25 (Serious & Fun) Facts about Norway

February 5th, 2015

norway

There is so much to be said of Norway, known for its breathtakingly beautiful natural environment, vibrant cultural life with cosmopolitan cities brimful of architecture that showcases the famous Scandinavian flair for design. But for the sake of brevity, in this post we’ll touch on a number of facts about the country and its education system and share a handful of fun facts. We realize we’re not doing Norway full justice, and apologize in advance, as there are so many interesting facts to share. We encourage you all to visit the links provided for even more fun facts and information.

First, we’ll start with the serious facts:

1. Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun

2. Head of State: His Majesty, King Harald V of Norway

3. Head of Government: Prime Minister, Erna Solberg (since 2013)

4. System of Government: Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary democracy

5. Won independence from Sweden in 1905

6. Area: 148,747 square miles (similar in sq. miles to the size of Montana)

7. Population (2014): 5,109,059

8. Capital city: Oslo [Population: 624,000 (statistics 2013)]

9. Languages: 2 official Norwegian languages: Bokmål and Nynorsk), in some districts, Sámi is also an official language Sámi (spoken by the Sámi people), 100% literacy

10. Education dates back as far as the 12th century

11. In 1827 Norway introduced public education (Folkeskole)

12. In the 1970s and 80s the Folkeskole was abolished and the Grunnskole was introduced.

13. Education is free, even higher education.

14. Ministry of Education, Research & Church Affairs prepares the national curriculum for grunnskole (primary &
lower secondary education) and videregående skole (upper secondary school)

15. Compulsory education: 10 years (Grade 1-10)

16. Upper secondary school is 3 years after 10th grade and divided into general/academic studies track or vocational and apprenticeship tracks

17. Norway has seven universities, nine specialized university institutions, 22 university colleges, two national colleges of the arts and a number of private higher education institutions. Norway’s University of Oslo ranks 89th in the 2013–14 QS University World Rankings, and the University of Bergen at 151st

And now, we’ll share some fun facts:

18. The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII. Source: Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

19. It is illegal to spay or neuter your dog in Norway except under specific circumstances regarding health, quality of life, or utility. Source: Should dogs be neutered?

20. Norway has the World’s biggest sovereign fund, where it has been saving almost all the money it gets from the sale of oil and is worth almost a trillion dollars Source: Norway: Is world’s largest sovereign wealth fund too big?

21. To encourage more men to assume a greater share of care-giving responsibilities, Norwegian law states that 14 weeks of parental leave is reserved for fathers. Norway is the first country to introduce compulsory paternity leave Source: Father’s leave still a burning issue

22. King Harald of Norway vowed to remain unmarried for life unless he could marry his true love; the daughter of a cloth merchant. They both later married with help from the Government of Norway and she became the Queen of Norway Source: Queen Sonja of Norway

kingqueennorway
Photo: King Harald & Queen Sonja

23. Norwegian prisons are known to be the most luxurious prisons in the world. Norwegian prisons have also won a design award. Though accommodations may be ultra luxurious, the criminals on release demonstrate the lowest rate of re-offending in Europe, if not the world.
Source: Crime and punishment, Norwegian style

norway_prison
Photos of prison cells and accommodations in Norway

24. A valley settlement in Norway that lives in shadow for nearly half of every year has installed giant mirrors on an adjacent mountain to redirect sunlight into the town’s square, all based on a plan that was thought up 100 years ago

norway_glass

25. If you own a TV in Norway, you have to pay an annual fee of $300 USD. Source: 22 Interesting Facts About Norway

Bonus Fact:

26. Wondering how much your co-worker, boss, neighbor, friend, or cousin makes? It’d be no secret in Norway where income and wealth are public record; a practice shared by other Scandinavian countries. Making the data public demonstrates the Scandinavian tradition of jantelag, which translates roughly as nobody is better than anyone else.

ACEI

ACEI (est. 1994) is a U.S.-based full service organization assisting individuals, colleges and universities, regulatory boards, employers and state and federal government agencies with the evaluation, verification and translation of international education credentials. In addition, ACEI’s webinars and training programs provide international education specialists with up-to-date information on world education systems, student mobility trends, and credential evaluation methodologies. For more information on ACEI and its services, please visit www.acei-global.org.

