Arab countries need to improve education systems, says UN official

Arab countries need to improve their education systems, a leading UN official has said, with only the UAE performing impressively in the sector.

Hany Torky, the UNDP’s chief technical adviser, said GCC countries were spending the same amount of money on education but only the UAE was making an impact.

“So far the UAE has appeared as a leader in knowledge not just in the Arab countries but also across Asia. No other country has performed so well as the way UAE has done and continues to do that,” he told Arab News. “The reason can be the quality of teachers, corruption, using resources in the right manner, quality of students. All these factors count for a lot.”

He was speaking to Arab News while sharing the latest results of the Global Knowledge Index, which this year placed the UAE 19 out of 134 countries. It ranked 13 in pre-university education and 20 in higher education.

Torky said the idea of education needed to be redefined in the region because of technological breakthroughs including artificial intelligence, virtual reality and coding.

“We need to use technology to improve social and communication skills. Teachers cannot be replaced by robots. However, robots can help teachers to perform better.”

Saudi educationalist Omar Farooqi said a teacher’s role would change dramatically and they would become more like guides or advisers.

“The problem comes in the form of parents and top-to-bottom implementation of technology in schools,” he told Arab News, “otherwise if you look at the youth population in the Arab world, it is larger than the adult population. Therefore, these children have grown with technology in their hands and on their fingertips. They are more than willing to embrace it.”

The UAE was quick to adopt technology and trends faster than anywhere else in the Arab world, he added, and technology was also a way to revamp the curriculum in public sector schools.

“The Public (school) sector needs a complete revamp of standards from top to bottom of school operations. Private schools, on the other hand, are heavily geared primarily toward commercial success. Therefore the quality of education versus tuition fees is not appropriately balanced. Once it is balanced out, then there is cause for optimism for the private sector to take the lead in helping the public system set higher governance standards through strong strategic collaboration,” said Farooqui.

The Global Knowledge Index is produced annually by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation in partnership with the UNDP.

[“source=forbes]

Dena Bank Merger: Bankers To Go On Strike On December 26

Dena Bank Merger: Bankers To Go On Strike On December �26

The United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU) – a consortium of nine unions in the banking sector – will strike work on December 26 opposing the merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank, the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said on Saturday.

The AIBEA is one of the constituents of the UFBU.

[“source=ndtv”]

Boston Native and Experienced Health & Fitness Industry Veteran Steve Stabile Brings Blink Fitness to Beverly

Image result for Boston Native and Experienced Health & Fitness Industry Veteran Steve Stabile Brings Blink Fitness to Beverly

“Blink’s premium gym experience and accessible price point is much needed in the Beverly community and will cater to all residents. We are thrilled to open our doors as the first Blink in Boston, and look forward to continuing to grow throughout the metro area” said Stabile.

Blink Fitness creates a special experience for its members, based on its Mood Above Muscle™ philosophy, which celebrates the positive feelings you get from exercise rather than just the physical benefits. This comes to life in each gym through a commitment to providing contemporary and colorful design, best-in-class customer service, and relentless focus on cleanliness, energizing music, and confidence-boosting training programs.

A Boston local, Stabile is passionate about giving back and has already gotten involved with his community. Prior to his gym opening, Blink Fitness Beverly sponsored the Pete Frates 5K, along with participating in various smaller community events and fundraisers. In celebration of the grand opening, Blink Fitness Beverly donated 50 memberships to Beverly Bootstraps, a local nonprofit that is dedicated to providing emergency and long-term assistance to families in need.

No stranger to entrepreneurship and wellness, Stabile has been an active businessman for nearly 30 years, first launching his own businesses and then entering the franchising world in 2005 with Fitness Together and Elements Massage. He opened the first franchise location for the massage concept and won numerous awards from the brand, including the Top Franchise of the Year, Area Director of the Year, and most recently, their first Legacy Award.

