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A coffin, a horse and a flag

Marwa Osman

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Bradford City Centre was the scene of a rather unusual procession this Saturday (June 18th) as members of “The 10th Day” and “I am Hussain” took to the streets to honour one of their most revered religious figures: Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS), the third Imam of Islam.

As Muslims across the world are marking the fast of Ramadan, both organizations were keen to offer their community an offering of solidarity, cohesion, and togetherness, through the acknowledgement of one of Islam’s greatest martyrs, and leaders: Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

A historical figure whose glory, unparalleled courage, and strength in the face of tyranny left an indelible mark on History, Imam Hussain (AS) has remained central to Shia Islam. Still, his life … and his death echo of a Truth which brilliance has transcended time, and touched communities far beyond the Islamic realm.

It is his commitment to truth and justice which “The 10th Day” and “I am Hussain” wanted to highlight, and pay homage to in Bradford this Saturday.

Over a thousand years ago, in the burning desert of Karbala (Iraq), Imam Hussain and his 72 valiant supporters faced the tyranny of Yazid – a tyrant over nations. Cornered by an army several thousand-men strong, Imam Hussain refused to bow.

Where most would have faltered, Imam Hussain stood, unbending, and undefeated in his determination to speak against absolutism and injustice.

It is such a powerful message of resistance and solidarity which “The 10th Day” and “I am Hussain” came to celebrate in Bradford – hoping to inspire a new sense of social cooperation within their community.

To join in their efforts were many well-known local officials, among whom Bradford’s Deputy Lord Mayor Alun Griffiths, and MP Imran Hussain.

While we may all differ in our faiths, lifestyles and political sensitivities, we all share in those values which stand central to our humanity: human rights, and an innate yearning for justice.

Amid the crowd was put on display, a coffin, a horse and the flag of Imam Hussain (AS) – the symbols of a battle fought, reminders of our collective history.

If many passers-by were a bit dubious as to what a coffin, a horse and a flag were doing in their city centre, all were soon keen to join in the symbolic of such a gathering.

As Sister Mehvish noted (a volunteer for both organizations) success will come in our ability to share in the symbolic, and visual relevance of Karbala to better raise awareness to Imam Hussain’s message to humanity.

As MP Imran Hussain noted: “the events of over 1000 years ago should never be forgotten.”

Ms. Marwa Osman. PhD Candidate located in Beirut, Lebanon. University Lecturer and host of the political show “The Middle East Stream” broadcasted on Al-Etejah English Channel. Member of the Blue Peace Media Network and political commentator on issues of the Middle East on several international and regional media outlets.

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New Social Compact

From Wall-Less Design to Robotics Training: Meet the 16 Schools Defining the Future of Education

MD Staff

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The World Economic Forum identified 16 Schools of the Future – defined as schools, school systems and programmes – that are playing a critical role in preparing the global citizens and workforces of the future. Located in five continents as well as in developing and developed economies, and collectively reaching nearly 2.5 million children, these schools represent public-private collaborations to improve education systems with strategies including aligning curricula with future skills needs, training teachers in the latest industry practices and providing hands-on education experiences for students.

A new white paper, Schools of the Future: Defining New Models of Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, published today, outlines a framework to define quality education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Education 4.0 – and shares key features from innovative education models. In parallel, the Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative to mobilize multistakeholder collaborations to accelerate the scaling up of best practices and enable system-level transformation in education.

Defining Education 4.0

Through a consultative process with educators, policy-makers, business leaders, EdTech developers and experts, the World Economic Forum has proposed eight shifts within education content and experiences to define quality education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The framework serves as an important first step in setting the direction of innovation in education and reviving it as a means to improved social mobility and inclusion.

According to the report, innovation-driven economies and increasingly interconnected and interdependent societies demand that children develop four key skill sets: global citizenship, innovation and creativity, technology and interpersonal skills. Fostering these skills will require a shift towards radical new approaches to learning that are personalized and self-paced, accessible and inclusive, problem-based and collaborative as well as lifelong and student-driven.

Schools of the Future

The Green School (Indonesia): This school has a wall-less, open-air design that enables students to be directly connected to the surrounding nature. The school’s physical layout supports its curricular focus on sustainability and real-world application. For example, students at the Green School have designed and built a usable bamboo bridge over a river and a new sustainable hydropower system for the school. Today the school uses just 10% of the energy consumed by other schools.

