Category: Education

VR Tech Is Not Just For Games; It Could Revolutionise Education

History teachers found it troublesome to have students interested in their daily lessons as text telling the stories of ancient heroes, civilisations and worlds absent are hard to imagine. Photographs and creative illustrations only inform but fail to create an immersive atmosphere. But virtual reality — mostly intended by developers for entertainment purposes — may just evolve the way education for history and other subjects happen inside the classroom.

Taking students into ancient Egypt using VR technology can help them understand their lessons better by having them see in first person what happened during the time. Physics lessons would expand from paper and calculator to games where students must resolve several problems that could mean the failure of a rocket to take off or the fictional ultimate destruction of a city.

The only downside for this would be limited data; it is never easy to create fully illustrated lessons overnight. Designing and making a realistic world could be simplified — but the technology to do so still does not exist in the real world.

But the emotional feeling of play-acting or being one of the characters in ancient history — as one would in a game — is an amazing educational-game changer. With more developers focused on these types of educational materials, education itself may level up in just a few years.

Lack of Teachers Guarantee Failure of UN Universal Education Goal]

Without teachers in impoverished areas including sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the UN’s universal education goal still lacks 69 million teachers to achieve its goal.

According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics published during the World Teacher’s Day on October 5, the international community has a shortage of 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers to achieve the said goal.

About 263m children worldwide are out of school. An estimated 25 million are unlikely to ever receive any form of education. Only about 14% of young adults finish their studies in impoverished countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa – the region with the fastest growing school-age population – more than 70% of countries face teacher shortages in primary schools, while 90% do not have enough secondary teachers, according to the data. In order to meet sustainable development goal four, which specifically calls for more qualified teachers and more teacher training in developing countries, roughly 17 million primary and secondary teachers will need to be recruited and trained in sub-Saharan Africa within the next 14 years.

South Asia faces the second largest teacher shortage, with an additional 15 million teachers – 11 million at secondary level – needed by 2030.

UK Design Education Needs More Support

UK’s architectural design education is weaker according to leading designers.

Speaking during the Brexit design summit, Michael Mariott, a well-known industrial designer, said that the British educational system is incapable of handling the situation as is.

“Funding is being stripped and there are less facilities,” he added, saying that UK students were being forced to study overseas, where facilities are better.

“I had a young English guy working for me,” Marriott said. “He looked at a couple of British universities and for a quarter of the price he’s gone to Amsterdam to study in way better facilities that are beyond anything we have in this country.”

Architect Amanda Levete agreed, saying she had to employ architects trained overseas because they are better than home-grown ones.

“The reason that so many of the young architects we employ come from outside of the UK is because the architectural education in Europe is frankly better,” she said.

Half of Levete’s 50 employees are from overseas.

“Conceptually the architectural education here is very strong, but technically it’s very weak,” she added. “So architects who have been educated outside of the UK are kind of office-ready.”

The UK vote to leave the European Union could exclude the UK from the Erasmus student exchange programme, and make it harder for UK studios to hire EU staff.

UK Arts Education “Sidelined”

According to the Government’s ‘Culture White Paper’ study, arts should be an essential part of every UK child’s education. However, analysts see that the UK’s ‘enviable’ arts education is being sidelined by its own educational system.

According to the UK Government’s curriculum, there should be a balance between literacy, numeracy and creativity for every UK citizen.

Figures resulting from the CWP study show that creative arts subjects have increased number of GCSE entries in the last five years. Meanwhile, Drama, Music, Design and Technology, Expressive and Performing arts are down by 30 per cent in the number of students.

According to the Cultural Learning Alliance, the decline, including a 10 per cent decrease in students taking English literature, a cornerstone towards appreciating great literature and national identity, can be reversed if the Office for Standards in Education or Ofsted could give good provisions for cultural education.

UK schools, both public and private, have focused their curriculum around EBacc. These include business and mathematical subjects, but except arts and expression subjects. This is a clear indicator that the arts is increasingly shunned throughout the UK’s educational system.

According to analysts, the arts are critical to maintaining a balanced intellect, to developing the ability to think creatively in future roles, to encourage risk taking.

Sweden Shaken By Violent School Attack

The country of Sweden watched the evening news as shock came after a student, dressed for Halloween wielding a sword, killed a teacher and a student. Investigators claim the attack may have political roots.

trollhattan school attack

School attacks in Sweden are rare. The entire country watched the events in Trollhattan with impending worry as school attacks in the country were rare.

Halloween Scare

Investigator Thord Haraldsson said the attacker had a “racist motive” they are looking into for verification.

The 21-year-old attacker posed for a photograph that he posted in social media before he went on his rampage.

According to Swedish media, the attacker, who has yet to be named by the police, the suspect’s social media accounts suggested his heavy interest in Hitler, Nazi Germany and his hostility towards other races, particularly Islam and immigration.

Students were immediately attacked after the assailant stabbed a teacher.

Police arrived about 10:10PM local time before they gunned down the attacker in the class hallways.

A Black Day For Sweden

Shocked Swedish arrived with frowns and tears to the school offering their respects, lighting candles and bringing flowers for the teacher and student who died of multiple stab wounds. A 15-year-old and 41-year-old teacher remain in a serious condition in the hospital.

Swedish Prime Minister King Carl Gustaf said he was “in shock” and he learned the events in Trollhattan “with great dismay and sorrow”.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale Promises To Fight Educational Injustices

According to new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, her college life was not easy. Born to a working-class family, she could not compete with privately-educated students during her time in Aberdeen University. She believed that social disadvantage “follows young people throughout their education”.

