May 2008

World news

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CBSE move to rank schools sparks  debate in UAE

The decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) of India to rank its affiliated schools based on the performance of students in Science and Mathematics has Sparked a debate in the United Arab Emirates. Parents and principals here are debating whether it is fair to judge students based on their performance in only two subjects.

CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly had said that the new ranking system would help schools in India to compete better internationally. According to the new system, schools will have to submit 20 of its best pupils from grade 4, 5 and 8 for a special test. Schools will then be rated based on their performance.

Some feel it was unfair to rank schools because not all have the same quality of infrastructure and accessibility to learning tools. Rani George, principal of the Global English School in Al Ain, was of the opinion that all subjects should be given equal importance.

Of the 9,581 CBSE-affiliated schools worldwide, 50 are in the UAE and most children of the 1.4 million-strong expatriate Indian community in this Gulf nation attend these schools.

NASA gets serious about educational gaming

NASA has moved a step closer to branching into educational gaming. The agency presented its vision of a science education-focused massively multiplayer online game to more than 200 potential software development partners in a workshop sponsored by NASA Learning Technologies, an educational technology incubator project.

The idea of the MMO educational game is to present NASA content in such a way as to draw students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning and to spark interest in STEM-oriented careers. It will be aimed primarily at teenagers, according to NASA, focusing on middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students.

“The use of online educational games can capture student interest in NASA's missions and science.” The game will be designed to act as a virtual laboratory, a visualization tool, and a collaborative workspace.

John Hopkins univ goes mobile on uPortal

Johns Hopkins University has chosen Unicon to develop and deploy the school's new mobility theme based on uPortal, the open source enterprise portal for higher education.

The mobility theme is designed to enhance the functionality and content of Johns Hopkins' campus portal to make it accessible by mobile devices such as cell phones, smartphones, and PDAs.

The mobility development work and testing is scheduled to be completed and go live in the summer of 2008. The university plans to donate the mobile development work back to the uPortal open source community.

uPortal is an open source enterprise portal collaboratively developed by higher-education. Using Java, Extensible Markup Language (XML), JavaServer Pages Technology (JSP) and Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) technologies, the uPortal framework enables standards-based integration with authentication and security applications, single sign on secure access and end-user customization.

Intel to expand its Teach programme in Arab countries

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett used his fourth visit to the UAE to release his programme of education and training. More specifically, Barrett intends to work with the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation to expand Intel's Teach programme across other Arab countries, and to bring in a volunteer programme with INJAZ al-Arab to help educate Arab youth.

Working with local governments and Ministries of Education, Sheikh Muhammed's foundation and Intel plan to train more than two million Arab teachers by 2011.Training will occur throughout Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. The programme aims at developing Arab talent and improving education in the region.

“Every young person deserves a chance at the kind of education that helps them prepare for competing in our 21st century knowledge-based economy,” Craig Barrett believes: “We think teacher training is a significant start. This is a prime example of the potential of public-private partnerships in changing the lives of people, particularly through the adoption of technology.”

Malaysia to upgrade 40 Tamil schools

In a significant decision to boost education in Tamil Nadu, the Malaysian government has agreed to a proposal to spend 41.5 million ringgit (RM41.5 million) which is approximately USD 13 million for the purpose of upgrading 40 Tamil schools in the country.

Under the proposed funding, 40 government-aided Tamil schools throughout the country will be refurbished and upgraded at a total cost of RM41.5 million.

The projects would be implemented under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP). The projects will begin in July.

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