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Posts published in “World View”

How Uruguay implemented its computer science education program

Brian Fowler, Emiliana Vegas – Brookings |

Since 2007, Plan Ceibal—a national education initiative launched by Uruguay President Vazquez—has been distributing digital devices to students and providing schools with internet access, introducing a variety of tools and resources to improve education in Uruguay. Beginning in 2010, Plan Ceibal set up in-school and after-school activities, in coordination with the ANEP[1] (National Administration of Public Education), for students to learn computational thinking, robotics, and coding skills. These efforts have created a culture where teachers and students are encouraged to use technology to explore innovative and practical applications.

Plan Ceibal has made remarkable progress toward closing the digital divide in Uruguay. It is too early to fully understand its impact since many of its programs are still expanding. Yet, Uruguay has been praised for starting initiatives that foster a culture of innovation that can help the country grow an already prosperous technology industry.

Police break up Moroccan teachers’ protest for fixed jobs

AP News |

Hundreds of teachers on temporary contracts protested Tuesday in the Moroccan capital to demand permanent employment. Protestors attempted to stage a sit-in outside the parliament and Education Ministry buildings in Rabat before police dispersed them. Several teachers were injured. Protesters want the government to end the hiring of newly graduated teachers on temporary renewable contracts. More than 50,000 have been hired under the system since 2016.

In Jordan, homeschooling could be just what the education system needed

Jennifer Holleis, DW |

When the pandemic hit a year ago, the Jordanian Ministry of Education started facilitating distance learning tools in collaboration with the World Bank, ministries, and private enterprises. The partnership resulted in the now widely used distance-learning portal ‘Darsak’ which offers lessons in line with the Jordanian curriculum of Arabic, English, Math and Science for grades 1 through 12.

Furthermore, two TV channels offer on-air lectures and the country’s TV-sports channel has been repurposed as a broadcaster for students preparing for ‘Tawjihi’, the secondary school leaving examination. A platform for teacher training and courses for distance learning tools complement the government’s coronavirus strategy.

Apart from a three-week stint in February 2021, schoolchildren and students in Jordan have been studying from home for a year. The brief re-opening of schools is believed to be the cause of the recent spike in Covid-19 infections which resulted in the current lockdown, including a strict daily curfew from 6pm to 6am and all day on Fridays.

But it does appear that the digital push towards educational technologies (EdTech solutions) in Jordan could pave the way for a more resilient and future-oriented education system.

What Does a More Contagious Virus Mean for Schools?

Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times |

Reports of the new variant first surfaced in early December, and some researchers initially suggested that unlike with previous versions of the virus, children might be just as susceptible to the new variant as adults.

Researchers at P.H.E. looked at how efficiently people of various ages transmitted the variant to others. They found that children under 10 were roughly half as likely as adults to spread the variant.

Europe’s Schools Are Closing Again on Concerns They Spread Covid-19

Ruth Bender, The Wall Street Journal |

As U.S. authorities debate whether to keep schools open, a consensus is emerging in Europe that children are a considerable factor in the spread of Covid-19—and more countries are shutting schools for the first time since the spring.

Closures have been announced recently in the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands on concerns about a more infectious variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. and rising case counts despite lockdowns.

While the debate continues, recent studies and outbreaks show that schoolchildren, even younger ones, can play a significant role in spreading infections.

“In the second wave we acquired much more evidence that schoolchildren are almost equally, if not more infected by SARS-CoV-2 than others,“ said Antoine Flahault, director of the University of Geneva’s Institute of Global Health.

Boris Johnson says girls’ education key to ending poverty

Sean Coughlan, BBC News |

The prime minister said the international target of ensuring all girls can have 12 years of good quality education would be the “simplest and most transformative thing we can do” to tackle poverty and to “end the scourge of gender-based violence”.

He once described it as the “Swiss army knife” of development, as getting girls to stay in education could avoid early marriage, improve their chances of getting a job and provide more income for children to be better fed.

