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Where do we start with literacy?

first_imgBy:Lorraine Ince-Carvalhal As education month comes to a close, I sincerely hope that the new initiatives proposed and focused on areas of improvement do not lose momentum and are not just lip service to the month. Despite the awareness of the need and identification of improvement areas, without continued motivation to application and implementation, we could be in danger of allowing the concerns to take a downward spiral as the next generation falls a little lower than the present one.The highlighting of literacy needs is one of the most important concerns, as without literacy, it is difficult for the country and its citizens to make further development. While it is clear that the emphasis on literacy needs to start at the beginning of a child’s life because research has shown that children who struggle with literacy will become youth and adults who struggle with literacy, the problem is that these same struggling adults are parents to those children in desperate need of literacy support. Surely the consideration here is that before we can hope to be successful in tackling the falling literacy rates in children, we need to intervene and develop the literacy rates of adults.During the recognition of International Literacy Day, Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine pointed out that the definition of literacy included the ability to identify, understand, interpret and create… using written materials. This goes far beyond the boundaries of learning how to read and write, and towards a person’s capacity to apply those skills to successfully connect, understand and identify the complexities of the world around them. Despite Guyana previously boasting high literacy rates, by this definition it is clear that those rates do not reflect the status of the many adults in this country. How can they hope to support and teach the next generation if they themselves are struggling with such skills?Study after study shows that families who read together can help children boost their vocabulary and school performance and to this end, parents are being encouraged to read with their children, discuss homework and encourage learning. Yet large numbers of parents are literally unable to do so. How sad it is that so many of our parents do not get to enjoy reading their child a bedtime story, such a rich pastime that many of us take for granted. How sad it is that by the age of four, a child of a low literate parent will have heard 32 million fewer words than a child of a literate parent.Schooling comes after the most influential part of a child’s development. A parent truly is the first teacher to a child and if they are unable to communicate the importance of literacy development and support that development, then a child is starting at a disadvantage when they enter the classroom. The challenge to build a strong education on an unstable foundation usually leads to that child attaining low educational standards and then we fall into a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself.The power of language and the ability to use it as an expression is an invaluable tool in every area of life, from school to work, in relationships and all other forma of communications. Learning to read is of course the basis of literacy, but it is also important that time is taken to build understanding and encourage critical thinking both in the home and in the classroom. Without these skills, being able to read and write still has limitations.There is an expectation that if we pour a certain amount of dollars into this generation’s education, we will get better results, but if we do nothing to address the households they are coming from, this expectation may not be realised. Should there not be more significant investment in this country to help improve adult literacy? Although the challenge is immense, the aim should be to make adult literacy classes easily accessible. Programmes need to be more effective and easy to implement with providers trained to deliver in a sensitive manner and participators need to be encouraged to complete courses with incentives, recognition and without stigma. In an effort to reach the standard of literacy that the Education Ministry is so appropriately aiming for, the input needs to span both generations and continue to do so until the cycle is broken.last_img read more

Backward Metamorphosis of Corruption in Liberia: From Grotesque Public Enemy to Wicked Vampire

