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NDEMO: The dilemma of structured education

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Artificial Intelligence
The advent of Artificial Intelligence is changing the learning landscape. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

One of my early childhood classmates, Micah (not his real name), had trouble coping with learning. We ridiculed and taunted him for his supposed “foolishness.” In retrospect, I think we were the ones who were foolish as we tried to force our friend to be “normal.” New knowledge provides compelling evidence that structured education has its challenges.

Sadly, structured education persists with hardly any adjustments being made. In the process, we have confined hundreds of thousands or even millions of people into oblivion. Silicon Valley, however, discovered that these “abnormals” are the spark plugs of creativity and innovation. Literature is replete with information suggesting that many of the historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Mozart and others were thought to be on either the autism spectrum or some other neurobehavioral disorder.

Colin Eldred-Cohen, in ‘‘The Art of Autism’’, says Einstein for example, had difficulty socialising as an adult, which manifested in speech delays. He was very technical minded and in his youth used to repeat his sentences to himself, a phenomenon known as “echolalia.” These were all signs of neurological disorder but by then little was known about neuroscience.

In a recent article, “The Educational Tyranny of Neurotypicals,” in Wired, Robert Warren, who dropped out of two undergraduate programmes, admits that he is most likely “neuroatypical” in some way. He noted that “Neurotypical” is a term used by the autism community to describe what society refers to as “normal.”

According to the Centres for Disease Control, one in 59 children, and one in 34 boys, are on the autism spectrum—in other words, neuroatypical. That’s three per cent of the male population. If you add ADHD—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and dyslexia, roughly one out of four people are not “neurotypicals.”

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Waren argues that schools in particular have failed such neurodiverse students, in part because they have been designed to prepare our children for typical jobs in a mass-production-based white- and blue-collar environment created by the Industrial Revolution.

Students acquire a standardised skillset and an obedient, organised, and reliable nature that served society well in the past—but not so much today. He suspects that the 25 per cent of the population who are diagnosed as somehow non-neurotypical struggle with the structure and the method of modern education, and many others probably do as well.

Warren’s article is not the first one to note the kind of diversity he writes about. Sir Ken Robinson’s highly publicised Ted Talk, How to escape education’s death valley, first propped into the issue of structured education, terming it as a system designed as an industrial process that is capable of being fixed mechanically. Those who subscribe to this type of system, who happen to be the majority, he said, were wrong since education is a human system.

In his view, what is needed to change education systems are revolutions. Finland is acknowledged as having the best education system in the world and their secret is that they are less structured and have minimal standardised tests in both primary and secondary school.

As such, there is more focus on learning than on exams, an elevated teaching profession relative to other professions, and students have more time to play, which leads to less stress. It also helps that college is free. Education is considered an investment unlike many parts of the world where it is considered an expense.

The advent of Artificial Intelligence is changing the learning landscape. In Nairobi, a startup educational institution, Mshule, brings diversity to learning while paying attention to every learner.

The institution recognises that different learners have different abilities, needs, strengths and goals.In response, they have built an artificial intelligence system that understands each individual child’s competency, and delivers the right lesson for them at the right time.

Like Robinson, Warren is advocating for a revamping of our notion of “education” and shaking loose the ordered and linear metrics of the society of the past, when we were focused on scale and the mass production of stuff. Accepting and respecting neurodiversity is the key to surviving the transformation driven by the internet and AI.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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