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Who must lead fight against intolerance of migrants ?

Who must lead fight against intolerance of migrants ?

International students: universities must lead fight against intolerance of migrants

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International students are a valuable cultural and economic asset for universities.
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Divya Jindal-Snape, University of Dundee; Bart Carlo Rienties, The Open University, and Jenna Mittelmeier, University of Manchester

What happens when the president of the world’s leading superpower makes inflammatory comments about immigrants and wins an election based largely on a racist and nationalist platform? As we’ve seen over the past two years, his followers feel emboldened and righteous in their discrimination against immigrants, despite their hopes, ambitions and rich personal histories.

Similarly in the UK, after the referendum to leave the EU, some voters felt free to vent their racist views. International students have also been feeling unwelcome due to high tuition fees, tight immigration laws and the introduction of charges to use the NHS.

This has profound implications for the higher education sector, where international students bring numerous social, cultural and financial benefits to their host institutions and country. In the US for example, in 2017-18, there were 1,094,792 international students who contributed US$39 billion to the economy, supporting 455,622 American jobs – equal to three jobs per seven international students.

Yet prejudice against international students is on the rise in the US and the UK. A recent US study found that this prejudice was predicted by support for Trump. Its author suggests that students who champion Trump’s vision of America might see international students through a racist lens, viewing them as unwelcome “others”.

A small study of just 389 home students, it can’t be used to generalise attitudes of all Trump supporters, but it can provide a window on what might be happening on university campuses across the the country where there are international students. And it serves as an important reminder for other countries, such as the UK, to consider how political debate can have an impact on international students.

Dealing with change

Regardless of the political context of the country they choose to study in, international students typically experience many changes, including moving to a new country and city with different educational, social care and health systems. They also face separation from family and friends and the need to make new friends and establish relationships with staff and the local community.

They encounter different cultures and languages, experience new expectations and realities and have to deal with issues such as housing, finances and health care. Most international students not only adapt well to these changes, they thrive. But for some, the challenges can have a negative impact on their well-being – particularly in places which are less than welcoming to international students.

There is a large body of research, including our own highlighting the fact that for international students, mixing with home students can be challenging – even without a political climate that discriminates against them as immigrants. We, and other researchers, have found that most visiting students don’t have much interaction with home students, which can explain why they are often perceived as “other”.

How well students are able to develop academic relationships and social friendships has an impact on their ability to cope with the complex demands of higher education. Some are more at risk in terms of isolation and stress, which can seriously affect their education and well-being. These consequences also come at a cost to the university and the wider community beyond, where positive experiences between different cultures can contribute to more tolerant, inclusive societies.

It is also important to remember that international students choose to go abroad to learn about other cultures, an experience that can also benefit home students. It can lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the world, an ability to think critically and consider different perspectives in their studies. When there is so much to gain, failure to integrate international students is a wasted opportunity for host communities and visiting students alike.

Role of university staff

Academic staff can be one of the most important support networks for international students. In their new environment – cut off from friends and family ties – they often see staff as the most familiar and trusted people, especially before they’ve had a chance to make new friends.

So how can universities encourage and nurture meaningful integration, especially in environments which can be hostile towards immigrants? Our studies have documented the positive impact of authentic group-work activities. By mixing up students’ normal groupings, teachers can influence the academic and social learning of both international and home students.

In the same way, using culturally relevant learning materials, such as books by authors from different countries, exploring topics like international human rights, and using case studies that include international contexts, can encourage students to share their own diverse range of perspectives in inclusive ways.

The responsibility of a university is not limited to just providing a good learning environment – it must provide a good social environment too. Our award-winning research into social transitions of international doctoral students in the UK found that participants wanted staff to see them as more than just students – to see them as human beings first. Mixing socially and sharing cultural events provides an enjoyable social setting for students and staff to get together, helps to break down stereotypes and enhances understanding of different cultures.

In a climate of rising intolerance across the world, it is more important than ever that universities step up and lead by example when it comes to being inclusive.The Conversation

Divya Jindal-Snape, Professor of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions, University of Dundee; Bart Carlo Rienties, Professor of Learning Analytics, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, and Jenna Mittelmeier, Lecturer in Education (International), University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Importance of Youth Engagement in the MENA Region

Importance of Youth Engagement in the MENA Region

Mariam Al Hammadi, director of The Big Heart Foundation, discusses the importance of youth engagement in the MENA region. The interview is reported in a post of CommsMEA dated 16 October 2018.

Comment: why investing in our youth is a prerequisite for a peaceful, progressive and sustainable future

Here’s a question that keeps me awake some nights – what will we do with advances in business, economy and technology if we do not pay attention to harnessing the capabilities of young people who will at some point be responsible for the successful functioning of their communities and the world? Are we doing enough to safeguard their basic rights to education, food, shelter, and other basic amenities? Are we making our best efforts to give them a real voice?

These questions present us an opportunity to think about the issues facing young people around the globe, and especially in the MENA region where the youth crisis is perhaps the most intensified. In our minds, youth stands for dreams, innovation, and new opportunities – or simply put, the future. Yet too many of these dreams are today being thwarted. Globally, youth unemployment is three times higher than that of adults.

Children and the youth face a bigger risk when displaced; they are far more vulnerable than adults when subject to violence and exploitation, physical and psychological abuse, trafficking, or when they pulled away from schools and given arms by extremists.

In 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report according to which 57 percent refugee population comprised young children including 173,800 unaccompanied and separated child refugees.

