your child to have many options for world-class universities, and if you want them to survive, thrive, and succeed there, then they need to start learning and speaking English as soon as they can.”

Look at some of the 8,000 international schools around the world, and it’s easy to see the appeal. In Dubai, the Safa Community School offers “clustered” classrooms with a common area that is “like a big sitting room for the community, where you can study at the ‘kitchen table,’ play a board game on the floor, film an action scene, bake some cookies, or sit on a bean bag with a laptop,” according to the school’s Facebook page. Down the road, the GEMS Nations Academy has classes in robotics and coding in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.

Michael E. DeBakey High School in Doha, Qatar, offers a focus on STEM training for professions in the medical field, while Cranleigh Abu Dhabi students are developing their own opera. Meanwhile, at the Nansha College Preparatory Academy in Guangzhou, China, content and English language teachers work together to plan and deliver lessons. That means that even in physics class, students’ English skills are constantly being tested.

Compare these approaches to a typical public school in many developing countries, where it is not uncommon to have more than 40 students in a class. In schools like that, the focus is on rote memorization and lectures, with little emphasis on student participation, according to international-school representatives. Of course, the children of many poor families in developing countries are often unable to attend school at all, because of cultural issues, the need to help out at home or earn money for the family, or the inability to afford school fees or uniforms. According to a UNICEF, more than 59 million children of primary-school age were out of school in 2013.

Plenty of international schools continue to cater to the expatriate family. With globalization, more people than ever are choosing to work abroad. This has led to a new euphemism: “Third Culture Kids,” or TCK. Picture a whole generation of, say, American kids who carry U.S. passports but have barely spent any time living in their home country.

“It’s all interrelated—this whole notion of free markets, global economy. Education has to meet that need,” said Cynthia Nagrath, the marketing and communication manager at The International Educator, a teacher-placement service based in Massachusetts. “People have to work together with students of different cultures,” she said. “That’s the beauty of these international schools. You’ve got students from all over the world, but they all learn together in English.”

For more, see the original document . . .
Continue reading “Demand for a “Western” Education around the World”

Europe – North Africa Cooperation in High Education

Europe – North Africa Cooperation in High Education comes in as education in the MENA generally and more specifically in its western half of North Africa has been for some time prioritised with various efforts being made to improve it through notably innovation with a view to creating job opportunities for the youth.
Illiteracy however remained and is still rampant although varying from country to country and from cities to rural areas within each country.
Historically, education systems of the Maghreb countries having within the last 50 years undergone since independence, reform processes whose main objectives was to prepare for the nationalization take over through European inspired education curriculums while stressing the need to respond as closely as possible to the aspirations of the indigenous cultures by providing teachers in re replacement of the predominantly European body of educators.
The situation nowadays is best described by an article on University World News Issue No. 456 of April 21, 2017 by Wagdy Sawahel who elaborated on Europe and North African higher education cooperation plans for the future.
It is well known to all around the Mediterranean basin that education and innovation are mechanisms of progress in the 21st century, whilst all ideas related to that goal resonate as being somewhat impossible to attain in most capital cities across North Africa without as it were, a hand from Europe.

Europe-North Africa HE cooperation plan unveiled

In efforts to promote cooperation in science, technology, innovation and higher education, five countries of the Arab Maghreb Union and five European countries have approved a two-year cooperation plan aimed at stimulating economic growth, job creation and social cohesion in the Western Mediterranean region.

The 10 countries are known as member states of the “5+5 Dialogue initiative: A sub-regional forum for dialogue”.

The five Maghreb countries involved are Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The five European countries include Western Mediterranean nations, namely, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain.

The new two year plan (2017-18) was announced at the third conference of the ministers of research, innovation and higher education of the member countries of the forum for the dialogue in the Western Mediterranean, held under the theme “Promotion of Higher Education, Research and Innovation to Achieve Social Stability and Economic Development”, in Tunis, Tunisia from 30-31 March.

Institutional network

According to a dedicated website for the 5+5 Dialogue initiative launched in Tunis, the plan encompasses several initiatives and projects, including the setting up of a network of higher education institutions, the formation of teams of researchers and engineers around joint projects, the development of a rectors’ network, along with the promotion of exchanges of best practices in quality assurance and governance.

The network of higher education institutions within the Dialogue 5+5 will focus on encouraging cooperation between higher education institutions in the Western Mediterranean Basin.