The new Blink facility boasts a broad offering of top-of-the-line strength equipment that includes free weights, plates, and machines for upper body, lower body, and core. Additionally, the facility offers a wide variety of premium cardio machines and a multi-use space for additional exercises, stretching, and functional training. As a gym that promises to provide a premium experience to all who join, memberships are available for as low as $15 per month with a free start-up personal training session.

“We’re excited for Steve to bring the first Blink Fitness to the Boston metro area. The passion he has for for his community, matched by the tremendous franchising success he’s enjoyed in the wellness industry, makes him a great partner to represent our brand in this new market. We’re confident that Steve shares our values and vision for providing the very best member experience as we continue to focus on expanding nationally,” said CEO Todd Magazine.

Since its inception in 2011, Blink Fitness has opened nearly 80 gym locations across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California, and has a number of additional corporate- and franchisee-owned locations in various stages of development in major U.S. markets. The unique fitness brand has plans to enter additional markets, including Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia, expects to surpass the 300-unit mark over the next five years.

Through its revolutionary philosophy of Mood Above Muscle™, Blink Fitness, a premium-quality, value-based fitness franchise celebrates the positive feeling you get from exercise, not just the physical benefits. Blink Fitness has been ranked by Inc. magazine’s Inc. 500|5000 list, and recognized as one of the top health clubs of 2018 by Club Industry and best budget chain by Men’s Health. With more than 90 locations open or in development across eight states, Blink Fitness has franchise opportunities available nationwide with a focus on the following markets: Atlanta, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Albuquerque, Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City and cities throughout North and South Carolina.

[“source=gsmarena”]

Geeks Give Back: It’s time for the technology community to step up and give!

This is embarrassing to admit. While the Seattle area is first in the nation in percentage of residents who give to charities — over 65 percent donate more than $25 annually — the tech segment remains an elusive donor group within the region.

Non-profit development officers — faced with a divided city of extreme wealth and extreme poverty — routinely ask: “How do we crack the code? How do we get the average tech worker to give?”

And this is why GeekWire — in partnership with Bank of America — launched our Geeks Give Back effort three years ago. We wanted to encourage everyone in the tech industry — from the software developer to the CEO — to think deeply about helping those in need. This year, we are tackling the thorny issues of homelessness and poverty, and we ask you to go here to donate to Geeks Give Back.

Alleviating homelessness, poverty and a lack of access to education in King County are issues we can all agree on. And I believe — subtracting the highest levels of philanthropy from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates; Connie and Steve Ballmer; and more recently Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos — the tech industry is not pulling adequate weight compared to other industries. As innovators and creators, we should be punching well above our weight.

We need to do more.

A well-researched analysis on homelessness from McKinsey indicated that much of poverty exists because of wealth creation.

Don’t get me wrong. I love tech, but the facts are clear. The robust influx of tech workers to the Seattle region — with great benefits to the overall economy, intellectual capital and culture — has contributed to housing affordability problems. With every $100 increase in average rent, homelessness rises by 15 percent. Cause and effect. No judgment here. It just is.

While the rising tide has lifted many boats, some people don’t even have boats.

So what’s the answer?

Here’s my simple ask: How about giving a little?

There are so many things we say “no” to each day, but we need to tackle these societal problems head-on. And we can’t just keep pushing them under the rug. And so I challenge you to say “yes.” That’s not always an easy path, given the constraints on time, budgets and a wide array of noteworthy organizations.

The Geeks Give Back program — which has raised more than $2 million over the past three years — offers an easy path to do some good, supporting organizations such as Mary’s Place, Mercy Housing, DESC, Plymouth Housing Group and Housing Development Consortium.

And it’s time for our community to step up and do more.

If you are still on the fence, let me offer this. Giving back provides multiple dividends — you feel more connected to your community; you shift perspectives; you pay more attention to issues that matter; and you join an effort to be part of the solution. I’ve personally seen these benefits as campaign chair for the United Way of King County.

As author Sue Monk Kidd notes: “Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart.”

So, c’mon geeks. On this day of giving and thanks, take the plunge with us. Please, consider GIVING BACK!

