UNICEF warns of a children generation deprived of schooling in Middle East

Education under fire _pict 2

Around the world millions of children are living violent conflicts leaving them both physical and psychological scars. In this context, attending to school is no longer a viable option, condemning their future opportunities and the chances of their entire nation. A recent report by UNICEF provides a new vision on Middle East and North Africa wars focusing on its impact on children’s education. According to UNICEF, today more than 13 million children, 40 percent of the affected areas’ school aged population, are not going to school due to violent conflicts in the region. This scenario differs from the situation the region held a few short years ago in which the goal of universal education was well within reach.

As a response to this situation several initiatives have been launched by United Nations, non-governmental organizations and international donors.  Some of these programs are the No Lost Generation Initiative or the Back to-learning Campaigns, focused on establishing schools where children can catch up on classes they missed or distributing education supplies. Also, e-learning tools are permitting children to study without having to travel and exposing themselves to dangerous situations. Actions on promoting schooling are essential because the hopes and chances of a generation are at stake.

A message from the Executive Director: One award, a welcome and a farewell

We are proud to share that this UNESCO Chair’s Academic Director, Albert Sangrà, Professor of UOC, received the Excellence in e-Learning Award by the Global Learn Tech Congress (GLTC). The GLTCis part of the renowned World Education Congress, a  not -for-profit that identifies best worldwide practices in education and brings educational world leaders together on a yearly basis. The Excellence in e-Learning Award is the highest honour which an individual can receive for his or her contribution, and recognizes outstanding achievements and innovative pedagogical approaches in the field of online education. The Award Ceremony took place in Mumbai (India) on July 23, 2015.



We also have to announce that Gerard Domínguez, Coordinator of this UNESCO Chair for the last 2 years will leave the UOC to undertake Master studies in Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Starting in September, Albert Garrigós enters as the new Chair Coordinator. We wish Gerard good luck in his new adventure abroad and we welcome Albert to the team. The world keeps spinning, and so do we!

Emma Kiselyova

IITE-UNESCO asks professionals to make their voice heard in a project on the future of education

The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) is implementing the project Access, Equity and Quality: Envisioning the Sustainable Future of Postsecondary Education in a Digital Age, in collaboration with UNESCO Headquarters. The project aims at determining the future agenda in ICT in postsecondary education and contributing to shaping education policies based on research and foresight studies.

Within the research methods used in the project, IITE is asking higher education professionals to answer a survey.

Professors, researchers and managers are invited to fill in the questionnaire, with the deadline set on Monday 28th September, 2015. The survey deals with the issues of validation and credentialing of learning results and open educational resources; curriculum and institutional change and teacher development.To deliver consisten results, the project will apply other research methods such as virtual panels of policy makers and experts; mapping and assessment of major relevant trends; analysis/generalization of the results of the panel/survey; feedback from UNESCO Chairs, etc.

Wide Open Spaces: the Pros and Cons of Open Education

The infographic was suggested to us by the company Value Colleges. Believing that educational field is in need of more agencies and more new players, we are posting this view of Open Education. Your comments are welcome, as always.

Open education is defined as, “the institutional practices and initiatives that broaden access to learning and training through formal education systems”. The two main systems of open education is Open Educational Resources and Massively Open Online Courses. Learn just how hugely open education is catching on. The pros of open education lie with it being more iterative and interactive with online communities, live feedback, student services and more. Regardless of educational background and history, only about 4% of students actually complete an entire MOOC. In the future there will be better ways to identify students and enhance the instructional quality of the programs. 75 percent of students said they enrolled in a MOOC because it was free and nearly half said they would take another course if it cost a small amount, but only 18 percent were willing to pay a larger sum. University presidents have different views on open education, most agreeing that it can foster creative pedagogical studies.


Art Schools Go MOOC, With a New Online Platform

Teaching free courses in the arts as MOOCs had bee tried before via Coursera, but it did not work out well, so its authors frustrated by limitations of the Coursera platform,  just left  it – until now.

The new virtual art school Kadenze has teamed up with 18 institutions, including Stanford and Princeton Universities, to create a digital platform designed for  arts courses. According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook, an emeritus professor at Princeton, the platform will be multimedia rich and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned art, watch videos, and participate in discussion forums.

Kadenze will initially offer about 20 courses on subjects including music, art history, and technology and art. Students will enroll in courses and watch videos free, but if they want to submit assignments and receive grades and feedback, they will have to pay $7 a month. There will be courses offered for credit, for fees of $300, $600 or $900 a course.

Kadenza’s founders anticipate that Kadenze’s courses will attract a broad range of students, but that the primary interest will be from artists, performers, and those interested in going to art school.