first_imgFebruary 1, 2015Simply Thinking ThoughtsIn my thinking thoughts last night I reflected on President Sirleaf’s Annual Message, especially the assertion that corruption had become a blood sucking vampire in Liberia. The assertion caused me to reminisce; when the President first assumed leadership, she declared “Corruption” as enemy number one; 10 years later instead of eliminating this enemy, corruption has metamorphosed into a supernatural vampire that sucks blood.Construct of VampireFor those of you who were around back in the day, there were several episodes of a movie at Roxy and Gabriel Cinemas entitled “Dracula.” Dracula was half human, half bat and had two protruding canine incisor teeth that he used to suck blood from his victims. Surprisingly, as soon as Dracula sucked a victim’s blood, that person suddenly metamorphosed into another Dracula more vicious and ready to suck the blood of other victims. After sucking blood, Dracula would falsely take on human features simply to lure other victims to their destruction. Truly, Dracula was a vicious, wicked blood thirsty vampire. Construct of MetamorphosisI actually understood the process of metamorphosis under Mrs. Esther Kpor, my 10th grade Biology teacher at Tubman High School. Metamorphosis, according to Ma Kpor, was generally a change from something ugly to something beautiful.It begins with a very ugly, grotesque caterpillar with all kinds of itches on it. The itchy ugly caterpillar later covers itself with films and fluids apparently intended to mold, smoothen, nurture, protect and transform itself into a cocoon. After some time, the ugly, grotesque, itchy caterpillar further transforms into a beautiful butterfly that flutters away with exceptional exuberance, as if emancipated from a spell cast by a wicked witch that was finally removed by a gentle fairy godmother. Behold, King Solomon in all his splendor was not as donned and regaled as the butterfly, neither would his chief architect Haram Abeef of Tyre be able to decipher the architecture of the intricate cocoon.Backwards MetamorphosisUnfortunately, metamorphosis in Liberian terms has taken on a kind of peculiar backwards construct; from instead of a beautiful butterfly, to an ugly, grotesque, itchy caterpillar; or from public enemy to wicked vampire.Now, one thing I admire about this President is how she usually does not sugarcoat. When education under her leadership spiraled downwards, she declared it a “mess”; now that she has realized that the whole country, that both government and public sectors are corrupt, she has declared it a bloody blood sucking vampire. Seldom would a leader criticize his/her own government.How Corruption the Vampire Destroys Before I begin receiving writs of summon, let me hastily submit that all of the following ways blood thirsty corrupt vampires are sucking the blood of our economy are all allegations. Firstly, there are government officials who take expensive vacation trips under the guise of official business, while some of them place their girlfriends and relatives in positions for which they hold no qualifications, and award them fabulous salaries. Secondly, some government officials and law makers change the license plates of GOL vehicles and take ownership, while businesses deliberately remove price tags from shelves and bribe commerce inspectors to be silent; these are all corruption.Further, allegations from the University of Liberia is that when students take the entrance exam, they must bribe US$150 to pass, while there are people who sit the WAEC for other people; teachers and civil servants fake credentials and divert GOL funds, while students pay sex and money for grades; witnesses lie in court, while jurors are bribed to award judgment; some married men have deputy wives for finance, operations and administration, while young girls conjure more than one godfather for the rent; procurement procedures and bidding processes are stink with bribery, while police compromise traffic violation penalties with bribes from taxi drivers. It was alleged that a lawmaker, Representative Forh, confessed to a recording of his voice saying, “you eat some I eat some” County Development Fund money; it is alleged that Speaker Alex Tyler was involved in a corrupt deal with a contractor and his fellow lawmakers were questioning his authority toreside over plenary, while his deputy was placed under pressure to submit expenditure reports of a huge sum of GOL oil money. If all of these allegations are proven, it is stinky corruption; and all of the culprits are the band of vampires who are sucking the blood of the economy.Rendezvous with Corruption the Vampire Now, in the vampire movie, Dracula the blood sucking vampire was not the protagonist, but rather the antagonist or the “main bad man.” In the movie, neither guns nor bombs could stop Dracula; hence ridding him of the community was a near dilemma, as he continued to suck blood and kill.Luckily, a way to stop Dracula the Vampire was finally discovered, by driving a 3-foot wedge into the middle of his breast and piercing him so badly that he too bleeds and disintegrates from his supernatural evil body. Those who concur that corruption is a vampire must therefore set up a rendezvous bout with vampires at their locations. As President Sirleaf takes the lead, each Liberian must therefore take up arms of 3-foot wedges and drive them in the middle of the breasts of vampires in their ministries, agencies and business places. But mind you, to drive your wedges, you must have willpower, and blind your eyes to relationships, favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism.A Charge to Keep, a Corruption to FightWhen the President took over, she had vowed to meet corruption head-on as enemy. Probably she had thought over the years that the country would have transformed from a corrupt system to a more stable transparent system where accountability would be commonplace. To the President’s surprise, the country plummeted down an abyss of corrupt schemes, shenanigans and chicaneries. And so instead of transforming her country into a beautiful butterfly, it metamorphosed backwards into an ugly wicked Vampire. Howbeit, the President has a charge to keep, and a band of alleged corrupt vampires to wrestle and evict; an ever dying embattled economy to save and fix to the sky, to “Cement her Legacy”; that charge she must keep; fight corruption tooth and nails with all her mind, body, and soul. With all hands on deck, we will certainly help her win. Will you join the President in the fight against corruption? Please do so, fellow compatriots.I am simply thinking thoughts.About the authorThe Rivercess Village man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson is a triple Ivy League product, and a Jesuit protégé; Mr. Jackson is a Yale University Mathematics Curriculum Fellow, and a University of Pennsylvania Physics Curriculum Fellow. Mr. Jackson holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University and a Master of Education with Secondary Mathematics concentration from Saint Joseph’s University. Blonkanjay Jackson is a candidate for the Doctor of Education (EdD). He is presently serving as Assistant Minister for Teacher Education. Blonkanjay can be contacted at 0886 681 315 or 0770 206 645; email: Blonkanjayjackson@gmail.com Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

