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Learn it right: The Feynman Technique: A formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else January 22, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

A Nobel prize-winning physicist identified three simple steps to mastering any subject

I wasn’t always a good learner. I thought learning was all about the hours you put in. Then I discovered something that changed my life.

The famous Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between “knowing something” and “knowing the name of something,” and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success.

Feynman stumbled upon a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

It’s called the Feynman Technique and it will help you learn anything deeper, and faster. The topic, subject, or concept you want to learn doesn’t matter. Pick anything. The Feynman Technique works for everything. Best of all, it’s incredibly simple to implement.

The catch: It’s ridiculously humbling.

Not only is this a wonderful method of learning, but it’s also a window into a different way of thinking. Let me explain:

There are three steps to the Feynman Technique.

Step 1: Teach it to a child

Take out a blank sheet of paper and write the subject you want to learn at the top. Write out what you know about the subject as if you were teaching it to a child. Not your smart adult friend but rather an eight-year-old who has just enough vocabulary and attention span to understand basic concepts and relationships.

A lot of people tend to use complicated vocabulary and jargon to mask when they don’t understand something. The problem is we only fool ourselves because we don’t know that we don’t understand. In addition, using jargon conceals our misunderstanding from those around us.

When you write out an idea from start to finish in simple language that a child can understand (tip: use only the most common words), you force yourself to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify relationships and connections between ideas. If you struggle, you have a clear understanding of where you have some gaps. That tension is good—it heralds an opportunity to learn.

Step 2: Review

In step one, you will inevitably encounter gaps in your knowledge where you’re forgetting something important, are not able to explain it, or simply have trouble connecting an important concept.

This is invaluable feedback because you’ve discovered the edge of your knowledge. Competence is knowing the limit of your abilities, and you’ve just identified one!

This is where the learning starts. Now you know where you got stuck, go back to the source material and re-learn it until you can explain it in basic terms.

Identifying the boundaries of your understanding also limits the mistakes you’re liable to make and increases your chance of success when applying knowledge.

Step 3: Organize and simplify

Now you have a set of hand-crafted notes. Review them to make sure you didn’t mistakenly borrow any of the jargon from the source material. Organize them into a simple story that flows.

Read them out loud. If the explanation isn’t simple or sounds confusing that’s a good indication that your understanding in that area still needs some work.

Step 4 (optional): Transmit

If you really want to be sure of your understanding, run it past someone (ideally who knows little of the subject—or find that 8-year-old!). The ultimate test of your knowledge is your capacity to convey it to another.


Feynman’s approach intuitively believes that intelligence is a process of growth, which dovetails nicely with the work of Carol Dweck, who beautifully describes the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.

This post originally appeared on Medium. If you want to work smarter and not harder, I recommend subscribing to The Brain Food Newsletter. You can follow Shane on Twitter and Facebook, and read more of his work at Farnam Street.


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Ethiopia’s higher-eduction boom built on shoddy foundations, George West, The Guardian June 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index, Free development vs authoritarian model, Schools in Oromia, The Global Innovation Index, Uncategorized.
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The country desperately needs new universities to drive development, but most of the 30 built in the last 15 years fall woefully short

 

Higher education

 

The declining standard of Nigeria’s premier institution, the University of Ibadan, ten years ago is reflected in Ethiopia where the quality of new universities varies widely. Photograph: George Esiri/REUTERS

 

Ethiopia’s higher education infrastructure has mushroomed in the last 15 years. But the institutions suffer from half-written curriculums, unqualified – but party-loyal – lecturers, and shoddily built institutions. The rapid growth of Ethiopia’s higher education system has come at a cost, but it is moving forward all the same.

Twenty years ago the Ethiopian government launched a huge and ambitious development strategy that called for “the cultivation of citizens with an all-round education capable of playing a conscious and active role in the economic, social, and political life of the country”. One of the principal results of Ethiopia’sagricultural development-led industrialisation strategy (ADLI) has been a rapid expansion in the country’s higher education system. In 2000 there were just two universities, but since then the country has built 29 more, with plans for another 11 to be completed within two years.