The prime minister has announced MP Helen Grant as a special envoy for efforts to support girls’ education. It is expected to be a key theme of the UK’s presidency this year of the G7 group of major industrial countries.

Remember the fundamentals as we build back better in girls’ education

Stephanie Psaki and Karen Austrian, Brookings |

The world has changed dramatically over the last 10 months. In the midst of such broad changes, we might be tempted to throw away our old ways of doing things and figure out a new approach to meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

But with regard to gender equality in education, many of the fundamentals have stayed the same, and our challenge is to figure out how to update our work to this new reality, while not forgetting the commitments and goals—and other challenges—that preceded COVID-19.

This spring, the Population Council’s GIRL Center launched the Evidence for Gender and Education Resource (EGER), a searchable, easy-to-use, interactive database to drive better education results for girls, boys, and communities around the world. It includes information on current practice (who is doing what, where?), current evidence (what has worked in some settings?) and current needs (where do challenges remain?) in global girls’ education.

Based on insights from EGER, we will be launching a 2021 Roadmap for Girls’ Education in the coming months.

Stephanie Psaki is Director, GIRL Center – Population Council, U.S. and Karen Austrian is Senior Associate, Poverty, Gender and Youth Program – Population Council, Kenya.

Reimagining girls’ education during COVID-19: Lessons from adapting programs and measures

Christine H. Beggs and Lucina Di Meco, Brookings |

In some countries where connectivity is greater and data is cheaper, social mobilizers are also leading virtual group mentoring sessions, ensuring that girls continue to have access to the support of their peers, which is crucial in times of stress. In other countries, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, broadcast radio programs were developed with life skills and mentoring content.

Source: Room to Read.

Even when school systems reopen and countries emerge from the pandemic, there will be critical opportunities to learn from this crisis, integrate our innovations into our longer-term strategies and re-envision how we can most effectively support girls, their families, and the education systems that serve them.

UK: Government U-turns on school guidance for children of key workers

Jedidajah Otte, The Guardian |

Children of key workers should only attend school if their parents or carers cannot work from home, the government has said in yet another U-turn – after it previously expanded the offer of in-person school places in England to children who lack digital devices and quiet spaces in their homes.

The Department for Education (DfE) updated its guidance for critical workers on Friday evening, and advised parents and carers of children who are eligible for a school place that they should keep them at home if at all possible.

“Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (Covid-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the following sections. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can,” the DfE guidance now states.

It comes after schools and teachers raised alarm over fears that schools could become overwhelmed amid worsening staff shortages and higher numbers of pupils attending school than during the first lockdown in spring.

Learning in lockdown: DW offers digital learning packages

DW |

Students are at home due to Corona, with some facing a lack of digital teaching materials on environmental topics. DW’s Global Ideas project offers seven learning packages for students and teachers.

The seven learning packages of DW’s Global Ideas project support children and youth between 12 and 16 years of age as well as teachers. Multimedia-based, playful and interesting. The materials can be used free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes.

Schools Will Close in Germany as Cases Surge

Amelia Nierenberg and Adam Pasick, The New York Times |

On Wednesday, German schools will close along with nonessential stores and services as part of a strict lockdown that will be in effect through Christmas. Schools are tentatively scheduled to reopen in mid-January.

“The numbers were so out of control that German leaders decided they had to lock everything down, even schools,” said Melissa Eddy, a Times correspondent in Berlin.

Germany took an aggressive approach to containment early on, relying on science, contact tracing and accessible testing to mostly keep the virus at bay. It cited research that elementary students posed a low risk of spreading the virus, which is now a growing consensus among much of the world. But that couldn’t stave off this week’s difficult decision.

That’s not because schools seeded the virus. Instead, it’s because community spread has skyrocketed.

The coming weeks are now especially uncertain for schools. Germany, a country long committed to data privacy, has not leaned into online learning software, which makes a transition to remote learning even more difficult.

“You do have the odd school with the inventive tech director, but the rest of them are really struggling,” Melissa said. “Going into distance learning is a big problem around here.”

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