Category Archives: Human Interest

25 Fast Facts on Kenya and its Education System

November 2nd, 2017

On October 31, 2017 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival.

The recent presidential elections in Kenya have prompted us to report our blog on Kenya where we share with you 25 facts on the country and its education system.

Fast Country Facts:

1. Kenya lies directly on the equator, and is surrounded by Uganda to the south, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the north.

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2. The size of the country is 582,000 square miles.

3. Some of the oldest known paleontological records of man’s history have been found in Kenya. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley was formed around 20 million years ago, when the crust of the Earth was split.

4. Kenya has a population of 43.5 million with 3.1 million people living in its capital city, Nairobi.

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Nairobi, Kenya

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Photo credit: Amateur South African Gareth Jones was one of the drivers stuck in the traffic jam on 6/25/13 and decided to get out and photograph the unique scene.

5. Although it does not have an official religion, Christianity is highly prevalent throughout the country.

6. English and Swahili are the country’s official languages.

7. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963 and became a parliamentary democracy with a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The government has three branches of power: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Executive is headed by the president, who is democratically elected for a five-year term. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta.

8. The Kenyan flag is comprised of three colors, black, red and white edges, and green. In the middles of the horizontal flag is a red, white and black Maasai shield. The Massai shield is a traditional symbol in Kenya that is used to symbolize the defense of the country.

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Fast Facts on Kenya’s Education System:

9. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology oversee the country’s entire education system.

10. Old System: 7-4-2-3; established in 1963 after Kenya gained independence. The education system was modelled after the British system and included seven years of primary education, four years of lower secondary education, two years of upper secondary education and three years of university.

11. Current System: 8-4-4-; introduced in 1985 and uses the U.S. education system as a model. It includes eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education and four years of university.

12. School year runs from January to December. The academic year for universities runs from September to June.

13. In 1963 there were only 151 secondary schools, with a total enrolment of 30,120 students. Today there are nearly 3,000 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 620,000 students. Of this total, slightly over 40% are girls

14. Primary education usually starts at six years of age and runs for eight years. At the end of the 8th year, students take exams intended for the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) which covers the following five subjects: Kiswahili, English, mathematics, science and agriculture, and social studies.

15. Secondary school education usually starts at fourteen years of age and, after the introduction of the 8 4-4 system of education which replaced the 7-4-2-3 system, runs for four years. At the end of the 4th year of secondary school, students take exams intended for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The KCSE are national exams administered by the National Examinations Council.

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Form four candidates at the Starehe Boys Centre sit for a KCSE paper.

16. Vocational secondary education is available at youth polytechnics for those wishing to pursue a trade and follows after completion of primary education and the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). These programs lead to a variety of diplomas and certificates.

17. Post-secondary technical study programs are delivered by various technical training institutes and institutes of technology. The admission requirement is generally a KCSE with a C average. The study programs offered by technical training institutes and institutes of technology vary in duration. Post-secondary study programs also lead to a variety of certificates and diplomas.

18. Higher education in Kenya includes universities that are either public or private. There are a total of seven public universities; these are independent and funded by the government. Public universities are established through Acts of Parliament. Private universities are established through the process of accreditation by Commission on Higher Education (CHE).

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19. At the tertiary level, there are also national polytechnics which offer higher professional education leading to a certificate, diploma and higher national diploma. Two polytechnics have been upgraded to university status and offer degree programs.
20. Admission to higher education at public universities in Kenya is overseen by the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) and has representatives from all public universities as well as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Acceptance to a bachelor’s degree program required the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) with a C+ average.

21. Admission to certificate and diploma programs at polytechnics requires the KCSE with a D+ or C- average, respectively.

22. University education in Kenya consists of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Universities also offer Diplomas and Certificates.

23. Bachelor’s degree programs usually consist of major and minor subjects. Depending on the discipline chosen, a bachelor’s program may take 4 to 6 years.

24. Master’s degree program usually take 1 or 2 years. The first year mainly consists of lectures, with the second year spent doing research and end with a final paper. In most cases, admission to a master’s program requires a minimum of an upper second class bachelor’s degree. Those with a bachelor’s qualification below upper second class may be required to complete a postgraduate diploma in the related field before being admitted into the master’s program.

25. A doctorate degree (PhD or DPhil) is awarded after a period of at least 3 years of research conducted during the doctoral program. Admission to a doctorate degree program requires a master’s degree.

Sources:
http://nationfacts.net/kenya-facts/
http://www.kenyaembassy.com/aboutkenyaeducation.html

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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

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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”

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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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Facts on Puerto Rico

October 10th, 2017

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  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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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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20 Fun Facts About Estonia (2.0)

September 29th, 2017

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You may be wondering why we chose Estonia for this blog. We don’t receive too many academic documents from Estonia for evaluation and have not had the opportunity to visit this country, at least not yet! But when we asked one of our staff to pick a country, he chose Estonia. So, here are some non-evaluation related facts you may enjoy about this country in northeastern Europe. We’re reposting our post on Estonia from 2012 with a few updates. Enjoy!