The quality of these new universities varies widely; from thriving research schools, to substandard institutions built to bolster the regime’s power in hostile regions. One professor recalls a hurried evacuation from part of a recently completed university while he was working there: one of the buildings had collapsed.

But there have also been success stories. The University of Jimma, for example, has come first in the Ethiopian Ministry of Education’s rankings for the past five years, and is held up as evidence of ADLI’s efficacy since its establishment in 1999. The most recent development at Jimma, the department of materials science and engineering (MSE), opened for students in 2013, and has quickly expanded to become one of the top research schools in the sub-Saharan region. The department’s founder, Dr Ali Eftekhari, has since received a fellowship from the African Academy of Sciences on the back of the project’s success.

This success is much-needed. At 8%, African higher education enrolment issignificantly lower than the global average of 32%, and Ethiopia trails even further behind, with fewer than 6% of college-age adults at university. Research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) is starting from a particularly low base in Africa. The World Bank reported last year that though the sub-Saharan region has “increased both the quantity and quality of its research” in recent years, much of this improvement is due to international collaboration, and a lack of native Africans is “reducing the economic impact and relevance of research”.

Dr Eftekhari echoes these concerns: “The problem for development in Ethiopiaand similar African countries is higher education itself. This is the reason that I focused on PhD programs. “For instance, Jimma’s department of civil engineering has over 3,000 undergraduate students. These civil engineers are the future builders of the country, but there is not one PhD holder among the staff; most only have a BSc.”

Eftekhari improvised and sweet-talked in order to get the department established; in its first year, the department taught 18 PhD students – all native Ethiopians – on almost zero budget, with staff donating their time and money until funding was secured from the ministry of education. Despite the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) push for development, Ethiopia’s political landscape remains a minefield for education professionals, says Eftekhari: “People are always suspicious about the political reasons behind each new project. I decided to start with zero budget to allay those doubts. In developing countries everything has some degree of flexibility. I used this to borrow staff and resources from the rest of the university until we could secure a budget.

“Many of the staff saw the project as a career opportunity,” says Eftekhari, but altruism also played a part. The department’s research focuses primarily on solving the country’s pressing poverty and development problems. “They knew they were actually saving lives,” says Jimma’s innovation coordinator, Maria Shou.

The belief that science and engineering is key to alleviating poverty propels the work of the school. Projects range from the development of super-capacitors for the provision of cheap power, to carbon nanomaterials for Ethiopia’s expanding construction industry. “You only need a couple of weeks in Ethiopia to realise that materials science is a priority,” says Pablo Corrochano, an assistant professor at the school. “Even in the capital you’ll experience cuts in power and water; in rural areas it’s even worse. Producing quality and inexpensive bricks for building houses, designing active water filters, and supplying ‘off-the-grid’ energy systems for rural areas are all vital to the country’s development.”

However, Jimma’s success could be seen as a bit of an anomaly. Paul O’Keeffe, a researcher at La Sapienza University of Rome, who specialises in Ethiopia’s higher education system, believes that similar initiatives are needed, but that the government’s politics are an obstacle: “My research indicates that the rapid expansion of the public university system has seen a dramatic decline in the quality of education offered in recent years. Instead of putting resources into improving the existing system, or establishing a few good institutions, the EPRDF has built many new universities, largely for political reasons.

“A lot of the time the universities are merely shells. They do not function as universities as we would expect and are poorly resourced, and in some cases shoddily built. It would seem that they are built almost as a token where the EPRDF can say to hostile regions ‘look we are doing something for you, we’ve built a university’.”

Even when the universities do function, the quality of education is often low: “Once the funding, say from a western development agency, is finished for a particular course, it is no longer taught as the university authorities believe they can get funding for a new course instead; whatever is the latest fashionable course. So often this type of education for development is not sustainable.”

Reports of spies, classroom propaganda, of curriculums that have been abandoned half-written due to funding cuts, and of unqualified staff are common at these universities, which make up the bulk of Ethiopian higher education, says O’Keeffe. “The party line is peddled during class, students are required to join the party, [there are] various reports of spies in the classrooms, who monitor what is said and who says it.”

