Monthly Archives: October 2017

Africa: Higher Education Interrupted

October 27th, 2017

Africa

In the past few months, government crackdowns on students and faculty protests at many African countries have disrupted and temporary halted classes and in some cases led to the indefinite closures of universities affecting thousands of students.

Here’s a look at some of the countries affected:

Cameroon

Cameroon

In the wake of demands by staff and students for greater independence for their English-speaking region, the two main public universities in Anglophone Cameroon, after months of partial closures, have been shut down indefinitely by the country’s president.  For more on the university closures in Anglophone Cameroon, click here

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC

In August 2017, the teaching staff at the University of Kinshasa voted to continue their strike to express their unhappiness in solidarity with academic staff of several other institutions in the country over non-payment of salaries and the failure of reaching a resolution with the government. For more on this topic, click here

Guinea

Guinea

In June 2017, a number of private universities in Guinea suspended instruction complaining about delays in payment of student grants from the government and the signing of contracts for teaching bachelor-equivalent courses. For more on the suspension of instruction at universities in Guinea, click here.

Kenya

kenya

Students at the University of Nairobi are finding themselves in the crosshairs of politics brought on by the country’s elections and strike by lecturers. As a result, on October 3rd, following a rash of student unrest, the University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mbithi announced the indefinite closure of the country’s second largest institution. Earlier, the students had protested against police use of excessive force and sexual harassment at the universities of Nairobi and Maseno.  On October 8th, Mount Kenya University shut its doors due to continued student protests and strikes by professors. For more on the university closures in Kenya, click here.

Rwanda

rwanda

Since March 10th, thousands of students have found their studies suspended because of partial or total closure of the private universities which failed to meet satisfactory standards of teaching. According to a report in UniversityWorldNews, 10 universities were given until September 2017 to raise their standards, or risk being closed permanently. An update of their status is not available.  For more on the university closures in Rwanda, click here.

Awareness of these events is key for international credential evaluators and institutions of higher education whose students may be from the countries cited above. These students may not be able to procure their transcripts because of the problems back home. With universities temporarily or indefinitely closed, students from the affected institutions will have a difficult time in requesting official transcripts and those who have been able to obtain their records may show gaps in their studies due to the temporary halt in their studies.

For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Keep a Tradition, Lose the Bad Habit.

October 19th, 2017

balance

Traditions. Tradition, and the importance placed on tradition differs from culture to culture as much as it does from person to person. Recently, in the United States, we have adopted Indigenous People’s Day as a replacement for Columbus Day. And given the recent “conversations” in the United States about confederate statues and monuments, the automatic response of “you can’t erase history”, and the reply of “yes but you don’t have to glorify it” traditions are fresh in the public consciousness. As John Oliver said recently, “Books are for history, statues are for glorification”.

I’m not one for knocking tradition. It’s fun! It can be something as simple as an inter-generational inside joke, or a family game, and its purpose, to unify and humble, is certainly a worthy cause. My problem is with tradition “for traditions sake.” The idea that we are honor bound to our traditions should be a relic of the past. We must remember our traditions but we must remember how they have always evolved. When we lose sight of why we honor our traditions, it loses its purpose, in other words, a tradition becomes a habit. And there are more examples than you might think. Which puts me in mind of a conversation with a friend from the Netherlands.

Always big fans of comparing cultures with light hearted razzing, we were having the recurring conversation our respective homelands and their history:

“Doesn’t your Santa have a slave?” I asked, already knowing the answer

“No, he has a helper,” Ralf replied defensively

“I see, and what is his helpers name?”

“Zwarte Piet”

“Which translates to…?”

Looking down, “Black Peter”

He adds, “But I think he’s a former slave that Santa freed or something… and now he’s black because of all the soot in the chimney”

“Right… so all good now. Remind me though, how do you celebrate?”

A little excited for the nostalgia he replies “All the little kids dress-up and paint their faces black and…”

At which point his excitement fades a bit, “That’s blackface, isn’t it?”

I laughed “Yeah it’s ok though, we celebrate the betrayal and genocide of an entire race every Thanksgiving, so I don’t either of us are completely in the clear.”

Ralf is able to laugh at the Dutch tradition of Black Peter, and me at Thanksgiving for their absurdity and how far these traditions are removed from their origins. But really, while people around the US defend monuments to those who upheld slavery, the story of Zwatre Piet and the demise of Columbus Day are glimpses of hope; glimpses of evolution, perspective and progress. Of course, we shouldn’t forget our history. Just have a little humility.

Which is what concluded mine and Ralf’s discourse.

“Yeah Zwarte Piet might be racist but I mean… we had slaves man, that’s like, our national shame.”