South Africa in Afcon uphill task

first_imgEquatorial Guinea — who co-hosted the 2012 edition with Gabon — are fortunate to be even involved as they were originally disqualified for fielding an ineligible player in a match.However, they regained African football’s governing body CAF’s favour when they offered to step in and host the tournament after original hosts Morocco were themselves disqualified as hosts when they said they wanted to postpone the tournament because of fears over the spreading of the deadly Ebola virus.Indeed their gesture was recognised publicly by CAF president Issa Hayatou during the pre-draw ceremony.He expressed CAF’s gratitudes at flying to the rescue of the tournament and praised their courageous decision.Two of South Africa’s rivals, Ghana and Algeria, were in the World Cup finals this year with the latter reaching the second round for the first time in their history and the Desert Foxes took eventual champions Germany to extra-time in their last 16 clash.It will be quite a baptism of fire for Avram Grant the newly-appointed coach of Ghana — who have flattered to deceive on several occasions at the finals since they were crowned champions for the fourth time in 1982.The neutral supporter will probably be behind Guinea, who are the only country of the three most seriously affected by Ebola to have qualified, and who have been drawn in Group D.The Guineans — who will be making their 11th appearance with their best showing reaching the final in 1976 — will have a tough task to reach the knockout stages having drawn both an ageing but still talented Ivory Coast and a revived Cameroon while Mali — who finished third in both the 2012 and 23013 finals — fill up the places.Ivory Coast have been accused of being chokers when it came to the continental trophy and with stars such as Didier Drogba now retired from the national side the Elephants French coach Herve Renard said the goal was clear but the task a tough one.“We must make it our goal to finish in the top two,” said the 46-year-old, who guided Zambia to the 2012 title.– high expectations – “It is imperative we battle hard and it will be difficult. There are other teams in the group who played far better in the qualifiers than we did. However, there are always high expectations surrounding the Ivory Coast.“We cannot hide and it is vital we don;t try to. We have to assume our responsibilities.”Equatorial Guinea got a relatively kind draw.They will open the tournament with a game against Congo and will also face Gabon — with whom they co-hosted the 2012 finals — and 2013 beaten finalists Burkina Faso.Zambia, who won an emotionally charged 2012 final in Libreville, Gabon, will fancy their chances of making a serious bid for the crown after drawing Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde and Tunisia on Group B.The Zambians secured the continental showpiece just miles from the scene of the plane crash that killed 25 members of the national team in 1993.DRAWGroup AEquatorial GuineaCongoGabonBurkina FasoGroup BZambiaDemocratic Republic of CongoCape VerdeTunisiaGroup CGhanaSenegalSouth AfricaAlgeriaGroup DIvory CoastGuineaCameroonMali0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000MALABO, December 4- South Africa will have to do it the hard way if they are to add to their sole Africa Cup of Nations title after the draw for the 2015 finals was made in Malabo on Wednesday.Bafana Bafana — who won the trophy when they hosted it in 1996 but have experienced very little success since — were drawn in Group C along with perennial title contenders Ghana, Senegal and Algeria for the tournament that runs from January 17 to February 8 in Rquatorial Guinea.last_img read more

Presidential hopefuls making state a campaign priority

first_imgEach also has built up a prominent list of California endorsements, with Clinton scooping up Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and last week three Los Angeles City Council members. Obama has Los Angeles state Assemblywoman Karen Bass and state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero. Among Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has former state Assemblyman Tony Strickland in his corner, while Giuliani picked up Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and has the backing of a number of other California Congress members including Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs. Behind the scenes, though, is where the real work is being done. There, analysts agree, Clinton has the lead, with Obama trailing closely. Both have offices in Los Angeles and California, and have assembled a cadre of savvy operatives from the state. “We’re clearly committed to California,” Obama spokesman Jen Psaki said, noting the campaign has offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco and more than 200 people attended “Camp Obama.” Among Republicans, Giuliani has a leg up with Dreier in his corner, said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. “David is a pretty savvy guy and very well-connected,” Carrick noted. “I think that’s a major positive for Giuliani.” Dreier, for his part, is busy making the case around the state that Giuliani – tough on terrorism, moderate on social issues – is a quintessential California candidate. “Rudy Giuliani is a candidate who is tailor-made for California,” Dreier said. “I see Rudy Giuliani as really the Arnold Schwarzenegger type of candidate.” Romney also is fighting aggressively in California. A number of top congressional members have endorsed him, including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, who travels to Iowa this week to campaign for the candidate. Former Schwarzenegger aide Rob Stutzman is one of Romney’s senior advisers, and the campaign has assembled a hefty finance and legislative team in the state. “We are organizing very aggressively,” said Sarah Pompeii, Romney’s California spokeswoman. “We’re definitely ready for the primary, and we’ve definitely been focused in California on reaching voters in the state.” But some argue that despite California’s insistence that an earlier primary would help it become more than an ATM for candidates, it still remains primarily a lucrative funding base for candidates. “The only time they’re here, frankly, is to raise money,” said USC political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. “They’re building up their bank accounts so when the early primaries are up, they can give up fundraising and just spend time in Iowa.” Others, however, say candidates who build up a strong campaign operation in California will have a leg up after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. lisa.friedman@langnews.com (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Candidates for the 2008 presidential election are assembling formidable campaign operations in California, with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani wielding what many call the most aggressive in the state. While Californians’ political donations – and the copious amounts of them – remain the chief draw for candidates, the state’s early Feb. 5 primary has added a new clout. “They’re spending a lot more time in California than ever before,” said Dan Schnur, a longtime California political observer and Republican media strategist. “We’re still not seeing them anywhere near as much as the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. But compared to previous presidential elections, we’re getting quite a bit of time and attention.” Last week alone, Clinton announced an upcoming trip to Los Angeles for a forum on gay and lesbian issues, while Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign held a “Camp Obama” training week for volunteers in Burbank. Meanwhile, “Law and Order” actor Fred Thompson chose the Lincoln Club of Orange County as the forum for his first major policy speech since he began musing an Oval Office bid. Giuliani has made eight trips to California, his campaign reported, and Romney has made 33 stops in the state, though not all have been public events. Arizona Sen. John McCain travels so often to California that some pundits say he likens himself to a third senator in the state. Obama and Clinton also each have traveled more than 10 times to the state in recent months, holding rallies and, in Clinton’s case, giving major policy speeches at schools and high-tech centers. last_img read more