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Morels and the Mujahideen

January 29th, 2015

How is the spread of militant, jihadist, Salafist Islamic fundamentalists like the seemingly random outcroppings of mushrooms in a forest? And why on earth would anyone ask that question!

mushrooms

Mujahideen

Visualize the Internet as a literal, humongous net cast over the planet, which conducts information in a constant active, never-ending stream, bringing people and ideas together and creating a fertile ground for innovation and the realization of inspired and life-changing concepts, resulting in new innovative technologies ad infinitum.

Now visualize a mushroom. You probably see a small seemingly insignificant sedentary little cap, minding it’s own business on the forest floor, on a log, or wherever. Actually, it’s anything but that. Mushrooms are the “fruiting” body of fungi, and fungi grow via a vast network of underground branching tube-like structures, called hyphae, which mesh together into a substance that appears similar to a spider web, which is collectively known as mycelium. There seems to be “intelligence” to this mycelium– when only one of these hyphae comes into contact with a food source, the mycelium has the ability to mobilize its energy to actually grow towards and exploit it. This mycelium can actually communicate with the mycelium of another species of mushroom fungus and pass along information, including information about toxic or hazardous substances previously encountered.

Not only that, but this massive network of subterranean mycelium, carry nutrients, which are vital to the propagation of almost every plant ecosystem on the planet. So…now you’re asking, what in the world does all this have to do with the Salafist, fundamental jihadists?

Well, think of the seemingly random explosions of horrific, deadly violence around the globe committed by Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda / Taliban, ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Mujahideen as mushrooms. Beginning to get the picture? And we, the Christian, Jewish, and other “non-believers” are the food source.

It’s not quite that simple, or bleak, but we must begin to examine how we–I’ll say the Western world; have had a good hand in fertilizing this rampant growth.

Fertilizer

There are a number of ways in which we very effectively fertilize this mycellium of terrorists. For centuries now, the Western world has destabilized vast regions of the world, with predominantly Muslim populations, through endless wars, aggravating already existing tribal enmity and then failing to thoughtfully, and responsibly integrate the resulting refugees and immigrants fleeing those conflicts into our societies.

The most recent, horrific terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by offshoots of radicalized, nihilistic, Islamist Jihadist militant groups: The Peshawar school massacre, committed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), the Boko Haram, (translates to,” Western education is forbidden”) massacre in Baka, Nigeria, the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Market massacres in Paris, Al Qaeda, the ISIL beheadings of foreign journalists and other barbarous acts committed against their own people in Syria and all over the Middle East.

It is a very precarious time and we must be very thoughtful, and consequent before we jump to react to such terrorist acts and risk becoming the terrorists ourselves. Their fundamentalist intolerance cannot be allowed to ignite our own fears, which unchecked, lead to intolerance. We must educate ourselves, and act from a place of big-hearted compassion, otherwise, what good will come from labeling the 1.6 billion Muslims as the “other” and perpetuating a climate of fear and aggression.

Not one entire group of people must be condemned for the fanatic heinous murderers committing crimes in the name of their God. We need to sit back, breath deeply and take a moment of sobriety to rethink our ideas and learn about what Islam is, and not form opinions and foster emotions based on headlines in the media, or psychotic rants by newscasters, spouting an hysterical Western version shout-outs for jihad, (as did Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro last week, and chillingly, she’s a judge.)

This vitriolic rhetoric only serves to fuel the fearful fires of hatred (think meat tenderizer) and a general misconception about Islam itself. The tragic aftermath is to turn an uninformed general worldwide population against “Islam” and make the lives of the most, peace-loving Muslims, exponentially harder and more dangerous.

I would say that education is the key factor. Both a lack of education about Islam in our cultures, and the forfeiting of foresight, by not realizing that in order to clean up the mess we’ve created, our societies have to create viable, equal education for the refugees and immigrants among us. Quality education is integration in our new multi-cultural and ever changing societies.

Firstly a lack of understanding and education about what Islam (the fastest growing religion in the world) is and what it means to be a Muslim might be a good place to start. The explosion of global anti-Muslim hysteria is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we denigrate and cast out hateful rhetoric, the larger we make the target.

All Muslims are not fundamentalist, murdering jihadists. In fact Muslims believe that the imitation of their prophet Muhammad helps one to know and be loved by God: one lives in constant remembrance of God. Sounds beautiful right?

