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Can we close prisons by building thoughtful educators?

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Education works at the core of any nation’s development. It nurtures the generations, in terms of empowerment, while keeping an eye to foresee the challenges of coming eras. An outstanding education model allows its citizens to emerge as thinkers and leaders. Generally, speaking about OCED top education models and specifically about Singapore, there are so many things to be learned.

Since 1965, Singapore has consistently transformed its education system to meet changing landscapes. The overall objective was to develop a cohesive society and prepare successive generations of young people to thrive and compete in a globalized future. Singapore has suffered badly from ethnic divisions, political instability and problems faced by many third world countries including Pakistan. Being a  former British colony, the education  system was badly suffering from multiple streams of education, low investment in schools infrastructure, outdated and inappropriate British curriculum (today considered as the  elite curriculum in Pakistan!), poorly linked with emerging economic needs and the  worst teacher training infrastructure and low status of teachers. Singapore had faced these all from 1945-1960.

Apart from many exemplary changes, one of the biggest achievements of Singapore was building “Thinking Schools-Learning nation” to gear the education system towards nurturing an innovative society in the new millennium. They provided opportunities for teachers and pupils to engage in creative approaches in teaching and learning, to develop the habit of thinking for them. Furthermore, they provided more diverse paths for students with different talents to develop their knowledge, skills and character.

 Quality teachers, superiority education, status of teaching as a profession increased dramatically since the 1960s. Educational excellence was sustained through recruitment and training of quality teachers and outstanding school leaders. Concept of ‘life-long training’ and re-training for all teachers and principals was a big feather in the cap of Singapore’s education model. Education and lifelong learning became the priority of the nation; thus, it blossomed the whole education system and brought it to the top 5 education models of the world.

Not only this, but a close look at the  crime rate shows that when Singapore started investing in teachers and quality teaching, updating the status of educators and pumping in billions of dollars in education, the crime rate started decreasing. Since 1992, it has fallen to the lowest crime rate in the world.  The annual education budget exceeds 11.6 billion dollars which is about 22% of annual GDP in Singapore. This is not only for the infrastructure, but a huge amount is invested in teachers, where teachers are provided continuous support and are   helped to emerge as high order thinkers. Amazingly, this investment led them to emerge as the   healthiest nation in the world.

With this, Singapore received crowns of honor on different tables, from economic stability to low crime rate. Data shows that this started changing, when this country and the nation decided to groom and support teachers and educators.

Now have a look at our education model. According to UNESCO report titled “Status of Teachers in Pakistan 2013”, public sector schools under the department of education, private schools and madrassas have over the years emerged as the three largest education providers; however, the latter provide space to no more than 2% of the total enrolled. Private sector has a range of schools from profit to non-profit operated by private owners, trusts, NGSs, missionaries, wifaqs/madrassas that have flourished over time to share the burden, for making education accessible to almost 35-40 percent of the children of the country with accountable teaching cadres. The report clearly mentions that teachers belonging to such institutions have their own rights and requirements, which are often overlooked by the policy makers. A more coordinated approach is perhaps required, which takes into account the issues and challenges of these teachers, who are contributing significantly to support various modes of service delivery of education in Pakistan.
According to this report, teaching profession has for long remained poorly treated in Pakistan. Teachers are working in environments characterized by diminishing resources, limited opportunities, low remuneration, marginalization, ill-perceived and at times contradictory, frequently changing policies and mismanagement. The teachers in Pakistan continue to suffer a compromised status in society. Due to a number of factors often backed by evidence, teaching profession is generally regarded as low-paying and a semi-profession in Pakistan. The factors  are: (1) resistance to expanding knowledge and application expectations,  (2) low economic standing,  (3) mixed perceptions about professional and social standing,  (4) lack of standards, corrupt practices and credibility of educational outcomes, (5) association with politicians or people of influence for personal benefits only , and (6) absence of monitoring and support. All of these contribute in putting the teaching profession low on the priority list of career options. The report concludes that the challenges cannot be overcome, unless the teachers achieve the socio-economic status that has been due for long. It further suggests that although some positive improvements have undergone recently; however, there is a need for meeting and upgrading minimum benchmarks and national standards on content, qualifications and licensing/certifications. A proper assessment of the effectiveness of training programs should be made by the independent organizations/committee.