Based in Tunisia, the regional network will focus on strengthening existing university linkages and developing newer partnerships around novel cooperative projects.

The network will participate in the construction of ‘Mediterranean spaces’ dedicated to research, innovation and higher education approved and outlined in the 2013 Rabat Declaration and endorsed at the first conference of ministers of research and higher education of the 5+5 Dialogue states, held in Morocco.

Free movement

Mediterranean spaces will be based on the principle of free movement of researchers between the two western shores of the Mediterranean and on a connection to regional and global scientific networks to facilitate the exchange of scientific data and development of skills.

It will also focus on intellectual property, patenting and exchange of students, academics and research between countries.

The network will also support initiatives that promote institutional partnerships, including scientific networks, the mobility of students, faculty and administrators, multi-diploma or thesis co-supervision, and the development of online training and research

Collaboration with researchers in the region will be enhanced under the Horizon 2020 programme known as PRIMA – Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area – that will help bridge the gap and regulate the brain drain through the creation of poles of excellence in member countries.

The proposed Dialogue 5+5 rectors’ network will focus on specific initiatives including organising regular encounters between rectors and presidents from all Dialogue 5+5 countries, with visits to universities and polytechnic institutes as well as international meetings of students and researchers, and the holding of conferences and seminars on mobility and academic interchanges.

Enhancing quality

Besides sharing quality assurance practices, the plan will enhance exchanges on governance with a focus on the organisation of teaching, research and innovation in order to improve the management, efficiency and financial autonomy of institutions.

At the opening of the conference, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said that a national conference on higher education reform will take place in Tunis in the period from 30 June-1 July to present a higher education reform plan that will focus on five major axes, including university training, employment, human resources, governance and innovation, according to a local press report.

Saudi Arabia to Make an Entertainment City

“ Saudi Arabia To Make An Entertainment City That Will Be Bigger Than The Maldives ”, announced Destination KSA 

View of Riyadh

The BBC  announced on 8 April 2017 in its Middle East section that :

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for an entertainment city on the edge of Riyadh which will be 50 times the size of Gibraltar once complete.

The 334 sq km (129 sq mile) attraction – about the same as Las Vegas – will offer cultural, sporting and entertainment activities – including a Six Flags park and a safari park.

The announcement boasts it will be the first of its kind in the world.

Building will begin early next year and the first stage finished by 2022.

It forms part of a wider master plan.

Vision 2030, announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman a year ago, aims to diversify the economy and reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil, through a series of projects.

The entertainment city – about a fifth of the area of Riyadh in size – is the latest to be announced.

Authorities say the hope is it will not only attract visitors but “achieve a healthy and harmonious life, and provide more entertainment, joy and fun” for those who live in the capital.

However, it is unclear how something like a Six Flags will work in a country where women and men are largely segregated. Up until now, theme parks in Saudi Arabia have been largely aimed at children.

 

Like the BBC’s, most observers seem to think that it is something of a “contradiction in terms” that Saudi Arabia should feel the need to plan the building of the country’s and perhaps the world’s largest entertainment, cultural and sports city.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, Prince Mohammad Bin Sultan claimed that this city will become a prominent cultural landmark and an important centre for meeting the recreational, cultural and social needs of the future generations in the kingdom.
More concretely, Six Flags of the US, already present in Dubai, would also be included in this new entertainment city at $707 million as one of its main attractions theme park operator.

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5 years to change how we Learn, Earn and Care

Saadia Zahidi in perhaps one of her most commendable contributions to the WEF, states here that times are a-changing and that it is up to us to adapt our systems of education, care, etc. so as to maximise our chances of a better future. For that we have only 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care or even perhaps less than that. We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care January 4, 2016 Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like. [. . .]

Saadia Zahidi in perhaps one of her most commendable contributions to the WEF, states here that times are a-changing and that it is up to us to adapt our systems of education, care, etc. so as to maximise our chances of a better future.  For that we have only 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care or even perhaps less than that. 

We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care

January 4, 2016

Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like.

This is not surprising.

Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.

At the same time, education and training systems are not keeping pace with these shifts. Some studies suggest that 65% of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future. Even more urgent, underdeveloped adult training and skilling systems are unable to support learning for the currently active workforce of nearly 3 billion people.