Everton star to captain England in final Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania

first_img Phil Jagielka Phil Jagielka will captain England against Lithuania on Monday night.With skipper Wayne Rooney and vice-captain Gary Cahill having been released from the squad following the 2-0 win over Estonia, the captain’s armband was left vacant for Monday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Vilnius.And manager Roy Hodgson announced on the eve of the game that Jagielka would lead the team out at the LFF Stadium.“I am very pleased to have Phil Jagielka here with me. He will be my captain tomorrow evening,” Hodgson said on Sunday.It will be the first time the Everton centre-back has captained his country.Jagielka, 33, will earn his 37th cap against the Baltic nation.Having already secured top spot in Group E, Hodgson decided to release Rooney, Cahill, Michael Carrick, James Milner and Joe Hart to their clubs after the win over Estonia at Wembley.If England win, they will qualify for next summer’s finals in France with a 100 per cent record. 1last_img read more

Society seeks help with star dust project

first_imgPASADENA – Citizen scientists, now’s your chance: Researchers need thousands of extra pairs of eyes to help them spot tiny grains of star dust. The task is monumental. UC Berkeley planetary scientists guess that NASA’s Stardust spacecraft caught only about 50 flecks of the dust on a surface the size of a tennis racket before parachuting back to Earth. To make the search even harder, the grains are nearly invisible – only about 0.000004 inches across (about the size of a molecule of fat). The precious dust is the remains of exploded stars, and scientists hope that studying it will reveal more about how stars form and, eventually, turn to dust when they die. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles“This really is cutting edge – if we find the needles in the haystack,” said Bruce Betts, director of projects for the Pasadena-based Planetary Society. Researchers estimate it will take 30,000 man-hours to scan the entire collection surface – an overwhelming task for the handful of scientists working on the project. Enter Stardust@home, a program that divides mountains of microscope images of the collection surface among interested volunteers who then scan the pictures for signs of the rare grains. Beginning Aug. 1, anyone could join the hunt at http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu. The project is based on SETI@home, a long-running effort to find signs of intelligent life in outer space. There, Berkeley researchers distributed radio telescope data to volunteered home computers from around the world, using their combined computational power to form an Internet-linked super computer. Unlike SETI@home, Stardust@home relies on volunteered brain power because no computer program exists that can spot the dust grains. One hundred thousand people expressed interest in the project when the capsule containing the star dust samples landed in January, and since Stardust@home opened to the public last week, more than 6,000 volunteers have signed on to the search, Mendez said. Those who are the first to find a dust grain will have a chance to name it, and the most prolific observers will be invited to visit the researchers’ Berkeley laboratory, Mendez said. elise.kleeman@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

The key battles in England’s Women’s World Cup semi-final with USA

first_img Nikita Parris scored for England against Scotland in the World Cup opener Getty Images – Getty Liverpool update ‘Champions Wall’ after ending 2019 as European and world champions LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS REVEALED Tottenham issue immediate ban to supporter who threw cup at Kepa Megan Rapinoe scored both of goals for the USA in their quarter-final victory Alex Morgan has already scored five goals at the World Cup deals The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Lucy Bronze has been one of the stars at this World Cup England are one step away from the Women’s World Cup final but must first get past a strong United States side in their final four clash.Phil Neville’s side made it to the semi-final in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win over Norway while the USA’s path to victory proved much tougher as they overcame France 2-1 in Paris. 5 Getty Images – Getty Getty Images – Getty Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January JIBE Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ Solskjaer gives Pogba fitness update and calls him world’s best all-round midfielder The winger scored twice in the France match and was their best player during the match.Rapinoe has also been hitting the headlines off the pitch with her comments about not wanting to go to the White House if they won the World Cup, which predictably provoked a response from Donald Trump.Steph Houghton vs Alex MorganHoughton has been imperious at the back for the Lionesses this tournament and has led by example as captain.Without her last ditch tackles and goal line clearances, the 3-0 win against Norway would not have been so comfortable. 5 TROPHY Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:25Loaded: 11.67%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:25 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreen 5 Liverpool news live: Klopp reveals when Minamino will play and issues injury update Getty Images – Getty Lampard appears to aim dig at Mourinho for handling of Salah and De Bruyne at Chelsea The American side have been making headlines both on and off the pitch and are one of the favourites to retain their World Cup title.England have been going from strength to strength and, although slight underdogs, have what it takes to progress on Tuesday night, with commentary live on talkSPORT. Ertz was named in the All-Star team from the 2015 World Cup but as a central defender. She has since moved further up the pitch and into centre midfield but has been as equally successful.The 27-year-old was nominated as the US Female Player of the Year in 2018.Nikita Parris vs Crystal DunnIt will be interesting to see how Parris responds after her second penalty miss of the tournament.The winger has shown glimpses of the talent she possesses but we are yet to see her reach her full potential at this World Cup.Parris will have a good test against USA left wing-back Crystal Dunn who likes to go forward. 5 latest 5 LATEST Here at talkSPORT.com we have taken a look at the key battles set to take place during the match in Lyon.Lucy Bronze vs Megan Rapinoe Bronze hit the headlines with her sensational strike in the quarter-final, in what was arguably her best performance of the tournament so far.The right-back has been superb for England so far and is one of the best players in the world, something her boss Neville agrees with.She will have her hands full with USA’s quarter-final hero Rapinoe lining-up against her. Jill Scott has been a key player for England at the Women’s World Cup She will have Alex Morgan to contend with on Tuesday night, who is currently leading the golden boot race.Morgan has five goals and three assists with Rapinoe and England’s Ellen White currently tying on five as well.The USWNT striker may have got all five of her goals in their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand and been quiet since but she will be a constant threat.Jill Scott vs Julie ErtzThe veteran England midfielder has had a fine World Cup thanks to her tireless running, important tackles, key passes – and the opening goal in the quarter-final.Her battle with the USA’s midfield will be an interesting one, particularly with Julie Ertz in there. punished Getty Images – Getty Sam Matterface and Danny Mills are full of praise for the England’s Ellen White boost Dunn has 24 goals in 90 games for her country but may have more defensive duties on her mind when dealing with the England playerlast_img read more

