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‘Opportunities and Challenges’ theme of 4th GCC-India forum in Jeddah

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Riyadh:The 4th GCC-India Forum will be held in Jedddah Nov 18-19, an event that is expected to take business and commercial ties between India and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to a new level.

It is expected be attended by India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and a host of officials and business leaders from India, Saudi Arabia and representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Among the topics listed for discussion are investment opportunities in GCC and India, the role of sovereign funds, trade, healthcare, cooperation between the GCC and Indian businesswomen communities, energy security’, food security and agriculture and IT.

“The GCC as a collective entity holds tremendous economic as well as geo-political significance for India. The GCC countries are moving ahead rapidly with their economic integration efforts,” says the concept note for the session on ‘Promising investment opportunities in GCC and India’.

“The GCC has emerged as a major trading partner for India; it has vast potential as India’s investment partner for the future. This session will seek to identify the most promising sectors for investment between India and the GCC and suggest a roadmap to facilitate this process,” the concept note says.

Sitharaman will be one of the speakers at the inaugural plenary, which will also be addressed, among others by Saudi Minister of Commerce & Industry Tawfiq F. Al-Rabiah, GCC secretary general Abdullatif R. Al-Zyane, Sheikh Kalifa J. Al-Thani, president of Chambers of GCC (FGCCC) and CII president Sumit Mazumder.

Among the prominent Indian officials and business leaders expected to attend the summit are Tamil Nadu Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar; Ravneet Kaur, joint secretary in the commerce and industry ministry; Rashesh Shah, chairman and CEO, Edelweiss Financial Services; Satish Reddy, chairman, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories; Atul Punj, chairman, Punj Lloyd; Rakesh Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Infratel Limited; Piruz Khambatta, chairman & managing director, Rasna International; C.P. Gurnani, managing director and CEO, Tech Mahindra Limited; and O.P. Hisaria, senior vice president, Reliance Industries Ltd.

(IANS)

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Can Use of Computers Enrich a Teacher’s Work and a Student’s Performance?

Use of technology in schools encourages personalized learning and it has been gaining popularity in recent years

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Jahiem Johnson, 13, left, helps classmate Kamya Saunders, 13, as they work on an English passage during class at the Washington Leadership Academy in Washington, Aug. 23, 2017. The school utilizes
Jahiem Johnson, 13, left, helps classmate Kamya Saunders, 13, as they work on an English passage during class at the Washington Leadership Academy in Washington, Aug. 23, 2017. The school utilizes "personalized learning." VOA
  •  The International Association for K-12 Online Learning estimates that up to 10 percent of all America’s public schools have adopted some form of personalized learning
  • The economy needs kids who are creative problem solvers
  • The digital tool tells us: We have a problem to fix with these kids right here and we can do it right then and there

Washington, USA, August 28, 2017: In middle school, Junior Alvarado often struggled with multiplication and earned poor grades in math, so when he started his freshman year at Washington Leadership Academy, a charter high school in the nation’s capital, he fretted that he would lag behind.

But his teachers used a computer to identify his weak spots, customize a learning plan just for him and coach him through it. This past week, as Alvarado started sophomore geometry, he was more confident in his skills.

“For me, personalized learning is having classes set at your level,” Alvarado, 15, said in between lessons. “They explain the problem step by step, it wouldn’t be as fast, it will be at your pace.”

As schools struggle to raise high school graduation rates and close the persistent achievement gap for minority and low-income students, many educators tout digital technology in the classroom as a way forward. But experts caution that this approach still needs more scrutiny and warn schools and parents against being overly reliant on computers.

The use of technology in schools is part of a broader concept of personalized learning that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It’s a pedagogical philosophy centered around the interests and needs of each individual child as opposed to universal standards. Other features include flexible learning environments, customized education paths and letting students have a say in what and how they want to learn.

Also Read: US Public Schools are Teaching Arabic Language and Receiving Aid from Qatar Foundation International, But Why?

Personalized learning

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department poured $500 million into personalized learning programs in 68 school districts serving close to a half million students in 13 states plus the District of Columbia. Large organizations such as the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation have also invested heavily in digital tools and other student-centered practices.

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning estimates that up to 10 percent of all America’s public schools have adopted some form of personalized learning. Rhode Island plans to spend $2 million to become the first state to make instruction in every one of its schools individualized. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also embraces personalized learning as part of her broader push for school choice.

Supporters say the traditional education model, in which a teacher lectures at the blackboard and then tests all students at the same time, is obsolete and doesn’t reflect the modern world.

“The economy needs kids who are creative problem solvers, who synthesize information, formulate and express a point of view,” said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “That’s the model we are trying to move toward.”

At Washington Leadership Academy, educators rely on software and data to track student progress and adapt teaching to enable students to master topics at their own speed.

Digital tool finds problem

This past week, sophomores used special computer programs to take diagnostic tests in math and reading, and teachers then used that data to develop individual learning plans. In English class, for example, students reading below grade level would be assigned the same books or articles as their peers, but complicated vocabulary in the text would be annotated on their screen.

“The digital tool tells us: We have a problem to fix with these kids right here and we can do it right then and there; we don’t have to wait for the problem to come to us,” said Joseph Webb, founding principal at the school, which opened last year.

Webb, dressed in a green T-shirt reading “super school builder,” greeted students Wednesday with high-fives, hugs, and humor. “Red boxers are not part of our uniform!” he shouted to one student, who responded by pulling up his pants.

The school serves some 200 predominantly African-American students from high-poverty and high-risk neighborhoods. Flags of prestigious universities hang from the ceiling and a “You are a leader” poster is taped to a classroom door. Based on a national assessment last year, the school ranked in the 96th percentile for improvement in math and in the 99th percentile in reading compared with schools whose students scored similarly at the beginning of the year.