When my husband and I recently spent 14 days in Istanbul on vacation, we did think twice before booking our trip. The ISIS radicals were fully engaged in battle with the Kurdish troops in Kobani, and we checked in with the “situation” in Istanbul in regards to expected, possibly violent, Kurdish protests against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his lack of action to support the Kurdish in Kobani.

We’re not comfortable with his “covert” acceptance and constantly changing stance in regard to the ISIS militants, as well as his listing towards the right, in his thinly veiled desire to reverse the broad legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, and return Turkey to an Islamic state. But…we decided that is was now or possibly never, and decided to not venture southeast towards the Syrian border.

It was on this trip, that I was led to explore the relationship of Islam to both Christianity and Judaism during a visit to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for approximately 400 years (1465–1856); during this time it was also the center of the Islamic world. In one of the rooms, the Destimal Chamber a number of sacred relics were on display, and boy, was I surprised! Long ques, equal to those waiting to get into the Treasury where the insanely opulent jewels of the sultans were on display, filed by vitrines containing religious pieces sent to the Sultans: Abraham’s Pot, Joseph’s Turban, Moses’ Staff, David’s Sword, scrolls belonging to John, and Muhammad’s footprint. I didn’t understand, why were these things here?

Then we went to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque (the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent) where they had glass covered informational pages about Islam, a sort of religious breakdown on display in several languages. Admittedly uninformed, I was shocked to read that Muhammad was a direct descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of prophet Abraham, and that Qur’an has a chapter named after Mary, the mother of Jesus. Huh? Apparently Muslims respect and admire Mary as the ideal of womanhood, (which is good, because she presides over the highest dome in the Hagia Sofia)…but really, what was all this about?

I decided to educate myself and found out that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all trace their spiritual origins to the prophet Abraham, they comprise the Abrahamic religions. They all believe in one God, and that one God blessed Abraham the common Patriarch: His descendents being: Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, who as prophets, brought his revelations to humankind. Islam also recognizes and respects all the prophets––the riddle of the relics was solved!

So what’s up with everyone fighting and killing each other in the name of God, when they all share the same God?

For the answer to that, we have to look back to the second half of the 19th century, when the Salafist movement, (a movement, sect, or a school of thought within Islam,) surfaced as a reaction to the spread of “European ideas,” and which is based on its commitment to exposing the roots of this “modernity” within the Muslim civilization.

The Salafists believe that they represent the epitome of Islamic practice, in its purest form, as they most closely adhere to the original teachings of their prophet Mohammad, as the messenger of God, (analogous to the Christian fundamentalists in their “literal” adherence to the exact letter of the Bible.) According to the Salafists, living one’s life by fulfilling these divine injunctions is the will of God, and the imitation of Muhammad is tantamount, thus there is no room for any diversion from this path. To open the way to any form of Western thinking within Islam is to commit a sin, worthy of death.

After the invasion of Afghanistan there has been a rise in Salafists committed to radical jihad, aided and abetted by the departing Soviet troops defeated in 1989, who left behind a massive amount of weapons and arms and munitions. After the Soviets were so successfully expelled from Afghanistan, several radical Salafists seized upon this defeat of the Soviet “Crusaders,” the non-believers trying to modernize Muslim culture, to support the call to arms in the form a jihad. The fundamentalist mycelium-Mujahideen feasted on the victory, blossoming into a major network throughout the Muslim world. Then Osama Bin-Laden came to power, 9/11 happened, then we added more fertilizer with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…and things began to go nuclear.

The resulting rise in Islamic terrorist activity has fueled an ugly, virulent anti-Muslim hysteria, a backlash of equally, potentially dangerous fundamentalists all over Europe, who are temporarily benefiting from the recent horrific events in Paris last week.