These are some realties that Sharjah’s leadership, who has entrusted the emirate’s future with the youth, has committed itself to help changing. Our ambitions led us to create an international platform ‘Investing in the Future: Middle East and North Africa (IIFMENA) Conference, held in Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, to bring the world together once every two years to tackle a specific humanitarian and development challenge in the MENA Region.

The first edition of the conference hosted regional governments and international agencies to discuss ways and means to safeguard the rights and lives of refugee children and adolescents who are victims of conflicts and wars. The second edition focused on the crucial issue of the pressing need for gender equity by offering girls and women equal opportunities in society and economy.

The theme of the upcoming edition on October 24–25 is ‘Youth – Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities,’ and it will be hosted by TBHF in partnership with UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment and UN Women. This edition will shed the spotlight on youth-related issues with a focus on the consequences of wars, conflicts and disasters on them. The potential of a whole generation risks being wasted as the region stokes social tensions.

Through the conference, we would like to highlight that  youth should have the opportunity to participate in the social and economic development of their communities. We need to establish a clear mechanism to involve them in the decision-making process, harness their potentials, and ignite their leadership skills.

IIFMENA will be hosting targeted discussions on how governments and private organisations can offer stronger support to countries that host victims of crises, whether refugees or immigrants, especially considering that 85% of displaced individuals have sought asylum in developing countries that are still struggling to promote their economy, infrastructure, heath, and education services.

Youth are agents of change.

Creating large numbers of decent jobs for young people is critical for achieving overall development objectives, from poverty reduction to better health and education. Globally, 600 million jobs will be needed over the next 10 to 15 years. Developing the youth’s employability skills will also be a core focus of the conference agenda.

The expert insights in this edition will seek to offer strategic direction to the agenda of youth empowerment with a special focus on how they can be prepared and equipped to be safely returned to their homelands once conditions are normalised. When given the space and opportunity to rebuild their own communities, young people can turn their energy and creativity towards solving today’s challenges and tomorrow’s problems.

International communities will need to rally efforts to be able to execute this strategy. It is our collective responsibility to ensure our youth does not feel abandoned, lost or cheated – it is in these times they are most vulnerable and have no choice but to seek an alternative environment not conducive to their own development or that of their community’s.

Displacement, marginalisation and lack of opportunities are all problems that humans created for themselves. It’s time we turn these problems into long-term solutions for us, and more importantly, for our children.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the importance of tackling youth oppression and unemployment, and calls for promoting their rights in education, employment and civic engagement. Through the IIFMENA Conference this year, we seek to take this agenda by demonstrating that a common global agenda can galvanise support from many different actors – something critical to the successful promotion of the youth towards a brighter, more just future.

 

 

Should Universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged Students?

Should Universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged Students?

Students from less advantaged backgrounds are grossly underrepresented in Britain’s top universities. This underrepresentation of certain groups is particularly pronounced in highly competitive courses such as medicine. In England, for example, 80% of medical students come from just 20% of the country’s secondary schools. This leads to a profession dominated by certain demographic groups.  So, should Universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged Students?

Paul Tiffin, University of York; Lazaro Mwakesi Mwandigha, Imperial College London, and Lewis Paton, University of York in this article enlighten us on this spiky issue.

A-level results: should universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged students?

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This imbalance isn’t just an issue of “fairness” or social equality. It is well established that UK trained doctors from affluent backgrounds are less likely to choose to work in rural or deprived areas. This is especially true in less desirable specialisms such as general practice and psychiatry.

This has left the NHS heavily reliant on the recruitment of overseas doctors to fill such posts. But such staff are frequently recruited from low and middle income countries that can ill afford to lose their own homegrown doctors.

It has been highlighted by Julian Simpson, who has written on and researched the subject, that this “shortage” of doctors willing to work in certain areas stems, fundamentally, from a “lack of alignment between the aims and needs of the NHS and the social and professional aspirations of doctors trained in British medical schools”.

Grade discounts

Recent research shows that, once in university, students from England’s most poorly performing secondary schools generally do as well academically as their peers from England’s highest performing schools. Even if they achieved somewhat lower A-level grades. Similar findings from higher education in general have been reported.

This lends evidence to a fact that seems intuitive. That is, the grades a pupil achieves at A-level (or equivalent) are, on average, at least partly dependent on the school they attend. So, in order to make university admissions fairer, should students who attend schools where pupils generally leave with lower grades, be offered places based on reduced A-level achievement – known as “grade discounting”?

A level playing field?
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Some universities – such as Birmingham, Southampton and King’s College London – have already trialled such A-Level “grade discounting” for medical school place offers for applicants from less advantaged backgrounds. The early evidence from such schemes is that the differences in academic outcomes between students entering with reduced A-level requirements and mainstream entrants are minimal, at most.

At present, it is unclear whether any meaningful differences would exist between qualified doctors who entered medical school via conventional policies or those who had gained admittance via such schemes. After all, people just want to be treated by safe, competent and compassionate practitioners.

Like for like?

But rolling out such an approach on a university wide scale, wouldn’t be a straightforward matter. For a start, there is the issue of how to effectively “contextualise” A-level (or equivalent) achievements. In this way, clear information about how to compare secondary schools would have to be available to university selectors – and such information currently is not always easy to come by. Likewise, for overseas applicants, making comparisons between institutions would be difficult, if not impossible.

Then there is the issue that some pupils from less advantaged backgrounds may not even consider applying for more prestigious or competitive courses at university. So such A-level grade discounting would have to be part of a package of measures to increase universities’ outreach among schools and the dissemination of information to teachers and careers advisers.