Let’s Fight the Skills Gap by Expanding Tax-free Education Assistance

first_imgToday’s college graduates are starting their careers with an average of almost $40,000 in student debt. That data point surely shapes students’ and families’ decisions on where to go to college, what to study and whether higher education is even worth it.That’s bad news for employers, who have never had to work harder to close workforce skills gaps. With unemployment at its lowest point in almost 50 years, the hunt to attract and keep talent has never been more intense. Meanwhile, 44 million Americans—most of them employed or seeking employment—collectively carry more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. That represents a real crisis for our country and our economy.Employers want to help their current and prospective employees by offering a benefit to help pay back student debt in the same way they offer tuition reimbursement benefits for current students. But student loan repayment benefits are costly for both sides. Unlike tuition assistance, employers can’t claim a tax deduction for these payments, and recipients also must treat it as taxable income.In today’s competitive labor market, a leading-edge benefits package is the most powerful tool employers can wield to attract and retain top talent. It’s time for tax-free solution employers can use to appeal to skilled, educated workers who want to break free from student debt.In keeping with SHRM’s advocacy to create better workplaces and a better world, we support the federal expansion of Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code to enable employers to use pretax dollars to pay for student loan assistance just as they do for tuition reimbursement.This is our chance. Congress is expected to take up year-end, must-pass legislative proposals, which could include legislation to expand Section 127.Here is what you can do to bolster support for the expansion of education assistance: Call, email or Tweet your lawmakers to urge them to include H.R. 795 and S.796 in a year-end package.Not only can expanding employer education assistance address the skills gap, it is a good investment in America’s workforce. In a future where most employers are able to help their workers defray student debt, more individuals will have the confidence to pursue or complete higher education and be prepared to fill high-demand fields in the years and decades to come.And there’s another bright spot: Millennials, who by 2025 will make up 75 percent of the workforce, currently struggle to buy homes, save for retirement and pay for health care. Increasing and expanding Section 127 will help alleviate their financial burdens and encourage savings so they can become more robust contributors to our economy.Let’s fight the skills gap and create a better world for the people we serve by advocating for employer-provided education assistance in all its life-changing forms.last_img read more

SCHED “Fails Miserably” and Moves Forward

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#start#tips Originally released as an unofficial calendar for SXSW in 2008, SCHED* quickly garnered a lot of praise for its events management database. As SCHED picked up clients, it started to use Google Docs to help get data into its system, doing so with such success that Google featured the company in a post on the Google Enterprise blog. Being featured in Wired, the New York Times, the Google blog – all good indications to a startup that you’re doing something right.But getting some things right doesn’t mean you stop iterating. And SCHED has continued to work on improving its events management system. As part of the release of its Session Manager tool, SCHED has posted a series on its blog explaining some of the challenges it has faced through the process.Although the Google Docs system makes data entry easy, it only does so “as long as you followed instructions and used the right formats. Too many people simply didn’t bother to do that,” writes SCHED’s Marvin McTaw, and the company found itself having to deal with numerous input errors. In order to help address this and to better validate data, the team decided to rewrite part of the code base – a “Google Document replacement” project.Scrapping the Code and Starting OverBut not surprisingly, perhaps, the process – to “out-Google Google” – was very slow, and when SCHED experienced some staff turnover, the project came to a halt. When a new developer was hired, he made a decision that according to McTaw “would cause unexpected waves throughout our small company: completely scrap the replacement project.”And despite having to walk away from all the time and resources invested in the replacement project, it was that scrapping that led to a big breakthrough for SCHED. The new approach was one of “thinking outside the box,” says McTaw. As the SCHED team had “always done things one way (using Excel and then Google Docs)” they had never really considered other solutions. The new Session Manager is still free, and now addresses far more than just the user input errors the rewrite originally sought to handle, giving SCHED customers much more administrative control over the data and event sites. audrey watters A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