I live in Germany, where every Monday, lunatic fringe right-wing extremists rally together in Dresden under the banner of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West), run by a convicted criminal, who fears that Islam will overrun his picture perfect idea of the “real” Germany. Yuckily, scarily and very, very unbearable ideas for most Germans in the 21st century–considering their history. Thank god the majority of Germans think this is insane as well

In France, the National Front led by Marie Le Pen, whose party recently entered into alliance with the Party for Freedom, (PVV) in the Netherlands led by Geert Wilder, have “cashed–in” winning supporters and converting minds and hearts of the uneducated fearful masses. The same is true for the Progress Party in Norway, whose leader is a woman, Siv Jensen, who is also Norway’s Minister of Finance.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was quoted in an article in the New York Times in January 2014, “Public discussion of Islam is less about “their beliefs or their color; it’s more about lack of education and need for training,” Ms. Solberg said in an interview. Given Norway’s generous asylum policies and social welfare system, the new government wants to reduce abuse and ensure, she said, that “you always earn more money by working than by not working — it’s a bigger social issue here than immigration.”

Ah yes, now we’re getting somewhere.

Weed Killer

What if the mycellium of terror suddenly formed mushrooms simultaneously, and they all sprouted at once, thrusting out spores into every city with a sizeable immigrant population?

The only possible way to prevent this is not with angry warrior aggression, or by developing technologically superior weapons, thereby fueling the fires, fertilizing the ground, but by improving the quality of education for everyone.

No more tax shelters for the 1%, and offshore corporate accounts, channel those billions into education so that our cities don’t further degrade into rampant Blade Runneresque noir scapes of crime and daily terror. No place in the world will be “safe” for the absurdly wealthy offspring of those 1%, did they ever stop to think of that while hoarding their billions?

Amid the new economic austerity measures imposed by the EU, most European cities are going to have a hard time improving schools in order to create the needed opportunities for disenfranchised, impoverished immigrant populations. All over Europe increasing social and economic marginalization is driving young people towards extremism.

In France, the banlieus, basically ghettos inhabited by immigrant families, have such a high unemployment rate for youths that hopelessness is a matter of daily life and the factor leaving, especially young men, vulnerable, depressed and angry.

Mostly Muslims, these youths already feel shunned, set aside and stuck between worlds. They wind up committing theft and burglary, just to have a little money, or power, maybe to help feed their poor families and wind up being thrown in jail, alongside the extremely radicalized Islamic Imam proselytizers, who lie in wait, to get their hearts and minds, waiting to take control of their destinies to do their twisted version of jihad. These young, mostly men, are easy targets for extremist Islamic groups, who offer them a sense of purpose and belonging. In the U.S we’ve been dealing with this for decades among the immigrant Latino, Chinese and Vietnamese communities as well as the impoverished and marginalized African American communities.

All three young men responsible for the attacks in Paris; Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, grew up in these banlieus.

There are minor “trade schools” in place, but how many un-employed mechanics can a society support?

A recent New York Times article quoted the deputy mayor for education in the Paris suburb of Colombes, Leila Legmara,”… We are not treating the problem at its roots. Of course we need more security and resources to fight terrorism. But we also need to address what it is within our society that is capable of producing monsters.”

Great, finally at least someone is getting down to the roots, and hopefully, we will all learn how to deal with them.

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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Scotland and the Three-Year Bachelor degree

January 22nd, 2015

Scotland_bagpiper

The four-year undergraduate degree for Scotland’s universities, as noted in the Times Higher Education is the “gold standard” and seen as a “broader and more flexible” alternative to the narrow, focused three-year bachelor degree programs offered by universities in the rest of the UK. This viewpoint may be less of the norm as there is now a push to introduce three-year programs in Scotland as demonstrated by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

By introducing what the University of the Highlands and Islands refers to as the “accelerated” B.Sc. in geography to be introduced in September 2015, the goal is to allow students to complete their degree in a faster and shorter time-line and save on tuition. It appears that other institutions, such as the University of Dundee, Abertay University and Queen Margaret University share the same sentiment having already adopted the three-year Bachelor degree structure.

Late last year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) in India put the kibosh on the four-year degree movement spearheaded by the likes of the University of Delhi and several other technical universities. The UGC threatened to cut funding support should the institutions pursue the four-year degree structure despite the arguments raised by faculty and academicians championing the idea of expanding the three-year program by another year to include a research component and additional courses at the advanced level, particularly in the sciences. They viewed this move as essential if India intended to be competitive globally in the area of scientific research and development. The UGC, however, viewed the additional year as a financial burden.