The seriousness of the government for education sector can been gauged by looking at the annual budget for education. In year 2013-14, it is reduced to 8.2 million dollars compared to Singapore which increased to 11.6 billion dollars. On the other hand, the annual budget for police reforms, jails and judiciary exceeds 52.4 billion dollars according to independent sources, while 1.8% budget increase in given to judiciary in Pakistan.

Despite the fact that   a huge amount is spent on police, judiciary and jails, the crime rate has crossed the barrier of 51%  ; the safety index is moderate at daytime and low during night time. Many cases are not reported especially child harassment, sexual abuse and rape.

A closer look at the statistical data shows that although the spending on police, judiciary and jails is very high, but the crime rate is also increasing. No one has the wisdom to relate it with the fact that a nation with a minimum educational budget   which is cut down annually  suffers this and  this is not  something unexpected.

Instead of building high order thinkers and empathetic society, we fabricated a volatile society which is ready to erupt anytime. Instead of spending billions of dollars on jails, courts and security, there is a dire need to invest in teachers. In Pakistan, the teachers are the most underprivileged class among all other top notch professions. There are meager training opportunities both in public and   the private sector and   the trainings are often based on false slogans. Even the big private school chains do not have enough competence to build teacher as high order thinkers and transform the conventional teaching to innovative teaching, rather a habit to hide flaws under the carpet prevails. They focus on fancy terms, plagiarism and picking attractive slogans such as “No Child Left Behind” and resenting in trainings as entirely new idea. Subsequently, the teachers are not benefited, but only collect certificates. Lifelong learning is not a priority, but the grades and scores has ruined the ethics of education, so the shortcuts got introduced.

Low salaries, high stakes, job insecurities in private sector lead teachers to another rat race and that is evening tuitions. This practice ceased critical thinking and innovative teaching. The matters of embarrassment have become matters of pride and the standards took a paradigm shift.

In conclusion, one must understand that if you want to keep your jails empty, fill the minds with thoughts and reasoning skills. If you want to give a rest to your judiciary, build educators as social reformers. According to Physics, total energy of a closed system remains same. If spending more on judiciary and police is not controlling crime rate, try to invest more in quality lifelong learning; you will get the results. Empower the teachers with quality trainings and recognition in terms of social status, and then; keep an eye on crime rate. The countries with the   world’s best education models are the safest countries as well. They have more tolerant citizens ambitious for innovations and empathetic. Examples are there, but a will is required to transform.  


Umair Qureshi
Beacon House, Islamabad 

Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc. For further details you can email us at: [email protected]

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Heroes

19 Year Old Pakistani Wins Princess Cup

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Hammad Hadi Khan wins 29th Princess Cup International Youth Tournament
Pakistan continues to dominate the world of youth scrabble! Hammad Hadi Khan wins 29th Princess Cup youth scrabble championship in Thailand. The runner up, Moiz Baig is also from Pakistan.
The three-day 29th Princess Cup Youth tournament kicked off at Bangkok, Thailand. The Princess cup is an annual event sponsored by the royal family in Thailand and is attended by the top players from all over the world.

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Heroes

Muniba Mazari wins Karic Award in Serbia

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The most beautiful lady on the wheel who inspires millions around the World.

If you feel demotivated & depress & now you can’t do anything, you are helpless then you must Google one name; The great Muniba Mazari. The biggest example of positive attitude, passion for life, passion for work and strongest will power. The greatest example of courage & will power that can even beat death & any disability!

Muniba Mazari wins Karica Brother Award. The Karic Brothers Award has been established as a result of a firm belief in the inexhaustible capacity of intellect and value, primarily of our own people. Its purpose is to stimulate and motivate all those who create and produce value that will result in more pleasant living conditions. On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the BK Company, the Karic family and the Karic Foundation introduced the Karic Brothers Award. It is presented for the highest achievements in the following categories: culture and arts, scientific research work, publishing and journalism, economy and commerce, humanitarian activity in support of peace, cooperation and amity amongst people. The award is presented annually. Individuals, organisations and institutions all have the right to propose a candidate. The proposal should be submitted in written form to the Karic Foundation. The Executive Board decides on the laureates. A team of experts proposes to the Board three candidates in each category of whom one is subsequently chosen. The award was originally presented in 1998 and the names of its winners best attest to the justified ambition of becoming, with time, the Serbian equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

“Thank you very much Karić Foundation for acknowledging the efforts and for giving this huge honour! While I am nothing without the support of my mother, family and friends I’ll dedicate this award to all the people of the world who suffer discrimination of any sort. To all the people who are made to believe they are lesser of a human. Let’s hope for a tomorrow free of discrimination be it gender, racial, religious or against people with physical or mental challenges. Let’s be there for one another, let’s embrace everyone the way they are. In the end, a little more kindness and a little less judgment is all we need to make this world a better place to live. So let’s be kind and be human!” 
-Muniba Mazari

Written by Rohayl Varind

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Pakistan

5 year old Child from Pakistan wins Global Award

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5 year old Child from Peshawar, Pakistan wins global award.