In addition, outdated cultural norms and institutional inertia already create roadblocks for half of the world’s talent – and are getting worse in the new context. Despite women’s leap forward in education, their participation in the paid workforce remains low; and progress is stalling, with current forecasts for economic parity at 170 years.

The near-term outcomes of these dynamics, compounded through other demographic, geopolitical and economic factors, are profoundly challenging. They include skills gaps in the workforce that are difficult for employers and workers alike, unemployment and job displacement, particularly in blue-collar and services work, rising fear of further technological unemployment, insufficient supply of talent for many high-skill occupations, and loss of female talent and potential. Together these factors are exacerbating income inequality and creating a crisis of identity.

Yet, most of these dire predictions need not be foregone conclusions. If leaders act now, using this moment of transformation as an impetus for tackling long-overdue reform, they have the ability not only to stem the flow of negative trends but to accelerate positive ones and create an environment in which over 7 billion people on the planet can live up to their full potential.

Instead, in several advanced economies, we are seeing the political and social consequences of short-term, emotive – and sometimes disingenuous – thinking. For those who are losing out from the changes underway, fear is an understandable response. But turning away immigrants, trade or technology itself, and disengaging from the world, is a distraction, at best. At worst, will create even more negative consequences for those already losing out – and many more. It is up to courageous, responsible and responsive leaders and citizens to take the long view and set out on the path to more fundamental, relevant reforms, and an inspiring future.

How? By investing in human capital and preparing people for the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has worked with leaders, experts and practitioners to create a common vision and a shared change agenda focused on how we learn, earn and care.

  1. Transform education ecosystems. Most education systems are so far behind the mark on keeping up with the pace of change today and so disconnected from labour markets that nothing short of a fundamental overhaul will suffice in many economies. The eight key areas of action here are early childhood education, future-ready curricula, a professionalized teaching workforce, early exposure to the workplace, digital fluency, robust and respected technical and vocational education, openness to education innovation, and critically, a new deal on lifelong learning.
  2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work. While there are deeply polarized views about how technology will impact employment, there is agreement that we are in a period of transition. Policy needs to catch up and facilitate this transition. We propose four areas of action: recognition of all work models and agile implementation of new regulations, updated social protection, adult learning and continuous re-skilling, and proactive employment services.
  3. Advance the care economy. Often undervalued and unregulated, care is one of the most fundamental needs among both young and old populations. It has a strong impact on education, and holds potential for job growth. We propose six areas of action: recognize and value care as a vital sector of the economy, professionalize the care workforce, rebalance paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expand high-quality care infrastructure, create new financial provisions to facilitate care, and use technology as a tool for balancing care and work.
Image: World Economic Forum

To do any of this – and to make it pay off – it is critical that policy design includes agile multistakeholder governance, empowerment of the individual, objective measurement, universal access and long-term planning as fundamental tenets.

The rapid pace of change means we need to act urgently. By some estimates the current window of opportunity for action is three-to-five years. This may sound daunting but there are a large variety of robust success stories to learn from and emulate. There are also substantial new commercial opportunities – such as adult education, care services, employment services – that make this space ripe for public-private collaboration.

It’s the harder path to follow, there’s no doubt about it. Transforming education ecosystems, creating a care economy and managing the transition to a new world of work require political will, innovative policy, new financing models and, most importantly, a new mind-set.

But this is also the only viable path if we want to get ahead of the transition underway and turn this moment of flux into an opportunity for revitalizing growth and realizing human potential in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.

The whitepaper on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work can be found here.  Saadia Zahidi is Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

 

Year 2016 Review using 12 Charts

The World Bank produced the following article on Year 2016 Review using 12 Charts. It is written by Tariq Khokhar with co-author: Donna Barne on December 22nd, 2016. We republish the first 7 items of the article here and would seriously recommend reading the rest in its original publication by clicking the article title below. One would also notice that the video in question in the article can be visualised only in its original bedding. . . .
Between the social, political, and economic upheavals affecting our lives, and the violence and forced displacement making headlines, you’d be forgiven for feeling gloomy about 2016. A look at the data reveals some of the challenges we face but also the progress we’ve made toward a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future. Here are 12 charts that help tell the stories of the year. [. . .]

The World Bank produced the following article on Year 2016 Review using 12 Charts.  It is written by  Tariq Khokhar  with co-author: Donna Barne on December 22nd, 2016.  We republish the first 7 items of the article here and would seriously recommend reading the rest in its original publication by clicking the article title below.  One would also notice that the video in question in the article can be visualised only in its original bedding.  

