‘Welcome and important’: academics on decolonising education

Cyclists and pedestrians move along Trinity Street past St Johns College, part of the University of Cambridge

The debate sparked by a group of undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, on how and whether to “decolonise” British tertiary education by incorporating more black and minority ethnic voices, is spreading rapidly across universities and academic disciplines.

Paul Gilroy, professor of American and English literature at King’s College London, tweeted an image of Batman proclaiming “Decolonising the humanities isn’t just about Oxbridge”, and commented: “The caped crusader speaks for many of us.”

Malachi McIntosh, a Cambridge research fellow and expert on 20th and 21st century Caribbean literature, sees traditional curricula as damaging – and not just to literary understanding.

“Arguably, the narrowness of our curricula – at all levels of education – has fuelled the current political status quo, where a crude understanding of ‘us’ and ‘them’, built on a sepia-tinged nostalgia for a past that never was, is inspiring grand acts of national self-harm,” he says.

“In my eyes, the question is simple. Do we want to educate young people so that they understand the full range of experiences and perspectives that have contributed to world history? If our answer to that is yes, then we, at least in principle, support repeatedly reassessing who is read and studied and questioning what experiences and perspectives are left out. If our answer is no, then, in principle, we support limiting the exposure of the next and subsequent generations to the realities of the world they occupy.”

Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare studies at the University of Oxford, is shocked at the venom of some of the media coverage of the debate, and links it to other recent attacks on academic freedom. “We are all in defensive mode, I think, as if whatever we say will be wrong, what with ‘Brexit lecturers’ and ‘leftie heads of colleges’ and ‘social apartheid’,” she says.

Smith, who three years ago led an initiative at her college, Hertford, to replace the portraits of long-dead men with newly commissioned photographs of female alumni, welcomes the debate on broadening the syllabus, including in her own discipline – Shakespeare studies is one area that the Cambridge students singled out as meriting a postcolonial approach.

“I think this is exciting and prioritises new ways of seeing the canon, as well as bringing in new writers,” she says. “Decolonising to me is about developing and employing the critical, historical and conceptual tools to see how ‘English’ literature – like other ‘English’ things like tea and St George – is deeply, richly, problematically interconnected with ongoing histories of travel, colonisation, empire and migration.”

Gurminder K Bhambra, professor of postcolonial and decolonial studies at the University of Sussex, is amused – almost – that it took a row at Cambridge to get the issue widely reported in the media. She has created a website, Global Social Theory – now being contributed to by academics, students and people interested in the subject from all over the world – precisely to provide a wider view.

“Some of us have been working in this area for many, many years,” Bhambra says. “However, the debate the students have started is welcome and important, if it helps more people to understand that this is not about narrowing, it is about broadening.”

source:-theguardian

The Corporate Partnership Bringing Education And Technology To Rural Ghana

Many girls in rural Africa lack access to education due to factors like gender inequality and familial poverty. But for the past 10 years, a social entrepreneur and former educator in Ghana has been working to change that.

After observing the difficulty many young girls have while trying to access education and stay in school – as well as the lack of innovation in the educational system – social entrepreneur and Ghana native Kafui Prebbie believed he could improve education through technology – so he did.

Prebbie founded TECHAide, a technology company working to digitally deliver educational content to those typically unable to access education in Ghana.

TECHAide provides affordable hotspots, servers, mobile devices, interactive educational software and community computer labs to deliver educational lessons, videos and other content that can be leveraged in rural communities that traditionally lack these resources.

Recently, Prebbie launched the company’s newest product – ASANKA – a mobile hotspot and content delivery system named with a dual meaning: Community Bowl, a Ghanaian reference, and an acronym for All Subjects and New Knowledge Access.

Founded 10 years ago, Prebbie shares the company has reached more than 100,000 students in Ghana. And while TECHAide’s reach validates need, Prebbie wanted to take his technology to a new level – leveraging personal mobile devices to bring education to even more young students across Ghana, a goal that required the help of a strong corporate partner.

Source:-forbes

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

Image result for New school offers education 'salvation' for Syrian girls in Lebanon

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”]

Sharjah Ruler says education key in fight against terrorism

Sharjah Ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, second left, visits the Abu Dhabi tourist pavilion at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism

Sharjah Ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, second left, visits the Abu Dhabi tourist pavilion at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism

It is through education, the Sharjah Ruler said, that we can rid the region of the scourge of terrorism.

“The most effective way to face negative forces is through education and upbringing from an early age, all the way through to university,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi as he addressed attendees of the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany.

“This will empower individuals and develop their critical thinking and decision-making skills.”

Sheikh Sultan praised the constructive role Sharjah Youth and Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah organisations have played in encouraging education and creativity in the emirate’s young minds as he talked up the value of international book fairs.

“Taking part in different international fairs and exhibitions provides a platform to communicate with other cultures, enhance dialogue and promote the literary and scientific values of the Arab and Islamic world, as well as draw on international experience and expertise,” he said.

Concerned at the lack of appreciation shown to Arabic culture and literature in general, Sheikh Sultan hopes his visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair and his spearheading of the forthcoming Sharjah edition to be held on November 1 will act as a sign that writers’ and publishers’ work is valued.

“It is important that we are supporting authors, illustrators, publishers and other experts to develop the quality and quantity of literature,” he said.

“Sharjah’s cultural initiatives restore confidence and support intellectuals in the Arab world, many of whom had been disheartened with a lack of respect and recognition, in addition to the launch of children’s programmes, to build a new generation of writers, poets and intellectuals.”

Read more: Sharjah named World Book Capital for 2019 by Unesco

Sheikh Sultan also used the occasion to launch the German edition of his book, The Conflict between Power and Trade in the Gulf, which this year also received its English and French translation.

The event was part of a range of initiatives run by UAE cultural bodies in Frankfurt, led by the Sharjah delegation.

Wednesday also saw Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, as the founder of publishing house Kalimat Group, address a panel on the opportunities that literature translation presents.

She said international collaboration was key for regional publishers to evolve.

“The initial idea of using partnerships to have rights deals with different publishers really opens doors as a publisher, not only for cultural exchange but also to make sure that children in other parts of the world can understand more about our stories,” she said.

“It can act as an agent of soft diplomacy and make this world a better place.”

Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism was also present at Frankfurt, hosting a series of seminars emphasising German and Arabic cultural organisation and challenges facing the regional publishing industry.

Thursday saw Emirati author and academic Saeed Hamdan Altunaji and German literary scholar Klaus Reichert discuss the value of translating German literary classics to Arabic. Also on Thursday, the pavilion hosted a discussion on book piracy and intellectual property rights in the Arab world.

On the international front, blockbuster author Dan Brown launched the German translation of his latest novel Origins.

With the latest novel finding his hero, the symbologist Robert Langdon, solving a case involving clues found in modern art pieces, Brown told The National that the planned Guggenheim Abu Dhabi would have been an ideal setting for Origin.

“I have to admit that I saw the proposed blueprint for the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi and it will be one of the most spectacular buildings in the world,” he said.

“I think if that building was finished when I started this book there would have been a good chance the plot would have moved to Abu Dhabi. Call me when [The Louvre Abu Dhabi] is done. I want to see it.”

[“Source-thenational”]