Affordability and efficiency of four-year degrees versus the three-year degree is an issue being discussed by policy and decision makers in education and institutions of higher education.
Looking at India and now Scotland, one begs the question: Is the four-year degree too time-consuming and expensive? Or, is the push to do away with the four-year degree and justify the efficiencies and affordability of the three-year degree a marketing tactic to attract students who find the shorter and less expensive program more attractive? The elimination of the fourth year will also mean a reduction in revenue for institutions that adopt the three-year stream, but would it be compensated by an increase in student population finding the three-year Bachelor more palatable?

Supporters of the four-year Bachelor’s degree in Scotland echo the sentiments of their counterparts at India’s institutions of higher education. Both groups see the importance of the fourth year as offering a more holistic approach to teaching and learning, allowing for broad-based training in the humanities and sciences. Reverting to a three-year program is seen by those in Scotland’s historic universities as a step back and diminishing the graduate’s competitive edge in the job market, especially globally. After all, the four-year degree is still preferred over the three-year degree on the global job market.

What is interesting is that though some universities in Scotland have launched the three-year programs, they are still using the four-year degree credit structure as their model. While in the rest of the UK, a three-year degree requires completion of 360 credits for the bachelor’s, the three-year programs in Scotland require 480 credits that is the requirement for the four-year degree. Typically, students in the three-year programs in Scotland take an additional module per semester to meet the 480 credits. Some universities in Scotland have adjusted their academic calendar by shortening the holidays in the second and third years so that students can complete the additional modules and credits within three-years.

Scotland’s universities are also seeing that certain three-year degree programs may be more attractive to students while popularity for traditional four-year degrees continues to attract a higher number of students. This is mostly because university tuition remains free and for that reason Scottish students are more likely to sign up for the four-year degrees. The three-year degrees may be an attractive option for international students faced with higher tuition fees and additional costs related to travel, room and board and living away from home.

Though Scotland’s universities are pushing the three-year degree, at this time, it appears that they have not yet cut out a year of coursework but rearranged the academic calendar to accommodate completion of the same number of credits required in the four-year degree. The three-year degree to me appears to be an “accelerated” four-year program, at least for the time being, and will probably be an attractive alternative to students who have a clear idea of their career goals and mature students who wish to complete a degree in less time to return to the workplace.

While Scotland is entertaining the adoption of the three-year Bachelor’s and India is putting a stop to the movement to expand the three-year to a four-year degree, here in the U.S., Community Colleges will soon be introducing four-year bachelor’s degree. This move will definitely make the community colleges offering the four-year bachelor’s an affordable, accessible alternative to higher education. I’ll have more on the US community college four-year bachelor’s in my next blog.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO, ACEI

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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Playing Polo in Haiti

by Carine Fabius
(Originally Posted: 01/08/2015 3:32 pm EST on The Huffington Post)

Haiti_Polo
Claude-Alix Bertrand, Captain, Haiti Polo Team

In December 2014, Travel + Leisure magazine listed Haiti as one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2015.” Wow! That really made my day. I forwarded the link to a bunch of people I know, while trying very hard not to pepper my note with multiple exclamation points. Good news about Haiti, while common to those who follow the country’s progress since the earthquake, is rare. Why? Tragedy, wretchedness and insurmountable problems make for sexier headlines. Only 10 people killed in that quake? Who cares? Over 250,000 dead bodies, with 300,000 injured; now that’s something!

But, at the risk of putting readers to sleep, I must now report another rather astounding piece of news about Haiti’s blooming renaissance. The country now boasts the internationally-recognized, championship-winning Haiti Polo team, along with the construction of a five-star, full-service polo resort, school and spa in Côte De Fer, on Haiti’s south-eastern coast.

Polo? You’re thinking. In Haiti? What in the world? Come on, admit it. You’re thinking that what Haiti needs is education, not polo, right? As I mentioned, there are too-many-to-count progressive initiatives currently targeting the island’s many ills. A multi-pronged approach is what’s needed. The “sport of kings,” as polo is sometimes referred to, was once a part of Haiti’s social landscape in the 20s and 30s. What’s wrong with now? Tennis, another “elitist” sport, has been around forever in Haiti.