Such policies would also be clearly vulnerable to “gaming” from well-resourced families. It is easy to imagine, for example, how some advantaged pupils may be independently schooled until the last couple of years of their education, and for them then to be moved to state schools to take advantage of such admissions policies.

Further afield

In the US, “affirmative action” policies have been used to encourage ethnic diversity within some universities. Such policies have been weighed and tested through the court system. The resulting verdicts make it clear that such approaches to widening participation cannot rest solely on the issue of “moral equality”. Rather, the case has to be made based on the educational advantages of a more diverse population of students.

The most recent US Supreme Court verdict also stressed that any “positive discrimination” in favour of underrepresented groups should also be proportionate and regularly reviewed. This implies that “grade discounting”, involving modest reductions in the A-level requirement for entry to certain courses for certain disadvantaged applicants, if applied with clear objectives and regularly reviewed, is likely to withstand legal challenge, at least in the US.

So while grade discounting is unlikely to cure all the lack of diversity on the most competitive university courses, it may well play a useful role as part of a package of measures designed to widen access to certain professions in the UK.

Paul Tiffin, Reader in Psychometric Epidemiology, University of York; Lazaro Mwakesi Mwandigha, Postgraduate research assistant, Imperial College London, and Lewis Paton, Research Fellow, University of York

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Those University Degrees that command High Salaries

Those University Degrees that command High Salaries

This article is written in collaboration with Visual Capitalist by Jeff Desjardins, Founder and editor of Visual Capitalist, dated July 30, 2018, and posted on the World Economic Forum. It is about all those university degrees that command high salaries whether at start or mid-career of professional life, but only in the USA. It would undoubtedly be of interest if the same kind of study were to cover the MENA region Universities.

These degrees have the highest salaries in the US

Graduating students enter the Paladin stadium before U.S. President George W. Bush watches them during the commencement ceremony at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina May 31, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

 

If you’re a college graduate, you likely went to school to pursue an important passion of yours.

But as we all know, what we major in has consequences that extend far beyond the foundation of knowledge we build in our early years. Any program we choose to enroll in also sets up a track to meet future friends, career opportunities, and connections.

Even further, the college degree you choose will partially dictate your future earning potential – especially in the first decade after school. If jobs in your field are in high demand, it can even set you up for long-term financial success, enabling you to pay off costly student loans and build up savings potential.

Image: Visual Capitalist

 

Data Backgrounder

Today’s chart comes to us from Reddit user /u/SportsAnalyticsGuy, and it’s based on PayScale’s year-long survey of 1.2 million users that graduated only with a bachelor degree in the United States. You can access the full set of data here.

The data covers two different salary categories:

Starting median salary: The median of what people were earning after they graduated with their degree.

Mid-career Percentiles: Salary data from 10 years after graduation, sorted by percentile (10th, 25th, Median, 75th, and 90th)

In other words, the starting median salary represents what people started making after they graduated, and the rest of the chart depicts the range that people were making 10 years after they got their degree. Lower earners (10th percentile) are the lower bound, and higher earners (90th) are the upper bound.

College degrees, by salary

What college majors win out?

Here’s all 50 majors from the data set, sorted by mid-career median salary (10 years in):

 

Image: Visual Capitalist

 

Image: Visual Capitalist

 

Image: Visual Capitalist

 

Based on this data, there are a few interesting things to point out.

The top earning specialization out of college is for Physician Assistants, with a median starting salary of $74,300. The downside of this degree is that earning potential levels out quickly, only showing a 23.4% increase in earning power 10 years in.

In contrast, the biggest increases in earning power go to Math, Philosophy, Economics, Marketing, Physics, Political Science, and International Relations majors. All these degrees see a 90% or higher increase from median starting salary to median mid-career salary.

In absolute terms, the majors that saw the highest median mid-career salaries were all along the engineering spectrum: chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and aerospace engineering all came in above $100,000. They also generally had very high starting salaries.

As a final note, it’s important to recognize that this data does not necessarily correlate to today’s degrees or job market. The data set is based on people that graduated at least a decade ago – and therefore, it does not necessarily represent what grads may experience as they are starting their careers today.

Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in Bread Wheat

Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in Bread Wheat

The civilization of ancient Egypt has always been and still is indebted to the Nile River and its dependable water supply that allowed amongst all staple food crops, wheat and barley to be farmed. These are grown throughout the Delta region and all along the banks of the Nile, more recently in the newly reclaimed areas of the western desert. Egypt, the most populous country in the MENA region had for centuries, wheat as a central component of the typical diet of its inhabitants.


The country has lately not only been the largest importer of wheat but also the largest wheat consumer and bread eater per capita in the world. Hence, wheat represents almost 10% of the total value of agricultural production and about 20% of all agricultural imports. However, in 2015, domestic wheat was noticed to be declining as this was found to be less profitable by its producers due mainly to the intervention of Egypt’s government-subsidized bread program. There seem to be an increasing need to reform but at the same time for some Research and Development in all segment of wheat farming. Research on all Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in Bread Wheat would obviously be top of local academic institution’s agenda. 

This article of the International Network of Natural Sciences dwells on a piece of research titled An Estimation of Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes under pedigree selection as per a study of Abdel Aziz Nasr Sharaan, Kamal Hassan Ghallab, Mohamed Abdel Salam M. Eid of the Department of Agronomy, Fayoum University, Egypt and published by IJAAR on July 31, 2018.

Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in Bread Wheat

Abstract

Grain yield is a complex trait and is greatly influenced by various environmental conditions. A 3-year field investigation was carried out to estimate genetic parameters for yield and its related traits of wheat under selection in reclaimed soils conditions. Three field experiments were executed at the Experimental Farm of the Faculty of Agriculture, Fayoum University at Demo (new reclaimed sandy loam soil), Fayoum Governorate, during 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015 growing seasons in randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications. Results revealed that mean square values were highly significant for all studied traits in all seasons of the experiments, indicating the presence of sufficient variability among the investigated genotypes and gave several opportunities for wheat improvement. Spring barley. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

Great correspondence was observed between genotypic coefficients of variation and phenotypic coefficients of variation in every one of the traits. The coefficients of variation were high for no. fertile tillers plant-1 (NFT), grains spike-1 (GS), grains weight spike-1 (GWS), grain yield plant-1 (GYP), spikes m-2 (NSM), grain yield (GY), and harvest index (HI). In addition to, Moderate were recorded for heading date (HD) and spike length (SL) in the all seasons, and low were obtained for days to physiological maturity (DPM) in all seasons. Heritability was greater than 80% for all studied traits whereas genetic advance as a percentage of mean (GAM %) ranged from 12.22 (SS) to 77.00 (GY) in the 1st season and from 15.42 & 12.69 (DPM) to 112.07 & 68.35 (GYP) in 2nd and 3rdseasons.

Get the original articles in Source: Estimation of Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes under pedigree selection

ijaar-v10no2-p22-30

Journal Name: International Journal of Agronomy and Agricultural Research (IJAAR)

Published By: International Network for Natural Sciences

Download PDF

via Estimation of Genetic Parameters for yield and its components in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes under pedigree selection – IJAAR

Arab women outnumber men in pursuing university degrees, but . . .

Arab women outnumber men in pursuing university degrees, but . . .

This article was written by Kelly Ommundsen, Community Lead, Digital Economy and Society System Initiative, World Economic Forum and Khaled Kteily, Founder and CEO, Legacy posted on the World Economic Forum of July 21, 2018, does bring to the fore only what has been happening throughout the MENA region’s diverse youth. Urbanised as never before, these are in increasing numbers educated and open onto the world. And a fact that is more and more obvious on the ground is that Arab women outnumber men in pursuing university degrees, but . . . . how is this fact affecting the rest of the region’s populations?
The Brookings back in 2015 noted in its website that “Echoing the trend observed globally, women in the Arab world outnumber men in pursuing university degrees.” However, it added that “For Arab women, hard-won progress in education has not earned them the economic progress they deserve. Although young women seek and succeed in tertiary education at higher rates than young men, they are far less likely to enter and remain in the job market. Understanding and tackling the barriers that hinder women from working would unlock Arab women’s potential and yield significant social and economic benefits to every Arab State.”
It remains however that according to the World Bank, “Thirteen of the 15 countries with the lowest rates of women participating in their labour force are in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Report (2015). Yemen has the lowest rate of working women of all, followed by Syria, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Turkey.”
“So, why is women’s participation in the workforce so low in MENA, especially when the education rate is at parity for girls and boys, and especially when, often, the girls outperform the boys?”
Here is the WEF’s article that covers that segment of activities as helped today by all the ‘smart’ technological advances of recent years.

The picture above is of The Arab Weekly’s Greater opportunities but entrenched stereotypes for Arab women in data science captioned as Sunshine sector. Lina Daouk-Oyry, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the American University of Beirut, moderates a panel. (The American University of Beirut Conference)


How women are transforming the Arab world’s start-up scene

Palestinian entrepreneur Samar Hijjo developed an app for women during pregnancy.
Image: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

It may surprise some to learn that one in three start-ups in the Arab World is founded or led by women. That’s a higher percentage than in Silicon Valley. Women are becoming a force to be reckoned with on the start-up scene across the Middle East. Because the tech industry is still relatively new in the Arab world, there is no legacy of it being a male-dominated field. Many entrepreneurs from the region believe that technology is one of the few spaces where everything is viewed as possible, including breaking gender norms, making it a very attractive industry for women.
Despite many challenges, including societal pressure on women to stay at home, a digital gender gap, and structural disadvantages in fund-raising and investments, female entrepreneurs are finding new and creative ways to overcome barriers to entering the workforce and starting their own business.
Key to these efforts has been their ability to leverage the internet and engage through online platforms to reach new markets. They are able to work from home if they wish. As Saadia Zahidi argues in her book Fifty Million Rising, these digital platforms allow women to be unimpeded by cultural constraints or safety issues, and they lower the implicit and explicit transaction costs of transport, childcare, discrimination and social censure.
Finding how to tap into this valuable resource of highly educated women could be a game changer for the region. Given the market power of women’s increasing participation in the workforce, which by 2025 could add an estimated $2.7 trillion to the region’s economy, the growing trend of women in start-ups could be transformative for the Middle East.
Unlocking the potential of female start-ups
The rise of women in the Arab world starts early, with girls outperforming their male peers in school. In Jordan, girls do better than boys in school in nearly all subjects and at every age level, from grade school to university. When it comes to STEM subjects (which include skills critical to launching and running a start-up in the Fourth Industrial Revolution) several Arab countries are among the global leaders in terms of the proportion of female STEM graduates. According to UNESCO, 34-57% of STEM grads in Arab countries are women, which is much higher than in universities in the US or Europe.
Despite the fact that many Arab women are thriving in school and graduating with advanced degrees, this success has not necessarily translated to the job market or the start-up world. Many women are instead staying at home, whether from choice or because of cultural, social or familial pressures. In fact, 13 of the 15 countries with the lowest rate of female participation in the workforce are in the Arab world, according to the World Bank.
Restrictive laws in many countries across the region put women who wish to join or start their own businesses at a disadvantage. These include prohibitions against women opening up a bank account or owning property, limited freedom of movement without a male guardian and constraints on interactions with men who are not in their family, as well as further cultural and attitudinal stigmas.
In fact, even women who do start a company face structural disadvantages. On average, female-led start-ups receive 23% less money than male-run firms, and are 30% less likely to have a positive exit, according to the OECD.

