‘Teacher-less’ classrooms defy conventions of education

The World Government Summit in Dubai is held at the Madinat Jumeirah. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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‘Teacher-less’ classrooms defy conventions of education

  • A school in Bali has created a classroom with no walls, “which provides an incredible environment for growth”
  • Another one in Paris gathers students in “a building with no supervision”

DUBAI: Unconventional schooling models including classrooms with no teachers or walls are defying the conventions of education, the World Government Summit was told on Sunday.

A Bali school founded by Canadian entrepreneurs John and Cynthia Hardy are conducting lessons in classrooms made entirely of bamboo, utilizing the impact of nature and environment in the students’ education.

“Green School is like no other. It has no walls, and the children are happy. This provides an incredible environment for growth,” John Hardy said, adding how “giving children freedom from boundaries teaches them to solve problems and think critically in ways we had never imagined possible.”

Another school with an unconventional model is Ecole 42 in Paris, where students work in “a building with no supervision.”

“Learning by rote is dangerous and makes you stupid. Information is freely available on the internet. What we need in today’s world is the ability to create new stuff out of this knowledge by working together,” said founder Nicolas Sadirac who initially designed the program for poor children and school dropouts.

“It’s all about creating a safe place, and then providing an environment of trust. It helps to gamify the experience to make it fun. Then you step aside and watch the kids flourish,” Sadirac added.

Both models were presented to a group of educators attending the World Government Summit in Dubai, where a session about the future of education was organized.

“You are going to have to change your old thinking,” a clinical psychologist said at the end of the session.


Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

Updated 15 June 2019
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Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

  • The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years
  • The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan in urgent need of protection

GHAZNI, Afghanistan: An ancient tower dating back 2,000 years in the historic Afghan city of Ghazni collapsed this week, local officials said, raising concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s cultural heritage and the government’s ability to protect them.
The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years due to decades of war, heavy rain and neglect.
The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan — ranging from the pre-Islamic Buddhist center in the Bamyan valley to the 12th century minaret of Jam in a remote area of Ghor province — in urgent need of protection.
Officials in Ghazni, which nearly fell to the Taliban last year in some of the heaviest fighting seen in the war, said the tower collapsed on Tuesday following heavy rain. A short video posted on social media shows it crumbling but local residents say negligence also contributed to its collapse.
“The government paid no attention to the sites and didn’t build canals to divert flood water,” said Ghulam Sakhi, who lives near the citadel.
“We have warned the government about the dire condition of the citadel but no one visited,” Sakhi said.
Mahbubullah Rahmani, acting director of culture and information in Ghazni, said heavy rain and recent fighting had contributed to the tower’s collapse but said the government was working on a plan to protect the site from complete destruction.
He said a German archaeologist had worked at the site as recently as 2013.
Ghazni, a strategically vital center on the main highway between Kabul and southern Afghanistan and two hour drive from the capital, is home to a range of cultural and archaeological artefacts, some of which date back to pre-Islamic period.
The province and its cultural heritage was officially declared as Asian Capital of Islamic Culture in 2013 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a Morocco-based body created in 1981, supported by UNESCO.
The collapse of the tower in Ghazni follows concern over the condition of the 900-year-old Minaret of Jam, in Ghor, which has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.
The Taliban during their austere regime from 1996-2001, before they were toppled by the US and coalition force in late 2001, blew up two giant Buddha statues in central Bamiyan province, calling them idols.