5 Secrets Found in Gingerbread’s SDK

first_imgWhy IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Yesterday, Google launched a new version of the Android operating system, Android 2.3, code-named “Gingerbread.” Since then, developers have been scouring through the software development kit (SDK) to see what’s new. A few have found some interesting items – including hints at possible video chat in Google’s GTalk app, references to a Playstation controller and even a fabulous “Easter egg” painting depicting an Android surrounded by zombies.1. Video Chat in GTalkA reader, iPaulPro, sent in a tip to the AndroidGuys.com blog regarding the possibility of video chat coming to Google’s GTalk app. Only hours after the announcement, he had found three new icons that weren’t in the older Android SDK. These icons are the video chat notification icons found now in Google’s desktop version of GTalk. What does it mean that they’re now showing up in the mobile SDK? Perhaps native video chat hidden in Android? What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Tags:#mobile sarah perez Developers can find this gem at: platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-nodpi/platlogo.jpg Related Posts One commenter speculates that the icons are there for 3rd-party apps to use, but iPaulPro responds that he had never seen graphics in the SDK resources meant for 3rd-party use. Plus, these follow the GTalk naming structure and are the same dimensions as the other GTalk icons, he says.Developers can find the icons here: ?sdk/platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-hdpi/2. Playstation Controls DiscoveredThe names for the Playstation controller shoulder triggers (L1, L2, R1, R2) have been discovered in the Gingerbread SDK, reports MobileCrunch. The timing is interesting, given that rumorsofa PlaystationPhone (the Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1) have been all over the Internet for the past few months. But what does this mean for the Playstation Phone?Engadget is skeptical that this is anything more than “laying the groundwork” for Sony’s smartphone venture. “We wouldn’t be surprised if Sony were working on a separate development environment of some sort for PlayStation-branded titles rather than letting it all flow through the official Android SDK proper,” reports Engadget. Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement You can find the new Playstation controls here: ?http://developer.android.com/sdk/api_diff/9/changes/android.view.KeyEvent.html3. Double the LanguagesTalk Android discovered that Gingerbread includes double the number of supported languages, increasing the previous list’s total of 26 to a new total of 57. This includes the new addition of Arabic, among dozens of others. If your language wasn’t supported before, it might be now.You can check out the updated list to see for yourself here: ?http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-2.3.html#locs4. NFC CrippledOK, this one is a bit of bad news: Android Police discovered that Google’s much-touted NFC (near field communications) support in Gingerbread is crippled to some extent. NFC-enabled Android phones are only able to operate as readers, not transmitters, when running Gingerbread software. That means phones can scan NFC tags, but can’t transmit information themselves. What does this mean for mobile payments, then, a technology advancement that would require sending data to NFC-equipped POS (point-of-sale) terminals? That’s a good question.It’s worth noting, however, that the NFC chips themselves could still have both reading and transmitting capabilities, but using those chips as transmitters is not a feature found in Gingerbread.5. Easter Egg: Android in a Field of ZombiesAnd now for something fun: an Android SDK Easter Egg. Android Central found an image of a painting hidden away in the Gingerbread SDK. The painting shows a happy-looking Android character next to a frightening, toothy-grinned Gingerbread man. Around them are a sea of what appear to be zombies, all dressed the same: dark pants, white shirt and tie. Anyone want to bet this is commentary on people’s “zombie-like” devotion to the iPhone? The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

The Wait For HTC’s Vive VR Headset Just Got Longer

first_imgTags:#HTC#HTC Vive#SteamOS#Valve#virtual reality#VR How to Avoid Being Part of 90% of Failed Companies See also: Oculus Will Let You Grab Virtual Reality With Both HandsOther projects and software features are likely in the works as well. (We may know more at the Oculus Connect 2 developer conference in Los Angeles next month.) There’s also increasing competition from VR hardware startups and other (bigger) competitors eyeing virtual and augmented reality—including Sony, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. Apple may also be pursuing virtual and augmented reality behind closed doors. All of which makes HTC’s decision to delay the Vive’s consumer release rather risky—especially if the company is relying on this initiative to make up for its flagging smartphone business. For end users and developers, however, the scenario points to something else: Next year is going to be absolutely huge for all realities virtual. Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite Related Posts From the beginning, HTC’s promise of delivering a consumer-ready virtual-reality headset by the end of the year seemed fantastical (in all senses of the word). How is the Taiwanese company, which announced the Vive early this year, going to release its VR system so quickly?The answer: It’s not. While a few devices will make their way to the public, the broader launch apparently will get pushed back to 2016. In a statement given to Engadget Thursday, HTC said, “We’ll have a limited number of units by the end of the year, with more to come in Q1 2016.” See also: 6 Ways The HTC Vive Will Freak Out Virtual-Reality GeeksA joint collaboration with gaming giant Valve, the Steam OS-powered system has been in the hands of developers for a couple of months. Those who have been hustling to meet the short timetable now suddenly get a little more breathing room, which may thrill some gaming developers, VR filmmakers and other creators. But it could pose problems for entrepreneurs who were depending on a fast release. It may also pose extra problems for HTC. The Real Race Driving Virtual RealityThis sprint to the finish line was one of the most intriguing aspects of HTC’s surprise unveiling of the Vive. The new timeframe now puts it on par with the Oculus Rift’s launch.See also: The Oculus Rift Will Ship In Early 2016That’s still impressive, considering the Rift has been in development for at least a couple of years. (More, if you count Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s previous research projects at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, which informed his later work.) But the Vive looks like it may lose its first-to-market advantage. Fortunately, it’s not the only thing HTC has going for it. The Vive’s user experience is deeply impressive, offering one of the best visuals and interactivity experiences in the VR sector. As a system of devices, it works with handheld remotes and room-situated hardware, which knows the location of the user in space and can calibrate the virtual environment accordingly. The system worked very well, at least in a controlled demo setting. (We’ll see how it measures up in the hands of users in the real world.) In contrast, Oculus primarily relied on third parties to flesh out its universe of accessories until last June, when it took the wraps off of its own Oculus Touch wireless controllers.  adriana lee Building a Workplace for the Next 100 Years Why Your eCommerce Business Should Have a Pop-U… Why Your Company’s Tech Transformation Starts W…last_img read more