Let’s get started with “tere” which means Hello in Estonian!

1.  While the official capital of Estonia is Tallinn, the country is unique because it has more than one recognized capital. In fact, it has several capitals that change throughout the year. Tartu is established as the “cultural capital of Estonia”, while Parnu is known as the “summer capital”.

2.  Estonia was the first country in the world to use online political voting.

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3.  Estonia has two Independence Days. It first achieved independence from the Soviet Union on February 24, 1918 and again on August 20, 1991 after 51 years of occupation. The second date is known as the “Restoration of Independence Day.”

4.  Estonian is the official language. Russian is also widely spoken.

5.  The Estonian currency was the Kroon, but they have joined the Euro-zone and Euro is their official currency now.

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6.  Even though Estonia is considered to be a part of the Baltic countries; Latvia and Lithuania, there is no real political alliance.

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7.  Estonia is named after the “Ests” who inhabited the region in the first Century AD.

8.  Estonia is the least religious country in the world with only 14% of the population claiming any religious beliefs.

9.  Almost 50% of Estonia is covered by forest.

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10. Estonia has a population of 1.3 million and one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.

11. Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world.

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12.  Estonia is the homeland of Skype, Hotmail and KaZaA.

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13.  All Estonian schools are connected to the Internet.

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Teachers at Konguta Kool use online programs for students to practice basic arithmetic. Estonian students are among the highest performers in Europe on international math, reading and science assessments. (Photo: Sarah Butrymowicz

14. Chess Grandmaster Paul Keres was born in Estonia. When he died in 1975, over 100,000 people attended his funeral (10% of the country’s entire population).

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15.  Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Estonia ranks in the second place with a literacy rate of 99.8%.

16.  In 1994, Estonia became the first country to institute the flat income tax.

17.  They have the biggest collection of folk songs in the world with written records of 133,000 folk songs.

18.  The Estonians invented Kiiking, which is considered a sport. It involves fastening yourself to an enormous standing steal swing (kiik means swing in Estonian) which has a full 360 degrees of rotation to it. To swing a kiiker the contestant must pump by squatting and standing up on the swing. The swing gains momentum taking the person in full circle by his skillful pumping.

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Estonian have also won for 11 consecutive years, the wife carrying competition. The only way to describe this non-Olympic sport is to share this photo:

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19.  Estonia produces quality vodka and boasts Viru Valge and Saaremaa as its most popular brands.

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20.  Estonia is the only Baltic country with far-reaching and deep-rooted island culture. Estonian islands tend t be rural, most uninhabited, with traces of local Viking and medieval culture.

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Hope you enjoyed this. Head aega! (That’s “goodbye” in Estonian.)

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

Sources for more fun facts on Estonia:

https://www.visitestonia.com/en/why-estonia/estonia-facts

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/estonia/articles/amazing-facts-about-estonia/

http://thefactfile.org/interesting-facts-estonia/

https://www.vox.com/2014/11/4/7154571/vote-online-estonia-internet-voting-risk-hacking

http://hechingerreport.org/estonia-new-finland/

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/en.html

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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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The Wealth of the Broke

September 21st, 2017

Wealth_-_Broke

I believe, that “I vacationed in”, “took a trip to”, or “summered abroad” really becomes “I lived in” the minute you need a job. It could be three years or three weeks, but at that point, as many young adventurers figure out, the vacation ends with the patronage or savings. A punch to the gut at first, realizing “oh, I have to eat next week” can wipe away the whimsy quickly. Many will never experience this. Short trips and healthy bank accounts are a shield against this kind of exposure to the daily life of a local.

While it is easy to envy those with the funds to jet set without care, they too have something to envy. There is no appreciate, no immersion quite like a job. It is where many of us learned to socialize with other adults, and the same goes for a different country. You may proudly renounce your status of “tourist” and make friends that have a chance of lasting beyond the week. You become a part of the economy and community and it is a feeling so unlike that of a visitor.

Beyond that, like any job, there’s the opportunity for memories and stories beyond what monuments you have seen.

In just such a case, I lucked out with a job teaching chess to kids after school in Dublin, since I had some teaching experience back in the US.  (A beauty pageant sentiment I know, but while I’m at it, I used to buy them rewards at my own expense like stickers or lollipops and if I had one wish it would be world peace.)

Anyway, one of my responsibilities was to collect payment from all the parents for the program, about 500 Euro each for 8 weeks of lessons.

At the end of that particularly exhausting class (40+ primary school aged children, enough said), after waiting an hour for this child’s parents who were running late, I left in a hurry to get home.

