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Educational Subjects and Importance of International Platforms



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By Maryam Zohra Warraich

Considering the literacy rate of any country, academic systems are observed and recorded. The education system of a country is a result of multiple parameters, and the inclusiveness of these parameters determines the future of education, prosperity of a state, and its standing in the global arena.

The Global South is facing a significant gap compared to the Global North with respect to education, research, and development. Students, being the primary subjects in the world of education, lack proper academic environments for creativity and research. Many states are working towards promoting education, as it is an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Only an educated society can bring peace to the international community. States are rich with natural resources, and students who have a desire to acquire more knowledge and contribute to research are one of those natural resources.

Nationals of any Global South state, as students, strive to reach basic education by any means necessary. When they look towards their own educational institutions, they are surrounded by a wave of hopelessness as the institutions that are supposed to provide them with world-class education and prepare them for international competition are not delivering satisfactory results.

A major concern for students is the lack of teaching basic skills and rights, such as time management and smart study, and the polishing of individual skills. At the same time, students face a shortage of proper career counseling and guidance systems. After completing basic education, students feel clueless about their academic life, unable to figure out their interests and the available platforms.

Over time, the culture of scholarships and social media campaigns have attempted to minimize the gap between students and opportunities. Global powers are offering free education to nationals of developing states to contribute equally. Cultural and linguistic differences play a significant role in obtaining scholarships, such as language proficiency tests conducted by many institutions. Among these tests, English as the international language is mostly tested through the GRE and IELTS. The GRE is considered one of the toughest tests, but with the advent of the internet, platforms such as Scholar Den have emerged.

Scholar Den, founded by Faisal khan, distinguishes itself from its competitors by offering the most up-to-date resources based on recent GRE trends. It uses data-driven techniques to provide personalized study plans for its users to prepare more efficiently. By employing automation and artificial intelligence, Scholar Den is able to do so at a fraction of the price charged by existing market companies, making it much more affordable. It offers resources for every stage of test preparation and adapts its plan according to the user’s performance.

More students are turning to platforms like Scholar Den, which is structured to accommodate students by keeping their ease in mind. Scholar Den, Inc. is an Internet-Based Prep Program for the GRE® General Test authorized by ETS. It has developed this program using authentic test questions from the GRE® General Test editions and creating additional practice and exercises based on the licensed test content by ETS.

The growing culture of scams and bad education is looting a significant amount of money from students, but platforms like Scholar Den are trustworthy. The creation of a group of people who are genuinely concerned about the success of new learners, especially students who achieve the Fulbright scholarship, one of the most prestigious academic opportunities, inspires other candidates to further their education in the world’s best institutions.

Only such opportunities can reduce the devastating gap between students, education, and national development. Knowing the availability of better platforms is a basic right for students everywhere, regardless of their financial status, ethnic background, or nationality.

Courtesy: Modern Diplomacy

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Investments in Digital Can Accelerate Improvements in Health Care




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Digital technology can strengthen health systems, improve health financing and public health, and increase reach to underserved populations, according to a new World Bank report launched today. The report also finds that digital technology and data are especially helpful to prevent and manage chronic diseases, care for both young and aging populations, and prepare for future health emergencies and health risks triggered by climate change.

The report, Digital-in-Health: Unlocking the Value for Everyone, was launched today during the G20 Health Ministers Meeting in Gandhinagar, India. It presents a new way of thinking from simple digitization of health data to fully integrating digital technology in health systems: Digital-in-health. This means, for example, infusing digital technologies in health financing, service delivery, diagnostics, medical education, pandemic preparedness, climate and health efforts, nutrition, and aging.

The report also underscores that the successful use of digital technologies must be inclusive of all population groups, and ensure access to digital infrastructure, modern technologies, and skills, especially for vulnerable people.

Designed with people at the center, digital technology can make health services more personal, prevent healthcare costs from increasing, reduce differences in care, and make the job easier for those who provide health services,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development, World Bank. “We hope that this report will give governments confidence and practical guidance, regardless of the country’s stage of digital maturity or fiscal challenges.

Improving health is getting harder, not easier. Health systems face serious and growing challenges and policy decisions are too often not based on reliable data.  It is estimated that some countries use less than 5% of health data to improve health which means that decisions are not based on data or data is not used effectively to make improvements. Within challenging fiscal environments, people-centered and evidence-based digital investments can help governments save up to 15% of health costs. The report presents pragmatic, low-cost actions to improve digital-in-health, no matter the maturity of a country’s systems or digital infrastructure. For example, better health data governance and standards to ensure systems can readily connect and exchange information are not costly but will be game changing in reducing siloed digital solutions and fragmentation.