The impressive Haiti Polo team*, conceived and spearheaded by captain Claude-Alix Bertrand –recently appointed Ambassador UNESCO of Goodwill-at-Large for Haiti by Haitian President Michel Martelly — has scored a win in the finals against the U.S. in the San Francisco International Polo Classic. The team also made headlines with championship wins at the China Open Polo Tournament in Shanghai; the Cordoba International Polo tournament in Cordoba, Argentina; and at the International Masters Cup in Pilar, Argentina. Team Haiti’s presenting sponsor is Audi Sportscar Experience. Other sponsors include Duty Free America and Digicel; and it also has a healthy working relationship with the ministry of tourism in Haiti led by Stéphanie Balmir Villedrouin. The 8000-acre polo resort complex will also offer golf, sailing and Formula One car racing, in addition to polo lessons to young Haitians, and anyone else wanting to learn. In the process, the project will generate 18,000 jobs in Haiti. Not bad, eh?

Sports and the arts speak to the culture of a place. For 24 years I have represented Haitian artists through my gallery in Hollywood, California, and have previously written on HuffPost about Haiti’s distinctive arts tradition as one of the most potent local forces we can harness to bring tourism and culture enthusiasts back to Haiti. A project now playing at my house is my sculptor husband Pascal Giacomini’s documentary-in-progress on the remarkable and feverish artistic production pouring out of Haiti before, during and after the seism that changed everything. Currently on view at the Grand Palais in Paris is a major traveling exhibition titled Haiti, Two Centuries of Artistic Creation. This nation of artists has some of the best beaches on the planet; its French-influenced cuisine is downright gourmet. The sport of polo already exists on many islands in the Caribbean; but soon, Haiti will be the only place where the sport of polo will be available on a grand scale, without the customary club membership requirement. How fabulous.

* Fernando Cordoba, Francisco Pizarro and Juan Pizarro are the other professional polo players who make up the Haiti Polo team.

Carine

Carine Fabius

Carine is an LA-based writer, published author, art dealer, and museum curator.
She is a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She came to the States when she was
eight years old and grew up in New York, spent several years in Miami and
moved to California in 1986.

You can learn more about Carine at
http://carinefabius.com/

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15 Facts on Cuba and its Education System

January 8th, 2015

Cuban_Flag

On December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions on the nation. The President also said the U.S. will move towards re-opening its embassy in the communist nation and allow some travel, education and cultural exchange and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo instated during the Kennedy administration.

With recent developments in the renewal of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, we thought it would be good to start the new year by sharing a few facts on Cuba and its education system.

Country Facts

cuba

Here are 15 facts on Cuba:

1. The official name of Cuba is the Republic of Cuba.

2. Cuba is the largest of all islands in the Caribbean. The country also includes more than 4000 other much smaller islands and cays.

3. The capital and largest city of Cuba is Havana or “La Habana” in Spanish.

4. Cuba has a population of 11,047,251 (July 2014 est.)

5. Original indigenous inhabitants of Cuba were the Guanajatabey people followed by the Ciboney and Taíno tribes. In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island and claimed it as a Spanish territory.

6. Cuba remained a Spanish colony until the Spanish-American War of 1898 when the country became part of the United States. The country was given independence in 1902.

7. The United States had a strong influence over the island until 1959, when communist revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, overthrew the Government of Batista. Castro himself stepped aside in 2008 due to health complications succeeded by his brother Raul Castro as President.

8. The United States pays Cuba approximately $4,085 a year to lease the 45 square miles that the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station occupies. Cuba has not accepted the payment since 1959.

9. Cuba is renown for its music, bands play everywhere in the capital Havana. The main musical form is called son, which is a combination of upbeat rhythms with classical guitar.

10. Sugar from sugar cane is the main crop grown in Cuba, followed by tobacco which is used in the making of hand-crafted cigars that are famous for being the finest cigars in the world.

11. Nickel is Cuba’s most important mineral resource at 21% of total exports in 2011 nearly 4% of the world’s production.

12. In a traditional Cuban meal the food is not served in courses, instead all the food is served at the same time.

13. Baseball is the most popular sport in Cuba by far. The country is also dominant in boxing and has produced a number of Olympic boxing champions. Other sports of interest include basketball, volleyball, cricket, football (soccer) and athletics.

14. The game of dominoes is extremely popular in Cuba.

15. As of 2013 Cuba has 9 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list, 7 of these cultural sites and 2 of them natural.

