New school offers education ‘salvation’ for Syrian girls in Lebanon

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BAR ELIAS, Lebanon (Reuters) – A new girls’ school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s poor Bekaa region is aiming to give girls from conservative backgrounds the chance at a formal education.

Syrian refugee girls take a photo with Noura Jumblatt, founder of the NGO Kayany Foundation, at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the foundation in Bar Elias town, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Gaining access to education in general is difficult for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but for girls from socially conservative families who disapprove of mixed schools, it is even harder.

Zahra al-Ayed, 14, and her sister Batoul, 17, were from a village in Syria’s northern Idlib province where women were expected to marry young.

But the experience of fleeing war and living in harsh poverty woke her parents to the life-changing importance of education, the girls’ mother Mirdiyeh al-Ayed said.

“My eldest daughter tells me that she will not marry until after she finishes her education. She even wants to travel abroad and learn,” she said.

Human Rights Watch organisation said in its latest report in April that more than half a million refugee children are out of school in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

In Lebanon, international donors paid for 200,000 public school spaces for Syrian children in 2015-2016, according to the HRW report, but only 149,000 children actually enrolled.

Lebanese and international non-governmental organizations have been striving to fill the gap, and to eliminate the legal, financial and language barriers preventing refugee children from getting their education.

For the al-Ayed family, used to Syria’s system of gender segregation after the age of 12, one big barrier to enrolling the girls was the lack of single-sex schools in Lebanon that accept refugees.

Syrian refugee girls are pictured at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the Lebanese non-profit Kayany Foundation in Bar Elias town, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

SYRIAN REFUGEES

The new school that Zahra will attend is in Bar Elias in the Bekaa valley and was opened on Thursday by the Kayany Foundation, a Lebanese charity. It educates 160 Syrian girls aged from 14-18 who have missed school for several years.

Those who manage to pass the Lebanese system’s eighth grade exams – usually taken at the age of 14 or 15 – can join the local Lebanese public school in Bar Elias, which Batoul al-Ayed has done.

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The Kayany Foundation school teaches the official Lebanese curriculum, which includes science, mathematics, Arabic and English, in addition to vocational skills.

The school, built from colorful pre-fabricated classrooms, is its seventh in the Bekaa valley, where the majority of the Syrian refugee communities are located in Lebanon.

It was meant to address the Syrian parents’ concerns about sending their teenage daughters to schools for both girls and boys. All its teachers are women and it provides transportation for students between home and school.

“Education is salvation for the refugee girls,” said Nora Jumblatt, head of the Kayany Foundation, at the opening ceremony.

Funding for the school was secured for this year from international charity Save the Children and the United Nations Women For Peace Association, according to Kayany officials.

“I have a dream to become a pharmacist,” Rama, 19, who is preparing to apply for the eight grade exams at Kayany school said. In normal times, Rama would already have been applying for university at that age.

“I still want to go back to Syria and fulfill my dream there, in Damascus University,” she added.

[“Source-reuters”]

Elon Musk’s New Plan: Travel from New Delhi to Tokyo in 30 Minutes

Elon Musk’s New Plan: Travel from New Delhi to Tokyo in 30 Minutes

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Elon Musk unveiled ambitious plans Friday to send cargo ships to Mars
  • He showed to use rockets to carry people between Earth’s major cities
  • A trip from Tokyo to Delhi would take just 30 minutes

Elon Musk on Friday unveiled his ambitious plan to send cargo ships to Mars in five years, as part of SpaceX’s efforts to make sure its rockets are financially feasible. The futurist said the company’s planned interplanetary transport system, codenamed BFR (Big Fucking Rocket), would be shrunk in size so that it can carry out a host of tasks that would help pay for future Mars mission. But Elon Musk isn’t stopping there, as he also plans to use rockets to transport people between major cities on Earth in less than half an hour.

“The most important thing… is that I think we have figured out how to pay for (BFR),” Musk told a packed auditorium at a global gathering of space experts in Adelaide. “Which is to have a smaller vehicle, it’s still pretty big, but one that can… do everything that’s needed in the greater Earth orbit activity.”

 

Elon Musk Mars mission

Elon Musk said SpaceX had starting building the system, with the construction of the first ship to start in six to nine months. “I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and launch in about five years,” he added.

At least two cargo ships would land on the Red Planet in 2022, with the key mission of finding the best source of water — currently mooted as a way to power rockets, he said. The rockets would place power, mining and life-support infrastructure on Mars to support future missions, with four ships set to take people, equipment and supplies to the planet in 2024. The trips would be funded by a range of activities, including launching satellites, servicing the space station and lunar missions, he said.