A local boy Essa Zaheer who is five-year old made Pakistan proud when his two-minute film won first prize in the “Peace in the Street Global Film Festival (PSGFF)” at the United Nations headquarters.

The short film by Essa Zaheer, “I will be your Spiderman,” stood first among the 320 movies made by young.

The film shows how a kid becomes Spiderman and spends all his savings to buy uniform and books for a young girl working in his house as a maid.

Essa Zaheer was presented with the prize in the United Nations Headquarters in New York while his family accompanying him was given tour of the UN offices and the United States State Department. 

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Featured

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for International Student 2018/2019

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Each year the Swiss Confederation awards Government Excellence Scholarships to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries. Recipients are selected by the awarding body, the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).

The Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships are aimed at young researchers from abroad who have completed a master’s degree or PhD and at foreign artists holding a bachelor’s degree.

Eligible Regions: Open For All

Types of scholarship

Research Scholarship – Available to post-graduate researchers in any discipline (who hold a master’s degree as a minimum) who are planning to come to Switzerland to pursue research or further studies at doctoral or post-doctoral level.

Research scholarships are awarded for research or study at all Swiss cantonal universities, universities of applied sciences and the two federal institutes of technology. Only candidates nominated by an academic mentor at one of these higher education institutions will be considered.

Art Scholarships – Open to art students wishing to pursue an initial master’s degree in Switzerland.
Art scholarships are awarded for study at any Swiss conservatory or university of the arts. This scholarship is available to students from a limited number of countries only.

Benefits of Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for International Student 2018/2019 

The scholarship covers a monthly payment, exemption of tuition fees, health insurance, air fare, housing allowance, etc., as applicable. Please refer to the country-specific fact sheets for exact scholarship benefits.

Eligibilities

Please refer to the country-specific fact sheets for general and specific eligibility criteria.

The FCS assesses scholarship applications according to three criteria:

a) Candidate profile
b) Quality of the research project or artistic work
c) Synergies and potential for future research cooperation

Location: Switzerland

Application Deadline: September-December 2017

Official Link to Apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for International Student 2018/2019 

https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/home/bildung/scholarships-and-grants/swiss-government-excellence-scholarships-for-foreign-scholars-an.html#2146630976

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Featured

One Young World Summit 2017- Leading Pakistan Award (Fully Funded)

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One Young World has launched a global ‘Local Organising Committee’ model. Known as NYLOCs ( ‘National Young Leaders Organising Committees’)

The One Young World NYLOC for Pakistan is chaired by Naila Mir. Naila has 16 years experience centered around sustainable business, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, partnerships, and strategic communications. She recently established her own not-for-profit network, P3 Collective, to help young people achieve their purpose and collectively make an impact. Naila is a passionate champion of young leaders and is working hard to support bright young talent from Pakistan to participate in the upcoming One Young World Summit in Bogotá.

One Young World’s newly established Local Organising Committee for Pakistan is proud to announce one Delegate scholarship place for an impactful young leader from Pakistan to attend the One Young World Summit 2017 in Bogotá, 4-7 October.

What does the scholarship include?

  1. Access to the One Young World Summit 2017 in Bogotá, Colombia
  2. Hotel accommodation on a shared basis between 4 October and 7 October
  3. Catering which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  4. Transport between the Summit accommodation and the Summit venues
  5. Summit hand-outs and support materials.
  6. The cost of travel to and from Bogotá.
  7. Post-Summit, all ‘Delegates’ become lifetime members of the One Young World Ambassador network which spans 196 countries with over 8,000 members.

Who can apply?