Changing the ecosystem, one woman at a time

To close this gap, the entrepreneurship ecosystem needs more women. One data point makes this clear: venture firms with one or more female partners are twice as likely to invest in a start-up which has women in the management team, and three times more likely to invest in a company with a female CEO.
This is also true for female founders. Female-owned businesses hire more women (25%) than their male counterparts do (22%), according to the World Bank. Female-owned firms also employ a higher percentage of women in managerial roles, helping women to climb up the ladder, compared to those who are only hired for lower, unskilled positions. And women-led businesses are hiring more workers in general. In Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, firms run by women are growing their workforces at higher rates than those run by men.
Womena is an investing platform based in Dubai, dedicated to encouraging gender diversity and inclusion in tech. It believes that in order to increase the number of female tech entrepreneurs, you need to build networks of women that can help support one another to grow and thrive. Role models are also important, such as HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, who studied computer science before opening one of the region’s first B2B marketplaces. She is best known for being the first woman to hold ministerial posts in the UAE, as Minister of Economy and Planning, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and then Minister of State for Tolerance.
Womena co-founder Elissa Freiha also believes that investing time, energy and money into female entrepreneurs will pay huge dividends.
“Women from the Arab World need to fight. The struggles they face in society, in their communities and sometimes even in their families create an amazing resilience that makes these women incredible entrepreneurs. If given the right platform, these women can become the business owners and leaders for the future of the region.”

Go digital, young woman

Digital represents a key opportunity for women in the region to solve technical and societal challenges. For example, Egypt-born Rana El Kaliouby is the co-founder of Affectiva, which has developed cutting-edge AI technology to help computers recognize human emotions based on physiological responses and facial cues. Meanwhile, Loulou Khazen Baz founded the Middle East’s first freelance marketplace, Nabbesh, as a way to help tackle the region’s youth unemployment. She has been recognized as one of the World Economic Forum’s 100 Arab Start-Ups Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
As Zahidi writes in Fifty Million Rising “If the narrative of American expansion was ‘Go West, young man’, the new narrative for up-and-coming women in the Arab World may well be ‘Go digital, young woman’.”
Evidence points to this being the case. Nearly 60% of women who are not currently employed believe that flexible hours and working from home, full- or part-time – which going digital can enable – would help them find work, showed a study by Accenture. The digital economy is also opening up opportunities for women looking to get back into the job market. The same study points out that more than 60% of women who have left and want to rejoin the workforce have entrepreneurial aspirations to start their own business.
Crucially, studies from the US demonstrate that gender pay gaps are lower in industries where there are more flexible work arrangements. Moreover, women who gain ICT skills increase their wages by 12%, which is higher than equivalent gains in men’s salaries. With a large market potential, a low amount of resources needed to get started, and productivity efficiencies enabled by technology, digital opens up a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities.

Paving the way forward

Many incredible women across the region are paving the way forward, such as Joy Ajlouny, who recently helped close a $41 million Series B funding round for UAE-based Fetchr, or Gaza Sky Geeks, the first tech hub in Gaza providing mentorship to start-ups with a focus on women. But there is still a long way to go. The digital gender gap in Arab states remains at 17.3%, down from 19.2% in the last four years, according to the ITU. Women are still a minority across the entire start-up ecosystem.
But as more women throughout the Arab World start their own businesses, break down gender barriers and push through the glass ceiling, these pioneers become an example for other women. They inspire them to imagine what’s possible for an Arab woman in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Read more on 3 striking trends shaping start-ups in the Middle East

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Iran’s labour market failing to generate adequate employment

Iran’s labour market failing to generate adequate employment

Nader Habibi and Gholamreza Keshavarz Haddad in the University World News of June 8, 2018,  Issue No:509 elaborate on the lack of employment for university graduates after completing their degrees in Iran. Unlike all its peer countries in the MENA region, and despite all the difficulties, Iran has managed to sustain as normal a life as it could muster, but being no exception, Iran’s labour market failing to generate adequate employment could be looked from a different angle; that of normality. As a matter of fact, all MENA countries, monarchies and republics alike are to a certain degree, going through the same trauma: that of unemployment.  In any case, here is that article.

Graduates push school leavers out of low-skill jobs

In recent years Iran’s labour market has failed to generate adequate employment for the growing number of university graduates. As a result, not only has the unemployment rate among university graduates sharply increased, but a growing number of university graduates who have found employment are working in occupations that do not require university skills.

In the past three decades Iran has experienced a sharp increase in the annual enrolment of university students. The annual admission to institutions of higher education rose from 146,115 in the 1991-92 academic year to 1,174,897 in 2015-16, while the total number of students in higher education institutions rose from 588,228 in 1991-92 to 4,348,383 in the 2015-16 academic year.

This sharp increase was a result of a strong social demand for university education. Policy-makers reacted positively to this growing demand by rapidly expanding the admissions capacity of universities. Moreover, the government was able to limit the fiscal burden of this policy by allowing for the creation and expansion of private and non-profit universities such as the Islamic Azad University.