Elon Musk’s plan to reduce travel time between major cities

Elon Musk added that the rockets should also cater to Earth inhabitants by reducing the travel between major cities to less than half-an-hour. A trip from Bangkok to Dubai would take 27 minutes, and from Tokyo to Delhi in 30 minutes, according to his calculations.

“Once you are out of the atmosphere, it would be as smooth as silk, no turbulence, nothing,” he said. “There’s no weather… and you can get to most long-distance places in less than half-an-hour. If we are building this thing to go to the Moon and Mars, then why not go to other places on Earth as well.”

The week-long annual International Astronautical Congress, which concluded Friday, has seen government space agencies and private firms outline their plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars in the next few decades.

This included an agreement between Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA to work on the first lunar space station as part of a programme called the Deep Space Gateway.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Education department warns new university is ‘fraudulent’

Shai Reshef: UoPeople is accredited in the US. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SEAN GALLUP

Shai Reshef: UoPeople is accredited in the US. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SEAN GALLUP

South Africans love a freebie as much as anyone, but when a “tuition-free” university hit our shores recently, it rubbed higher education authorities up the wrong way.

On the eve of the launch of the University of the People (UoPeople) in SA, the department of higher education & training issued a media alert warning that the “fraudulent university” was not registered with the department as required by law, and that it could find no evidence that it was accredited with the US education department. UoPeople did not have the authority to enrol students or grant degrees in SA, it said.

Department spokesman Madikwe Mabotha says there is no evidence that the online American university is accredited in SA, and whether or not it is registered with the US education department has no bearing on its accreditation status in SA.

But the local department’s warnings fell on deaf ears, as the launch of UoPeople was covered by television and newspapers across the country, highlighting the desperate demand for fee-free higher education.

UoPeople president Shai Reshef says the university is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, an accreditation body that is approved by the US government. “University of the People has enrolled over 10,000 students from more than 200 countries. We are fully accredited in the US, and US higher education is generally well respected and recognised worldwide.”

In this country, the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) registers qualifications against its National Qualifications Framework, while the Council on Higher Education (CHE) accredits learning programmes and submits qualifications to the qualifications authority for registration under the framework.

SAQA advocacy, communications & support director Wellington Radu says genuine qualifications can be issued by an education provider only if it is registered with one of three quality councils in SA: Umalusi, the Quality Council for Trades & Occupations, and the CHE.

Mergence Investment Managers equity analyst Nolwandle Mthombeni, who works with private education groups, says: “In the context of [SA], it isn’t a recognised institution.”

Mabotha says fraudulent tertiary institutions are prevalent world wide. The problem is especially pronounced in the case of online distance learning companies.

“In this country, bogus operators hide behind so-called ‘international’ accreditation,” he says.

Though the department has shut down many bogus colleges, some operators change their modus operandi once they are caught. Some, like the Academy for Sexology in Pretoria, take their courses online; others change their names.

UoPeople’s Reshef insists the institution is accredited in the US. “At this point we have not felt the need to pursue accreditation in any other country,” he adds.

More than 400 local students have enrolled with UoPeople, even though some say it has not been transparent about its fee structure, as it is not completely cost free.

The university claims to have free programmes, but its steep processing fees mean it isn’t a cheaper education platform. UoPeople charges a nonrefundable US$60 “processing fee”. It also charges $100 for each exam and $200 for an MBA exam.

The average undergraduate student in SA has four exams per semester. Using this average, UoPeople’s cost per semester is actually more than R5,000, and this doubles for MBA students.

Reshef says these “modest fees” ensure that the university remains sustainable.

A registered student told the Financial Mail he is happy to have found an internationally recognised institution to further his studies. Registering was simple, he says, but little contact support is offered and students have to grapple with material on their own.

Another student says the model allows her to work full-time and study in between.

[“Source-businesslive”]

Nintendo is updating Super Mario Run with a new character, mode, and world

Nintendo will issue a new update to its iOS and Android game Super Mario Run on September 29th, which will include a new world, mode, and playable character.

The update will introduce a new mode called Remix 10, which randomly splices together 10 sections from the game’s various levels in quick succession and rewards players with rainbow medals. Completing the various stages will allow players to rescue Princess Daisy and subsequently play as her throughout the rest of the game. Players will also be able to unlock a new world called World Star, which includes nine new levels, enemies and some additional gameplay mechanics.

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Polygon notes that there’s some other minor updates: players can get new items to put in their Mushroom Kingdom, and can listen to their own music while they play — when they do so, their runners will wear headphones. Nintendo is also temporarily cutting the price in half starting on September 29th through October 12th.

[“Source-theverge”]