“Yeah but who do you think sold you those slaves?”

“…..Yeah, both of us DEFINITELY  not in the clear”

AlexB

Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

 

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The Importance of Institutional Accreditation

October 12th, 2017

check

The first step in evaluating non-U.S. academic documents is to determine whether the institution where the studies were completed is recognized and approved by the education authorities in the country, which in most instances is the Ministry of Education.

In the U.S. there is no central government body that establishes, maintains and sets standards to oversee academic institutions. Instead, there are accrediting groups which themselves have met or exceed recognition standards in order to review and accredit academic institutions. Accreditation as defined by the United States Department of Education is “the process whereby an agency or association grants public recognition to a school, institute, college, university, or specialized program of study which meets certain established qualifications and educational standards, as determined through initial period evaluation. The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to the quality of the educational institution or programs (s) offered, and to encourage continual improvement thereof.”

There are some institutions that are “unaccredited” but have formal legal authorization to operate and enroll students or issue degrees. But being incorporated as a For-Profit entity or have a business license to operate does not mean that the institution is also accredited by the nationally recognized accreditation bodies. If you’re planning to study at a college or university in the United States, it is important that you first check on the “accreditation” status of the institution.

Why is institutional accreditation important?

pencil_check

3 reasons why institutional accreditation is important:

  1. helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds minimum standards of quality
  2. helps students determine is an institutional is acceptable for enrollment
  3. assists institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits.

A student who attends an accredited institution in the U.S. is able to move freely from one accredited institution to another and receive recognition of his/her studies. Before you enroll in a school, institute, college or universities, check on its accreditation status first. One thing you don’t want to happen is graduating from at an unaccredited institution in the U.S. that will not be recognized by employers, the government or other schools, colleges or universities.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides a list of recognized accreditation boards which is available on its website www.chea.org. You’ll be able to check on the accreditation status of a particular school, college or university or access a complete list of accredited institutions of postsecondary education in the United States.

For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Facts on Puerto Rico

October 10th, 2017

BLOG_-_PUERTO_RICO
  San Juan, PR (before Hurricane Maria)                San Juan, PR (after) Source: YouTube 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the devastation it has wreaked on the island of Puerto Rico and displacing more than 3.3 million of its inhabitants, we are dedicating this week’s blog to Puerto Rico and its people.

Timeline of Hurricane Maria: For a timeline of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath click here

Status Updates: You can get the latest status report from the Government of Puerto Rico by going to its website and FEMA posts up-to-date resources and information on the federal response to Hurricane Maria on its website.

Here are some facts on Puerto Rico we would like to share with you in this blog:

1.  Formal Name: The formal name of Puerto Rico is Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, which translates to mean Free Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2.  Origin of State Name: The U.S. changed its name to Porto Rico (Rich Port) in 1898. It was changed again to Puerto Rico in 1931.

3.  Nickname: Island of Enchantment (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

4.  Original Name: The original name of the island given by the Taino natives was Borikén. Today the name Borinquen is widely used.  Puerto Ricans proudly call themselves boricuas which carries pride and love for their island. (Source: IslandsofPuertoRico.com)

5. Population: 3,351,827 (July 2017 est.) (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

6. Capital: San Juan

7. History/Origins: Puerto Rico was populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples before 1493 when it was claimed by the Spanish Crown following Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a results of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US, but the results of a 2012 vote left open the possibility of American statehood. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

8. Geography: Capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan. Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean; it is an island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic. It has an area of 9,104 sq km and slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

9. Government: Puerto Rico is an unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President. It is a presidential democracy; a self-governing commonwealth in political association with the US. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

10. US Citizens: As mentioned earlier, residents of Puerto Rico have been considered as US citizens since 1917, when the island was ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. However, Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax to the Untied States and they do not vote in US presidential elections. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

11. Language: Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish remains dominant among the residents. The issue of language has been an ongoing concern between residents and US authorities. A 1902 law established both languages for official use, but US officials pushed for many years to make English the dominant language in school and government use. In 1991, the Puerto Rican legislature issued a bill making Spanish the official language, but this decision was reversed in 1993, restoring both languages to official status. Puerto Rican Spanish contains many Taino influences, which can be found in such place-names as Arecibo, Guayama, and Mayagüez, as well as hamaca (hammock) and coanoa (canoe). Among many African Borrowings are food terms like quimbombó (okra) , guince (banana), and mondongo (a spicy stew). Some English words are incorporate into Spanish in what is commonly referred to as “Spanglish.” (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