In India, we have shown that digital innovations such as tele-consultations have reached more than 140 million people and provided accessible, affordable and efficient healthcare for everyone,” said Mansukh L Mandaviya, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, India. “We believe a digital-in-health approach can unlock the value of digital technologies and data and has the potential to prevent disease and lower healthcare costs while helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions.” 

To help countries embrace a digital-in-health approach, the report proposes three essential areas to guide investments:

  1. Prioritize evidence-based digital investments that tackle the biggest problems and focus on the needs of patients and providers.
  2. Connect the regulatory, governance, information, and infrastructure dots so that patients know that data is safe and health workers can use digital solutions transparently.
  3. Scale digital health for the long run based on trust with sustainable financing, and improved capacity and skills for digital solutions.

It will take global, regional, and country leadership to make digital-in-health a reality. The report recommends strong country leadership involving all relevant sectors and stakeholders, including civil society. Digital technology and data improvements will involve investments beyond the health sector and new partnerships with the private sector. A digital-in-health mindset needs to be a routine aspect of annual health system planning, budgeting, and implementation.

The World Bank is committed to helping low-and middle-income countries to make digital-in-health a reality to improve health for everyone. Over the past decade, the World Bank has invested almost $4 billion in digital health including in health information systems, digital governance, identification systems, and infrastructure.

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Revolutionizing Halal Education Through Technology




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The Halal industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, with an increasing number of consumers seeking halal products and services.  Halal education plays a crucial role in ensuring that the Halal industry continues to thrive.  Halal education is essential for Muslims to understand and practice their religious beliefs correctly.  Technology has revolutionized the way we learn and has transformed Halal education, making it more accessible and convenient for Muslims globally.  Technology is changing the way we learn, and the Halal education sector is not an exception.  In this article, we explore how technology is revolutionizing Halal education.

The Importance of Halal Education

Halal education refers to the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that products and services comply with Islamic dietary laws. This education is critical in ensuring that the Halal industry remains compliant with Halal regulations and standards.

The Muslim population worldwide is estimated to be over 1.8 billion, and this number is expected to continue to grow.  This growth means that the demand for Halal products and services will also increase.

The Halal industry includes food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and finance.  The industry’s size and complexity make Halal education a necessity for those working in the industry.  This education ensures that industry professionals understand the Halal requirements and can make informed decisions.

Technology and Halal Education

Technology has changed the way we learn and access information.  It has made learning more accessible, convenient, and efficient.  The Halal education sector has not been left behind, and technology has revolutionized the way Halal education is delivered.  Halal education is essential for compliance with Halal regulations.  Technology has revolutionized it, making it more accessible, interactive, and personalized through online learning, mobile apps, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

Halal-certified companies promote Halal food by producing and selling certified products, educating consumers, and supporting Halal education initiatives.  Halal food certification and Halal education are crucial in the food industry.  Certification bodies, like Islamic Services of America (ISA) in the USA and many other globally based certifiers, provide Halal certifications and some forms of Halal education via blogs, individual and panel speaking engagements, and some deliver online classes and seminars to ensure compliance with Islamic dietary laws.  They create a better understanding of Islamic dietary laws, building trust and contributing to the growth of the Halal industry.

Online Learning

Online learning has become increasingly popular in recent years.  The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual learning as educational institutions were forced to move their classes online.  Online learning has made education more accessible to a broader range of people.  Students can now learn from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection.

Online learning has also made Halal education more affordable. Traditional Halal education involved attending physical classes, which could be expensive.  Online classes are cheaper as they do not require physical infrastructure, and the cost of delivering the classes is lower.  Some online events are free!

Mobile Applications

Mobile applications have changed the way we access information. Numerous Halal applications provide information on Halal products, restaurants, and prayer times.  These applications have made it easier for Muslims and Halal consumers to access information on Halal products and services.

Mobile applications have also made learning more interactive.  There are Halal educational applications that provide quizzes and games to reinforce learning.  These applications make learning fun and engaging.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology is changing the way we learn.  VR technology provides a simulated environment that can be used for educational purposes.  Halal education can benefit from VR technology as it can provide a simulated environment to teach about Halal requirements.

VR technology can be used to simulate the manufacturing process of Halal products.  This simulation can help industry professionals understand the Halal requirements and how to comply with them.  VR technology can also be used to simulate the cooking process of Halal food.  This simulation can help chefs understand the Halal requirements for cooking food.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is changing the way we learn and access information.  AI technology can be used to provide personalized learning experiences.  AI algorithms can analyze learning patterns and adjust the learning content to meet the learner’s needs.

Halal education can benefit from AI technology by providing personalized learning experiences.  AI algorithms can analyze the learner’s strengths and weaknesses and provide learning content that addresses their weaknesses.  This personalized learning experience can improve the learner’s understanding of Halal requirements.