Tariq Khokhar

Year in Review: 2016 in 12 Charts (and a video)

 

Between the social, political, and economic upheavals affecting our lives, and the violence and forced displacement making headlines, you’d be forgiven for feeling gloomy about 2016. A look at the data reveals some of the challenges we face but also the progress we’ve made toward a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future. Here are 12 charts that help tell the stories of the year.

1.The number of refugees in the world increased.

At the start of 2016, 65 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes, up from 60 million the year before. More than 21 million were classified as refugees. Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, most refugees live in cities and towns, where they seek safety, better access to services, and job opportunities. A recent report on the “Forcibly Displaced” offers a new perspective on the role of development in helping refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities, working together with humanitarian partners. Among the initiatives is new financial assistance for countries such as Lebanon and Jordan that host large numbers of refugees.

 

 

  1. The global climate change agreement entered into force.

The pact negotiated in Paris in 2015 was ratified by 118 of the 194 countries that signed it, triggering new commitments to combat global warming. One of the agreement’s major goals is to promote a shift to low-carbon energy. Demand for renewable energy is picking up in developing countries as prices decline. In May, Africa saw its lowest solar price to date when the winning bid to develop large-scale photovoltaic solar plants in Zambia came in at 6 cents per kilowatt hour – or 4.7 cents/kwh, spread over 20 years.  That followed bids as low as 3 cents in the United Arab Emirates and 4.5 cents in Mexico. Renewables are now cost competitive in many markets and increasingly seen as mainstream sources of energy, according to REN21.

3.Global trade weakened.

In 2016, global trade growth recorded its weakest performance since the global financial crisis. Trade volumes stagnated for most of the year, with weak global investment playing an important role, as capital goods account for about one third of world goods trade. Trade has been a major engine of growth for the global economy and has helped cut global poverty in half since 1990. A trade slowdown, therefore, could have implications for growth, development, and the fight against poverty.

  1. More people had access to mobile phones than to electricity or clean water.

Access to mobile phones has surged in low- and middle-income countries, but many of the other benefits of the digital revolution – such as greater productivity, more opportunity for the poor and middle class, and more accountable governments and companies — have not yet spread as far and wide as anticipated, according to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report on the Internet, “Digital Dividends.” The report says greater efforts must be made to connect more people to the Internet and to create an environment that unleashes the benefits of digital technologies for everyone.

  1. A third of all people were under the age of 20.

In around 40 African countries, over 50% of the population is under 20. By contrast, in 30 richer countries, less than 20% of the population is under 20. As the 2015/2016 Global Monitoring Reports notes, the world is on the cusp of a major demographic transition that will affect countries along the development spectrum.

  1. 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 10 years.

One third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are currently neither in employment, education nor training. Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist. The future of work is changing, and the global economy will need to create 600 million jobs over the next 10 years to keep pace with projected youth employment rates.

  1. 1 in 3 people did not have access to a toilet.

The UN estimates that 2.4 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities, nearly one billion of whom practice open defecation. Good sanitation is a foundation for development – conditions such as diarrhea are associated with poor sanitation, and left untreated, can lead to malnutrition and stunting in children. This year’s first High-Level Panel on Water brought together world leaders with a core commitment to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

 

 

 

PISA, The World’s biggest Education Test

In PISA, the world’s biggest education test , one small country has left all the others, big, mid-size and small behind. Singapore topped the global education rankings as reported by a BBC programme this week. Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tests all 15-year-olds around the world on their maths, science and reading abilities. As far as the MENA countries are concerned, Israel raked 40th, the UAE 45th. Iran ranked 51st, Bahrain 57th, Lebanon 58th, Jordan 61st, Tunisia 64th, Saudi Arabia 66th, Qatar 68th, Algeria 69th and Oman 72nd, all out of 76. The proposed article written by. Mark Boylan , Reader in Education, Sheffield Hallam University and published on the Conversation on December 6th, 2016 is reproduced here below. PISA results: four reasons why East Asia continues to top the leaderboard The results speak for themselves. The latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have been released – and, once again, East Asian countries have ranked the highest in both tests. [. . . ]

In PISA, the world’s biggest education test , one small country has left all the others, big, mid-size and small behind.  Singapore topped the global education rankings as reported by a BBC programme this week.  Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tests all 15-year-olds around the world on their maths, science and reading abilities. 