The Kakuma Project, Innovation Lab Schools (Kenya): Although currently in the process of building a physical school for this programme, the Kakuma project has already created a movement of 375 educators throughout 75 countries who provide lessons to children at the Kakuma Refugee camp via Skype. A foldable solar panel is used to ensure that the camp has a sustainable source of energy to support distance learning. The programme also trains local teachers in the implementation of a new curriculum based on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Knowledge Society (Canada): This after school programme was designed to mirror the learning and working environments of major technology companies, exposing students to the most cutting-edge innovations. The programme partners with businesses to enable their students to consult private-sector leaders about real challenges within the company. By the end of the programme, every student has developed their own disruptive company.

Kabakoo Academies (Mali): Kabakoo works closely with local businesses to help their students identify issues within the community that require innovative and urgent action, helping them to rapidly develop market-ready prototypes through a sustainability lens. For example, since the programme’s launch in 2018 students have designed and implemented a system for monitoring the air quality in Bamako, which includes installing air monitors throughout the city and using an online platform to track trends.

TEKY STEAM (Viet Nam): This network of labs in Viet Nam offers children ages 6-18 courses in technology, including programming, 3D printing, robotics and virtual reality. It is the first of its kind in Viet Nam and students have already won a number of national and international competitions in coding, robotics and other STEM fields.

Accelerated Work Achievement and Readiness Programme (Indonesia): This programme collaborates with more than 65 businesses in the country to provide workplace readiness opportunities for students, starting at high school age. The programme’s pilot trained more than 4,000 students, 98% of which were placed in on-the-job training and one-half of whom are already employed.

iEARN (Spain): With headquarters based in Spain, iEARN is a global platform for exchange between more than 2 million children worldwide. Children collaborate in global teams on projects promoting global citizenship through iEARN’s project-based learning framework and digital platform, which connects children in classrooms in various parts of the world.

South Tapiola High School (Finland): This school focuses on fostering independent thinking, while also helping students develop the interpersonal skills needed for the future. Each student goes through the School’s Young Entrepreneurship Programme, in which students collaborate in groups over the course of a year to design and create their own businesses.

Pratham’s Hybrid Learning Programme (India): There are no teachers in this programme, which involves more than 90,000 children in India. Instead, local volunteers act as facilitators for entirely student-led learning. Pratham provides a bank of project ideas related to health, the arts, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and student groups choose which projects to pursue.

Anji Play (China): This curriculum – used throughout one school district in China – focuses on tapping into children’s natural curiosity and allowing them to learn entirely through play. Teachers create an environment for children to self-direct play at their own pace, conduct observations of the children’s interactions and guide reflection discussions after play experiences.

Prospect Schools (USA): This network of schools was designed with a focus on inclusion. Each class is designed to be diverse and inclusive, ensuring a balance of student race and ethnicity, fluency in English, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. The school hires teachers to mirror the diversity of their student body and teachers attend regular equality and inclusion trainings throughout the year.

Tallahassee Community College, Digital Rail Project (USA): Learning in this programme takes place in 8-metre long trailers. These are fully equipped with the latest technologies, including robotics, 3D printing and virtual reality, and deliver STEM learning to Tallahassee’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Children receive digital skills passports, which allow them to connect the skills learned in any given lesson with future careers.

Innova Schools (Peru): This network of schools in Peru and Mexico uses a blended learning model to tailor education for each student. Approximately 70% of student learning takes place through collaborative projects, while the rest is dedicated to independent education via online platforms. The school’s physical spaces were designed to support new approaches to learning and include features such as movable walls.

British School Muscat (Oman): This school’s curriculum focuses on discovery learning, an approach where multiple subjects are integrated into collaborative projects focused on the experience rather than the final product or answer. This interdisciplinary approach enables students to draw interlinkages between various content areas and focus on the specific skills to apply that content to the real world. The school is collaborating with the Government of Oman to train teachers throughout the country in this methodology.

Skills Builder Partnership (United Kingdom): This partnership of more than 700 organizations and schools is built around a co-designed framework for fostering the skills of the future to ensure alignment in the approaches used to foster those skills at school and in the workplace. Teachers in 12 countries are currently using the Skills Builder framework and similar approaches to foster those future skills. Each student in the partnership participates in work-based education experiences in which private-sector partners also employ the same skills framework.

Skilling for Sustainable Tourism (Ecuador): This programme engages Ecuador’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tourism, tourism industry leaders and local schools to design education that directly contributes to shaping the future of the sustainable tourism industry, a sector that employs a high number of youth. A steering committee of private-sector leaders supports alignment between the programme’s curricula and future employment trends.

