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iPads in the classroom – transforming education or unnecessary distraction? – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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For the past eight months, my teenage son has been required to use an iPad for some schoolwork and much of his homework. And it seems he’s not the only one; tablets are now commonplace in schools and some schools are starting to insist all pupils have one.

But there’s been little debate about this new development. And that’s why the ATL teaching union commissioned a major survey on tablets in the classroom.

A total of 376 parents and teachers from across Northern Ireland responded and there was a clear consensus on a number of issues.

Most (78%) believed tablets do have at least some educational value in the classroom, but there was widespread concern about certain significant potential drawbacks.

Some 82% of respondents were worried about the ‘distraction factor’ if pupils were expected to use tablets for homework; will children diligently do their homework when they can check messages or play games on the same devices?

But perhaps the most alarming finding related to child protection; 64% of teaching staff who had educational experience of using tablets felt there was a risk that pupils might access inappropriate material when the devices were used in the classroom.

Some schools are starting to ask or require parents to pay for tablets or other digital devices. Most respondents (71%) firmly opposed any move to make parents pay on the grounds that not all families can afford the cost.

Indeed, a large majority of respondents (81%) wanted official guidance on the use of tablets in schools – so perhaps that can be one of the first tasks for our incoming Education Minister.

So where do parents and schools stand?

Source: iPads in the classroom – transforming education or unnecessary distraction? – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Obesity costs global economy an estimated €2tn a year

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Obesity costs global economy an estimated €2tn a year.

The global cost of obesity outweighs that of alcoholism, drug use or road accidents and closely rivals that of armed conflict and smoking, according to a new study.

The cost of obesity is estimated at $2 trillion – equivalent to 2.8 per cent of the world’s economic output, the study found. This makes it one of the top three global social burdens behind smoking and armed violence, war and terrorism..

The research, which was carried out by consultancy firm McKinsey, reveals that obesity is now responsible for about 5 per cent of all deaths a year worldwide.

More than 2.1 billion people – equivalent to nearly 30 per cent of the global population- are overweight or obese. That is almost two and a half times the number of adults and children who are undernourished.

A number of studies conducted in Ireland show that two out of three Irish adults, and one in four primary school children, are overweight or obese.

“Obesity is a major global economic problem caused by a multitude of factors. Today obesity is jostling with armed conflict and smoking in terms of having the greatest human-generated global economic impact,” the report said…

More than 2,000 men suffer domestic abuse, says Amen

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More than 2,000 men suffer domestic abuse, says Amen.

Almost 8,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported from more than 2,000 men last year, the support service for male

sufferers of domestic violence Amen, has said.

According to Amen’s 2013 report, the number of domestic attacks on men is roughly the same as 2012.

But the charity said it is seeing a large increase in the number of men coming for face-to-face counselling.

The number of face-to-face meetings with men complaining of abuse has risen by about 64 per cent on 2011, says Amen service manager Niamh Farrell…

ISS Africa | The post-2015 Development Agenda: new goals, no goals – or own goals?

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ISS Africa | The post-2015 Development Agenda: new goals, no goals – or own goals?.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for all their doubtless faults, had this one great virtue: they encapsulated the whole, sprawling and often rather arcane development issue into eight universal, simple, concrete, comprehensible and measurable development targets, to be reached mainly by 2015.

From halving absolute poverty and hunger to reducing infant mortality by two-thirds, the goals were clear and tangible, which made them relatively easy to brand and market. Being measurable, they would, of course, quite clearly show success or failure. And as the deadline looms, it is apparent that in sub-Saharan Africa especially, failure will be far more common than success…

U.S. Debt Poses a Barrier to Economic Opportunity

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U.S. Debt Poses a Barrier to Economic Opportunity.

“…The most relevant result has been the massive rise in U.S. debt. From 2003 to 2013, the U.S. racked up more than $10 trillion in debt, bringing total debt from just under $7 trillion in 2003 to $17.4 trillion in 2013. U.S. debt amounts to $55,000 for every man, woman, and child living in the U.S., or $142,000 per household. Massive and growing deficits are projected to add to this burden, making it hard to imagine how the U.S. will ever be able to balance its books, much less pay down its debt…”

FGM is banned but very much alive in the UK | Society | The Guardian

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FGM is banned but very much alive in the UK | Society | The Guardian.

“It’s a custom that is very much alive, not just in home countries but in Scotland,” says Anela Anwar, from the Glasgow-based charity Roshni. “People have given us information saying girls are being cut in Scotland or we hear that girls are taken back home to be cut over the summer holidays.”

Reports that “cutters” are at work, some working in expensive private clinics, have come out of major cities including London, Birmingham and Bristol, says Sarah McCulloch, from the Agency for Culture and Change Management. “Wherever [ethnic minority] communities [that practise FGM] are residing, it is a problem,” she says. “Because why would they stop? Why should they stop? What will make them stop?..

Bill Gates – Timeline Photos

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Bill Gates – Timeline Photos.

“Fewer children are dying and fewer people are living in extreme poverty”

Africa Is More Stable than You’ve Been Led to Think – Jonathan Berman – Harvard Business Review

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Africa Is More Stable than You’ve Been Led to Think – Jonathan Berman – Harvard Business Review.

The recent political instability in Mali has cast a cloud of poor publicity over the economic and commercial rise of Africa, one of the few bright spots in the global economy. Press analysis has speculated whether political instability is endemic to Africa and likely to expand in the future. It’s an important point for the many companies, from GE to Unilever, that are turning to Africa for their next wave of growth…

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