It was one of 10 schools to win a $10 million grant in a national competition aimed at reinventing American high schools that are funded by Lauren Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Also Read: New York City wants to be the Next American Tech Powerhouse by tripling its Investment in Programs for Computer Science Students

‘Female Bill Gates’

Naia McNatt, a lively 15-year-old who hopes to become “the African-American and female Bill Gates,” remembers feeling so bored and unchallenged in fourth grade that she stopped doing homework and her grades slipped.

At the Academy, “I don’t get bored ‘cause I guess I am pushed so much,” said McNatt, a sophomore. “It makes you need to do more, you need to know more.”

In math class, McNatt quickly worked through quadratic equations on her laptop. When she finished, the system spat out additional, more challenging problems.

Her math teacher, Britney Wray, says that in her previous school she was torn between advanced learners and those who lagged significantly. She says often she wouldn’t know if a student was failing a specific unit until she started a new one.

In comparison, the academy’s technology now gives Wray instant feedback on which students need help and where. “We like to see the problem and fix the problem immediately,” she said.

Still, most researchers say it is too early to tell if personalized learning works better than traditional teaching.

A recent study by the Rand Corporation found that personalized learning produced modest improvements: a 3 percentile increase in math and a smaller, statistically insignificant increase in reading compared with schools that used more traditional approaches. Some students also complained that collaboration with classmates suffered because everybody was working on a different task.

“I would not advise for everybody to drop what they are doing and adopt personalized learning,” said John Pane, a co-author of the report. “A more cautious approach is necessary.”

New challenges

The new opportunities also pose new challenges. Pediatricians warn that too much screen time can come at the expense of face-to-face social interaction, hands-on exploration, and physical activity. Some studies also have shown that students may learn better from books than from computer screens, while another found that keeping children away from the computer for five days in a row improved their emotional intelligence.

Some teachers are skeptical. Marla Kilfoyle, executive director of the Badass Teachers Association, an education advocacy group, agrees that technology has its merits, but insists that no computer or software should ever replace the personal touch, motivation and inspiration teachers give their students.

“That interaction and that human element are very important when children learn,” Kilfoyle said. (VOA)

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Indian workers in Saudi Arabia praised by PM Modi

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Image source: pmindia.gov.in The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi sharing snacks with workers

Riyadh: The large number of Indian blue collar workers in Saudi Arabia on Saturday came in for much appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the hard work they have put in for the development of the Gulf kingdom.

“It is your sweat and toil that has brought me here,” Modi, who arrived here earlier in the day, said while addressing workers of Indian engineering and infrastructure major L&T at their residential complex.

“Your happiness is my happiness and when you are not happy, I also feel the pain,” he said.

Modi told the workers that India has the kind of manpower that the world needed today.

“When in the times to come, people will see the work you have done, you will realise the importance of your efforts,” he said.

The prime minister also told the workers that they have made India proud for the discipline they have shown in their work.He assured the workers that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the entire team of officials at the ministry were ready to help if any of them got into any trouble.

He also highlighted the various steps taken by his government for the convenience of Indian workers abroad.

“There are forums like MyGov and Narendra Modi Mobile App through which you can reach me and I can communicate with you,” he said.

Modi also said that the government was working to regularise migration, and also promised more Indian worker resource centres and a second 24/7 call centre.

Earlier, the workers gave Modi two safety helmets to sign, one of which they gave him and the other they kept with them.Modi also shared a meal with the workers after his speech. After his arrival at the complex, the prime minister was given a presentation on the work on the Riyadh Metro Project for which the workers have been employed.L&T is doing around $2 billion worth of work on one line of the $600-billion Riyadh Metro Project.

Prior to this event, Modi addressed members of the Indian community and said that political stability was behind the economic growth story of India.

“In a very short span of time, India has once again given rise to new expectations at the world stage,” he said in a short speech.

Apart from a large number of blue collar workers, Indian doctors, teachers, engineers and managers have made immense contributions to Saudi Arabia’s development, something that has been appreciated by the country’s rulers on numerous occasions.

Indians in Saudi Arabia make an important contribution to their homeland sending around $10 billion in remittances every year. Earlier on Saturday, Modi was received at the King Khalid International Airport by Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud.

Saudi Arabia is the third and last leg of Modi’s three-nation tour which also took him to Brussels where he attended the 13th India-European Union (EU) Summit and held a bilateral meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and then to Washington where he participated in the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama.

This is the first prime ministerial visit from India to the oil-rich Gulf kingdom since the visit of Manmohan Singh in 2010.

“Reached Saudi Arabia. I look forward to a productive visit that will strengthen our bilateral relations,” Modi tweeted on arrival.Ties between India and Saudi Arabia are expected to be further elevated from the current strategic partnership to a more broad-based one.

Apart from the community interactions on Saturday, Modi also visited the Masmak Fortress here which is a monument of historical importance for Saudi Arabia.

Saud bin Sultan bin Abdullah Al Saud, a member of the royal family and a researcher at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, accompanied him around.Modi will be accorded a ceremonial welcome on Sunday afternoon at the Royal Court here by King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who will also host a lunch in honour of the visiting prime minister.

This will be followed by delegation-level talks and the signing of agreements.The prime minister will leave for India late Sunday afternoon.(IANS)

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Saudi co-pilot lands passenger jet solo after captain dies

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A Saudi Arabian Airlines co-pilot found himself in an unenviable position earlier this week, having to land a passenger jet single-handed after his captain died moments before arrival in Riyadh. Captain Walid bin Mohammed Al Mohammed suffered a fatal heart attack on Monday as he was trying to land his plane, which was carrying up to…