About halfway, feet away from my apartment, I realized I left my backpack at the school lunch tables right in the entrance of the school. About 15k Euro in checks and cash. Obviously doomed, I turned around and ran back not out of hope but rather, desperation and panic.

Fired for sure, maybe not responsible for the checks but for sure the third in paper money. You know, doomed.

I flashed through the entrance and saw my backpack on the table, wide open. Again, doomed.

I go over just to grab the bag. 

“At least they left that”

Inside I found every last check and dollar to the cent.

Missing, though, was every lollipop I had. Like 4 bags worth.

I have never been happier with this world than when those kids chose 2 Euros in lollipops over maybe 5k in cash alone.

Not dumb. Just, what do I want? Someone else’s money? or ROOT BEER LOLLIPOPS.

Perhaps this would have happened anywhere I had been in the world. Maybe it isn’t specific to my time in Ireland. But even then, how reassuring to know that kids are kids, wherever you go. Because of that, the experience, the thought, the memory, I am so thankful for being broke in a foreign land.

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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Back to School Essentials: Yoga and Mindfulness for Children and Teens

September 8th, 2017

Little schoolboy in zen meditation

Required School Supplies:

  • 3-1 1/2 3-ring binder
  • 4 packages college lined loose-leaf paper
  • 1 composition notebook (ELA)
  • Compassion
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Patience

Parents across the country are scrambling from store to store scooping up supplies. Kids and teens are starting to wake up early again. Administrators and teachers are putting final touches on new curriculum and classrooms. The new school year has begun and everyone involved is getting ready.

In the flurry of preparations, let’s pause to remember the inner resources we all really need to thrive and flourish this year. What can we, as parents, teachers and caregivers, provide to equip our loved ones with skills they need to navigate the upcoming stress of the new school year? Here are few simple, easy to implement ideas to start the school year on a positive, mindful note.

Compassion

“I know you are starting a new grade level this year, with new students and teachers and academic challenges. Would you like to take a walk and talk about your thoughts and feelings about the new year?” 

Imagine having to change jobs or bosses every single year! Essentially, that’s what many children and teens do throughout their school experience. We tend to brush past this yearly change because it is normal. Normal or not, it isn’t easy for some kids and can be a major source of hidden stress. Acknowledging the challenge and offering a listening ear can help alleviate some of the anxiety kids may have about meeting the new year. Carving out a little time within the hustle of preparations lets your child know that their feelings matter as much (more) than the pencils, paper and schedules. Take a walk, grab an ice cream cone, have a cup of tea or plan whatever simple activity your young person enjoys with the intention of letting them know, once again, that you are there, you understand and you are always willing to listen. whenever they need you. Even if they don’t open up in that moment, you are showing that the door is open for future connection.

Generosity

“Hey, why don’t we call your teacher to see if there is anything we can do to help out in the first couple of weeks of school?”

Modeling generosity and including your child in generous actions helps to remind them of its’ value. We can be generous with our time, money, energy and spirit. Sometimes our own to-do lists are so long that it seems we don’t have time to be generous to others. Yet, generous actions can energize everyone involved, making it easier in the long run to accomplish all of the mundane tasks on our lists. Offering to help another family get supplies together or an action as simple purchasing an extra pack of pencils for the classroom weaves a sense of caring and community into the yearly school prep activities.

Practice kindness on blackboard

Kindness

“Please say ‘hello and good morning’ to your teacher from me today.”

An easy way to model kindness is to send your child to school with a short note or card for their teachers. Let your child read the note wishing their teachers a great new year full of connection and discovery. Express gratitude to the teacher for caring for your child each day. The kindness and gratitude is sure to brighten the teachers morning and could  help your child grow a positive relationship with their teacher, as well. Most importantly, your child is part of an act of kindness that can easily be replicated autonomously in the future. When sticky situations crop up later in the year, and you hear that a classmate is having trouble, you can prompt your child to offer a kind note.

Patience

We all need it. Patience has been identified as a major factor in growing resilience. Yoga and mindfulness practices offer us unlimited opportunities to practice and cultivate our patience. Yoga postures build focus, concentration and require patience. Yoga practice gives youth an way to embody patience and store it up for future use. In yoga and mindfulness, we work with our impulse to quit. The practices train our minds to deal with challenge differently. Rather than impulsively giving up in the face of challenge, we learn to utilize our breathing as an anchor and path into our inner resources of fortitude, perseverance and patient strength. Check out what these teens have to say about the impact of yoga on school stress:

Abby Wills

Abby Wills, MA, E-RYT

Shanti Generation, Co-Founder, Program Director
Abby brings her passion for developmental education and deep respect for the tradition of yoga to her work guiding youth and teachers in contemplative arts. Abby’s approach is informed by studies in social justice and democratic education at Pacific Oaks College, as well as two decades of training in yoga.

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