September 2007

From Eldis:

Title: Access to higher education and inequality: the Chinese experiment
Authors: X. Wang; B.M. Fleisher; H. Li
Publisher: Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, 2007

Is the rising inequality in China associated with variable access to educational opportunities? This paper models the effects on the evolution of private returns to schooling for college graduates during China’s reform between 1988 and 2002.

The authors find that there were substantial sorting gains under the traditional system, but they have decreased drastically and become negligible in the most recent data. This is regarded as evidence of growing influence of private financial constraints on decisions to attend college as tuition costs have risen and the relative importance of government subsidies has declined.

The main policy implication of the results is that labour and education reform without capital market reform and government support for the financially disadvantaged, further increases the inherent inequalities across education groups.



Originally posted by Panchis on Networks

We all need to better understand networks. Their importance is growing as a form of organization whose efficiency has been enhanced by information technology. The body of knowledge that deals with them has mushroomed in the last ten years or so. The internet – network of networks – is now a significant part of the life of hundreds of millions of people. The metaphor is part of our everyday vocabulary. And still, it is used in so many cases, to describe, refer or allude to so many situations that its “polysemy” as Michel Callon puts it, can be easily confusing. Networks and complexity have so many things in common that we tend to let specialists deal with the issue, understand it, analyze it, use it.

This is wrong. Networks should not be the sole territory of brainy scientists. We should all learn about them, take advantage of the available knowledge about what they are, where they appear, how they operate.

[This article has been published in the first issue of the International Journal of Communication published by USC Annenberg Center]

Manuel Castells’ trilogy on “The Information Age” has played a major role in this rising awareness. The fruit of decades of research is presented in such an accessible form that laymen and women can find there most of what they need to understand about the network society. But once you become aware of networks you find them in a lot of other places, at other levels. The meme viral effect is contagious. You want to know more.

That’s what brought me to Fritjof Capra’s work on the subject. Manuel Castells said I should pursue my quest to better understand networks in reading The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections. That’s how I learned Capra lives in Berkeley , very close to me. We even shop in the same supermarket. It was a wonderful adventure to find again the author of the fascinating Tao of Physics. That’s how I read the books, which show the importance of networks at the biological, cognitive, and social levels of life.

How not to be impressed by what he calls in the first sentence of his first answer to this interview “a unified scientific view of life” based on our knowledge of evolution. “In my view,” he says, “there is a unifying set of patterns of organization that goes through all life, at all levels and in all its manifestations.”

Isn’t that a worrisome open door to another unified theory of everything, or the outline of one?

This is exactly what I had in mind when we started the interview. And Capra’s answer came flat: “There is a fundamental error in this view. Even though there is a unified basic pattern of life, and we can be more precise and say that this pattern is a network pattern, these networks are not structures – at least most of them – they are functional networks.” The term can be used as a metaphor, it is not as a paradigm.

Recognizing the specificity of each “level” he explains what distinguishes them. At the social level, in particular, he clarifies the importance of meaning, values and power (and therefore conflicts), key elements in extending his approach to societies. This, he says, is the product of his many discussions with Castells, and a bridge between the two bodies of work. Interestingly enough, Capra then moves a step further than in his books when he states that “The core of my social agenda is sustainability.”

In this conversation Fritjof Capra, while staying totally coherent with the scientific studies on which he bases his works, transmits many of the core elements of his thinking about networks in terms that the lay audience can understand easily.

The interviews were conducted and recorded at my home. Fritjof was kind enough to revise the text twice, just after we spoke, in 2003, and in October before the publication in the IJoC.

 San Francisco University California-Berkeley Stanford Francis Pisani, PhD., is a blogger and columnist who covers ITC in

San Francisco’s Bay Area for different European and Latin American Media. He has lectured in several universities including the University of California-Berkeley Stanford.. More at, and

PDF Icon Networks as a unifying pattern of life involving different processes at
different levels – An interview with Fritjof Capra

The Sofia initiative was launched by Foothill – De Anza Community College District in March of 2004.
The Sofia project is an open content initiative launched with funding support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Under the leadership of Foothill College, Sofia promotes faculty and institutional sharing of online content.

Modeled after MIT’s OpenCourseWare Initiative, Sofia encourages the free exchange of community college-level materials on the World Wide Web.

An interesting aspect of Sofia initiative is  that quality materials are identified and selected from the submissions through a review process conducted by peer reviewers. Materials are reviewed for quality, depth, instructional design, completeness, and use of interactivity and multimedia prior to publication. Reviewers examine the content to ensure quality, correctness, and adherence to high academic standards. See review criteria for more information. Faculty with experience developing online course materials and teaching with web-based technologies are encouraged to apply to Serve as peer reviewers.

The goal of Sofia is to publish community college-level course content and make it freely accessible on the web to support teaching and learning.