As a result of these developments the number of university graduates has sharply increased, but the quantity of new job vacancies has not kept pace with this growing supply. The impact of this labour market imbalance is visible, reflected in a high unemployment rate for university graduates. While overall unemployment has oscillated between 10% and 12% in the past decade, the unemployment rate for young university graduates has been between 15% and 20%.

This situation has received considerable attention in the domestic media and it is often referred to as a graduate unemployment crisis. The 2016 labour market statistics indicate that there were 1.185 million unemployed university graduates – some 36% of the total number of unemployed people. They included 797,000 graduates with four-year (bachelor) degrees and 224,000 with two-year (associate) degrees. The remaining 163,000 had masters and doctoral degrees.

This condition represents a substantial waste of higher education resources and human capital for the Iranian economy.

Overeducation

The high unemployment rate among university graduates, however, is not the only adverse consequence of the excess supply of university graduates in Iran. A growing number of university graduates who manage to find a job are employed in jobs that do not require university skills or do not match their university skills. As a result they are securing these jobs at the expense of less educated workers. In other words, a growing percentage of employees in low-skilled and semi-skilled jobs are university graduates who are overeducated for these positions.

A domestic online news site attracted attention to the plight of these university graduates by posting several photos in a July 2016 article.

For a more accurate investigation of the growing number of overeducated persons who are active in Iran’s labour market, we have calculated the share of employees in various occupations who hold at least a two-year associate degree from a higher education institution. The data for our analysis comes from the annual Households Income and Expenditure Survey database that is produced by the Statistical Center of Iran.

In this annual survey the level of education and job categories of wage-earning workers and self-employed individuals are available and allow us to calculate the share of overeducated workers in each occupation category. Our findings show that the share of economically active individuals in low- and unskilled jobs who have a university degree is on the rise.

We observe that in all of these occupational categories the share of employees with at least a two-year degree has consistently increased. Occupations in the service and retail sector have experienced the largest replacement of less educated workers with university graduates.

We observe that by 2015 nearly 57% of employees in office work and customer service occupations had at least an associate degree. For sales-related occupations, the share of workers with university degrees grew from 4.3% in 2001 to 17.3% in 2015.

As for lower skill categories, such as vehicle drivers, or unskilled workers, the share of employees with university degrees is relatively small, but an upward trend is noticeable.

Among unskilled service sector workers, for example, the share of university graduates increased from 0.7% in 2001 to 7.1% in 2015. These are mainly manual and routine tasks for which no university degree is required and a university graduate will rarely work in these occupations if a more skilled job is available.

We have calculated that the share of workers with at least an undergraduate degree in semi-skilled and unskilled categories is substantial in several categories, such as office and retail workers.

Furthermore, in all unskilled occupations that do not require even a high school diploma, we observe that the share of workers with undergraduate degrees ranged between 1% and 4% in 2015. While these university graduates must have felt fortunate to be employed, they are clearly not using their university skills in these occupations.

Self-employment

As for the self-employed in semi-skilled and unskilled economic activities, the number who have completed at least a two-year university degree is also rising in Iran. This growth is particularly noticeable in agriculture, industry and construction, rising from under 1% in 2001 to more than 6.5% in 2015. Furthermore, at least 5% of the self-employed working in unskilled industrial and agricultural activities hold four-year degrees.

One of the undesirable consequences of the trends that we have observed is that the trickle down of higher-educated jobseekers into low-skilled jobs is crowding out the less educated workers from low-skilled positions. This process pushes a share of high school graduates from employment in low-skilled jobs into unemployment.

The reduction of job opportunities and the higher risk of unemployment for high school graduates might compel them to enrol in a university degree programme in order to improve their chances of employment, even in occupations that do not require university degrees.

This adverse incentive will lead to a high rate of participation in higher education without any direct connection to a labour market demand for university skills.

Photo credit: IranKhabar online news

  • The employment data presented in this article are available in this online file.

Nader Habibi is Henry J Leir Professor of Practice in Economics of the Middle East at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and senior lecturer in the department of economics, Brandeis University, United States. Gholamreza Keshavarz Haddad is visiting faculty at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and is associate professor at the Graduate School of Management and Economics, Sharif University of Technology, Iran.

Top 10 universities in the Arab World region

Top 10 universities in the Arab World region

THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings 2018 list the top 1,000 universities in the world, making it the biggest international league table to date. Ad Hoc excerpts of this report are reproduced here below for their further spread in the MENA region. Top 10 universities in the Arab World region were looked at separately as THE has compiled a table of the best universities based on data from the 2018 World University Rankings.

Meanwhile, it is the only global university performance table to judge research-intensive universities across all of their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. We use 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

The calculation of the rankings for 2018 has been subject to independent audit by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), making these the only global university rankings to be subjected to full, independent scrutiny of this nature.

The league table has been compiled by filtering the overall World University Rankings results to include only universities located in nations that are members of the Arab LeagueTHE has then ranked the best universities based on their overall ranking score. The full methodology of the World University Rankings 2018 can be viewed here.

The top university in the 2018 table is King Abdulaziz University located in Saudi Arabia. All the universities in the top five are in the Middle East, while universities situated in North Africa – including universities from Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria – feature further down the list.

The most represented country in the ranking is Egypt, with nine universities altogether. Saudi Arabia is next, with five institutions; the United Arab Emirates have four; Jordan and Morocco have three; Tunisia has two; and Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Oman and Algeria each have one university on the list.

Many of the universities featured in the ranking are specialist science and technology universities.

Overall, institutions from 11 of the 22 Arab League nations made the list, which was compiled using 13 performance indicators.

Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director of global rankings, said: “The results demonstrate that leading universities are found across the Arab region. “However, the ranking also shows that there is a lack of data on higher education institutions in the region. Of the 1,102 universities that make our World University Rankings, just 31 are based in the Arab world. We hope that more universities in the region will participate in future years.”

In ay case here are below the TOP 10 UNIVERSITIES IN THE ARAB WORLD 2018:
1. King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia,

2. Khalifa University, UAE and in

3. Qatar University, Qatar.

4. Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan

5. United Arab Emirates University, UAE

6. American University of Beirut, Lebanon

7. Alfaisal University, Saudi Arabia

8. King Saud University, Saudi Arabia

9. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia

10. Beni-Suef University, Egypt

Qatar University ranking 3rd was at the centre of an article of THE published last February about the country’s system that has grown faster than any other world economy, explains Cesar Wazen.

Qatar’s universities on the march despite Gulf turmoil

 

Two years ago Times Higher Education announced that Qatar University had topped its list of the world’s most international universities.

The amazement among the audience that an institution from outside the higher education powerhouses of the US or UK had claimed top spot was palpable. Qatar University continues to excel on the international outlook indicator and took pole position for the third year running in 2018

Read more on THE document.

The Higher Education Trap

The Higher Education Trap

Morocco’s universities are providing too many graduates for too few jobs, says Martin Rose in an article published on Chatham House’s website.  It is about how the Universities and the higher education trap that is getting increasingly tight for the greater number of Moroccan youth. This situation would not be specific to this country only and like elsewhere, migration as a direct consequence is a quick reaction to the enduring status-quo and Europe is envisaged as a close by landing platform.


The higher education trap

Trainee teachers protest in Rabat about their lack of job prospects

Expansion of opportunity in higher education is a good thing, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple, and North Africa provides a chastening example of why: a lot of money is spent on education, universities are proliferating and student numbers ballooning. But graduate unemployment is rising fast.

Every country in North Africa offers shocking figures, but as The Economist noted of Egypt in 2016: ‘The more time you spend in school, the less chance you have of finding a job.’ It is this perverse truth that undermines the explosive growth of higher education in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The unemployed graduate has been very visible in the Arab Spring, in the riots that swept Tunisia in January, in the Hirak protest movement in Morocco’s Rif region and in ‘graduate recruitment’ to the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Morocco provides a useful petri dish, spending 26 per cent of its state budget on education, more than its North African neighbours. Its ‘youth bulge’, combined with success in getting children into primary school and a dramatically increasing pass-rate at the ‘Bac’ school-leaving examination, has meant huge growth in student numbers. State universities have grown from 308,000 students in 2009/10 to 822,000 in 2017/18, a rise of 167 per cent in eight years, and it is far from finished. This ‘massification’ of higher education is well ahead of population growth, with the Gross Enrolment Ratio − the proportion of the age-group in tertiary education − growing from 10.9 per cent in 2003 to 28.14 per cent in 2015.

This year the system expects to launch 98,129 new graduates on to a job market that cannot absorb them. Graduate unemployment in Morocco has risen from 6 per cent in 1984 to 24.4 per cent in 2015, with most of these graduates still chasing their first job.

The speed of growth makes resource planning intractable: ever more students are being taught by ever fewer professors. This has a serious impact on quality. Only one university, public or private − Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech − appears in the Times Higher Education’s top 1,000 universities in 2016. Most professors in open-access faculties − essentially all except medicine, engineering and some science − are overwhelmed with a paralyzing teaching load.

Most employers agree that there is a serious problem with both curriculum and teaching. Since independence, university education has been the gateway to public administration, and the certificate has been more important than its subject or quality.

When the public service was still a significant recruiter, humanities and social sciences were filled with students simply wanting entry to a secure, well-paid, well-pensioned career.

The size of the public administration has been cut back dramatically since the 1980s. Morocco, where in 2008 public salaries ate up 51 per cent of the state budget, has been particularly effective in cutting civil service numbers, but it has not staunched the deluge of graduates coming out of the ‘soft’ faculties. A recent education minister described humanities departments as ‘factories of unemployment’.

There is little effective attempt to adjust syllabuses or teaching to what employers, or the economy, need. In 2016-17, some 75 per cent of students were studying the humanities and social sciences, and only 22.1 per cent science and technology. Added to this is the fact that the first two faculties teach in Arabic and only the sciences in French. Good careers require French, and fluent, ‘educated’ French is effectively confined to the well-off by the preponderance of Arabic in state schools and open-access university faculties. Expansion in the low-prestige, faculties that teach in Arabic is much cheaper and defends the privileges of the francophone upper class.

Driss Guerraoui, an expert on Moroccan graduate unemployment, wrote in 2013 that 80 per cent of the graduate unemployed came from five departments: Arabic literature and Islamic studies, and chemistry, biology and physics, which are taught for the annual teacher recruitment, and useless in industry for the majority who fail to get a teaching job.

The result is a mass of unemployed graduates who demonstrate every week outside parliament demanding ‘unconditional and non-competitive absorption into the public administration’. Skills are irrelevant: they just, understandably, want meal tickets for life. With a constipated labour market and high hiring and firing costs, their choices are heart-breaking − the black economy, under-employment or family-funded idleness while sticking out for ‘appropriate’ work.

Small-scale entrepreneurship is much touted as a solution, and while such skills are starting to be taught, the legal and administrative infrastructure remains very resistant. Real solutions to the graduate unemployment problem need to reach well outside the education system into language policy and labour market reform. 

