Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 25

Global online education platform launched for refugee students

New resource should offer a lifeline to students displaced by war

Access to education is a crucial element of what refugees from Syria and other war zones require. Source: iStock

By Matthew Reisz

A new global online platform that aims to connect refugee students with university scholarships, resources and other higher education opportunities has been launched.

The “clearing house” is the first initiative of the Catalyst Trust for Universal Education, a new philanthropic organisation that aims to “expand access to high-quality education for children and youth around the world”.

John Sexton, former president of New York University, launched the trust at the New York headquarters of the Institute of International Education, where he was joined by Allan Goodman, the IIE president, and former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, the United Nations special envoy on global education, for a discussion about the emergency needs of more than 57 million schoolchildren and university-age young people across the world caught up in war, persecution and the ongoing refugee crisis.

A recent report by the UN High Commission for Refugees indicates that only 1 per cent of refugees attend university, compared with a global average of 34 per cent.

In Syria alone, 150,000 people were about to take up places at universities when the civil war broke out, yet the scale of humanitarian crises there and elsewhere means that no more than 2 per cent of funds raised by relief organisations are devoted to education.

The Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER) – a collaboration between the IIE and the Catalyst Trust – will help refugee students to identify scholarships and opportunities and provide access to resources such as online courses, translation services and advocacy groups.

Although PEER will initially focus its efforts on the current Syrian crisis (and therefore make material available in Arabic as well as English), the longer-term plan is to extend its coverage to displaced students all over the world.

The Catalyst Trust also intends to “advocate for the increased government and international support that is urgently required to address the global education crisis”.

Full story at Times Higher Education (September 2016)

University of Wisconsin to scrutinize Halloween costumes for ‘racism’

The University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse appears to be on a roll these days.

The hyper-sensitive campus is set to host a review of student’s Halloween costumes to ensure they do not come across as racist.

UWL made headlines recently for a student’s outrage at a Harry Potter-character themed mural that, the student claimed, depicted “Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.”

In a comical attempt to avoid offending anyone else on campus, the Ethnic and Racial Studies Department of UW LaCrosse (which offers students classes in white privilege and “Food and Race in the United States”) is holding a Halloween costume review on October 5th.

“Is Your Costume Racist?” a poster for the event queries passersby.

Politically correct sensitivity at UWL already led to the resident Hate Response Team investigating sidewalk chalk that simply read “Trump,” “Build the wall,” and “All Lives Matter” because the words and phrases were deemed discriminatory and “hostile.”

Full story at The American Mirror (September 2016)

University of Missouri suspends Delta Upsilon fraternity after report of racist, sexist insults

Students leave the Black Culture Center on Wednesday after an emergency town hall meeting held by the MU Legion of Black Collegians. The meeting was closed to the media and meant for students and faculty to address the incident of Delta Upsilon members reportedly shouting racist and sexist insults at two black women Tuesday.

Sarah Bell

By Rudi Keller

The University of Missouri temporarily suspended the campus Delta Upsilon chapter Wednesday amid a growing backlash over a report of members shouting racist and sexist insults at black students.

MU acted after Delta Upsilon International, headquartered in Indianapolis, announced a temporary suspension of the chapter. Several campus groups issued statements condemning the incident.

Two black female MU students, members of the Legion of Black Collegians Activities Committee, reported they were targets of shouted racial slurs as they were walking near the Delta Upsilon house on Tiger Avenue at about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday. They passed a group of white male and female students, one of whom shouted, “Look at those niggers looking at us,” the legion said in a news release.

The women contacted other members of the activities committee, asking them to join them. They also contacted nearby MU Police Department officers, who attempted to quell the disruption.

A bicyclist rides Wednesday past the Delta Upsilon fraternity at MU. The university temporarily suspended the local Delta Upsilon chapter Wednesday after a report of members shouting racist and sexist insults at black students.

Don Shrubshell

“It was at this moment, outside the Delta Upsilon Fraternity house, that while police were attempting to de-escalate the situation, members of the fraternity began recording the interaction, as well as shouting a variety of obscenities at the Committee,” the news release said. “These obscenities included, but were not limited to, ‘Mizzou PC, c..ts,, niggers’ with a plethora of other micro-aggressions.”

The legion convened a two-hour town hall meeting Wednesday evening at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. Legion leaders declined requests for interviews and asked for reporters to be excluded, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

“We have recognized student groups across campus,” Basi said. “They all have the ability to reserve space, and it is up to them to decide how that space is used.”

The incident shows problems of racial animosity on campus have not improved, the legion said in its news release. Racial issues dominated the fall 2015 semester, beginning with disruption of the Homecoming parade, followed by a hunger strike by student Jonathan Butler and a boycott of athletic activities by the Tigers football team. In response, the university created a UM System diversity and inclusion office, elevated the status of campus diversity officers, revised campus free-speech policies and funded increased minority recruitment.

Full story at Columbia Daily tribune (September 2016)

It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

By Dr. Nicholas Kardaras

Susan* bought her 6-year-old son John an iPad when he was in first grade. “I thought, ‘Why not let him get a jump on things?’ ” she told me during a therapy session. John’s school had begun using the devices with younger and younger grades — and his technology teacher had raved about their educational benefits — so Susan wanted to do what was best for her sandy-haired boy who loved reading and playing baseball.

She started letting John play different educational games on his iPad. Eventually, he discovered Minecraft, which the technology teacher assured her was “just like electronic Lego.” Remembering how much fun she had as a child building and playing with the interlocking plastic blocks, Susan let her son Minecraft his afternoons away.

At first, Susan was quite pleased. John seemed engaged in creative play as he explored the cube-world of the game. She did notice that the game wasn’t quite like the Legos that she remembered — after all, she didn’t have to kill animals and find rare minerals to survive and get to the next level with her beloved old game. But John did seem to really like playing and the school even had a Minecraft club, so how bad could it be?

Still, Susan couldn’t deny she was seeing changes in John. He started getting more and more focused on his game and losing interest in baseball and reading while refusing to do his chores. Some mornings he would wake up and tell her that he could see the cube shapes in his dreams.

Although that concerned her, she thought her son might just be exhibiting an active imagination. As his behavior continued to deteriorate, she tried to take the game away but John threw temper tantrums. His outbursts were so severe that she gave in, still rationalizing to herself over and over again that “it’s educational.”

Then, one night, she realized that something was seriously wrong.

“I walked into his room to check on him. He was supposed to be sleeping — and I was just so frightened…”

She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him. He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor.

There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Full story at New York Post (August 2016)

Measures in place for floods during exams

THE Education Ministry is ready to face any flood that may occur during the three major examinations which start next month, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

He said the disaster management committee led by education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof has drawn up measures to ensure that students could sit for the examinations.

“We have identified the areas at risk of flooding, and state education directors will undertake the measures outlined,” he told reporters when met at the Teacher Education Institute (IPG) Darulaman campus here last Monday.

The examinations are Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3), Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM).

Full story at The Star Online (September 2016)