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Articles tagged “education

How language is influencing the growth of ASEAN

Posted on September 18, 2013

There is a 140 character limit on micro-blogging platform Twitter, one of the top 10 most visited sites on the Internet used to share anything from real-time news to mundane activity updates. It’s a short sentence or two if you were to ‘tweet’ (or micro-blog) in English. But in Mandarin, 140 characters is enough to write a short story.

In the Christian Bible, the story of the Tower of Babel shared how the people of Earth wanted to build a tower that would reach heaven and prove humans could be equal to God. God says in Genesis 11:6,

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

To save them from their pride and arrogance, God created language to divide the people, thus never completing the construction of the tower.

The nuances of language is fascinating. Some languages are rich enough in vocabulary to describe the parts of a bicycle in one or two sentences. While other languages are more conversational and would probably take a paragraph or two to do the same. Hence, the ability of a language to effectively transmit information may hinder the growth of its citizens if schools in a country prefer using their native mother tongue as the medium of instruction.

Students discussing homework before school begins at a private school in Lvea Aem District in Kandal Province, Cambodia.

Students discussing homework before school begins at a private school in Lvea Aem District in Kandal Province, Cambodia.


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The Perils of Ignoring Humanities

Posted on July 4, 2013

One generation from now, parents and educators will reflect upon our era and wonder if we had ever bothered to consider the price for favouring technical academic subjects over the humanities.

In a recent piece on the New York Times, Verlyn Kinkenborg describes the dwindling interest for the humanities in higher education. Kinkenborg laments as an educator, “Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t.”

“Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.”

A Post-College Flowchart, Illustration by Jenna Brager

A Post-College Flowchart, Illustration by Jenna Brager


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Source: Beedieu

The OER Movement: A 21st Century Solution for Improving Education

Posted on April 12, 2013

The past decade has seen a shift in global power. That there is no longer a preeminent Western superpower becomes increasingly clear with time, as does the economic rise of the Global South. One reason for this can be attributed to education. Many countries in the Global South emphasize education as a key method for improving economic realities. The desire for improved education systems is there but the resources often are not. A recent movement championed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aims to change this. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement encourages educators to share, and allow others to amend and distribute, their content for free. Educators worldwide can then access the best of what is available to meet local needs saving research time and increasing action time. While OER is young, it has the potential to play a key role in improving education worldwide both within a country and across global borders.

History Behind the OER Movement

There is no universal definition for the “open” in OER, or for its sister terms open access, open source, or OpenCourseWare. However, the origins of OER’s definition can be narrowed to July 2002 at the conclusion of a UNESCO forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries. Attendees united to define it as,

“Technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes [that] are typically made freely available over the web or the internet.”

They went on to describe such resources to include lecture material and syllabi, references and readings, and experiments and demonstrations.

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Hunger + Survival = Mother of Creativity

Posted on March 19, 2013


Clara Balaguer, Philippines

Founder, Office of Culture and Design

“To us, art, literature and design are not elitist luxuries. They are useful necessities.”

Clara Lobregat Balaguer is an oddball.

As she meets me for this interview, it’s not so difficult to notice that she does stand out in a crowd than it is to pinpoint why. Yes, she is rather tall compared to the average Filipina; her woven sombrero towering over everyone else makes it easy for me to spot her. She greets me with a smile, full and fiery red. I am relieved; she says she’s been stressed. She has been buried deep in work, which at the moment is in post-production for a film about an active volcano in the Philippines and the displaced indigenous people living around it.

Photo: Office of Culture & Design

Photo: Office of Culture & Design

This is just one of her hands-on projects for her company, the Office of Culture and Design (OCD), which serves as a platform for artists, writers, and designers in the developing world. That description barely sums up the OCD as a leveraging multi-platform. Based on the mixed composition of its projects, its stakeholders and the diverse range of collaborators, the Office of Culture and Design is a constantly fluid, constantly evolving entity engaged in as many diverse forms of mixed media as the opportunities it aims to create and open. And that’s the striking feature of this creative enterprise: whether it’s a book, or an art workshop, or a film documentary, there is—and always will be—a bottom line. Each creative project identifies and directly engages with its stakeholder—real people.

And without an actual label for the OCD (a social enterprise? a creative social enabler? a design thinking firm?), it is pretty much an oddball in the business world. A mixed-breed and ongoing experiment in various aspects, albeit effective—just like its founder.

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Photo: Stevens Institute of Technology. New Jersey, USA

Co-op: A practical approach to higher education

Posted on March 14, 2013

Much debated today is the value of internships. An increasing number of students, fresh graduates, and young professionals alike compete for coveted positions with hope that one day they will be hired. Gaining work experience through a summer internship has long been the norm, but an increasing number of graduates with good degrees are taking unpaid endlessly renewable positions. In some industries the unpaid internship has almost become the new entry-level job, the initiation into the workforce. The problem is two-fold: why are ambitious, educated twenty-somethings willing to work for no pay and why are employers willing to invest resources in those they do not plan to hire? In 1992 one of Bill Clinton’s campaign strategists coined “It’s the economy, stupid,” a phrase that fits with this generations plight to find a full-time job.

When internships are viewed as short-term assignments, work given tends to involve miscellaneous tasks. But four-month placements can be long enough for interns to take on key roles in projects, and eight-month placements may allow them to see a project through to the end. Curious about life in publishing, Rosalind Gunn came to Singapore by way of Canada in May of 2011 to take on an Editorial Assistant position with Pearson Education. The work was a good fit for her and within her four-month stint she was involved in marketing, promoting, and editing a research package and handbook for primary school grammar teachers. Reflecting on her experience, she shares with OpenBrief,

“It was immensely rewarding to be so integral to a project and to actually have a tangible product at the end of my term. It also helped me build a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities, being given so much trust and responsibility by my employer and the head editor of the book. That said, it was also a lot of work and demanded many a late night in order to meet deadlines. I was lucky … I was treated [and paid] as a member of staff.”
Photo: Rosalind Gunn

Photo: Rosalind Gunn

A successful internship is a partnership – employers must be willing to trust interns with work, and interns must be consummate professionals.


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