Pledging to “change the system” in her speech at Edinburgh College, she said:

“I first felt the unfairness of inequality when I moved from primary school in leafy Elgin to secondary school in urban Dundee.

“Expansive sports fields replaced by playground concrete. An average pupil in prosperous Elgin, I was suddenly near top of the class in my new secondary in Dundee.

“When I went to study law at Aberdeen University, I found the wheel had turned again and I was surrounded by privately-educated pupils whose backgrounds I couldn’t relate to and whose achievements I couldn’t compete with.

“They would spend holidays at their parents’ law firms, I would work preparing food containers for oil rigs.

“My family wasn’t rich but we weren’t in poverty either, and it just seemed wrong that advantage and disadvantage followed young people throughout their education.

“After university I worked as a welfare-rights adviser, helping disadvantaged students to get the support they need.

“The frustrating struggle to help my clients to work the system made me realise that what I really needed to do was to change the system.”

“Government, when it responds to what people need, working with them not just for them, can transform lives beyond recognition, and when government fails it can have a devastating impact on vulnerable lives.

“Above all it has reinforced my belief that the fortunate have a responsibility to use our power to help those who don’t have the same opportunities.

“And as a parliamentarian, the campaigns I have led with extraordinary men and women, like Debtbusters, made me angry at the injustices working-class people face but also inspired me as people came together to challenge power.”

UK Teachers Face More Hurdles After More Public Sector Cuts Were Announced

Chancellor George Osborne announced more restraint in public sector salaries after he laid down his plan for the UK economy. The plan gave no assurances to the protection of the Department of Education’s spending and it even laid out the plans to limit public sector pay increases.

Osborne said: “Our control of public sector pay these past four years has delivered £12 billion of savings. By continuing to restrain public sector pay we expect to deliver commensurate savings in the next Parliament until we have dealt with the deficit.”

The public education industry has suffered four years of pay freezes and one-percent salary increases since the current government took position. Teachers leaders had condemned the new plan, stating that the industry and the workforce had suffered their share.

According to General Secretary of the NASUWT, teachers had been cut 15% from their pay packets. Now teachers and other public service workers pay restraint by the end of the decade and will represent even deeper cuts to pay.

NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said “We are really starting to see the effect of that policy on recruitment. It’s insidious in that when people come to consider teaching, they see that teacher salaries are becoming less and less competitive and we know you can’t raise standards without attracting the best people into teaching.”
“I’m worried that the government might be preparing the ground to water down its policy of protecting education budgets.”


Prime Minister Cameron Renews Pledge to Fight Child Pornography

British Prime Minister David Cameron renewed his vow to rid the United Kingdom’s data highways of child pornography and sexually-violent media. He said that child pornography continues to rise in the UK. Simulated sexual violence, such as rape or abusive activities, in mainstream pornography will also be filtered.

Prime Minister Cameron also urges search engine giant Google to remove searches about child abuse and warn people about the nature of the media they are about to access. Google is also asked to give specialist police enough powers to allow them to close the Internet to paedophiles and paedophilic material

However, observers say that the UK’s powers are limited because most child and sexually-violent pornography is hosted abroad. Open Rights Organisation representative Jim Killock said that the UK could only enforce its laws on its land and the foreign-hosted media could only be filtered once it reaches the UK’s dataways.

Sexually-violent pornography, or “Extreme Pornography” is identified by government as scenes of simulated rape, violence, physical abuse and unnatural fetishes. The government pledges to outlaw these forms of media.

Prime Minister Cameron plans to have Internet Service Providers ask their clients whether they would like to maintain access to online pornography, to which the Internet service provider’s filters would work for the household.

Google said that it has a zero-tolerance measure against child pornography online and immediately blocks or removes a website with such content. Microblogging and social media network Twitter plans to make a tagging system that would ban hosting photos of pornographic nature.

Youth Initiative: Easing the Lebanese Syrian Tension

Now, there is hope in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.  The Youth Initiatives Program called “Rainbow of Hope” funded by the United States is bringing students together in an effort to minimize prejudice and build friendships. Syrian refugees stream into Lebanon, tensions between Lebanese and Syrians are growing daily.

The said program, gathers the youth once a week, students convene for activities such as basketball, puppet shows, plays, films and cultural excursions. The program provides leadership skills and the chance to build conflict resolution skills through extracurricular activities. Director of the Youth Initiative Program, Nidal Khaled said, “The Syrian army’s former presence in Lebanon is one reason for the tensions, but there are others. The Lebanese media is playing a negative role by making Lebanese scared of the Syrian refugees. The media too are also imposing some ideas that the Lebanese are of a higher class. In addition, most of the refugees are really poor, so their lifestyles are different from the Lebanese.”

Different testimonials from students and a teacher under the program were given.  Asma Harouk, a Lebanese student, said: “When the Syrians first came, I didn’t know them, I didn’t interact with them. Now I feel there’s a friendship between us because of these activities.”

Syrian student Rama Salib said:”I didn’t understand them because they speak Lebanese dialect,” Salib said. One of the teachers for the program, Lilianne Hamzeh said, “With war in Syria raging just over these hills, it is hard not to think about the hardships some of the children have been through. We are trying our best to make them equal, but sometimes you are finding yourself feeling with the Syrians much more because of what they faced before.”

Despite a history of tensions between their two countries, these students are learning to respect each other through the program.