[“source=marketingweek]

More than 50 Million to Travel for Thanksgiving

More than 50 Million to Travel for Thanksgiving

According to the travel organization, 2018 is expected to see the highest volume of Thanksgiving travel since 2005.

The number is an estimated 2.5 million more than those who traveled for the holiday in 2017.

According to AAA, 48.5 million people are expected to travel by car, 4.2 million are expected to travel by air and 1.4 million are expected to travel by train, bus or cruise ship.

Those who plan to hit the road over the holiday may be surprised when they get to the pump.

According to AAA, motorists are expected to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years. On Monday, AAA reported the national average gas price was at $2.69.

While gas prices may be high, AAA does not expect that to be a deterrent for travel.

[“source=forbes]

Black Friday Deals: Best Headphones To Work Out In

There is no worse feeling than turning up for an interval session on the Versaclimber without any headphones. A close second is having to actually talk to someone in the weights section.

(Related: 5 of the best wireless headphones)

Headphones aren’t just for the socially awkward, either. Researchers at Brunel University in London have revealed that listening to music while you’re working out could make your deadlifts more enjoyable.

(Related: Music will put you in the mood to work out)

Your performance can improve, too. Studies have shown that listening to a tune perfectly matched to a certain type of exercise will improve motivation. Researchers at York St John University also discovered that athletes who were given ‘invigorating’ personal music were able to lift more than those exercising to an ambient, ‘piped-in’ soundtrack. Test subjects using headphones held a dumbbell in front of themselves for 10 per cent longer than those without.

So, whether you’ve lost yours, can’t untangle the wires or are simply looking for something new, here’s the latest and greatest models that are available on Black Friday.

[“source=forbes]

Organization makes effort to get community involved in health and fitness

Story image for Health & Fitness from WDVM 25

A local organization in Montgomery County is hoping to get the community involved in fitness and raise money for a cause with the new event.

The instructors at “Club Fit” in Montgomery County provided Zumba, yoga, and bootcamp sessions.

Every year Empower Through Play organizes a mission trip to help children in need that live overseas. The organization provides shoes through local donations while empowering the youth to live healthier lifestyles.

“Were going on a mission trip to Columbia, were bringing sneakers and cleats and donating physical education equipment so that way we can empower those kids” said Charles Yinusa, founder of Empower Through Play.

The organization is also accepting shoes and sports equipment for donations.

[“source=ndtv”]

5 Natural Ways To Stay Healthy During Holiday Travel

Traveling during cold and flu season can feel like a game of Russian Roulette and I’ll be completely honest — I avoid it like the plague, pun intended. If you’re trying to visit loved ones over the holiday season or treat yourself to a sandy getaway to escape the dreariness of winter, however, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Before we go any further, I’ll just clarify that I’m not a doctor and there are plenty of people who will scoff at this list. It’s important for everyone to feel confident in the decisions they make for their own health so, definitely do your own research. Also, yes, many will argue that getting sick is simply a part of life and builds immunity but that’s not true for everyone (plus, it’s so frustrating to spend money on a trip that you can’t enjoy because you’re sick!).

We have six children and I have traveled extensively most of my life. I also have a weakened immune system and, at one point, was catching so many viruses that I was hospitalized for most of one four-year period of my life. After making some changes, that all stopped.

Here are a few of the natural strategies I use to stay healthy while traveling, especially during cold and flu season.

Pick a Window Seat

When I was young, I loved being able to sit in the window seat and watch the landscapes changing below as we made our way to our destination. Now, I choose it for a completely different reason — protection! If people on the plane are coughing around you, you can turn your face toward the protective barrier of that wall. Additionally, studies have shown that sitting in the aisle seat may increase your risk of contracting a stomach virus.

Let’s not forget the unfortunate soul who received an apology from Delta after discovering that his legs and feet were covered in dog feces left behind by a service dog on a previous flight. So, while you’re sitting in your superior window seat, wipe down the armrests, seat belt, tray and that window blind with a disinfectant wipe. Carry sanitizer to clean your hands before eating or touching your face. Avoid the bathroom, if you can, and keep your shoes on.