As the demand for Halal products and services continues to grow, the importance of Halal education will only increase.  Technology will continue to play a vital role in revolutionizing Halal education and making it more accessible and efficient.  Halal education providers should embrace technology and leverage its benefits to provide high-quality Halal education to a broader range of learners.

Islamic Services of America (ISA) is a leading USA-based Halal certification and auditing organization serving companies, the community, and the Halal industry for over 45 years

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Nigeria Needs to Take Science more Seriously – an Agenda for Nigeria’s President-elect




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By Oyewole Tomori

Nigerians voted to elect a new president on 25 February and he will be sworn in on 29 May 2023. One of his responsibilities must be to lead the country in taking science more seriously. Science should be the fulcrum of Nigeria’s development. As a fellow and past president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, the umbrella body of Nigeria’s leading scientists, he offers the following tips for Nigeria’s new president:

Increase funding for scientific research

Nigeria has shown a deep neglect of science. Science and technology are seriously underfunded and minimally used in national development. For example oil refineries are shut down and Nigeria cannot produce vaccines locally, having stopped in 1991. The first time Nigeria had a Ministry of Science and Technology was in 1980, 20 years after independence. The first national science and technology policy was produced in 1986, six years later.

During the first 20 years of the ministry, it had 10 ministers, each with a different agenda and policy.

Nigeria’s first real attempt at funding public research was in 2006, when the government planned to create a US$5 billion endowment fund for science and technology. But the political will to do this wilted in the face of a lack of commitment of funds to execute the proposal. Since then, funding science and research in Nigeria has been as erratic and unpredictable as the political changes.

An attempt was made in 2012 to revive the fund with an independent board, headed by President Goodluck Jonathan himself. But when he left office in 2015 there was still no fund.

In 2016, the federal government announced a N3 billion (US$6.5 million) National Research Fund. A committee to manage it was only set up 17 months later.

Despite the promise of the Buhari government in 2021 to dedicate 0.5% of GDP to research and innovation, the budgetary allocation to the relevant ministry remained abysmally low at 0.14% of GDP in 2022. This was about the same level for the previous years – 0.13% and 0.14% for 2020 and 2021.

If Nigeria is to benefit from science and research, and harness technology and innovation to transform the economy and improve the social well-being of citizens, then the country must stop playing lip service to funding science and research activities.

The new government must rapidly harness science, technology and innovation as tools for national development. For example, the country could benefit from the development of solar energy to improve and stabilise the erratic electric supply, and from genomic studies to develop new therapeutics and vaccines for improved health and increased animal production.

Nigeria must increase the budgetary allocation to fund science and research annually from the current 0.14% of GDP to at least 1% in the next four years.

It must also expand the scope and funding capacity of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund to sustainably fund long term interdisciplinary research directed at solving Nigeria’s health, environment and other developmental challenges.

The new president must also see to it that the proposal to establish the Nigeria National Research and Development Foundation is realised before the end of his first year in office. Not much has been heard about this proposal lately.

Retain the capacity that’s built

The new president must recognise the need to prioritise capacity retention over capacity building. This should be through creating and sustaining a scientific and research environment that enables our highly trained workforce to conduct research activities productively and with relevance.

Too many of Nigeria’s scientists leave the country because of lack of employment opportunities, socio-cultural issues, poor remuneration and non-attainment of professional fulfilment. For instance, nine out of 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years of experience planned to leave Nigeria as at December 2022. Similarly, 57,000 nurses left Nigeria between 2017 and 2022 leaving a ratio of one nurse to 1,660 patients, based on the population. Software engineers are leaving too.

The research environment can be improved through easier access to foreign exchange and reduced importation charges for imported research equipment, supplies and reagents. Research also requires a stable electricity supply. Electricity production in Nigeria reached 7,637 GWh in June 2022, for a population of 219 million. For comparison, South Africa’s electricity production  reached 17,536 GWh in December 2022, for a population of 61 million.

Appoint a chief scientific adviser

As a matter of urgency, the president must appoint a chief scientific adviser charged with coordinating all science and research activities for the economic development of the country and social well-being of citizens.

Currently, science and research activities are scattered among different ministries and parastatals working in silos, carrying out uncoordinated work of little relevance to national development. The adviser to the president would assist in bringing all these together to ensure relevant focus and to reduce duplication and wastage of resources.

Start producing vaccines locally

The new president must consider local vaccine production as a national health security issue. He must ensure local vaccine production begins within the first two years in office. This will reduce costly dependence on foreigners for the country’s vaccine needs and safeguard national health security. Currently Nigeria produces no vaccines but a production plant is scheduled to commence production in 2024.

Prof. Oyewole Tomori is a Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Science

Courtesy: The Conversation

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