Education Facts

University_Havana
University of Havana

Here are 15 facts on Cuba’s education system:

1. Since 1961, the educational system in Cuba has been run by the state nationalizing private institutions at all levels of education

2, The education system is 100% subsidized by the government, meaning that Cuban students at all levels can attend school for free. The Cuban government has been investing a substantial part of its budget into education for many years.

3. According to a 2014 report by The World Bank, Cuba has the best education system in Latin American and the Caribbean and the only country on the continent to have a high-level teaching faculty. The World Bank Report also praises Cuba for its success in the fields of education and health, with social services that exceeds those of most developing countries and, in certain sectors, are comparable to those of the developed nations. The country’s social system that ensures state-sponsored universal access to education and health services has helped Cuba to achieve universal literacy, eradicate certain diseases and provide universal access to safe drinking water and basic public sanitation. Cuba now has one of the region’s lowest infant mortality rates and longest life expectancies.

5. Cuba is also the nation in the world that allocates the highest share of its national budget, 13 percent, to education.*

6. Education is compulsory for children from the ages of 6 to 16.

7. Students attend primary school for six years, after which they proceed to basic secondary or high school for a period of 3–4 years.

8. On completion of the basic secondary level, education splits into two categories: pre-university education and technical or professional training. A pre-university education leads to a Bachillerato diploma; completion of technical or professional training enables students to attend one of the country’s many technological institutes.

9. From an early age, children are indoctrinated in their schools with the government’s political beliefs of communism. Parents who violate this code by teaching their children contrary doctrine face the prospect of prison.

10. All universities and technical schools are run by the Ministry of Higher Education (Ministerio de Education Superior – MES). The MES is responsibilities include managing the schools, regulating teaching methodology and courses, establishing educational policies and ensuring all the schools comply with government standards.

11. Cuba has over 47 universities with a total enrolment of over 400,000 students. The older and more well known universities in Cuba include:
• The University of Havana
• Universidad de Oriente
• Universidad Central de Las Villas
• Universidad Catolica de Santo Tomas de Villanueva
• Universidad Masonica
• Universidad de La Salle en Nuevo Vedado

12. The requirements for entering a university or technical institute of higher education in Cuba are as follow:
• Students must show proof of completing a secondary education
• Students must pass college entrance exams
• Men must show proof of having completed compulsory military service or proof of non-compliance due to medical reasons or family obligations

13. Political Clearance: Students must be cleared by the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution before they are allowed to take the university entrance examinations. Students demonstrating good political standing in relation to their Communist beliefs receive a letter of approval allowing them to take college entrance exams. Students with a “poor” political standing may be “blacklisted” from furthering their education.

14. Distance education is available for students in Cuba to study for a professional career. There are approximately 15 centers for distance education throughout Cuba providing degrees in the following career choices: History, Law, Finance and Accounting, Economics and Science and Technology. Requirements for distance education include completion of secondary education, one year work experience and being between 25 and 35 years of age. Male students must also show proof having completed mandatory military service.

15. There are three stages in the university system which include the following:

Stage 1- The Licenciatura (Bachelor’s degree equivalent) or professional degree (Titulo) is the first stage of university studies requiring completion of 4-5 years of study. A degree in medicine may require 5 to 6 years to complete.

Stage 2 – The second stage of higher education consists of three levels: Diplomado, Maestria and Especialista. Within each of these levels, students must complete a minimum of 200 hours in theory, practicum and internship. Upon completion of this stage, which generally lasts for two years, students are awarded the degree of Diplomado, Maestria or Especialista (equivalent to the Mater’s degree).

Stage 3 – The third stage of higher education is to obtain a Doctoral Degree. Students must study for 3 to 4 years before they are considered for candidacy in a Doctoral program. Once they are approved for candidacy, students are admitted into the Doctoral Program where they will conduct their scientific research, defend the findings of their work and finally be awarded their Doctoral Degree.

*Salim Lamrani, Cuba : les médias face au défi de l’impartrialité, Paris, Estrella, 2013, p. 40.

ACEI

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5 Helpful Blogs on New Year’s Resolutions for Students

January 2nd, 2015

2015

We hope your holidays were happy and fun and you’re ready to take on the New Year.