Activating Education 4.0

Systems-level change is needed to realize Education 4.0 for all children. There are more than 260 million children out of school today, and an additional 617 million children in school, but not learning adequately. Even those enrolled in relatively well-performing education systems are often missing the core tenets of future-ready education. Without urgent action to address these gaps, more than 1.5 billion children could be left unprepared to fulfill their potential by 2030, posing risks for future productivity and equality. The Schools of the Future can serve as inspiration for leapfrogging to the education of the future for those children who lack access to schooling, and as a vision for changing content and experiences for children currently enrolled in schools, system-level change is needed to realize Education 4.0 for all students.

To facilitate the transition to the education of the future, the World Economic Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative as one of five Forum-led flagship initiatives of the Reskilling Revolution platform, which aims to provide better jobs, education and skills to 1 billion people by 2030. The initiative invites education ministers, finance ministers and chief executive officers from business who are champions of education as well as other stakeholders to join the Forum platform to define and implement a holistic action agenda to realize Education 4.0.

“There is clear consensus that education systems must be updated to ensure children become productive, innovative and civic-minded members of society. Educators, education and finance ministries, and private-sector leaders have a moral and economic responsibility to co-create and implement new models to ensure that all children are prepared for the future. This is why the World Economic Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative and developing a community of leading champions for mobilizing change on this agenda,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society and Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

The initiative aims to mobilize key stakeholders in transitioning to Education 4.0 and reaching 100 million children and teachers by designing and implementing the schools of the future; empowering teachers to lead the education transformation; codifying and scaling up best practices through policy and increasing connectivity between schools and school systems for global best practice exchange.

“Education 4.0 and the Schools of the Future provide great guiding principles for creating learning environments that support children’s future needs. Teachers are the key to unlocking this new type of learning and require targeted support from public- and private-sector leaders to make this vision a reality”, said Andria Zafirakou, Teacher, Arts and Textile, Alperton Community School, 2018 Global Teacher Prize Winner.

Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society

The Schools of the Future Report and the Education 4.0 initiative are part of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. The platform provides the opportunity to advance prosperous, inclusive and equitable economies and societies. It focuses on co-creating a new vision in three interconnected areas: growth and competitiveness; education, skills and work; and equality and inclusion. Working together, stakeholders deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change.

More than 100 of the world’s leading companies and 100 international, civil society and academic organizations use the platform to promote new approaches to competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy. They also deploy education and skills for tomorrow’s workforce, are creating a pro-worker and pro-business agenda for jobs, and are looking to integrate equality and inclusion into the new economy.

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Understanding the gender pay gap: Definition and causes

MD Staff

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Although the equal pay for equal work principle was already introduced in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the so-called gender pay gap stubbornly persists with only marginal improvements being achieved over the last ten years.

The European Parliament has consistently called for more action to narrow the gap and is bringing up the issue again in a plenary debate on Monday 13 January.

What is the gender pay gap? And how is it calculated?

The gender pay gap is the difference in average gross hourly earnings between women and men. It is based on salaries paid directly to employees before income tax and social security contributions are deducted. Only companies of ten or more employees are taken into account in the calculations.

Calculated this way, the gender pay gap does not take into account all the different factors that may play a role, for example education, hours worked, type of job, career breaks or part-time work. But it does show that across the EU women generally earn less than men.

The gender wage gap in the EU

Across the EU, the pay gap differs widely, being the highest in Estonia (25.6%), the Czech Republic (21.1%), Germany (21%), UK (20.8%), Austria (19.9%) and Slovakia (19.8%) in 2017. The lowest numbers can be found in Slovenia (8%), Poland (7.2%), Belgium (6%), Italy and Luxembourg (5% each) and Romania (3.5%).

Equal pay is regulated by an EU directive but the European Parliament has repeatedly asked for its revision and for further measures. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission has announced that they will be working on a new European gender strategy and binding pay transparency measures.

Why is there a gender pay gap?

Interpreting the numbers is not as simple as it seems, as a smaller gender pay gap in a specific country does not necessarily mean more gender equality. In some EU countries lower pay gaps tend to be women having fewer paid jobs. High gaps tend to be related to a high proportion of women working part time or being concentrated in a restricted number of professions.

On average, women do more hours of unpaid work (caring for children or doing housework) and men more hours of paid work: only 8.7% of men in the EU work part-time, while almost a third of women across the EU (31.3%) do so. In total, women have more work hours per week than men do.

So, women do not only earn less per hour, but they also do fewer hours of paid work and fewer women are employed in the workforce than men. All these factors combined bring the difference in overall earnings between men and women to almost 40% (for 2014).

Women are also much more likely to be the ones who have career breaks and some of their career choices are influenced by care and family responsibilities.

About 30% of the total gender pay gap can be explained by an overrepresentation of women in relatively low-paying sectors such as care, sales or education. There are still jobs such as in the science, technology and engineering sectors where the proportion of male employees is very high (with more than 80%).