12. Economy: The island’s most important industrial products are pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, and food products. The sugar industry has gradually lost ground to dairy production and other livestock products in the agricultural sector. Tourism is the backbone of a large service industry, and the government sector has also grown. Tourist revenues and remittances from workers on the US main-land largely counterbalance Puerto Rico’s chronic trade deficit. Federal funds to the government and directly to the people have been important to the Puerto Rican economy. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

13. Migration: Economic recession on the island has led to a net population loss since about 2005, as large numbers of residents moved to the US mainland. The trend has accelerated since 2010; in 2014, Puerto Rico experienced a net population loss to the mainland of 64,000, more than double the net loss of 26,000 in 2010. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

14. Pharmaceuticals: Before Hurricane Maria, Pharmaceuticals represented 72% of Puerto Rico’s 2016 exports, valued at $14.5 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The island accounted for 25% of total U.S. pharmaceutical exports. The sector, which grew for years on the strength of tax breaks that were phased out in 2006, employed about 90,000 workers. On Monday, September 23, 2017, the FDA said it is taking active measures to help redirect production and preserve existing treatments to avoid a ballooning health crisis from Maria’s destruction. (Source: USAToday)

15. Island’s Chief Export: More than 70% of rum consumed in the U.S. came from Puerto Rico with Bacardi and Don Q as the largest producers on the Island. (Source: Trip Savvy)

Rum

16. History of Hurricanes: The word “hurricane” derives from hurakán, a term the Spanish learned from Puerto Rico’s Taino Indians. Puerto Rico, has unfortunately, been the victim of several severe hurricanes in the past century. Before Hurricane Maria, there was Hurricane Georges in 1998. On 7 October 1985, torrential rains created a mud slide that devastated the hillside barrio of Mameyes, killing hundreds of people; and considered the single most destructive landslide in US history. On 15-16 September 2004, Hurricane Jeanne, the tenth named storm and the seventh hurricane of the 2004 hurricane season, entered southeast Puerto Rico near Maunabo and traveled west then north across Puerto Rico and exited over the northwest tip of the island near Aguadilla. Following the storm, Puerto Rico was declared a federal disaster area. As the storm approached, the entire power grid of Puerto Rico was shut down by the government, indirectly causing over $100 million in damage and resulting in 600,000 people left without running water. Seven deaths were attributed to Jeanne and there was also landslide damage.(Source: Encyclopedia.com)

17. Energy Dependence: Puerto Rico has been totally dependent on imported crude oil for its energy needs. The island imports and burns oil to generate electricity. Oil has accounted for more than 90% of the island’s total primary energy consumption which means Puerto Ricans have been paying exorbitantly high electric bills for years. Millions of Puerto Ricans are living in the dark at home after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September 2017, knocking out its already fragile electric grid. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his company can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid using batteries and solar power, saying the decision to accept his offer would be in the hands of the local government and the island’s residents. (Source: The Guardians of Democracy)

18. Education: U.S. schools are bracing for an influx of students from Puerto Rico because of the damage brought on by Hurricane Maria. Schools were already facing problems of an economic nature. In May 2017, Puerto Rico’s government announced that 179 schools were closing because of the territory’s $70 billion debt. To save $7 million, about 27,000 students were relocated to other schools. Serious damage to the University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses have also prompted sector leaders to raise concerns about an impending crisis in higher education for the region – with academics fearing that displaced students will fail to complete courses and that research will fall behind. Within hours of the hurricanes’ hitting, academic communities on both sides of the Atlantic began discussing how to provide relief and how to keep research on track. (Source: The Times Higher Education; NPR.org; InsideHigherEducation)

19. Mascot: Puerto Rico’s unofficial mascot is a tiny tree frog only found on the island known as coqui. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles. The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are a cute, much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico. (Source: Trip Savvy)

frog

20. Damage to Ecology: The storm also flattened farms. Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture has said that 80 percent of crops could be lost. (Source: ABC News)

devastation_puertorico
Flattened plantain trees, Yabucoa, PR 9/24/17 (Photo credit: Victor J. Bleu, NYT via Redux)

How You Can Help:

Artists for Puerto Rico Relief Effort: On Friday, October 6, 2017, artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Gloria Estefan, Luis Fonsi and several more banded together and released the Hurricane Maria relief song “Almost Like Praying” for Puerto Rico. All proceeds for the song will go to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund.

Relief Efforts: Refer to the list provided in these blog by Consumer Reports  and NPR.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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15 Facts on Cuba and its Education System

October 5th, 2017

Cuban_Flag

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

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

Country Facts

cuba

Here are 15 facts on Cuba:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education Facts

University_Havana
University of Havana

Here are 15 facts on Cuba’s education system:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

This post was originally published on 01/08/15

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

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