The start of the New Year is when many of us make resolutions in hopes of getting rid of bad habits and making positive changes to our lives. But for most, even those with the strongest willpower, sticking to our resolutions for the course of the year can become difficult. Life gets in the way and throws us off the track by inundating us with everyday tasks, the stress of juggling school, work, family, or all. We simply lose the motivation we had at the start of the year.

Don’t beat yourself up. Not being able to carry out all your New Year’s resolutions is nothing to be ashamed of! We can only imagine how challenging this must be for college students who have to balance school work and a social life and perhaps a part-time job while away from home and the support system offered by family.

We realize the popular New Year’s resolutions tend to be exercise more, lose weight, spend less and save more, but international and U.S. students can use this as an opportunity to prepare for the year ahead.

Here are a few blogs which we’d like to recommend that offer great tips on how to plan your New Year as a student:

5 Tips for Making a New Year’s Resolution for 2015 by Christina Bowers
http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/december-2014/5-tips-on-making-a-new-years-resolution-for-2015

5 New Year’s Resolutions International Students Should Make, by Bryanna Davis

http://blog.internationalstudent.com/2014/12/5-new-years-resolutions-international-students-should-make/

7 New Year’s Resolutions for Students by Laura Bridgestock

http://www.topuniversities.com/blog/top-7-new-years-resolutions-students

College Student’s New Year’s Resolution by Dave Berry

http://www.collegeconfidential.com/admit/college-students-new-years-resolutions/

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for College Students

http://www.jiu.edu/blog/post/top-10-new-year’s-resolutions-college-students

But if you ask our advice, make only one resolution. Instead of packing a litany of resolutions on your list, try focusing on one and set a deadline. If you need the help and support of a friend, reach out to one and set up a buddy system, someone who can check in with you and see how you’re doing or you can check in with them and update them on your progress or give you a friendly nudge or reminder when needed. Getting one resolution checked off successfully from your list is a
huge accomplishment. You can always add a second one to the list.

And finally, don’t be hard on yourself. Have fun and make it a great year!

From all of us here at ACEI, we wish you a

2015_Happy_New_Year

ACEI

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Advanced Business Management Concepts: Helping Integrate Iran into the Global World Economy

December 18th, 2014

iranbschool

The 1979 Iranian Revolution caused an exodus of its people who left the country in search of safer havens. You can say that the Iranian Revolution helped globalize Iranians by creating a large diaspora scattered throughout different continents. According to various sources, in 2010, there were an estimated four to five million Iranians living abroad, mostly in North America, Europe, Persian Gulf States, Turkey, Australia and the broader Middle East. Their combined net worth is estimated at $1.3 trillion (2006 est.)

In 2000, the Iran Press Service reported that Iranian expatriates had invested between $200 and $400 billion in the United States, Europe, and China, but almost nothing in Iran. One Iranian has chosen to return to Iran and invest in the country. Recognizing mismanagement as Iran’s curse at both the private and public sectors, an Iranian expatriate, Rouzbeh Pirouz, decided to do something about it in 2007 and conceived the Iranian Business School (IBS), a graduate institution in Tehran, Iran, focused on teaching Iranians advanced business management concepts.

IBS started offering classes in 2010 and already hundreds of Iranian men and women have enrolled and attended classes. In cooperation with Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, IBS is offering an Executive MBA (EMBA) program.

On Oct. 4, 2013, the IBS received an Office of Foreign Assets Control license from the U.S. government allowing it to raise funds as a charity in the United States and to bring American faculty to teach in Tehran and pay them.

Admission to IBS requires the Karshenasi (undergraduate degree equivalent to the US Bachelor’s), five years of work experience and English language proficiency. TOEFL and IELTS test scores may be required of those who had completed their previous studies at a non-English speaking institution.

Classes at IBS are structured to include lectures, seminars, case studies and interactive simulations highlighting the challenges of managing business in Iran. International experts, mainly prominent Iranian-origin academics, will work closely with the local faculty. Programs at IBS are bilingual: Persian (Farsi) and English.

Mr. Pirouz believes that isolating Iran only helps the hard-liners and not the people. According to Mr. Pirouz: “An Iran integrated in the global economy, with a growing private sector, will be good for Iran and the world.” He hopes that IBS will help promote this vision through its cohorts of graduates and help from the Iranian diaspora.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO, ACEI

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