Women also hold fewer executive positions: less than 6.9% of top companies’ CEOs are women. Eurostat data show that if we look at the gap in different occupations, female managers are at the greatest disadvantage: they earn 23% less per hour than male managers.

But women also still face pure discrimination in the workplace, such as being paid less than male colleagues working within the same occupational categories or being demoted aſter returning from maternity leave.

Benefits of closing the gap

What can be seen also is that the gender pay gap is widening with age – along the career and alongside increasing family demands – whilst it is rather low when women enter the labour market. With less money to save and invest, these gaps accumulate and women are consequently at a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion at an older age (the gender pension gap was about 36% in 2017).

Equal pay is not just a matter of justice, but would also boost the economy as women would get more to spend more. This would increase the tax base and would relieve some of the burden on welfare systems. Assessments show that a 1% reduction in reduction in the gender pay gap would result in an increase in the gross domestic product of 0.1%.

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New Social Compact

Presidents, Pharaohs and Prophets

Naseem Javed

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Over millennia national leadership managed its population on basic divides: Soldiers to just follow orders, workers to just get soldiers ready to march and artists just to make memorabilia of their glory. The rest of the citizenry was irrelevant as crash-test-dummies of the periods. Very slowly, slide your hands, on engraved marble slabs scattered in ancient ruins in faraway lands of forgotten history but when you let your fingers feel the crevasses of each letter of glory you may still hear the faint howling and last minute cries of mob-populace just before the disappearance of that civilization. At that very moment, if ever, please do ask ‘what was just not enough’ ‘what were they craving, so terminally’

Just like today, has our civilization finally figured out how to advance or it’s already peaked? Obviously, for the last 100 years it seems we have trapped ourselves in a downward spiral on figuring out our real purpose?  Let the historians ask such questions and let’s deal with the most cherish-able ‘now moment’ or possibly the last moments. Last week on the conflict between USA and Iran and possible eve of WWIII…ElyodRj tweeted; sponsored by Nintendo and be known as WWiii

Easily proven today, lack of national grassroots prosperity within any nation are mainly due to economic-crisis and open manifestation of lingering mental-crisis inside that country.

Massive depression and mental health issues creating fog of chaos and uncertainty on economic performance. Once mighty Western economies are now becoming regular case-studies for pending fiscal collapse. When top leaderships entangle in crisis of sorts, the middle leadership starts drowning in confusion, depression and stalemates expanding the sufferings to limitless chaos creating nasty vicious circles. The way down bottom herds of real tax payers always ready to face the periodical collapses. Will such layers of landscape ever create grassroots prosperity? Why we never created armies of critical thinkers to challenge our surrounding thoughts and fix our OWN problems, why we repressed emotional intelligence and only used diversity and tolerance issues on negative spectrums?

Critical Thinking via Creative Problem-Solving

How different are we from the times of the Pharaoh? Our soldiers only trained to follow orders no matter how repeated or for how long they hit the same walls, educational faculties to train executives to follow corporate orders no matter what the results, performance or outcries on the streets, why silence is rewarded as competency, why out box thinking is considered dangerous to corporate hierarchy, while the rest are only the libertarians …treated as the irrelevant stuff or crash-test-dummies of our tik-tok times.

How different are we from the times of the Prophets? As humans we are still struggling with the discoveries of critical thinking, limitless creativity, emotional intelligence, tolerance, diversity and peace. We entrapped as subservient to mighty layers of Presidents of sorts, Pharaohs of empires and fake Prophets of doom-days scenarios. Suddenly, tumbling in our own accidental paths at least these millennia, somehow, we are now discovering lifelong-learning and critical-thinking as a wake-up call for survival. Mankind knows what the ancient ruins look like. We may be finally discovering that our freedom is not just the overwhelming blind notion of freedom of speech rather the freedom of our mind, systematically suppressed to follow the century old divides now facing new digital-divides, mental-divides and skills-divides and most importantly enlighten-divides… somehow, we are headed to open skies. 

Did anyone see a new star in the sky?

National mobilization of entrepreneurialism on platform economy will dramatically uplift flat-liner-economy nations because technology now provides free wings and only a matter time to create a new level understanding on grassroots prosperity issues where most leadership have been unsuccessful.

The challenge is to activate the bold dialogue and break the deep lingering silence. Let the soldiers deal with the truth, let the workers deal with realities and self-optimization and let the glorification reserved for uplifting cause of humanity as now is the time when national leadership either transform rapidly by contributing to humanity or start engraving their dictum on marbles of choice.

Will Libertarians still be irrelevant for not getting their own house in order?

What do you think? 

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