Read in full: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/art-schools-go-mooc-new-online-platform-works-with-art-programs-at-18-colleges/56947

UNESCO launches a fundraising campaign to bring relief to Nepal


On April 25 and May 12, Nepal was hit hard by two earthquakes that brought about awful consequences to the country and its citizens. The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8-8.1, killed more than 8,000 people and injured other 23,000. The second one, with a magnitude of 7.3, killed 117 people and left 2,500 injured.

To help the country recover from this natural disaster and the humanitarian crisis it is sunk into, UNESCO is leading an international fundraising campaign. In addition, UNESCO is assessing the damage at the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley, which is composed of seven groups of monuments and buildings. The seven monuments and sites include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan. To donate, go to: http://www.unesco.org/donate/nepal2015/donate.php#sthash.kSaBloAr.dpbs

In addition, UOC (Open University of Catalonia) has teamed up with the Red Cross to raise money for the cause. The donations will be devoted to alleviate the damages caused by the earthquakes in homes, schools and health centers. The goal is to raise €1,500 and you can donate here and spread the campaign on twitter with the hashtag #UOC4Nepal. The twitter campaign will start on June 22.

Catalan UNESCO Chairs call attention to the Government with the Palau Robert Manifesto


The Catalan UNESCO Chairs held a meeting on May 6 in Barcelona to discuss the challenges Catalan UNESCO Chairs face in the economic crisis. A paper was presented summarizing the activities of Chairs in research, training and advocacy fields. In fact, UNESCO Chairs are the ones most severely hit by the cuts of the Catalan government and host universities.

One of the objectives of the meeting was to call attention to the Government of Catalonia. The regional government had been co-financing the UNESCO Chairs within its territory until 2013, when it stopped co-financing due to the harsh financial conditions of La Generalitat. To show strong concern with the government’s decision and to stress the importance of assistance to maintain existing UNESCO Chairs alive, the Palau Robert Manifesto was prepared and signed.

P.S.: Fortunately, there are some experiences of universities which know the value of UNESCO for ademica and society: this month, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is inaugurating a new UNESCO Chair on the Use of Technology for Multilinguism – TECLIN.

Fake Diplomas, Real Money

An Insight into the Scam of Diploma Mills

Allen Ezell “Accreditation Mills” book cover

“Very little in this virtual realm is real”. This is how New York Times describes the network of alleged education institutions offering fake accreditations run by Axact, a software company in Pakistan. Aggressive sale agents cajole clients seeking real education into enrolling for coursework that never materializes. Ruses include impersonating American government officials and using tricky names for institutions, such as Barkley or Columbiana . Shoaib Ahmed Saikh, Axact’s founder and chief executive, is supposed to be using benefits from fake degrees to fund his own media group, BOL. Allen Ezell, a retired FBI agent, explains the fraud with further detail in his book Accreditation Mills.

Most of the clients seeking real education are scammed and pushed to pay large amounts of money under very diverse threats. However, such an established business wouldn’t be generating dozens millions in profits every year since 1997 without people willing to pay for fake degrees, hoping to secure a promotion or pad their résumé. People keen to buy certificates are the main driver of those companies, clearly degrading the reputation of online Education.

Read more:

Education For All Report Presented in Barcelona


Aaron Benavot, director de of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2000-2015, presented the achievements and challenges of Education worldwide yesterday in Barcelona.

All through the event, organized by the UNESCO Center of Catalonia and Fundació Jaume Bofill, Benavot pointed out that there are many signs of notable advances. The pace towards universal primary education has quickened, gender disparity has been reduced in many countries and governments are increasing their focus on making sure children receive an education of good quality. However, despite these efforts, the world failed to meet its overall commitment to Education for All. Millions of children and adolescents are still out of school, and it is the poorest and most disadvantaged who bear the brunt of this failure to reach the EFA targets.

The organizers are asking for contributions to the debate on the three priorities for next 15 years: access, equity and quality. If you want to make your opinion heard, you can join the debate on http://www.edupost2015.cat/participa/ 

The report can be read and download on https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/


Call for applications to undertake postdoctoral research studies



The UOC’s UNESCO Chair is a center for the promotion of research, learning and information resources in the intensive use of ICTs in education for social transformation. As a further step toward fostering meaningful social change, the Chair is opening a call for applications to engage people who share the mission and values of our organization to establish mutually beneficial collaboration. Priority will be given to research proposals related to the three main areas of the organization’s work: quality of online education, ICT for development and economy of online education.

During the stay, the researcher will have the chance to share with the UOC community the outputs of his or her work, as well as will be able to take part in research events held by the university. In addition, the researcher will be invited to participate in the activities organized by this UNESCO Chair. The Chair will foster a meaningful collaboration so that both parties would benefit from the other’s contribution.

You can find the specifications of the call here. To fill and submit the application form, please click on the following link.

The Call is also available in Spanish here.