More African-American heritage trail markers to be unveiled Wednesday

first_imgOfficials on Wednesday afternoon are set to reveal some more markers on the city’s new African-American heritage trail.The two-mile trail in central Columbia will note several key cultural places for blacks historically in Columbia, like the Sharp End Business District.Organizers showed off six of the 13 markers last Wednesday.last_img

What Is Business Intelligence?

first_imgEarly in my career, I was encouraged to always ask questions, even the  most obvious and simple ones. This included questions about well-known topics that were assumed to be understood by everyone. With that in mind, let’s answer the question, “What is business intelligence (BI)?”As you read this post, you probably fall into one of these three categories:You know exactly what BI is because you eat, sleep, and breathe it every day. BI is in your business DNA.The term means nothing more than the name of an exotic tech cocktail that might have pierced your ears, figuratively speaking of course.You‘re somewhere in between the two extremes. You’ve been exposed to the term, but haven’t had a chance yet to fully digest it or appreciate it.Do you have something to learn about BI? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.To begin with, BI looked very different when I started my career in the early ’90s. You couldn’t look it up on a mobile device smaller than a floppy disk. Moreover, you couldn’t Google Opens in a new windowit, Bing Opens in a new windowit, or Yahoo Opens in a new windowit. Today, the keywords “business” and “intelligence” together return more than 250 million results on Google, though few will be relevant to you, nor will you have time to go through them. Nevertheless, the ease and the speed at which you are able to query large volumes of recorded data to make faster, better-informed conclusions puts the question at hand in perspective.Scratching the surfaceBeginners to BI should start their research with the definition. Wikipedia’s definition Opens in a new windowof BI is a good place to start, and from it you get the sense that BI includes tangibles such as hardware and software as well as intangibles such as people, culture, processes, and best practices. Continuing on the Wikipedia page, you can find out about the origins of the term. In 1958, Hans Peter Luhn, an IBM researcher, defined the term as “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.” By the ‘90s, the term had become more widespread. At CIO.comOpens in a new window, BI is defined as “an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data.”Digging deeperNext, you can dig a little deeper by performing what I call a rapid-research exercise to glance at the websites of BI companies that develop the technology. In this way, your searches can transition from text-based and definition-centric explanations to visually rich and appealing presentations, including graphs and charts. This is where BI dashboards take center stage. Not surprisingly, the emphasis on mobile that showcases tablets and smart phones becomes apparent by pictures of BI artifacts shown on mobile devices. Additional references pop up for Big Data and Cloud. Both are hot technology terms that have gained popularity in the last few years. As you research and connect the dots, you can start to build your own definition of BI. This will be influenced by your own unique background, your experiences with technology (with or without BI), and possibly, your personal perceptions layered with your biases of BI. However, in the end, your definition may still fall short.Hitting the coreUltimately, BI is about decision making. In its simplest and purest form, I define BI as the framework that enables organizations of all sizes to make faster, better-informed business decisions.I don’t claim that this particular definition of BI is better or more comprehensive than others. But it does provide a direct and concise answer with less emphasis on technology and more focus on business, people, and decision making.When it comes to defining BI or technology in general, we need to put the focus on business and people more often. In this context, business decisions should be complemented by technology that promotes actionable insight, and not the other way around. BI is not a miracle pill.BI alone does not solve business problems or cure corporate infections. Instead, BI is the enabler that, if designed, implemented, and executed effectively, can help organizations drive growth and profitability. What is your definition of BI?Connect with me on Twitter (@KaanTurnali) and LinkedIn.This story originally appeared on The Decision FactorOpens in a new window.last_img read more