A lecturer at Addis Ababa University, who wished to remain anonymous, is concerned primarily with the lack of qualifications among staff: “What is disturbing is that those who have just graduated with BAs and MAs are the lecturers. That is the manpower that they have. If you talk with students you wouldn’t believe that these students actually graduated from these so-called universities. Their inability to articulate their thoughts is breathtaking. It is extremely frustrating and you wonder how they have spent four years at university studying a doctorate.”

In this context, the MSE school provides a beacon of hope. The school’s success demonstrates that higher education – Stem research in particular – has the potential to thrive and play a central role in helping Ethiopia to reach its goal of becoming a middle-income nation by 2025, provided political interests are put to one side. Let’s hope the EPRDF takes note.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun/22/ethiopia-higher-eduction-universities-development

Ranking Africa by literacy rate March 11, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, African Beat, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Culture, Development, Dictatorship, Humanity and Social Civilization, Language and Development, Oromia Support Group, Oromiyaa, Oromo, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized, Youth Unemployment.
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THE AFRICAN ECONOMIST“Barely anyone — one to two percent of the population — could read in ancient Rome and nobody thought more people should. Now we recognize that literacy is a human right; that being able to read and write is personally empowering and, in a world that relies more and more on technology, simply necessary.” 

The study by The African Economist demonstrates that the top 5 literate countries in Africa are: Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Kenya and Namibia.

Ethiopian is among the lowest literate 11. It is 42nd (with 42.7% literacy rate) of the 52. Burkina Faso is the 52nd. An other robust research shows that Ethiopia  is one of the 1o countries in the world with worst literacy rates (with literacy rate of 39%). This study informs that 54 of the 76 million illiterate young women come from nine countries, most in south and west Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and not necessarily those with high rates of adult illiteracy: India (where almost 30 million young women are illiterate), Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt and Burkina Faso. http://www.care2.com/causes/10-countries-with-the-worst-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html#ixzz2vhIgCozN

The African Economist’s analysis:

‘Information on literacy, while not a perfect measure of educational results, is probably the most easily available and valid for international comparisons. It is impossible to overstate the importance of education especially in Africa. Low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world. … This entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition – the ability to read and write at a specified age (15 and above). Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of this article.’

Below is the ranking of African countries by the literacy rate:
Country                                                                            Literacy Rate
1. Zimbabwe                                                                            90.70
2. Equatorial Guinea                                                            87.00
3.South Africa                                                                        86.40
4.Kenya                                                                                    85.10
5.Namibia                                                                                85.00
6.Sao Tome and Principe                                                 84.90
7. Lesotho                                                                               84.80
8.Mauritius                                                                             84.40
9.Congo, Republic of the                                                 83.80
10. Libya                                                                                 82.60
11.Swaziland                                                                          81.60
12. Botswana                                                                        81.20
13.Zambia                                                                             80.60
14.Cape Verde                                                                   76.60
15. Tunisia                                                                           74.30
16. Egypt                                                                              71.40
17. Rwanda                                                                          70.40
18. Algeria                                                                           69.90
19. Tanzania                                                                      69.40
20. Madagascar                                                               68.90
21. Nigeria                                                                          68.00
22. Cameroon                                                                   67.90
23. Djibouti                                                                        67.90
24. Angola                                                                          67.40
25.Congo, Democratic Republic of the                  67.20
26. Uganda                                                                        66.80
27. Gabon                                                                           63.20
28. Malawi                                                                          62.70
29.Sudan                                                                            61.10
30. Togo                                                                            60.90
31. Burundi                                                                     59.30
32.Eritrea                                                                         58.60
33.Ghana                                                                          57.90
34.Liberia                                                                         57.50
35. Comoros                                                                    56.50
36. Morocco                                                                     52.30
37. Mauritania                                                                   51.20
38. Cote d’Ivoire                                                              48.70
39. Central African Republic                                     48.60
40. Mozambique                                                             47.80
41.Mali                                                                               46.40
42. Ethiopia                                                                     42.70
43. Guinea-Bissau                                                         42.40
44. Gambia, The                                                             40.10
45. Senegal                                                                        39.30
46. Somalia                                                                       37.80
47. Sierra Leone                                                             35.10
48. Benin                                                                            34.70
49. Guinea                                                                         29.50
50. Niger                                                                            28.70
51. Chad                                                                              25.70
52. Burkina Faso                                                             21.80

http://theafricaneconomist.com/ranking-of-african-countries-by-literacy-rate-zimbabwe-no-1/#.Ux9n-NJdXeI