Next level tip: Wear a mask designed to guard you against airborne illnesses and allergens. It’s becoming more and more common (even celebrities are doing it!) so don’t feel embarrassed to pull one out of your carry-on. In fact, bring an extra in case your seatmate wants protection, too!

Stay Hydrated

Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated on your next flight because the conditions inside an airplane can dry out the lining of our nose and throat, leaving us more vulnerable to the germs floating around the cabin. There is also evidence to suggest that staying hydrated can give our immune system a boost while helping our body fight off viruses.

You don’t need to drink a whole gallon of water (especially since that might send you to the bathroom that you’re trying to avoid!) but sipping throughout your journey can keep you from getting too parched which, in addition to increasing your risk of getting sick, can leave you feeling tired and irritable. Drink up!

Next level tip: Skip the ice as it’s not always handled in the cleanest ways. Ask for the bottle of water or can of soda and wipe the lid before opening to avoid contamination.

OnGuard Essential Oil

My collection of essential oils comes from several different companies but, when it comes to giving my immune system a boost, nothing compares to doTERRA’s OnGuard. You can use it daily for prevention this time of year but it can also be used after you’ve come down with something.

Again, whether you believe this claim is entirely up to you and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure about it myself until I tried it. My partner and all six kids had come down with something while I was away this summer. I immediately started using OnGuard to protect myself and help them. Not only did I never get sick (despite cleaning up after a house full of feverish people) but their symptoms stopped progressing. This has happened several times and I’m a believer. I do not travel without it.

Where to buy: Visit doTERRA’s site to learn more and search for a Wellness Advocate in your area. I’ve also had success at local massage studios and chiropractic offices.

Grape Seed Extract

A while back, someone told me that drinking eight ounces of 100% red grape juice could prevent the spread of a stomach virus if you’ve been exposed to someone who has been vomiting. We started doing it immediately and, of course, I can’t prove anything but I can say that no belly woes made the rounds in our house during that time.

It’s not convenient to find pure grape juice on the road, though, and, as someone who avoids sugar, drinking a bottle felt terrible. After reading a study about Grape Seed Extract and how it could be used to fight Norovirus, I picked up a bottle. Months later, when my significant other and I traveled to see my grandmother, he became violently ill. I immediately took my GSE (and OnGuard) and managed to escape unscathed. Now, I take it wherever I go.

Where to buy: You can find it in vitamin and supplement shops online or in-store. My go-to product is Nutribiotic’s Maximum GSE Liquid Concentrate which I order from Amazon.

Elderberry Syrup or Tablets

While I’ve tried Zicam to prevent and treat colds and I’ve been known to suck on Airborne lozenges during a flight, if I’m traveling and things are feeling a little sketchy (or I was in a crowded haunted house during Halloween Horror Nights), I find the nearest drug store and buy elderberry syrup or dissolvable tablets.

One early study showed that 93% of patients infected with the Influenza B virus given Sambucol, a black elderberry extract, were completely symptom-free within two days while those in the placebo group recovered in about six days. Since then, other studies have yielded similar results including a recent one suggesting that Sambucol can reduce cold duration and symptoms in air travelers.

Where to buy: Many health food, vitamin and supplement stores will carry some type of elderberry product. For my family, I keep it simple and buy the Sambucol Quick Dissolve Tablets or Sambucol Great Tasting Syrup from Walmart.

An Ounce of Prevention…

During cold and flu season, being proactive about staying healthy can go a long way. While you don’t need to wrap yourself in bubble wrap (unless you really want to), washing your hands before eating, touching your face and after touching germy surfaces (door handles, debit card machines and public bathrooms, for example) can go a long way toward preventing illness.

If you’re already sick, you should also make a concerted effort to protect the people around you. Wear a mask, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow and throw away used tissues immediately. Of course, if you’re really ill, you may need to cancel your plans and stay home. It’s unfortunate that you’re under the weather but don’t selfishly spread that misery to others.

[“source=forbes]