India look for right balance in Oz warm-up tie

first_imgIndia begin their tour of Australia with a two-day warm-up game against Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in Canberra on Thursday with the focus on acclimatising to conditions ahead of the gruelling Test series beginning later this month.India are high on confidence after their 2-0 and 4-1 wins in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies and they would straightaway get down to the task of getting a feel of Australian conditions which would be very different from what they had faced at home.The Indian cricket board had sent seven players, including the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman five days in advance to train in Melbourne and prepare for what would certainly be their last tour of Australia.The remaining players, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher landed in Australia on Tuesday and left for Canberra for the first warm-up game.It is to be seen if India will roll out a star-studded team for the first warm-up match at Manuka Oval, given that there is a threeday game starting on Monday against another CA Chairman’s XI boasting of Australian players like David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes.Dhoni, on Wednesday, said the tourists would use the game to introduce the less experienced players to Australian conditions while also aiming for a strong performance to start the tour on a positive note.”We would like to give our youngsters an opportunity to start off of course, some of them haven’t played much cricket over here,” said Dhoni.advertisement”You don’t really want to lag too much behind right from the very start, so going with a good start is very crucial,” Dhoni said. “We are here close to 12 days early and if 12 days are not enough then one month wouldn’t be enough so we have to adapt to the conditions.” One concern though would be the fitness of pacer Zaheer Khan, on whom the Indian team would rely on heavily in the tour in the bowling department.From what coach Fletcher had said in Chennai before departing for Australia, Zaheer could be rested for the first game and fielded in the second game starting on Monday.Dhoni had also said that remaining injury-free would be crucial, more so after pacers Praveen Kumar and Varun Aaron have been ruled out due to injuries after being named in the touring squad.Most of the batsmen were among the runs in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies with the likes of Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli fresh from impressive shows.Tendulkar, who is still one short of 100 international tons, was below-par against the West Indies and would be eager to get into his groove before Boxing Day. The same would be the case for Laxman, who was not in the best form against the West Indies. Dravid, who was the stand-out performer against the West Indies and in England, would want to straightaway be in the thick of things.Teams: India: MS Dhoni (captain), V Sehwag (vice-captain), S Tendulkar, R Dravid, VVS Laxman, G Gambhir, Z Khan, V Kohli, A Mithun, R Ashwin, P Ojha, A Rahane, W Saha, I Sharma, R Sharma, V Kumar, U Yadav.CA Chairman’s XI: Ryan Broad (captain), Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Peter George, Jake Haberfield, Josh Lalor, Tim Ludeman, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Mennie, Wes Robinson, Dean Solwaylast_img read more

New device that uses air to wash hands developed in China

first_imgBeijing, Sep 18 (PTI) A group of seven Chinese students has bagged a top international prize for inventing a machine that uses air for cleaning hands and saves water. The device works by stepping on a peddle which mixes compressed air with a small amount of water vapour, allowing the user to efficiently blow the bacteria and dirt from their hands, said Shi Yukun, one of the inventors from Zhejiang University. “The equipment will save 90 per cent of the water, while achieving the same result as washing hands with water,” he said. The seven students spent a year creating the device, which took home top prize at the two-day Global Grand Challenge Summit (GGCS) in Beijing. The summit is co-organised by Chinese Academy of Engineering, the US National Academy of Engineering and British Royal Academy of Engineering, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. “We studied the function of water in the hand-washing process. Very few of the stains on our hands can be dissolved with liquid,but most of the dirt and bacteria have to be washed away by flowing water. We decided to use high-speed air to blow it away, rather than wash it away,” Yukun said. The group beat 13 other contestant groups from some of the worlds top universities, including Cambridge University and Hong Kong University. They shared a thousand-dollar start-up fund provided by the summit organisers. “We will use the money as start-up for our efforts to invent and produce water-saving equipment,” Yukun said. The first GGCS summit was held in London in 2013. PTI KJV MRJadvertisementlast_img read more

Meet Yogi Adityanath’s lone Muslim minister Mohsin Raza in UP Cabinet

first_imgAfter getting landslide mandate, the BJP sprang a kind of surprise in Uttar Pradesh when it announced the name of priest-turned-politician and head of Goraksh Nath temple in Gorakahpur Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.Yogi Adityanath took oath as the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan in Lucknow this afternoon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, senior BJP leader LK Advani and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav were among those present at the occasion.Yogi Adityanath has two Deputy CMs in Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya. His 47-member Cabinet has a Muslim face in Mohsin Raza, former UP cricketer.WHO IS MOHSIN RAZA?: THINGS TO KNOWBJP has projected Mohsin Raza as its Muslim poster boy in Uttar Pradesh. Raza joined the BJP in 2013. He is currently the spokesperson for the party.Before joining the BJP, Mohsin Raza was a cricketer player first-class cricketer, who represented Uttar Pradesh at national level. He played many Ranji Trophy matches for Uttar Pradesh.Like UP CM Yogi Adityanath and his deputies, Raza did not contest Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. He also requires to get elected either to the UP Assembly or UP Legislative Council within six months from now.Raza has been active in Uttar Pradesh doing social work. He has been involved with uplift of sports in Uttar Pradesh. While joining the BJP, Raza had said that it was only “the BJP which cares for the common people of the country.”Mohsin Raza has been a very vocal critic of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. Raza has accused Mulayam Singh Yadav of using Muslims for his own political benefits.Forty-year-old Mohsin Raza studied at the Government Jubilee College then went to Lucknow University for higher studies.BJP was criticised for ignoring Muslims in ticket distribution for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. But, the BJP maintained that tickets were given on the merit of winnability of candidates. Now, by inducting Raza in Yogi Cabinet, the party has tried to strike a balance.Also read: LIVE: Yogi Adityanath becomes UP CM; Mohsin Raza lone Muslim face in CabinetadvertisementAlso read: 7 reasons why Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister is a BJP masterstrokeAlso watch: Yogi Adityanath sworn in as the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradeshlast_img read more