As far as the MENA countries are concerned, Israel raked 40th, the UAE 45th.  Iran ranked 51st, Bahrain 57th, Lebanon 58th, Jordan 61st, Tunisia 64th, Saudi Arabia 66th, Qatar 68th, Algeria 69th and Oman 72nd, all  out of 76.

The proposed article written by. Mark Boylan , Reader in Education, Sheffield Hallam University and published on the Conversation on December 6th, 2016 is reproduced here below.

 

PISA results: four reasons why East Asia continues to top the leaderboard

 

 

Hands up if you’re top of the class.

 The results speak for themselves. The latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have been released – and, once again, East Asian countries have ranked the highest in both tests.

Over recent years, other countries’ positions have gone up and down in the tables but East Asian education – which includes China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan – continues to dominate. And the gap between these countries and the rest of the world is getting wider.

The reasons why East Asian countries are way ahead of the pack as far as education is concernedhas long been debated – but it essentially seems to come down to the following four factors.

  1. Culture and mindset

There is a high value placed on education and a belief that effort rather than innate ability is the key to success. East Asian researchers usually point to this as the most important factor for this regions high test results.

The positive aspect of this approach to education is that there is an expectation that the vast majority of pupils will succeed. Learners are not labelled and put into “ability” groups – as they are in England, where this is the norm even in many primary schools. So, in East Asian countries, everyone has the same access to the curriculum – which means many more pupils are able to get those high grades.

Formal schooling is also supplemented by intensive after-school tuition – at the extreme this can see children studying well into the night – and sometimes for up to three hours of extra school in the evening on top of two hours of homework a day.

But while this intensive after school study can get results, it’s important to recognise that in many East Asian countries, educators worry about the quality and influence these “crammers” have on the mental health and well-being of children. And many studies looking at pupils’ experiences in these schools have reported high levels of adolescent stress and a sense of pressure to achieve –for both the students and their parents.

The crème de la cram.
  1. The quality of teachers

Teaching is a respected profession in East Asia, where there is stiff competition for jobs, good conditions of service, longer training periods and support for continuing and extensive professional development.

In Shanghai, teachers have much lower teaching workloads than in England – despite the bigger classes. And they use specialist primary mathematics teachers, who teach two 35-40 minute lessons a day. This gives the teachers time for planning – or the chance to give extra support to pupils that need it – along with time for professional development in teacher research groups.

In Japan, “lesson study” is embedded in primary schools. This involves teachers planning carefully designed lessons, observing each other’s teaching, and then drawing out the learning points from these observations. And lesson study also gives teachers time to research and professionally develop together.

  1. Using the evidence

Ironic though it may be, much of the theoretical basis for East Asian education has been heavily influenced by research and developments in the West. For example, Jerome Bruner’s theory ofstages of representation which says that learners need hands-on experiences of a concept – then visual representations – as a basis for learning symbolic or linguistic formulations.

This has been translated in Singapore as a focus on concrete, pictorial and abstract models in mathematical learning. For example, this might mean arranging counters in rows of five to learn the five times table, then using pictures of hands that each have five digits, before writing multiplication facts in words, and then adding in numerals and the multiplication and equals signs.

Teaching is a highly respected job in East Asia.

Teaching is a highly respected job in East Asia.

  1. A collective push

In the 1970s, Singapore’s educational outcomes lagged behind the rest of the world – the transformation of Singaporean education was achieved through systemic change at national level that encompassed curriculum development, national textbooks and pre-service and in-service teacher education.

Similarly in Shanghai and South Korea educational change and improvement is planned and directed at a national level. This means that all schools use government approved curriculum materials, there is more consistency about entry qualifications to become a teacher and there is much less diversity of types of schools than in the UK.

The success of East Asian education has turned these countries into “reference societies” – ones by which policymakers in the UK and elsewhere measure their own education systems and seek to emulate. Interest in East Asian education in the UK has informed the current “mastery approach”which is used in primary mathematics. Teaching for mastery uses methods found in Shanghai and Singapore and has been the basis of many recent research projects – some sponsored by government funding and others promoted by educational charities or commercial organisations.

But of course, only time will tell if some of the success of these two education systems can be reproduced in the UK, while avoiding some of the negative experiences – such as stress and burnout – associated with the East Asian approach to education.