Course materials published by  Sofia project:

Creative Typography

Creative Typography
Carolyn Brown
Foothill College

Elementary Statistics

Elementary Statistics
Susan Dean, De Anza College
Barbara Illowsky, De Anza College

Tour Course Tour Course

Physical Geography

Physical Geography
Allison Lenkeit
Foothill College

Enterprise Network Security

Enterprise Security
Sukhjit Singh, De Anza College
Mike Murphy, Foothill College

Tour Course Tour Course

Introduction to Java Programming

Introduction to Java Programming
Steven Gilbert, Orange Coast College

Introduction to Macromedia Flash

Introduction to Flash
Marcia Ganeles
Foothill College

Tour Course Tour Course

Musicianship II

Don Megill, Mira Costa College
Dave Megill, Mira Costa College

Webpage Authoring

Webpage Authoring
Jo Anne Howell, Gavilan College

Tour Course Tour Course

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently released its Education at a Glance 2007 report which measures the quality, quantity, equity, and efficiency of education systems in OECD countries.  Michael W. Kirst blog ‘The college puzzle‘ posted a comment about the results of the report with relation to US decline of college outcomes.

The US is tied with New Zealand for the lowest college completion, and younger Americans are going to college at a significantly lower rate than older Americans did. US degree competion rate is 54% compared to an OECD average of 71%, but respected policy analyst Art Hauptman claims OECD does not use proper comparisons. He asserts US rates of college completion are average or below. The OECD figures do not sort out well older students from ages 17-21 entrants. But the report is another indicator that US historical international advantage in postsecondary outcomes is eroding over time.

The 2007 edition investigates the effects of expanding tertiary education on labour markets. Graduation rates from higher education have grown significantly in OECD countries in recent decades, but has the increasing supply of well-educated workers been matched by the creation of high-paying jobs?

Download Complete executive summary

Download Education at a Glance 2007

The OpenLearn 2007 conference, organized by the Open University in UK will happen next 30 and 31 October 2007. The ways in which people can learn are changing with new opportunities to learn at a distance, to learn as part of global community and to learn using new technologies. Open and free educational resources are an important component in this expanded world of learning and major initiatives are now underway to provide such resources. This conference recognises the research challenge alongside the business challenge of providing, using and sustaining free and open resources and invites contributions and participation from those who are interested in how to research open content and what the findings are from those working in this challenging area. Conference participation will be over two days near The Open University in Milton Keynes. There will be no charge for attendance with priority for registration given to those responding to the call for papers. Selected papers will be developed for publication in a special issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Location: Milton Keynes Country: United Kingdom Source The Open University UK

PDF Icon OpenLearn 2007 conference flyer (PDF, 685 KB)

As a new school year approach , Ali al-Fadhily for IPS offers a grim account of the current situation of Irak educational system.

From IPS, by Ali al – Fadhily, September 14, 2007:

BAGHDAD, Sep 14 (IPS) – As another school year begins in Iraq, parents approach it with dread, fearing for the safety of their children.
With the security situation grimmer than ever all over the country, just stepping out of one’s house means a serious threat to life[……]
Iraqis blame their government’s failure to provide them with basic necessities on the U.S.-led occupation that has brought such an incompetent regime to power.
The Iraqi Ministry of Education promised Iraqis a better educational year in 2007, a promise that has been made every year for the past four years.
“The educational system in Iraq is destroyed and we are suffering all kinds of difficulties,” said Hassan, a school headmaster in Baghdad who spoke on condition that his last name and the name of his school would not be used. “There will be a shortage of desks, blackboards, water, electricity and all educational supplies – as well as a critical shortage in the number of teachers this year.”
Teachers, like other Iraqis, have fled the country because of threats from sectarian death squads. Some were evicted from their areas and moved to others inside Iraq for sectarian reasons.
According to Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education, as of February 2006, nearly 180 professors were killed and at least 3,250 have fled Iraq to the neighbouring countries. The situation has deteriorated severely since then.
“The number of teachers leaving the country this year (2006) is huge and almost double those who left in 2005,” Professor Salah Aliwi, director-general of studies planning in the Ministry of Higher Education told reporters during an Aug. 24, 2006 interview in Baghdad. “Every day, we are losing more experienced people, which is causing a serious problem in the education system.”
While teachers are at risk, Iraqi families are concerned for the safety of their children as well.
“I am not sending my two boys to school this year,” Tariq Ahmed from Baghdad told IPS. “I am sure hundreds, if not thousands, of students will be abducted and killed by militias. I am not gambling with my boys’ life just to support Bush’s lies that the country is safe and sound.”
Last month, the Iraqi Ministry of Education warned of possible low attendance of pupils at schools this year, saying it expects at least a 15 percent decrease in attendance compared to previous years.
Leila Abdallah, a senior official at the Ministry of Education, told reporters on Aug. 28 there has been a 54 percent increase in exam failure rates compared to previous years.
She added that many students had not completed their last exams as they had been forced by violence to flee their homes to safer areas[…] (read full article here)

Thanks to Linda Tabb for the link:


“Translation and Transitions”

University of Miami, Coral Gables

Department of Modern Languages and Literature

Department of English

February 15 -16, 2008

This conference invites papers addressing the literary exchange between languages and nations of the Americas and Europe, across time and space.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Translations between genres and/or disciplines, cultural gaps in translations and/or transitions, semiotics
  • and immigration, the process of translation, politics and cultural production, spaces of displacement
  • and transitions, “high” and “low” culture, oral traditions and translations, the role of translation within society.

Graduate Conference – Call for Papers.pdf (188k bytes) Open


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