In order to apply you must: 

  1. Aged 18 – 30
  2. A national of Pakistan

Candidates must demonstrate:

  • Evidence of commitment to creating positive change in Pakistan. This commitment can come in many forms; ranging from a high level of involvement in community initiatives to social entrepreneurship or from leading responsible business practices to public service
  • Leadership ability and examples
  • Concern and knowledge of local and related global issues must be evident
  • Ability to generate, articulate and achieve impactful ideas
  • Teamwork

Location: Bogotá, Colombia

Application Deadline: August 18th 2017

Official Link to Apply for One Young World Summit 2017- Leading Pakistan Award 

https://www.oneyoungworld.com/leading-pakistan-award-0

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Featured

Fellowship to COP 23 in Bonn, Germany (Fully Funded)

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Climate Tracker is launching its COP23 opportunity, and it is stacked with opportunities and prizes for Trackers from everywhere in the world!

If you want to be part of this incredible transition, it’s time to raise your voice, and join their opportunity for a Fully Funded trip to COP23, in Germany in November.

With the signing of the Paris Agreement almost two years behind them, it is time to step up their game. The Renewable Energy Transition is unstoppable! Even if Trump wants to pull out of the Paris Agreement, now he wants Solar Panels on Border Wall.

Around the world, Renewable energy is driving bigger changes than we have seen in generations, and the pressure is on for countries to take their transitions even further. 

Benefits

  • Fully funded fellowship (including accommodations, travel, allowance)
  • Join the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd conference of parties

Am I eligible to apply?

Participants from all countries between the ages of 18 and 30 years old are eligible.

They do have one special set of Countries, and they will definitely select at least one person from the following Countries:

Indonesia | The Philippines | India | Ethiopia | Nigeria | Egypt | Bangladesh | Peru | Pakistan | Turkey

But they have 4 other spots available for anyone in the world!

They encourage young writers from around the world (like yourself) to help us write inspiring stories and to publish them in media, and we will reward five of you with a spot to COP 23 in Germany!

Publish 3 articles on the topics of:

  1. Renewable Energy,
  2. Climate Finance,
  3. and Climate and Health.
Deadline: September 30, 2017

Official Link to Apply for Fellowship to COP 23 in Bonn, Germany (Fully Funded)

http://app.climatetracker.org/competition/52aa87a3-3ed2-4392-8c50-e5473a9b36a2/information

Deadline: September 30, 2017

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Featured

The TED 2018 Fellowship program (Fully Funded)

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The TED 2018 Fellowship program (Fully Funded)

The TED Fellows program opens applications to find a new class of extraordinary thinkers and doers. The TED Fellowship program has the ability to slingshot your career forward. As a Fellow, you will be introduced into a powerful network of innovators that can be future collaborators.

Eligible Regions: Open for All

Benefits

  • Once applicant are selected as a TED Fellow, then organizer will cover applicant flights (or equivalent) to and from the TED conference, any visa that may need, room, board + food while at the conference, and a conference pass.
  • TED will provide a formal letter of invitation that should be sufficient for most countries’ visa applications.
  • Your formal letter of invitation can also be used to document the trip if applicant are a student studying in another country. TED do cover visa application fees.
  • Fellows have access to personal mentorship opportunities

Eligibilities Requirement:

  • Applicants of ages 21-40 and anyone over age 18 is welcome to apply.
  • After get selected as ted fellow, applicant will be required to block off a total of eight consecutive days (April 21 – 28, 2018 in order to be a TED Fellow)
  • English proficiency is required.

Deadline: September 10, 2017

Official Link to Apply for TED 2018 Fellowship program (Fully Funded)

https://www.ted.com/participate/ted-fellows-program/apply-to-be-a-ted-fellow

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Inspirational

Heartbroken bride throws feast for the homeless after wedding called off

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A woman who called off her $30,000 wedding has invited homeless people to come and eat the food prepared for the reception.

Sarah Cummins, 25, broke off her wedding, then realised that her sit-down reception dinner for 170 at the Ritz Charles was non-refundable.

Feeling “really sick” about throwing away the food she had ordered for the reception, she began contacting local homeless shelters and has invited people to come along.

“We’re doing all the same stuff, just arranging the tables differently, so there’s no head table for the bridal party, no cake table or gift table,” Cummins told Media.

Purdue University pharmacy student Sarah Cummins, 25, has spent the past few years planning her dream wedding. She’s spent years saving and working overtime to pay for the $30,000 extravaganza.

Cummins arranged for two buses to pick up about 170 residents and their families.

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