Later starts for school and work; refugee scholarships; and effects of Middle East conflicts

Education a major loser in refugee crisis

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 September, 2015, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 September, 2015, 4:00pm

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School and work should start later, says sleep expert

 A study by researchers from the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School and the University of Nevada has found that current school and university start times are damaging the learning and health of students.

Drawing on the latest sleep research, the authors conclude students’ starting times should be 8.30am or later at age 10; 10am or later at 16; and 11am or later at 18. Implementing these times should protect students from short sleep duration and chronic sleep deprivation, which are linked to poor learning and health problems.

These findings arise from a deeper understanding of circadian rhythms, better known as the body clock, and the genes associated with regulating this 24-hour cycle.

It is during adolescence that the disparity between circadian rhythms and the typical working day come about. Circadian rhythms determine our optimum hours of work and concentration, and in adolescence these shift almost  three hours later. These genetic changes in sleeping patterns were used to determine times that are designed to  optimise learning and health.

Corresponding author Paul Kelley, an honorary clinical research associate at Oxford’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, presented the findings at the British Science Festival earlier.

Middle East conflict’s biggest casualty could be children

 More than 13 million children are being denied an education by Middle East conflicts, according to the UN, warning “the hopes of a generation” would be dashed if they cannot return to classrooms.

 In a report on the impact of conflict on education in six countries and territories across the region, the UN’s children fund Unicef said more than 8,850 schools were no longer usable due to violence.

 It detailed cases of students and teachers coming under direct fire, classrooms used as makeshift bomb shelters and children having to cross active front lines just to take their exams.

 Last year alone, Unicef documented 214 attacks on schools in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Yemen.

 In Syria, it said education was paying a “massive price” after 4½ years of conflict.

 One in four schools have been closed since the conflict erupted, causing more than two million children to drop out and putting close to half a million in danger of losing their schooling.

Online university accepts Syrian refugee students

The non-profit, tuition-free online institution, the University of the People will accept 500 Syrian refugees to study toward bachelor’s degrees in business administration or computer science at its virtual campus.

 The university has established a special scholarship fund for refugees who can’t afford the university’s US$100 examination fees (US$4,000 is needed for a full four-year degree). The first major donation has been received, yet the university is seeking immediate further funding to accommodate the need.

Students with a qualified level of English, high school diploma and access to computers with internet are eligible for study at the university.

Discovery College student wins international IB contest

A cover design by Year Two Discovery College student Susan Park has won an international contest run by the International Baccalaureate Organisation with the theme of what the classroom would look like in 2030. The winning artwork was used on the cover of the September issue of the IB World Magazine.