Read more of the article on Chatham House’s publication and / or on A degree of overkill Rose.pdf

 

 

Today’s Iraq eager to get back its antiquities

Today’s Iraq eager to get back its antiquities

Per the US Library of Congress, the world’s first civilizations grew up in the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the region of the Middle East long known as Mesopotamia (from the Greek meaning ‘between two rivers’), that roughly corresponds to the territory of present-day Iraq. These ancient civilizations included Sumer, the Babylonian Empire, and the Assyrian Empire. This modern map produced by the Directorate General of Antiquities of Iraq shows the locations of archaeological sites and rock monuments in the country. The table at the lower left lists chronological periods from the Paleolithic to the Islamic. The table at the upper right lists ancient place names such as Ashur, Babylon, and Nineveh, and their equivalents in modern Arabic. Today’s Iraq eager to get back its antiquities is covered by this proposed article of AlMonitor written by Adnan Abu Zeed with translation by Sahar Ghoussoub was published on August 3, 2017. It shows that the Middle East upheavals have amongst many other things consequences that are at best of times unpredictable. These normally include all sorts of rights but also duties such as those described here.

Recovered artifacts are seen at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad July 15, 2015. The U.S. handed back to Iraq on Wednesday antiquities it said it had seized in a raid on Islamic State fighters in Syria, saying the haul was proof the militants were funding their war by smuggling ancient treasures. The Iraqi relics were captured by U.S. special forces in an operation in May against an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf. They included ancient cylindrical stamps, pottery, metallic bracelets and other jewelry, and glass shards from what appeared to be a colored vase.[gallery ids="81735"]

Iraq eager to get back antiquities smuggled to US

BAGHDAD — Iraq is working to recover the thousands of ancient artifacts illegally imported into the United States by Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby.

“Iraqi and US officials are in constant contact, and the smuggled artifacts are in safe hands now with the US Homeland Security and the US judiciary, which will issue a final verdict on the case,” Maysoon al-Damluji, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s Committee of Culture and Information, told Al-Monitor. “Meanwhile, the Iraqi Embassy is communicating with the US State Department to retrieve the artifacts.”

Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million in July for buying some 5,500 artifacts in 2010 that had been smuggled into the United States through a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the US Justice Department. The company paid $1.6 million for the items, which were sent to three different addresses of the company in Oklahoma City. The antiquities include clay cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals and ancient clay bullae that were used to place authenticating seals on documents.

Damluji said, “The course of things is in favor of Iraq to recover its archaeological pieces. It is only a matter of the time needed for administrative and legal procedures in the United States.”

She was confident when she told Al-Monitor, “There is an atmosphere of optimism regarding positive responses from the United States to this effect, given the existent law … whereby the trade in Iraqi artifacts and antiquities is not allowed, unlike the Gulf countries, including the UAE. A UAE-based dealer was involved in the [latest] smuggling operation because the UAE is not among the list of countries acceding to the UNESCO convention on smuggling of antiquities.”

The Iraqi Embassy in London and a legal team will work with the US Justice Department, “which has the final decision on the issue of returning the stolen artifacts to their rightful owners,” Damluji said. Moreover, under a 2015 UN Security Council resolution, countries are required to return smuggled or looted antiquities to their countries of origin.

The Justice Department said the Hobby Lobby acquisition “was fraught with red flags” and Hobby Lobby even ignored the warning of an expert it had hired who said the items might have been looted from Iraq. The company never met with the dealer who claimed to own the artifacts. Rather, a different dealer had the company wire payment to the personal bank accounts of seven other people, the Justice Department said.

Iraq has a history of fighting to retrieve its stolen antiquities and has recovered 4,300 artifacts smuggled out of the country since 2014 after Islamic State (IS) militants seized control of vast areas of the country’s north, east and west.

The United States pledged a year ago to protect and restore historic sites and museums in Iraq, according to the US State Department’s top adviser on Iraqi cultural heritage, John Russell.

A source at the US Embassy in Baghdad, who asked not to be named, said that “the embassy’s instructions regarding smuggling cases are very strict.”

Even before the Hobby Lobby case, government sources revealed that the Iraqi Embassy in Washington was following up on more than 5,000 antiquities smuggled from Iraq after 2003. The Iraqi Embassy in Cairo also has sought to restore manuscripts and other items smuggled to Cairo from Iraqi monasteries and churches in Mosul. In 2016, Iraq recovered the head of the King Sanatruq I statue, which is one the significant monuments registered in the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities. The statute was stolen in 2003.

Iyad al-Shammari, rapporteur of the parliamentary Committee of Antiquities, told Al-Monitor that the Public Authority for Antiquities in Iraq has contacted UNESCO “to urge the United States to hand over [any] stolen Iraqi artifacts,” and he expressed great hope of solving the issue soon. “Iraq has been preoccupied for years in trying to retrieve antiquities smuggled outside,” he said, adding that “some of the archaeological pieces were lost and sold on the black market.”

In 2016, artifacts smuggled from Syria and Iraq were being sold on eBay. Shammari stressed that the “Iraqi Ministry of Culture addressed the US Embassy in Baghdad to start the official and necessary procedures to recover the smuggled artifacts.”

Iraq also plans investigations to obtain the names of smugglers.

 Adnan Abu Zeed, Contributor,  Iraq Pulse is an Iraqi author and journalist. He holds a degree in engineering technology from Iraq and a degree in media techniques from the Netherlands.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/hobby-lobby-iraq-artifacts-us-smugglers.html#ixzz4oxchdga9