10 Countries With the Worst Literacy Rates in the World

Barely anyone – one to two percent of the population — could read in ancient Rome and nobody thought more people should. Now we recognize that literacy is a human right; that being able to read and write is personally empowering and, in a world that relies more and more on technology, simply necessary.

Nonetheless, millions of children, the majority of whom are girls, still never learn to read and write today (pdf). This Sunday, September 8, is International Literacy Day, an event that Unesco has been observing for more than 40 years to highlight how essential literacy is to learning and also “for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.”

774 million people aged 15 and older are illiterate, an infographic (pdf) from Unesco details. 52 percent (pdf) live in south and west Asia and 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The latter region is where most of the countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are located, according to data from the C.I.A.:

1. Burkina Faso: 21.8 percent of the adults in this West African country are literate.

2.  South Sudan: This country in east Africa, which became an independent state in 2011, has a literary rate of 27 percent.

Afghanistan: 28.1 percent of this country’s population are literate with a far higher percentage of men (43.1 percent) than women (12.6 percent) able to read.

4. Niger: The ratio of men to women in this landlocked western African country is also lopsided: the literacy rate is 42.9 percent for men, 15.1 percent for women and 28.7 percent overall.

5. Mali: Niger’s neighbor on the west, the literacy rate in Mali is 33.4 percent. 43.1 percent of the adult male population can read and 24.6 percent of the country’s women.

6. Chad: This west African country is Niger’s neighbor on its eastern border; 34.5 percent of its population is literate.

7. Somalia: Long beset by civil war and famine, 37.8 of Somalia’s population is literate. 49.7 percent of the adult male population is literate but only 25.8 percent of adult females.

8. Ethiopia: Somalia’s neighbor to the north, the literacy rate in Ethiopia is 39 percent.

9. Guinea: 41 percent of this west African country’s population is literate. More than half (52 percent) of adult males are literature and only 30 percent of women.

10. Benin: 42.4 percent of Benin in West Africa are literate.

Around the world, two-thirds of adults who are illiterate are female, meaning that there are 493 women unable to read and write.

54 of the 76 million illiterate young women come from nine countries, most in south and west Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and not necessarily those with high rates of adult illiteracy: India (where almost 30 million young women are illiterate), Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

Why Literacy Is a Human Right

Those who cannot read and write are “destined to be on the social and economic margins of our world,” Unesco reminds us. Being able to read and write has profound benefits not only on a person’s educational opportunities but also for their health, economic prospects and their children.

My late grandmother, who emigrated from southern China to Oakland in the early 20th century, never learned to read or write anything beyond her first and last name. She relied completely on her children or grandchildren to read the instructions on a bottle of medicine, to open her mail and pay her bills. Once when she was in her 90s and still living alone in Oakland Chinatown, a strange man knocked on her door, showed her some official-looking documents and insisted that he had to enter her house. She shut the door in his face and immediately called my dad.

Had my grandmother been able to read the papers the man had in his hand, she could have known what he was up to. As a girl in rural China at the start of the previous century, no one gave a thought to teaching her to read or write. She worked for most of her life (she was still sewing piecework for clothing manufacturers into her 90s). Like many older adults, she simply never had time to devote her energies to learn to read and write.

In 2010, the literacy rate was higher for young people (89.6 percent) than for adults (84.1 percent), according to a report from Unesco (pdf). It’s essential that as many children as possible go to school, learn to read and write and acquire the numeracy skills necessary to thrive in our technology-drive world. This year’s International Literacy Day is specifically dedicated to “literacies for the 21st century,” in recognition that we not only need to need to provide “basic literacy skills for all” but also “equip everyone with more advanced literacy skills as part of lifelong learning.”

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/10-countries-with-the-worst-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html#ixzz2vhFAU5d2